Best Top! Readers Choice of 2011

And now for our Readers Choice Award for Best Top of 2011! The top with the most reader votes from our final voting round goes to Shelby G for her Miss Eliza Bennet Top!

Shelby’s use of the floral fabric on top with the green sash is just wonderful. And you all know I’m a huge fan of the empire waist. I know many of you fell in love with this top as it swept the vote on in the first round of voting and captured 34% of the reader vote in the final round! Congratulations Shelby!!!

Shelby, Novita, and our three other finalists, Ruby, Nikki, and Amanda will all be receiving prizes (listed here and here) from my sponsors and other handmade designers and businesses who donated sewing supplies, patterns, and accessories for our sewalong winners this year!

Here’s another look at our lovely runner-ups one last time. Congratulations to you three as well! Your tops were amazing!

left: Simplicity 2456 by Nikki 
center: Swiss Pumpkin Top by Ruby 
right: Rose print blouse by Kitschy Coo

I hope you’ve really enjoyed our Spring Top Sewalong! It’s always interesting to me to watch how it all plays out — I don’t have a hand in any of the scoring or selection, so it’s really exciting to sit back (although it’s sometimes hard to just keep my mouth shut) and watch how it all unfolds. I’m so pleased with our winners and hope everyone who submitted a top or just followed along had a great time!

Best Top! Judges Choice of 2011

I’m happy to be able to announce our winners today! First up we have our Judge’s Choice Award, which goes to Novita of Very Purple Person for her Broken Stripes Top:

This top is a perfect example of how the baggy style which is so popular right now can look absolutely perfect! Novita’s nailed it here with a top that is perfectly proportioned and shows how prints can have just the right amount of bang when used correctly. I especially love it paired with the navy shorts with just a tiny bit of lace. Perfect! Congratulations Novita!!!

Today’s a double whammy for Novita because I just realized she’s just posted the most amazing pattern for Grosgrain’s Free Pattern Month for a scalloped hat today. I’m up tomorrow…MAN, that’s a tough act to follow!

And just in case you’re wondering how the judges chose this top: The judges nominated 30 of their favorites from the pool and then scored those favorites by choosing their top ten. We took those scores and added them up. There were two tops tied for first from the judges scores: This top, and the top that won the reader vote…up NEXT!

Rae’s Spring Top: Angel Top

{did you spot Curious George?}
A couple weeks ago I went over to Field’s to pick up some stretch lace. I originally had something very, very simple in mind. Something like this top:

The problem was that although that wide-necked baggy style is tre chic right now, the simple fact is that it does not look good on me. It’s really not the most flattering unless you possess waifish qualities. And even then, well…I shall let the picture above speak for itself (tangent: and those pants. OY. Would she really go out of the house in that getup?). But I did not know this until I tried it. So the first version of this top got scrapped. Luckily it was huge and baggy so I just changed the side seams and came up with the top shown above. I’m calling it the “Angel Top” only because the sleeves look like little wings to me, not because I am ever close to anything resembling an angel.

Just in case you wanted to make one too, I have created some hand-sketched instructions that are nowhere near the standard of quality you may be used to with my other patterns or tutorials. If you can manage to read my chicken scratchings or muddle your way through the drawings, you may in fact be able to create something similar to this top. It works best with stretchy knits; a serger is not necessary although if you decided to use stretch lace like I did you should finish the raw inside edges somehow (zigzag stitch would be fine). Good luck!

So I think this will be my last spring top for this week…there are others, abandoned on a heap in my sewing room that will probably have to wait to see the light of blog. One needs sleeves yet and then I realized the rest of the fabric got packed into storage. Haha, oops!
I’m so excited about the winners of Spring Top Week! I need to go make their crowns and put together the announcement post. Will be back soon with that. Thanks everyone for voting!!!

Rae’s Spring Top: Blue Ice Cream Top

I like this shot for some reason, blurry and unmade up. 

Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile have already seen this top in its previous form (right here). I started this one last summer at the Weekend Sewing Workshop in Vermont (btw, am going to Heather’s NEW YORK workshop this fall, am SO excited!!!) and by the time I left it was mostly finished but not hemmed. It sat in my closet all winter while I deliberated on how to make it a little more interesting. I love this blue Anna Maria Horner voile, but I felt the plain top still needed something. Lace? Some sort of embroidery? Heather had suggested doing some Mexican embroidery but my skills weren’t quite up to that challenge. Then Anna Maria Horner came to the rescue with this post where she showed some very simple but lovely embroidery on a skirt for her daughter. About the same time, Dana posted these awesome sprinkle shirts that I loved. I decided this would be perfect for the neckline, and I’m really pleased with the result:

It’s just enough detail to be interesting, but yet it doesn’t take away from the lovely design (the pattern was adapted at the Weekend Workshop by Liesl Gibson from her Ice Cream dress pattern for children; she recently developed the Lisette women’s pattern line as an answer to requests for the Oliver+S patterns in adult sizes). While the Ice Cream dress pattern is adorable on children, its blousy tunic style is a little trickier to fit on all sorts of women’s bodies (Liesl mentions in this blog post that the Portfolio Tunic was Lisette’s answer to the Ice Cream dress). Liesl made one for herself (which looked absolutely stunning on her petite figure, have spent way too much time looking for this post and can’t find it!), but I decided on me it looked better with a fitted waist:

I’m not sure if you can see this in the picture above or not but the elastic thread shirring was done with colors that matched the neckline embroidery, a slightly more time-consuming detail that will probably never get noticed. It fits nicely at the waist with 5 rows of shirring. By the way maybe this will be useful to someone else so I’ll mention it: I finally figured out how to do elastic-thread shirring on my front-loading-bobbin Bernina; if you use that little screwdriver that came with the machine to loosen the bobbin screw 180 degrees (so one half turn) and then thread the elastic thread through the bobbin as usual, it works on voile like a charm!! Have I mentioned how much I love this voile? I just finished a dress for Clementine in this blue color as well and I can’t wait to show you!

Don’t forget to VOTE for your favorite Spring Top of 2011!!

Spring Top Week: FINAL VOTE!

It’s been a fun week showing you so many fantastic tops! I hope you were encouraged to go and sew something for yourself.

Now it’s time to reveal the final four tops with the highest score from each day. To recap, a panel of 13 judges scored each and every top that was entered in our Spring Top Sewalong Pool before the deadline (the pool is still open now for fun, so feel free to keep adding your selfish-sewing projects!). The 48 tops with the highest scores were voted on each day this week; today and tomorrow you’re going to vote to pick a winner!

One of the things that made me the happiest about this week’s voting was that each day, every single top got lots of votes. Of course it definitely helped that over 1300 of you voted every day (WOW)!

Here are the results of those daily votes, our four finalists:

Monday’s winner:

Tuesday’s winner:

Wednesday’s winner:

Thursday’s winner:

Simplicity 2456 by Nikki

Congratulations to these four finalists (who will all be receiving prizes) and also to all of the other tops that made the voting round. There were so many great tops submitted this year, it was really hard to choose. I’m so glad I didn’t have to pick a winner by myself!!

Voting will be open until 5 PM eastern tomorrow. Please help me get out the vote by sharing this poll or post. Thanks everyone.

And: I still have two more of my own tops to show you yet. That’s how it goes when you’re a mom; posting tops isn’t exactly high-priority, if you know what I mean. So I’ll see if I can post those both later today!

Top of the Tops Day 4: VOTE!

Here’s our fourth and final group of the spring tops that received the highest judges scores of all the tops entered in the Spring Top Sewalong 2011! I’ll be posting the four finalists from this week’s votes for you to choose a winner TOMORROW, so come back to help us choose the Best Top! 
You can click on the link below the pictures to go directly to their picture, this will allow you to see more information/links about the tops. Peruse these beauties and then scroll down to VOTE for your favorite!


OK, IT’S TIME TO VOTE…


I’ll reveal the results on Friday, thanks so much for voting!
Voting Ends: Tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM eastern  Tonight at 9 PM eastern
NEXT VOTE: Starts tomorrow at 9 AM eastern
FINAL VOTE for BEST TOP: Starts Friday morning at 10 AM eastern, ends Saturday night at 10 PM eastern.
Want to stay in the loop? Follow me on Twitter or the Made By Rae FB page to get updates.
And I’d really appreciate some help getting the word out as well, so if you have a minute to tweet it or put up a button, I’m all thanks!

Rae’s Spring Top: Teal with Lace

Wow! Thanks for all of the comments on yesterday’s ivory knit top! It really goes to show that I can never predict how something will go over. Honestly I thought it would be too underwhelming, being so basic. I even thought about not posting it. Hah. Well, I tell you what: I am definitely going to make another one and put a waistband on it so I have two! Didn’t even occur to me to wear it with a belt (sans waistband)! You guys are awesome. 

So here’s my next top:

Sewing with solids initially seems a little boring to me but there are really so many options to add interest with trim that can completely transform it. The solid teal color with the white lace is really stunning I think (same reason I love this top). Using lace (or even ric-rack or piping) really adds a lot of bang with very little extra effort to a solid garment. While I like combining these types of trims with prints sometimes, I often find that adding trims to printed fabric can get unnecessarily busy really fast. By the way, you can find really great solids at all of the fabric shops sponsors in the sponsor section here on (click here to go to my blog if you’re in a reader).

I had to clip the stitching between each lace section in order to make it lay flat. I tested it on a small piece of lace first to make sure this wouldn’t ravel the lace.

This top is the same two-piece pattern as my Liberty top I posted on Monday. I used neckline facings instead of the placket, and shirred the empire waist and added the narrow sash instead of using ties. One thing I will say about the addition of shirring though is that it does make the top more maternity-esque than the other top because the gathers are distributed across the front. It’s OK though, I cut this top narrow enough that it’s not too baggy in front. 

Aaaaaand….POCKETS!

Easy-peasy!
Don’t forget to VOTE every day this week for your favorite tops! You can access the current vote from the left sidebar of my blog! Today’s vote ends tomorrow morning at 8 AM EST. Note: Thursday’s vote will be held from 9 AM – 9 PM EST.

Top of the Tops Day 3: VOTE!

Here’s our third group of the spring tops that received the highest judges scores of all the tops entered in the Spring Top Sewalong 2011! You can click on the link below the pictures to go directly to their picture, this will allow you to see more information/links about the tops. Peruse these beauties and then scroll down to VOTE for your favorite!

LEFT chambray autumn tunic by suzyCENTER Wraparound Maternity Top by LauraRIGHT Flowery button-down by Nicole

LEFT The Miss Eliza Bennet by Shelby GCENTER Lisette Portfolio Tunic by TiffanyRIGHT Jamie Shirt by Kim


LEFT “Shir Lovely” by SarahCENTER Animal Print Pendrell by AdeyRIGHT Romantic Swiss Dot by Stephanie

LEFT Dots of Liberty by LaurelCENTER Gypsy top by Janene at ooobop!RIGHT Hearts top by Amy



OK, IT’S TIME TO VOTE…


I’ll reveal the results on Friday, thanks so much for voting!
Voting Ends: Tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM eastern
NEXT VOTE: Starts tomorrow at 9 AM eastern
FINAL VOTE for BEST TOP: Starts Friday morning at 10 AM eastern, ends Saturday night at 10 PM eastern.
Want to stay in the loop? Follow me on Twitter or the Made By Rae FB page to get updates.

Just a note that Thursday’s vote will not be open for an entire day as I will be notifying the finalists by Thursday at 9 PM that they are finalists. Voting on Thursday will be open from 9 AM – 9 PM eastern.

And I’d really appreciate some help getting the word out as well, so if you have a minute to tweet it or put up a button, I’m all thanks!

Rae’s Spring Top: Ivory Knit V-neck

It’s time to reveal my next Spring Top! Thanks for all the top love yesterday by the way! I’m so glad you all liked it so much! Maybe you’ll like this one too:

In keeping with my “Keep It Simple” theme this year, I wanted to have a top that would go with more of the skirts and shorts (many of which are patterned) in my closet. With this design I decided to go even MORE basic than a two-piece top (like yesterday’s) and cut this top from a single piece of fabric. I folded the fabric in half where the shoulders are, then folded it down the center and cut out the basic shape, which you can see is really just a curve under the arms and then goes straight down.
There’s some gathering at the neckline in a few places and a neckband, but that’s basically it! This knit fabric is fabulously soft and really stretchy and flowy. I think this top is going to be one of my favorites. It needs to be ironed a bit so it doesn’t look so wrinkly. Oops…noticed that after I took the pictures. I don’t actually remember where the fabric came from but I’m pretty sure it’s a bamboo blend (thanks Rae, really helpful. *rolls eyes*). Can’t wait to make more clothes from the rest of it, maybe PJs or clothes for the kids. 
I originally intended for the top to have a waistband and once it was on I thought it looked pretty good without. But then I took a few pictures….

…and I thought it looked nice with the waistband too. With? Without? This is my problem, I’m a terrible decision maker when it comes to clothing.  I’m leaning one way more than the other right now though, just looking at these. What do you think?
Oh wait! I almost forgot to show you my favorite necklace which looks really great with this top….
 *puts down computer and goes to take a few pictures*
OK I’m back. Sorry, no tripod for these, but in a rare moment of solidarity my hair is actually looking good today to make up for it (thanks to Mr Rae’s Mother’s Day prezzie of a family photoshoot this morning!):

I bought the necklace back in December at the Detroit Urban Craft Fair when I was supposed to be Christmas shopping for my family (hee, oops). And now I’ve totally forgotten what the shop was called…think it’s on Etsy. Can anyone help? Anyway she had the cutest fabrics mounted on necklaces, perfect present for a fabric-lover I say!

UPDATED: Found fabric necklace seller’s name: Christine Edwards, still haven’t found shop online…perhaps she just sells in person?

Don’t forget to VOTE today and every day this week for your favorite tops! You can access the current vote from the left sidebar of my blog!