Summer Tops : : Week II : : Day IV

Mom O: don’t read any more of this post! Someone’s birthday is coming up…[Mom H, you’re next! Consider yourself warned.]

When your friends and family read your blog it’s hard to give them surprises for birthdays or Christmas. Although to be fair, Mom O (my mum-in-law) picked out the fabrics and tried on this shirt a few weeks ago, so it’s not exactly a surprise. Oh and I called her a few nights ago for some last minute measurements, so if there was any doubt about whether I’d pull through with my threat to make her an original Made By Rae birthday creation, I probably removed it there.

The fabric she chose was Midwest Modern by Amy Butler:

: : Close-up of neck and pleats : :

: : And here it is : :

: : My picture of the top on involved the bathroom mirror, some bad lighting and a bit of trickery (Nate’s at work) : :

Gotta love those red running shorts. Heh.

This top is a size 6, as Mom O is super petite, so I could just barely get it on to take a picture of it and had some hopping around the bedroom with it stuck on my head whilst trying to remove it. You may recognize the overall design from the swing tops I made previously. The back is unpleated to make the fit less billowy and the sleeves are slightly different, but otherwise I used the same general design.

Summer Tops : : Week II : : Day III

I fully intend to put up a poll when all this is over and done to see which of these creations y’all like the most. But I already have my guesses just from the number of comments/amount of exuberance on each post.

Before we get to today’s top, I’d like to apologize first for the hideous tan lines. There was another picture (which will remain unposted and deleted forever) of this top where I actually couldn’t see the shirt properly due to the glare off of my chest. Never before have I been so keenly aware of my need to a.) apply self tanner or b.) wear only long sleeved turtlenecks until my skin fades back to its normal lily-whiteness. I’d also like to offer a general thank-you to everyone for not mentioning the farmer’s tan yesterday.

ANYWAY. Here’s my new ruffly empire-waisted (surprise!) top. Ta-da!

: : Fabric: Joel Dewberry’s Aviary and Heather Bailey’s Freshcut : :

I used a yard of the Dewberry and a half yard of the Freshcut (which barely made it due to last-minute ruffle-width changes).

: : Pattern : : As usual there is no real pattern for this one. I used one pattern piece from a Butterick dress for the front bodice but totally changed it as I traced it so I’m not even going to cite the pattern. I had this in my head as a dress originally (and truly you may live to see the next version of this as a dress) with a drawstring that tied under the bust, but I didn’t have enough fabric to make it go that far, and really I like it alot like this. The elastic goes from the straps under the arms and around the back, so to get it on I just pull it over the head. Translation: no zipper, which is always a win.

: : Fit : : I seem to have a recurring problem making stuff too big. Again, as in the past, this thing could probably fit someone with a 38″ chest or more, which means it’s a little too big on me. Seriously, I’m going to have to open an etsy that only sells shirts in size 38B/C to get rid of all the shirts I make but can’t wear.

Summer Tops : : Week II : : Day II

Thanks for all the Monday-top love! Yesterday’s blouse was a practice run so I could use this (more expensive) yellow fabric. I’m not sure though; I actually think I might like the red one better. I will say though that the fit is really good on this shirt — I’m not sure the pictures do it justice. Jury’s still out.

I made this version a size smaller (small bust, medium hips on Kwik Sew 3222) than the last one, so it’s more fitted and didn’t require the empire waist modification. The Flour collar worked wonderfully again.

: : Collar Up : :

: : Collar Down : :

Fabric : : Purchased at Field’s Fabric in Holland, MI. They were having a sale and had all kinds of this picnic-style plaid, in lots of colors. It has a linen feel to it which is so comfortable and summery. Unfortunately I have no idea what company makes it or where else you can buy it. Has anyone seen it online? If you find it I heartily recommend it for clothing.

UPDATE 3/22/09:
Lots of you have been emailing me asking how to make this shirt.

Here are my modifications for KwikSew 3222:

I cut 1/2 inch out of the neckline before attaching the placket. Here’s my tutorial on how to make the placket:


Then you add the flour collar; I followed the tutorial as is except I added a couple extra pleats so I added a few more inches to the length.

However I will note the tutorial gets a little tricky at the end:
The part that was confusing to me was that the end when you’re supposed to attach it, she suggests attaching the bottom of the collar to the garment, right sides together. I actually prefer to have the right side of the top of the collar facing the wrong side of the shirt neckline with the raw edges lined up. It seems wrong because the collar looks like it’s going to be on the inside of the shirt. You sew that, then press the seam towards the collar and turn the collar right-side out so the collar goes up-out-and over the raw edges you just sewed and do basting on the right side of the underside of the collar (to close it all up), and the final stitching on the right side of the top of the collar (then pull your basting). That way your rough edges are underneath the collar instead of facing your neck where they might be (gasp!) seen.

Anyway, it sounds confusing reading it here but when you actually do it, maybe it will make more sense.

The last thing I did is I cut my sleeve with the straight edge on the fold so that I wouldn’t have to hem it (so the underside of the sleeve looks just like the top side) and just sewed it on as a double layer. I also cut the sleeve a little wider so I could give it a couple of pleats along the top.

Happy Sewing!

Summer Tops : : Week II : : Day I

I’ve got three more tops to show you this week! Maybe more. Maybe.

Sew Mama Sew featured a really cool pleated collar tutorial from Flour a few weeks ago that I really wanted to try. I loved the plaid shirt she had made so when I found some yellow picnic plaid (which you’ll see tomorrow) at a fabric store in my hometown whilst visiting for Father’s Day I snapped it up. After a few botches/redos on other stuff I’ve made, I decided that it would probably be a good idea to make a “muslin” first rather than risking my pricey designer fabric. Only I really just can’t deal with sewing a shirt just to toss it when I’m done, so I used this red flowered fabric I had sitting in the stash from JoAnn’s for the last year. I like that it has a Jane Austen feel to it.

Close up on the vintage-looking red rose buttons. Don’t look too carefully at those buttonholes.

I love that the collar looks good open, up, or down. It’s a little dressier up than down. This was also my first attempt at a placket, which is surprisingly easy, although it took me a long time to figure out without a good tutorial out there. Does anyone know of one?

The pattern I used was KwikSew 3222, but a word about my pattern sewing: I don’t actually use much of a pattern, just the overall shape. For instance, I widened the hips, added an empire waist (it came out too baggy at first, the empire waist is my go-to fix for this), threw out the entire mandarin collar, added a placket (the original has an invisible placket…not my taste), added buttons and buttonholes, and made the hem two inches shorter than the long view. I can’t exactly remember the last time I actually followed a pattern without modification.

Not bad for a first run, eh? Tomorrow you’ll see the yellow version!!


It’s come to my attention that some of you (Meg!) don’t know what Bloglines is. I read so many blogs (including those belonging to those of you who comment here) that I like to have a nice organized way to keep track of them all. My dear seester Elli introduced me to it a long time ago, back in those dreary days before I’d ever read Angry Chicken. Maybe you will find it useful. Or maybe not.

Here’s a few of my new favorites that I’ve bookmarked recently:

Disdressed by Liesl who designs the Oliver + S patterns and paper dolls

True Up which is all about fabric; also posts all the current fabric sales she can find

Orangette – yummy looking recipes and really beautiful pictures of food

Flour – vintagey children’s clothing, awesome ruffled collar tutorial that you’ll be seeing here next week!

Just stopping in…

I’m here…haven’t disappeared, just sewing as usual. I finished two more summer tops and am working on a third so next week just might need to be Summer Top Week II.

I want to say thanks for all of the wonderful and kind comments on the tops from last week. I read and appreciate every single one, even if I don’t get back to you right away. It’s such a boost to get that kind of encouragement, so thank you.

Here’s a look at a small fraction of the stash I’m chipping away at:

I may have accidentally purchased some of the Midwest Modern from Amy Butler. I’m not exactly sure how that happened, but now I’m just going to have to sew some more stuff.

I made a little sun hat for Elliot for him to wear this summer while he’s growing into the one my mom made (mental note: take pictures and post).

The fabric is of course Amy Butler; scraps left over from something or other. The inside is khaki twill.

Summer Top Week, Day V

Today you’re in for a real treat — menswear! Here’s a summer shirt I made for the best guy in the universe (my husband Nate):

Pattern: Simplicity 4287
I find it really hilarious that every single men’s pattern that exists also has a matching little boys pattern included. So I guess that means I should make a matching one for Elliot?

Fabric: Freshcut by Heather Bailey
I was so thrilled that a fabric designer had finally included a guy-friendly print in her line (fabric designers, are you listening?!) that I bought it online, not realizing that it was almost a fluorescent green. OK maybe not that bright, but certainly not a green my husband would be caught dead in. So I soaked it in tea overnight. That’s right. And it worked; I’m much happier with the muted hues, although with each washing it seems to be getting brighter, so we’ll see…

As I anticipated, this pattern is ginormously oversized, which isn’t exactly the most current style for guys right now if you know what I mean. So I made a medium even though he would normally wear a large because I wanted it to be a little more fitted.

This pattern drove me a little crazy with all the little meticulous steps, so if you’re more of the look-at-the-pictures type than the read-the-directions type or if you typically rely on divine inspiration for sewing direction, this is NOT the pattern for you. However, it produces some really sharp results, like little notches on the sleeves and sides of the hem and a nice looking cuff if you’re willing to baste a little (learned that one the hard way).

I don’t know if you can see it, but it has slightly western details on the pockets and shoulders. I almost got pearl-covered snaps but chickened out.

He likes it, so I’ll probably be making more of these. It’s nice to have a good solid basic pattern in your repertoire.

Summer Top Week, Day IV

Some of you are wondering how long I can keep up this top week thing, eh? eh? You’ll just have to stick around and see!

Today’s top (and I really am wearing them on the days I post them by the way, which is just so very fun) is another thing I made up for myself. I sketched out what I wanted to do and did a little math and voila, new top. It was a little touch and go there a few times as it actually was supposed to have elastic around the top band for a sort of smocked look but that bombed and the whole thing got ripped out. I did put a zipper in the back, since I’m no longer afraid of zippers thanks to this fabulous zipper tutorial, although once it was finished I discovered that I could just pull it over my head rendering the zipper useless. OH WELL.

The fabric is Denyse Schmidt which I purchased at the Sew Mama Sew Shop.

So let’s talk technique here. After deciding the shirt was too long (and yes, too maternity-esque YET AGAIN) the first day I wore it last week, I tore out the hem seam last night and re-did it this morning in record time. How, you ask? Answer: The Blind Hem, my New BFF (best friend forever for those of you not up with the latest lingo like hip little me [so sarcastic there…please…hip?]).

Anyway, if like me you loath the last step of every clothing pattern, The Hem, it will seriously change your life. First you need one of these though:

Meet Blind Hem Foot. On my Bernina Activa 220 it’s foot #5 and works with stitch #7, which looks like this on the inside:

And no, for those of you wondering, I did not figure out how to do this on my own (are you kidding, read the manual???), I learned it at the (free) class my local sewing machine shop offers with a purchase of a new Bernina, which was Mr Rae’s Christmas gift to me this year.

Here’s how it looks on the front:

Isn’t that pretty? All it takes is a two ironed folds and a quick sew around the hem and you’re done.

Summer Top Week, Day III

This tie-top came from a pattern my mom gave me from the 70’s which she had used to make a maternity dress. That seems to be a problem of mine; I’m really into the empire waists and the pleats but they often end up making me look somewhat maternity-esque. I tried to make it shorter to prove there’s no baby-belly under there (well, there is, but it’s leftover from the last one). I think it works.

The fabric came from IKEA, from a baby bedspread I pulled apart and made into curtains for Elliot’s room. The leftovers went into this concoction, very Sound-of-Music and all. I like that you can see little birds peaking out here and there.

I actually made this top last summer but it needed modification and thus did not really get worn. The armpits were too high but if I untied the shoulders to make it lower the chest was too tight. So this week I re-sewed the underarm seams to make it more comfy.

I LOVE these colors so much and the style is really great. What’s a little hilarious about this is that it looks like the grown-up version of the Itty Bitty Baby Dress. Hah!

The original McCall’s pattern; of course I modified it a little, but it’s basically View D there except with fabric instead of lace and pleats instead of gathers.