Category Archives: Tops

Silk Dove

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Katie in pale colour shocker! Seriously, all of my 2016 makes have been embarrassingly samey dark shades. My black overlocker spools even ran out, so that was a good kick to embrace the light side. I may also be in seasonal denial, as summer ends and we head into my least favourite time of year, by making a silk sleeveless blouse…

Dove

This is the Dove blouse, the new pattern from Megan Nielsen, which she kindly sent me a pre-release of to try out. It’s a very pretty semi-fitted top with a host of yummy design details like French bust darts, chunky topstitched facings for the V-neck and curvy hem, and a slew of sleeve options, from slim elbow-length to fabulous full-on bell.

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Being me and unable to leave a good pattern alone, I eschewed all the sleeve options, instead adding little rectangular caps and finishing the rest of the armsyce with bias facing. I’ve come to realise that any woven garment with a set-in sleeve rarely gets reached for in my wardrobe unless the drafting is 100% spot-on, plus I’m always overly warm rather than cold so it isn’t actually all that seaosnally-inappropriate. I’ll do a tutorial for the hack if anyone’s interested.

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As usual from Megan’s patterns, the instructions are clear and well-illustrated, and the drafting is just a delight – this was so pleasurable to sew and all came together in a few hours. I cut a Large, which is bigger than my measurements but I like a lot of ease in woven tops. It still fits really nicely around the neck and shoulders, though it dips a bit too long in the back for my preference – I’ll take some length out next time.

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I think the fabric makes this top feel rather special. It’s undyed silk noil from The Organic Textile Company; a bargain at £8.95 a metre. This is probably my number-one fabric both to work with and to wear yet I’ve only used it once before. It’s pretty hard to find in any colours or prints but this raw slubby cream is rather beautiful, albeit out of my usual palette comfort zone. (It does take dye well however, so I’m going to buy more to self-colour.) Some up-close inside shots to show the texture and finishing:

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Self-bias faced armholes and the faced, topstitched neckline.

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The hem facing and centre-front seam.

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French-seamed shoulder seam and French bust dart in the background, the ‘legs’ of which are cut out, so raw edges are overlocked after it’s sewn together.

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The rather directional design details, not to mention the colour, feel a little ‘out there’ for my usual/current style, but I do love it and expect it will get lots of wear. It looks so good with denim (Safran jeans here) and the relaxed shape and dream fabric make it super comfy. Here’s hoping I don’t spill coffee/wine/spaghetti down it too soon… perhaps the real reason I usually stick to dark colours.

Thanks again to Megan for sending me the Dove pattern to try! You can pick it up for 20% off until Friday using the code HELLODOVE.

Dos Mayas

Mayas

I picked out Marilla Walker’s Maya pattern again recently, and ended up making two garments with it as the basis. I’ve worn my first Maya so much that’s it’s starting to look worse for wear, so another was definitely required.

Maya top

Maya top

I threw a metre of this gorgeous new Nani Iro double gauze into a recent Miss Matatabi order and managed to squish a Maya out of it by taking a couple of inches off the length. I also wanted to play with the stripes a bit as usual, so cut the lower half of the front on the crossgrain. The lower half is also cut on the fold, eliminating the button band – I was trying to go for a popover placket effect without the daunting task of sewing a tower placket.

Maya dress

Maya dress
Maya dress

To turn Maya into a dress, I simply cut the top at waistline length and added a gathered elasticated skirt. I like the resulting retro kinda vibe – it reminds me of the 1980s’ take on ’50s shirtwaist day dresses.

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Maya dress

The equally luscious fabric is an Anna Maria Horner rayon called Helios, its crazy pegasus print made more subtle by the moody teal colouring. I got it shipped from the US and got stung with a customs charge, though I think it still wound up cheaper than I would have paid here. And luckily it was dreamy to work with and to wear so it’s worth the cost.

Mayas

On both garments I used self-bias to finish the neckline instead of the included facing, due to both preference and fabric scarcity. Also neither button band has real buttonholes since they aren’t needed for access – I just stitched on the buttons through both layers – making these a quick and gratifying sew that have gone right into wardrobe rotation. Marilla’s patterns always seem to have those special qualities of sewing joy and extreme wearability – I’m excited to see her next release, which is coming very soon

Simple does it

Plantain + Anima

This me-made outfit sort of represents where both my clothing preferences and sewing style is at the moment. Plain, basic, classic, capsule style stuff. Might seem boring on the surface, but I’m getting a kick out of sewing simple stuff well and adding really useful staple pieces into my wardrobe.

Plantain + Anima

The tee is a Deer & Doe Plantain, with some small modifications. I raised the neckline to crew/jewel style, cuffed the sleeve, and made a baseball-style curved hem. The fabric’s a lovely heathery knit from Abakhan which is sort of brushed on the underside so it’s really soft and cosy. TBH I find myself wearing this until it starts to smell bad then pulling it out of the wash to wear again immediately.

Plantain + Anima

The pants are hacked Papercut Animas. This pattern for me is one of those super-adaptable TNTs – I’ve made four pairs in different fabrics and they all look totally different. This one’s in a dreamy viscose-mix suiting I got from Brighton’s Fabricland and the simple alteration was to straighten out the leg at the knee rather than the tapered fit as patterned.

Plantain + Anima
Plantain + Anima

I was actually hoping for an even more exaggerated flare/culotte style leg, so I might take this hack a step further and slash-and-spread the pattern from the hip for a future pair. Here’s some of the inspo I found while dreaming these up. (Click through to the post if you’re in a reader, to see the Pinterest pins below.)



Plantain + Anima

I love this outfit: I feel really cool and comfortable in it, had fun sewing it, and I know both garments will get worn to death. I’ve been buying up lots of plain fabrics in nice luxe natural fibres lately to take this principle further.

The Rise of the necklines

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I find it interesting to sometimes ponder on how changing fashion trends influence sewing choices. Do you sew to escape trends, or to make your own rather than subscribe to fast fashion and all the horrors it entails? I’d say it’d be pretty hard (and unfulfilling) to sew a lot of purely trend-based pieces every season – all that time and effort to make something that you wouldn’t wear in a few months! But undeniably I’m inspired to sew certain styles due to influences I see around me. In particular I’m very drawn to the whole 70s revival happening this autumn, leading to sewing dreams tinted in tan and denim, of a-line skirts and jumpsuits, and to kick things off a couple of nice turtlenecks.

Rise turtleneck

This isn’t a style I previously thought I’d touch with a barge pole, considering myself scoop or V neck for life. But I bought a RTW burgundy turtleneck t-shirt in snugly-fitted ribbed knit and it became a wardrobe hit, teamed with my black Gingers, loafers, and a long necklace. Plus what could be cosier now it’s starting to get cold out than a built-in mini scarf? So I bought the Papercut Rise and Fall PDF pattern to whip out a couple of my own.

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You could probably self-draft a turtleneck from any t-shirt pattern to be honest (it’s just a high crew neck with a deep neckband), but Papercut’s PDFs are fairly inexpensive so I saved the effort. Plus the pattern actually comprises two views with totally separate PDF files – the Rise is a snugger fit with a turtleneck, and the Fall is a slouchier shape with a polo neck – making it even better value.

Rise turtleneck

I used the Rise in size small here with no fit modifications but a couple of style tweaks: shortening the sleeves, reducing the turtleneck height by about 1cm, and finishing the cuffs and hem with bands instead of hemming (I just really dislike hemming knits and had no matching thread, to be honest, so this was a 100% overlocker project). The fabric is a soft jersey in nice 70s sepia brown that was knocking around in my stash. The fit came out a bit less form-fitting than I was expecting, but I think it works well with this fabric and looks nice blousily tucked in.

Rise turtleneck

I was so pleased with it I wore it all day yesterday, and while sewing up a second one – which I’m wearing today, arf. This time I slimmed the shoulders down to XS as they were a bit wide, cut the sleeves full length, and cropped down the body a few inches to sit on the waistband without needing to be tucked.

Rise turtleneck

Rise turtleneck

This is another stash fabric, a nice soft almost sweater type knit from myfabrics. My camera is really on the blink so apologies for the photo quality, but it’s sort of a sagey green-grey.

Rise turtleneck

Rise turtleneck

I’ve ordered some actual rib knit from Plush Addict to make one more version: I’ll probably size right down next time to get a closer fit like my rtw tee. Right now these are all I want to wear all the time, but I’m also aware that perhaps the fashion will pass and so will my urge to wear them. I hope not though!

Marilla’s Roberts set

Roberts dungarees

Really excited to share these! They’re probably my favourite thing I’ve made recently and an admittedly rather surprising wardrobe hit. They are my tester version of the dungarees from Marilla Walker’s amazing new capsule pattern collection, the Roberts Set, which you can buy here.

Roberts set

I should say off the bat that these were made from the tester pattern and Marilla made quite a few changes to the pattern based on our feedback, so don’t count on these pics for the final fit or styling details. Although actually a few of the tweaks I suggested and implemented into my test version (such as adding buttons to the straps) made it into the final pattern, so it’s actually not that far off! The final pattern has additional side waist buttons and a slightly slimmer fit all over.

Roberts dungarees

You can always expect a good blend of interesting-yet-accessible construction techniques from Marilla’s patterns that leads to a satisfying clean finish inside and out. The front and back bodice are both faced (I’m enjoying having Liberty lawn tiny dancers inside my top) and the outer leg seam is French seamed, leaving just a few other seams to finish by overlocking or zigzagging.

Roberts dungarees

I used a soft black cotton poplin to make these up and I absolutely love the result. To be honest, before I made dungarees I was not at all convinced that I would actually wear them day to day. But I think by making them in basic black in such a comfortable fabric they have become a surprise wardrobe staple. I’ve worn them several times both to work and at weekends, and they’ve earned more unprompted compliments than anything else I’ve made. Even Josh thinks they’re cute which I wasn’t expecting. I’m definitely going to make up a second pair from the final pattern, perhaps in a yarn-dyed check from my stash for Ace & Jig vibes.

Roberts top

I also tested the standalone top from the set, which is designed to be worn under the dungarees (though I prefer a knit t-shirt under it) and echoes the back shaping with seam detailing. You can see the true test version in mustard yellow rayon on my jeans post, but I made this one up soon after using the button-up view and some dreamy rayon silk from Miss Matatabi.

Roberts top

I left the seam detailing off this one and cut the back as a single piece. The fit is amazing; it’s totally my favourite top at the moment and this is definitely now my go-to woven top pattern. I can see a zillion variations in my future. And if that wasn’t enough, remember there’s a dungaree dress and a jumpsuit included in the bundle too! For me at least, it could well be the foundation for a capsule wardrobe all in one tidy package. I’m looking forward to printing out the final copy of the entire pattern, and the jumpsuit is definitely next on the sewing table.

Cézembre Clouds

Cézembre

It’s nice when a random little PDF punt purchase and a few hours with a stash fabric gives you a new favourite top. This is the Cézembre Blouse by Anne Ka Couture, who blogs at Anne Cousette. This was her first pattern release back in June and I’m definitely smitten. It’s a lovely top with short or 3/4 length sleeve options, the main design detail being the wrap-forward side seams and curved hemlines.

Cézembre
Cézembre

I made a wearable toile in this stash viscose (also used for my Ilsley skirt) – it’s the straight size 40 but I pre-emptively nipped a wedge out of the back neckline as it looked too wide for me. Before I make it again I’ll fiddle a little more with the neckline as the wide boat type neck is not my favourite, otherwise I’m very happy with the fit.

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It’s a neat 19 page PDF with instructions in French and English and each step clearly photographed, so it’s a breeze to sew. The sleeves set in easily, and I really love the princess seam detail (which is actually also the side seam) leading into the hem curve. The bottom edges are finished with facings which makes sense with the design – you can topstitch them in place all around like I did or just tack them at the princess seam points.

Cézembre

I’m pretty sure that once I’ve tweaked the neckline to my liking I’ll use this pattern multiple times – it would be so good for colourblocking in solid colours, or with a printed front panel and plain back… I’m even tempted to try it in French terry for a cosy sweatshirt. There are some pretty versions out there in the French blogosphere, showing that it looks great in any sort of light, drapey fabric. Nice to add another TNT to the stash!