The Array Top: A Pattern Review

by Meghan Fowler

Title image of woman wearing handmade top. Title says "the array top: a pattern review"

I bought Papercut Patterns’ Array Top/Dress Pattern last summer during a pattern sale. Frankly, I don’t generally advise buying patterns spur of the moment like that unless you have a FOR SURE project in mind for it (which, I’ll admit, I did not). It’s better to spend full price on a pattern you know you’ll use soon than save 20% but have it sit in your pattern file for eternity. Fortunately, in this case, having ogled the hashtag for a month, I was feeling fairly committed to the pattern despite my lack of clarity on when and how the project itself would unfold.

I wrote “Array Top” on my Fall 2020 to-make list (this list is a real thing) and set out to find the right fabric for it. I was pawing through my knit fabric stash when I saw this pretty blue stuff and BAM! – it hit me – this was absolutely, positively meant to be my Array Top. I would never have thought to use a knit stripe for this, except that The Mindful Sewist did it and the outcome was so unique and fantastic. Immediately the debate ensued regarding whether the stripes on the body should be horizontal or vertical, and after some emergency consultations with my friend Melissa (Little Nest Creative), settled upon horizontal. Honestly, it’s a subtle stripe, so I could have done either, but I like the way this turned out. Also, this fabric was a thrift-store find, which I’m obviously thrilled about. Sewing my own clothes is motivated partly by my desire to be kinder to the environment, and when I am able to use thrifted fabric I’m double excited on that count. Which is notable, because I’m generally pretty excitable, so DOUBLE….. phew!

According to the pattern measurement chart, I fall between a size 3 and 4, but closer to a 4. However, given that I was working with a stretch fabric, I decided to cut a size 3, as I figured any additional tightness would be dealt with by the stretch-factor. And it does. And it fits pretty well. But, honestly, I still wish I’d cut a 4, because when it’s tied up I feel like I’d actually like a bit more looseness around the shoulders! I’m learning slowly, but when it comes to ease, the one place I DON’T want to mess around is the shoulder and armpit zone. Based on waist measurements I would pick a smaller size than I would pick based on upper bust (NOT to be confused with actual bust! haha.) measurements. My lats are weirdly big and my shoulders are relatively broad. Both fine things (!) but my failure to accommodate those facts has resulted in so many too-tight clothing items: Loose and breezy at the waist and at my bust, but snug around my armpits or across the top of my back. Or with shoulder seams too far in. One of the amazing things about sewing your own wardrobe is that you can actually learn your OWN body and make pattern adjustments for the wonderful way YOU are made. I think that for such a long time I was so connected with the idea that I had to fit a certain size profile that I didn’t totally clue in that really no one does, and no one’s meant to, and we can actually wear clothes that fit and feel good at once. Really!

I think that for such a long time I was so connected with the idea that I had to fit a certain size profile that I didn’t totally clue in that really no one does, and no one’s meant to, and we can actually wear clothes that fit and feel good at once.

One of the fantastic things about this pattern is how many iterations are possible. There are countless hacks built-in to the design and instructions. It can be make with a woven or a knit, be a dress or a top, have bell sleeves or balloon sleeves, have an open or elasticized bottom hem, have a tie or no tie.

side by side of woman wearing top without and with tie

The simplicity of the design along with the fact that it’s not a fitted garment means that the possibility of hacks for early-intermediate sewists are virtually endless. I’m daydreaming now about what different version(s) of the Array I might make myself in the future…!

woman wearing handmade Array Top

woman wearing handmade Array Top

woman wearing handmade Array Topwoman wearing handmade Array Top - showing a view of the back

Thanks so much for reading along! Want to see more Under the Elms content? Follow me on Instagram, or join my mailing list! OR BETTER YET: do both!!

You may also like