Archive | Tops

Tops I’ve made

November 10, 2016

Mixing it up! All-knit Washington Tunic

As the weather’s getting chillier, I’ve become obsessed with cosy comfortable clothes… and let’s face it, there’s not much that’s more comfy than knit tunics and leggings. I have a suspicion it’s going to become my outfit of choice this winter…  I’ve wanted to make myself an all-knit Washington Dress for a while, so I decided to give it a go, and shorten it to tunic length.

Cashmerette Washington Tunic

I used a lovely heathered jersey/terry (not quite as hefty as a terry, not quite as light as a jersey.. somewhere in between!) from Gather Here, and cut all the pieces from the knit, rather than using a woven for the skirt, as indicated in the pattern. Using all jersey works perfectly! The key thing with this pattern is the bodice and at least the back yoke need to be made of a knit; the skirt and front yoke can be from a woven OR a knit.  I’ve put on weight recently but the Washington is my friend, because the drafting means it skims right over the tum 🙂

Cashmerette Washington Tunic

To make it a tunic, I simply cut the bottom off the pattern, using my Concord T-Shirt Dress as a guide for length.
Cashmerette Washington Tunic

The result is a snuggly basic which can be made a little more fun with accessories… I’m thinking of wearing brightly coloured leggings with it soon! (Oh, the throwback to my teenage years in the 90s…).

Cashmerette Washington Tunic

And, as it’s Fall, I did the obligatory leaf-throwing shot!

Cashmerette Washington Tunic

Are you a tunic + leggings fan? It may not be the most flattering look, but hey, sometimes I just don’t care about flattering!

August 29, 2016

Summer in silk: Springfield Top & M6931 maxi skirt

I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but this summer in Boston has been brutally hot. One day my car got to 38.5 degrees celsius…. oof! And when it’s that warm, I just want to wear flowy silk and maxi skirts, so naturally, I had to whip up a new summer outfit.

The first part of it is a version of my new pattern, the Springfield Top, that I made during its development. I used black crepe de chine (so luxe!) and constructed it with French seams throughout so it feels totally lovely to wear.

Springfield Top & M6931 skirt

Though it’s not ideal, I decided to offer this top to the washing machine gods and see what would happen… and it’s fine. Not quite as shiny as it would be, but now I’ll actually wear it on the reg rather than side-eyeing it my laundry basket while I decide that yet again I’m not going to do any hand washing.  I can already tell this top is going to be a summer workhorse…

Springfield Top & M6931 skirt

Now on to the drama! This is the maxi version of McCall’s M6931, made using an amazing silk crepe de chine that I bought in Mood many moons ago (with a separate silk knee-length lining). I’ve made this pattern before with great results – orange silk twill, flamingos!, clouds! – but this was my first time using the maxi version.

The black border around the bottom (made from the same crepe de chine as the Springfield) was a serendipitous accident caused by me not following the cutting layout for the skirt (naughty girl!) and suddenly having a chunk missing at the front of one of the skirt panels. So, I lopped the bottom 8 inches off the whole thing and added on the border. As it happens, I think it looks much better like this – somehow my most stylish garments always come from an accident of some type…

Springfield Top & M6931 skirt

The pattern uses a combo of pleats and gathering caused by the elastic waist to give fullness. I do have a few reservations about the lined maxi version though: there’s just a bit too much bulk around the waist/hips than I’d like. Before the elastic is put in, the skirt is about 5 feet wide! It looks OK in these photos, but I feel like I have a bunch of extra fabric wadded around my waist, which is the last thing I need (my waist disappears at the smallest provocation).

So, I think I’m going to be unpicking this skirt (and French seams! sigh), bringing it in by about 12 inches, and I’m going to strip the lining out too – it’s just too much bulk around the waistband (which ends up being 4 layers of fabric and elastic). Instead, I’ll just wear it with a slip to counteract the sheerness.
Springfield Top & M6931 skirt

The long variation includes two knee-high slits at the front which I like – it looks awesome when you’re walking in a bit of a breeze!

Springfield Top & M6931 skirt

All in all, I love this new outfit – it’s so cool and comfortable to wear, but makes me feel like a pretty glam summer lady!

Springfield Top & M6931 skirt

What are your go-to fabrics and patterns when it’s super hot outside? Do you have any plans for silky Springfields?

August 4, 2015

Back to business: my first ever re-fashion!

Well it’s been a totally whirlwind week, but now things are finally calming down a bit, I’m able to get back to what this here blog is all about: sewing!

When Portia contacted me about being part of the Refashioners challenge for 2015 I nearly said “no”. Much as I admire people who can take something hideous from a charity shop and transform it into something chic, I’ve never been one of them. But I thought I should try new things, stretch the old sewing boundaries, and it was a lot of fun!

You can read all about my transformation, and see step-by-step guidance on how to recreate it yourself, over on the Makery. You should also join in, because there’s a stonkingly good prize package to be had!

Refashioned shirt

June 15, 2015

Back to basics: v-neck silk Colette Sorbetto

Sometimes you just have to go back to an old friend. I spent the past few weeks trying to find a woven top that would fit over my bust without being absurdly tent-like. After multiple failed attempts with big 4 cup-sized patterns (why oh why don’t they actually draft them for the cup sizes rather than just doing sketchy grading?), I decided to go back to that old stalwart, the Colette Sorbetto.

Colette Sorbetto v-neck in silk

As it happens, I just wrote a piece for Abby Glassenberg’s blog, While She Naps, on how the Sorbetto kick-started my sewing and fitting career (prepare yourself: it’s a little sentimental). It’s a pattern I’ve come back to time and time again, and I’ve cropped it, split the back, and used precious fabrics that I didn’t want to mess up.

Sorbetto montage

As my pattern still bore the signs of my first ever FBA (!), I decided to start afresh this time. I did a 2 inch FBA on the size 18 (and now I think I should have done a 2.5 inch one), moved the dart down 2 inches (the Colette ladies must be extremely perky) and rotated some of the bust dart into a new waist dart. I also made it a v-neck and added a good 4 inches to the bottom, curving the hem.

Believe it or not, despite half my RTW tops being v-neck I’ve never actually successfully  made one myself. To try to offset the invariable stretching of the bias v I used woven stay tape on both the outer silk and the crepe de chine lining, and I used twill tape on the seam allowance, and I understitched. It was… mostly successful. There’s still some buckling, although I wonder if this is inevitable given my body shape – the line between my shoulder to bust is far, far from straight (there a lot of space in there.. enough for an iPhone, in fact. Handy!) – so unless a neckline is pretty sturdy or under tension, it’s going to be free-floating through that area. It’s not a problem in knits, because they have the tension of negative ease. Does anyone else have this problem, and have solutions?

Colette Sorbetto v-neck in silk

I’ve been saving this lovely silk that I got on my first outing to Fabric Place Basement, which miraculously had a job lot of BCBG silk when I visited. I knew the placement would be tricky – triangles are almost never your friend… but I think I managed without anything too obscene. The downside is I didn’t notice until it was way too late that I’d cut the front of the middle of my yardage and there wasn’t enough for the back. So let me introduce you to my on-trend design feature: the black bum flap! So de rigeur, darlings.

Colette Sorbetto v-neck in silk

Construction wise, I chickened out of trying to finish the V with binding (tried that once before, with terrible results), so instead I went for the lined approach. That meant making two identical tops in full (all French seamed! *pats self on back*), then putting them right sides together and sewing all the way around the neckline and flipping over. Then, I basted the two layers together at the armholes and finished with self-bias, and hemmed them separately.

The final thing isn’t perfect – I definitely need another half to full inch in the bust and to fix the v-neck, but given my current lack of floaty summer-appropriate tops, I’m sure it’ll get a lot of wear!

So, dear experts, your v-neck wovens on a big bust tips, please?

May 6, 2015

Nani Iro Tilly & The Buttons Coco Top (what a mouthful!)

Naturally, before I knew I was going to Japan I made a big order of Japanese fabric from Miss Matatabi (d’oh). But how can I be sad when it included this gorgeous Nani Iro knit? It’s clearly meant for baby clothes. I’m not above that.


Check out my guest post over at Sew Sweetness today!


April 9, 2015

A Japanese Renfrew sweatshirt

When I’m binge watching TV I have a tendency to absent-mindedly fabric shop at the same time. Not good for my mental rest or wallet, but great for my stash. EmmaOneSock is a perennial favourite, as is Miss Matatabi on Etsy, who has the best Japanese fabrics. I was knee-deep in House of Cards when I found this beauty: a 100% cotton polka dot reversible knit. Swoon. I snapped it up, and started brainstorming about how to use it. I knew I wanted both sides to show but I didn’t want it to be childish, so I hit on a solution: a sweatshirt with rolled cuffs.


My final verdict of the Grainline Linden on me was a bit “meh” (I’m not sure I’m ever going to be sold on raglan sleeves) so instead I decide to re-use my well-used adapted Sewaholic Renfrew. I made some tweaks to the cuffs, because I didn’t want to have a serged seam showing when they were rolled up, but the fabric was too thick for French seams which would be my usual solution. So, I made a 4 inch deep double-sided cuff which nicely rolls up with no seams in sight. On a “no setting up my coverstitch machine” roll, I also made a hem band, and split it because that’s what all the cool kids are doing these days.


This is clearly going to be a workhorse in my wardrobe: it’s so soft and snuggly, and warm without being enormous. And given the first few days of spring have mostly involved snow, I need all the warmth I can get.


I love my Renfrews but I do still have bunching at the underarm. Has anyone with a big bust ever solved that problem? I’m not quite sure how to address it without putting in a dart, which I don’t fancy in a knit.


April 6, 2015

A comedy of errors: Tilly & the Buttons Coco Top

Despite the fact I have an undergraduate degree in History, my grasp of historic events is somewhat… tenuous. A recent visit up to see Carrie in Salem to eat donuts at a brunch donut bar (yes, you read that right) and then take some blog photies led us to the lovely House of the Seven Gables. Is that where Louisa Alcott lived? No. Is it where Anne lived? No. I suspect any American 6 year old could tell you this, but it was where a sea merchant lived in the 17th century and it inspired a Nathaniel Hawthorne book, which apparently busloads of tourists are now interested in.

And so it seemed apposite to pose in front of it in my new Tilly & the Buttons Coco top made from The Smuggler’s Daughter‘s fabric (see what I did there?!).


The continual struggle in my sewing life is to find nice printed jerseys. I don’t understand why more aren’t available to the home sewing market when RTW clearly manufactures them in droves. So I was excited when I was approached by Susan at Smuggler’s Daughter to try some of her fabrics. She has a small but nice collection of light and midweight jerseys, and I chose a Milly print to try – still available here. It’s a great weight, though it does have a slub texture that I wasn’t expecting.

Why a comedy of errors? Well this started life as a dress. Another M6884 fixed wrap dress, to be precise. I had it all cut out and ready to sew up, when I realized I had two right fronts. I must have made a mistake! But it turns out that you’re meant to cut one of the pattern pieces *print side down*. Who does that?! McCall’s apparently. So, a warning to you: read the cutting layout even if you think you don’t need to!


A new plan was called for: a t-shirt, which would have to be colour-blocked given the cutting that had already gone on. So I whipped out my Tilly & The Buttons Coco Top which I previously re-drafted as a colour-blocked version (super easy – just cut a line across and add seam allowances). At this point I made yet another error. Yep. It was meant to be black all around the body with the Milly at the yoke, but I cut the back the wrong way round. Oh well! Now I have a somewhat eclectic top to show for it.


I’m glad something wearable came out of my calamaties – once upon a time I’d probably have just given up. Do you have garments that were salvaged from the sad remains of botched projects? And do you have any other good sources of grown-up jersey prints that aren’t poly fluoro floral monstrosities?


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