The Adeline Top and Sewing Machine Drama

This is another in a series of summer tops I’ve been sewing. The fabric is a gorgeous rayon from the Spotlight $2/m clearance table. I usually don’t wear much black, but the gem-like colours in the pattern were too entrancing to resist.

A woman stands in a garden, wearing a black kimono sleeve top with colourful gem floral pattern, black pants and red shoes.
Worn with some hand-me-down (or up, considering how much shorter my auntie is than me) Gordon Smith pants and Mel moon bow loafers.

The pattern is actually for a dress: the Style Arc Adeline. It has been doing the rounds of the online sewing community for a while now. I made a muslin for the dress a while back, which I have only kept in the idea of doing a “worst hits” muslin post. It was just that bad. I had filed it under “trends that look horrible on me” until I was in need of a loose-fitting top pattern with cut-on sleeves and cuffs, and figured that the Adeline might fit the bill.

It certainly did! This is just the dress pattern, shortened with a curved, almost shirt-tail hem, and boat/scoop neck rather than the deep V featured in the pattern. The deep facings are topstitched, and the cuffs tacked down in a few places to stop them shifting. I’m surprised by how well the pattern translates to a top – it certainly looks better on me than the dress did!

A woman stands in a garden, wearing a black kimono sleeve top with colourful gem floral pattern, black pants and red shoes.
Where this project came undone was not the fabric, pattern, or even user error: it was my misbehaving sewing machines (yes, both of them!). I am lucky enough to have two sewing machines I use fairly frequently – my Janome DC2101, which my grandmother bought me for my 21st birthday, and mum’s Bernina Bernette 740E from the 90s. The Janome is a reliable mid-range machine, which produces an even stitch and can sew through near any bulk. But as I’ve mentioned before, it struggles to sew anything remotely thin or shifty, as it just can’t keep that fabric in place.

I tend to rely on mum’s Bernina for such projects, but unfortunately it had been away for repairs for some time. When it finally arrived home, I quickly started work on my backlog of projects that required the firm foot pressure of the Bernina, including this top. The Bernina performed well for all of two days before it started acting up again – bobbin stitches would not form; the thread falls off the take-up lever causing birdsnests of thread underneath, dirty with sewing machine oil; and the tension is so off the stitch gathers the fabric.

A woman stands in a garden, wearing a black kimono sleeve top with colourful gem floral pattern, black pants and red shoes.
That hem is actually straight. It’s just a bit scrunched up from sitting down all day.

This is what happened to my poor rayon hem. I was sewing the (up to now) failproof roll hem from Grainline Studio, only to discover that the hem had been eased, causing the fabric above it to billow out. The bobbin stitches were also incorrectly formed, interspersed with unsightly loops of thread.

After a bit of whining (my notes for this part of the project read: “FUUUUUUUUUUUU”), I carefully unpicked the eased hem and finished it on my Janome, being careful to sew a few samples first to ensure the machine would not stretch the fabric out in the action of stitching. Of course, my samples lied to me, and the machine did stretch the hem out, creating an amateurish lettuce hem.

For some delightful reason unbeknownst to me, sewing this particular hem (not the samples, oh no), was also the exact time that my Janome also decided to cock things up, by leaving a trail of loose and unformed bobbin stitches, in a not-dissimilar style to the Bernina. *Sigh*

Sewn hems with malformed stitches and rippled fabric.
Top: Janome bobbin thread, bottom: Bernina bobbin thread

What irks me about this project is that I spent hours cutting, prepping and sewing to achieve the best results I could, only to produce something which looks much like my year 7 textiles projects*, for reasons entirely out of my control.

To conclude this pitiful tale, my Bernina Bernette is currently back having repairs in Geelong, where I expect it will sit for another 6 months. I can’t quite deal with two sewing machine problems at the same time, so I’m still sewing on the Janome and avoiding rayon roll hems in the hopes that it plays nice!

A woman stands in a garden, wearing a black kimono sleeve top with colourful gem floral pattern, black pants and red shoes.

The deets:
Pattern: Style Arc Adeline Dress
Pattern details: “Great designer style dress which is easy to sew and wear. The slight cocoon shape and its roll up sleeve makes give this style a casual but trendy look.” Available as single size paper pattern or as A4 PDFs, in sizes 4-30.
Fabric: 2m x 148cm wide black floral print rayon, from Spotlight.
Other materials: Tessuti lightweight interfacing, for facings and to stabilise shoulders and kimono seam underarm
– Size 12 top, 14 bottom with extra 5mm width
– 12mm forward head adjustment, going to nothing at first cuff notch
– Cut to top length with curved hem
– Redrafted neck to a smooth boat/scoop shape, with deep topstitched facings

* And trust me, they were CRAPPY.

Author: Siobhan S

20 something, living in country Australia. Spoonie profile: ME/CFS, dysautonomia, anxiety. All about sewing, knitting and food. Unapologetic disability advocate.

11 thoughts on “The Adeline Top and Sewing Machine Drama”

  1. That fabric is beautiful! The top is a really nice shape on you as well. Seriously unfortunate to have both your machines cock up at once, how annoying!


  2. Those bad bad machines! So frustrating when they act up. It’s those times when I want to throw a machine out the window onto the driveway where I want to set fire to it and then drive over it. Haven’t done it. Yet. 8-D

    Great top. OMG, that fabric, I had to read your post a second time cause all I saw was the fabric. If I found that on a $2 table I would buy the bolt. Seriously. Tops, skirts, PJs, I would make all the things.


    1. Hahahhah I can see you’ve had sewing machine drama too! The fabric is amazing, and even though I brought bags and bags from that sale, I still feel like I didn’t buy enough!


  3. Well, I know sewing machine problems are a HUGE pain in the ass, but as a comfort, the top looks great!

    I used to have a Singer that just tripped over itself all the time. I’d bought it at Costco for cheap, so I figured that was the problem. When I bought my new machine (also a Singer), I bought the Heavy Duty one with NO electronics and nothing fancy, specifically to avoid problems with machines that have more parts and smarts than they know what to do with. Now it’s half a year later, and I’m having problems. I think it’s the needle choice I made, we’ll find out when I have time to play with it. Today I’m trying to fix my outboard. If I have the physical energy to just row everywhere and sew by hand, I think I might choose that instead.


    1. That is such a pain! I hope you get it working again. I find Schmetz needles the best quality, and Gutermann thread, which my sewing machine technician confirmed.


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