Yellow Stripe Tops

Today, a pair of spring tops, one for me…

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Yeah, pouty face.

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and one for Clementine.

spring top 2013 - 27 Please do not pin or use this picture of Clementine without permission. Thanks!


My top was made with the Staple Dress pattern by my friend April. If you haven’t heard of it yet you are crazy, because it is blowing up the Internets!!! I shortened it from a dress to a top by cutting it off about 11-12″ below the shirring line on the pattern (I think). I love how easy this pattern is: it literally comes together in five minutes, and then you spend another bit of time binding the arms and neck and shirring it — and then it’s done. Super fast and fun sew!!

Clementine’s top is a mini-Staple top that I drew up freehand. Other than being a bit big around the neck, it’s pretty cute. Love the mini-version, and Clementine clearly does, too; she’s worn it almost every day since I made it. Both tops were made with a really lightweight knit that I think I got from the Fabric Fairy. It is pretty sheer, and I love the fluorescent yellow stripes.

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I did not heed April’s (sound) advice in the pattern instructions to try it on before shirring and cinch the waist to figure out where the shirring should really go; as a result I ended up putting in two lines and then taking one out later. I still want to try the dress with a hi/lo hem, and I have a few yards of navy rayon waiting to become a Staple Dress. Can’t wait!!!

Camp Stitchalot May 2013

I also had to show you this picture of Melody and April and Katy all wearing their Staple Dresses at Camp Stitchalot (you can read my post about it here). April made Melody’s dress for Quilt Market to feature Melody’s new fabric line, Ruby Star Polka Dot. The combination of the dress and the arrows is AMAZEBALLS. Both April and Katy’s dresses were made with Anna Maria Horner’s Field Study fabrics. This is the first dress Katy ever made…so proud of that girl!! They all look amazing, don’t you think?

One last behind-the-scenes picture of me combing Clementine’s hair (which she HATES) while she was holding the camera remote and firing away.

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Spring Top Sewalong

Hi, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and, if you’re in the States, a wonderful holiday, as well! Our family had a lovely vacation week last week in North Carolina with my parents and seesters and brothers-in-law. Elliot and Clementine are the only two grandchildren, and they certainly love having the attention of that many grownups. We had a nice week on the beach, had great weather, and I got to relax and unwind after a busy weekend at Quilt Market in Portland the weekend before. I can’t wait to show you some pictures from Quilt Market!

I’m wrapping up the Spring Top Sewalong this week, so today I wanted to show you a bunch of lovely tops from the sewalong photo group that caught my eye. Aren’t these great?? There are even more fantastic tops in the pool.

STS 2013 Roundup 2

TOP Left, Middle, Right; BOTTOM Left, Right

Nicole blogged about that cool striped tee (Bottom Right) here.

STS 2013 Roundup 4

Left, Right Top (way to self-draft your pattern, Becca!), Right Bottom

STS 2013 Roundup 1

TOP Left, Right; BOTTOM Left, Right.

STS 2013 Roundup 3

TOP Left, Middle (Teresa blogged about it here), Right; BOTTOM Left, Right

(That’s Kristin modeling her free pattern found here).

You’ll see even more fantastic tops in the Spring Top Sewalong 2013 Flickr Pool!

I have one more of my own tops to blog yet too…so I’ll post that soon!

Green Lawn Pleated Top

I guess it’s all about the clothes for me this week! Here’s another one of my Spring Tops, as part of my ongoing Spring Top Sewalong. The sewalong will wrap up soon (on Monday), so if you’re still thinking about it, now’s the time!

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This top was made with a lovely lightweight green lawn I found at Mood in NYC last fall. It’s based on the same pattern as another pleated top I posted last fall, but without the elastic shirring and with an added band at the bottom.

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I wore it last week for four days straight. Not because I love it so much that I couldn’t wear anything else (though I do like it!!! A LOT!!), but actually just because I kept putting it on in the morning, thinking I would find time to take pictures in it, but then never did. Mr Rae was probably starting to wonder.

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Works nicely with the red moccasins that I both love and hate because they always turn my feet and socks bright red. I ruined a white skirt last week by accidentally leaving the skirt sitting on top of the shoes. BAH. I like the combination of red and green together, even if it might be a little Christmasy. Anyway, do you guys know how to sew pleats? It’s so ridiculously easy!! I’ll have to show you how sometime.

Want to join in? Spring Top Sewalong is almost over, so add your tops to the pool! See this post for guidelines.

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Sheer lace top

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Another one of my spring tops for you today, this one in off-white lace.

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I have to say, I die a little of embarrassment whenever I show my face on this blog. I know I probably come off as a sort of person with narcissistic and attention-seeking tendencies (I mean, give me a break, you kind of have to be to be a blogger, no?), and though that may be partially true, for some reason it seems weird knowing that you’re all looking right at me and I can’t see you back. I get self-conscious and I feel like I have to say something about facial expressions that are awkward and strange (like in this post), or my thighs, or whatever distracting thing I feel the need to comment on — that you probably wouldn’t even notice otherwise. Sometimes I get around that problem by cropping my head out of a shot, just to focus less on me and more on the garment (Exhibit A, below). But it’s hard to be the headless blogger all the time, especially when the composition works better with a head. So I guess I just have to be okay with posting cheesy pictures from time to time. Anyway, enough about self-consciousness; more about the top!!!

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This top was completely inspired by this lace top I stumbled across on Pinterest. I fell in love with the photo and couldn’t stop thinking about finding some lace to try to recreate it. I think I got the overall look down but now there is the issue of “who wears this? and WHERE?” — which I didn’t really think through completely before I started. The outfit with the gold earrings and the pink pencil skirt, for instance, reads more “ladies who lunch” than “Rae about town” or “Rae carting child to karate” or even “Rae on a date” or “Rae goes to church,” so when am I going to wear it? I don’t exactly yet know. Suggestions???

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One other (pretty major) problem of wearability still exists with this top, as the ladies who witnessed its first donnage last week at our latest local sewing meetup will attest: I cannot get this top to stop busting open at the snaps. This was obviously due to a gross underestimation of how strong my chest is. JUST KIDDING. I blame the clear snaps that I picked up at a nearby sewing superstore, which, though nearly invisible and therefore seemingly perfect for a white top, won’t stay shut worth a damn. I cannot comprehend why one would need snaps that don’t close. Maybe to dress a mannequin? A corpse? Neither one is on my agenda, at least for the near future.

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This beautiful lace fabric came from the remnants floor at Britex during our recent family trip to San Francisco and the pattern is my own, something I drew up based on my measurements using a pattern-making book. The edges were trimmed with a strip of white voile cut on the bias, which worked out quite nicely, methinks. This lace was slightly stretchy but much easier to sew than the stretch lace I used for the Angel Top, so it went together quite quickly. Oh, if only it would stay on.

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This is top #2 of five that I’m planning to post this year as part of my Spring Top Sewalong! You can join in by sewing something for yourself and posting it to our friendly photo pool! More info can be found here. We’ve extended the sewalong until Monday, May 27th, so you have just a couple more weeks to sew along!

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Pale pink linen top

It’s time for my first spring top of 2013! This pale pink linen top is one of five tops I’ve finished so far this spring, and I can’t wait to show you!

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I like making sleeveless tops in the spring because it’s so easy to layer sweaters over top. This top was constructed in almost exactly the same fashion as my “Time for Tea” Washi Dress: start with the Washi Dress pattern, then add a peter pan collar, full bodice lining, and (as you can see if you look carefully at the sultry shot below) an elastic casing in the back. In addition to that I gathered the skirt, added a pleat to the center front, and narrowed the shoulders quite a bit.

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I’m really happy about how nicely the bust darts turned out on this top. Sewing angled (French) darts can be tricky and, as many of you know, often produces puckering at the end of the dart — which is not cool. I’ve been meaning to go back and fix some hastily sewn bust darts on my Ruby Star dress but keep finding other things to do. Despite my track record with iffy darts, I do actually possess the skills to sew them properly if I’m patient enough, and have actually even given talks before on how to sew darts to accomplish a nice smooth end. That could be a blog post for the future, for sure. Speaking of darts, did you guys see Liesl’s new video on Dart Manipulation over on Creativebug? Love how simply she shows you how to move darts. So great!

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A nice peter pan collar is not particularly difficult to draft, though it can be a bit time-consuming, and I do feel that it takes a bit of skill to get just the right amount of curve away from the neckline. A flat peter pan collar is easier to draft, but often does not stand and curve away from the neck properly, which just looks a bit sad and wimpy to me. It took a couple un-sews to get the curve of this collar just right, but I finally got it right and am v. pleased with self.

I know that many of you would love a pattern piece for this peter pan collar. As far as that goes, I will say that I have put a bit of work into a companion version for the Washi Dress (an “expansion pack,” if you will) that can both stand alone and easily interchange with the Washi Dress pattern pieces. My thought right now would be to offer the both peter pan collar and a tie-neck option in the expansion, along with one or two new sleeves and instructions on lining and making elastic casing instead of shirring. I’m still unsure exactly what this will look like — it needs to be different enough to justify being a whole new pattern, but it would be nice if the price could be lower so that those of you who already have the Washi Dress wouldn’t have to lose too many more dollars to get the new pieces and variations. In other words, still awesome, but not so awesome that it outshines Washi, haha. So there you go. I’m sure you have opinions; feel free to share them!

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M’kay, just had to share this last pic with you because that bicep there is starting to look like it might have future aspirations of being one of Madonna’s. Also, am looking pretty fierce. Woot to the hoo for three months of yoga finally paying off!!!

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Want to join in with me and sew yourself a top? Spring Top Sewalong is going on now, so get sewing and add your tops to the pool! See this post for guidelines.

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Spring Top Roundup 2013

To tuck or not to tuck? Two versions of two very lovely tops from our Spring Top Sewalong pool. I adore them both…both ways!
to tuck or not

Top: (left) my-spring-top-4, (right) my-spring-top-2,

Bottom: (left) New Look 6808, (right) New Look 6808 tucked in

And some more lovely and cheerful tops for spring…

spring top blouses
Top: (left) Emerald Tunic, (right) Peter Pan Blouse,

Bottom: (left) Lisette Portfolio, (right) squaretop

spring tops 3
Top: (left) Sheer square top, (right) Simplicity 2922,

Bottom: (left) purple jersey top, (right) Striped Dolman

Spring Top Sewalong is going on now! Keep adding your own photos to the Spring Top Sewalong 2013 Flickr Pool!

Spring Top Sewalong…what to make?

I cannot believe this. It is SNOWING outside my window right now. What what WHAAAAAT? The Spring Top Sewalong was supposed to end last week (at least according to this post), but honestly now, with real spring weather proving so elusive and my general reticence to don and photograph my own spring tops (can you blame me? it is so cold outside!!), I’ve decided that this year’s sewalong is just going to have to be extended until we can get some REAL SPRING. Is that okay with everyone?

Kids’ Clothes Week (KCW) is also going on right now, so if you need to take a break from the top sewing to sew for your littles, go right ahead. It doesn’t mean you can’t keep adding your photos to the pool or dreaming about new spring tops, right? And if you’re still stuck on what to make for yourself for the sewalong, let’s take a look at some of the new women’s patterns on my radar this year. All are from great indie pattern designers, and I think they would make fantastic spring tops!

First, the Archer Shirt from Grainline Studio is a classic button-up style shirt that would look great in all kinds of fabrics. The Archer Sew-along just wrapped up last week and is a great resource if you want to make your own Archer. Check out the Tiny Pocket tank and the Scout woven tee patterns as well!


This year my friend Meg over at Sew Liberated has released a really exciting pattern collection that includes the new Esme Top (and skinny jeans!!). The Schoolhouse Tunic is another popular favorite that has made regular appearances in the Spring Top Sewalong pool in past years and is another great choice.


Jamie Christina has a new Hi Lo raglan tee pattern that looks super comfortable for those who are looking for a casual, wear-with-jeans pattern, and it has a hoodie option! The Sol Hoodie would also be perfect for layering this spring, and I think the Miz Mozelle dress would look great as a top.


The new spring release from Colette Patterns is Laurel, a shift dress with lots of fun variations in both blouse and dress styles. I love how the back darts create a beautifully tailored fit, and the gathered cuff sleeve is definitely my favorite. Colette has a number of other blouse patterns as well (such as Violet and Jasmine), so be sure to make a thorough perusal through the separates section while you’re over there.


The Briar Top pattern from Megan Nielsen is another favorite this spring; I’ve been seeing tons of Briars in the sewalong pool this year already! I’ve also always thought that the Darling Ranges dress would be so cute in blouse form, and Banksia is another popular favorite from Megan. Note to those who are preggers: Megan also has a great maternity pattern collection!!!


Finally, another dear friend, April Rhodes of Sew to Speak, makes her pattern debut with the beautifully simple and elegant Staple Dress for women. I’ve already printed out my copy and am scheming about ways to turn it into a blouse, and a dress is in my plans, as well. This is a great choice for any sewist; easy construction and forgiving design make for an instant-gratification sewing project!


OK. So realistically, there’s no way I will be able to make each and every one of these this spring, but I’m hoping I’ve inspired some of you so I can live vicariously through you instead! Did I miss one of your favorites? Definitely tell me about it in the comments!

For more spring top awesomeness, see what everyone has been making in the Spring Top Sewalong 2013 Flickr Pool!

Checking in with the Spring Top Sewalong!

I’m really excited about the tops and photos that are already in the Spring Top Sewalong photo group — totally great! Here are just a few faves, finished and in progress:

spring top 1
Top Left: Wiksten Tova by SewCaroline, Right: Wiksten Tank,

Bottom Left: Bird Top, Right: McCall’s M6612

spring top 2 (progress)
Top Left: Spring top, Right: Collar drafting

Bottom Left: Work in progress.., Right: Laurel top – the inside!

springtop 3
Top Left: Lisette Portfolio Tunic, Right: Casual lady,

Bottom Left: Split-Back Tank, Right: Coral Briar

springtop 4
Top Left: Washi Tunic Heirloom, Right: Floral Shirt,

Bottom Left: spring top, Right: banksia top – wearing, close up

And this is just a taste of all of the great things happening in the pool! For more Spring Top photos and info, check out the links on the sidebar.

I’m going to really make some progress on my spring tops this weekend, I can feel it!!

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Let’s have a Spring Top Sewalong, shall we?

Oh, yeeeeaaaaaah! It’s that time again, y’all. It’s time to sew for YOU, and it’s the perfect time, because the sun is starting to reappear and with it enough daylight to see that the sad sweater you’ve been wearing every day for the past four months is not going to cut it anymore. The birds have decided that this side of the planet is actually habitable! The air smells like worms!! It’s time for a Spring Top Sewalong!!! And let’s not drag our feet here, people. Because you know that any day now there will be another KCW(C)*, and then it will be all “let’s sew for the KIDS!” again, so there’s no time like the present to sneak in that selfish sewing. CHOP CHOP, LADIES! LET ME HEAR THOSE MACHINES HUMMING.

This year’s Spring Top Sewalong will run from now until Friday, April 19. I’m going on vacation next week (can you say family train trip to San Francisco? That’s right, you heard me), though, so I probably won’t do anything top-related for at least a week yet. It will be pared down a bit from the sewalongs of yore in the sense that it will JUST be a sewalong, in the simplest sense, without the additional contest. When I think about the essence of this event, it’s this: a challenge to sew something for yourself, for a change, for heaven’s sake. I don’t think anyone will really mind if we skip all the craziness behind the scenes, the contest entry forms, the rotating panels of judges scoring each and every top, numerous spreadsheets and totals, setting up multiple rounds of reader voting…will they? And if you do mind, you’d better not say so, because you don’t want to be THAT person who is only in it for the prizes, because that would look pretty selfish, now, wouldn’t it? Do you see how deftly I just got myself out of a shit-ton of work while at the same time making it look like you’d be a jerk to complain? What a freaking genius I am.

Here how this year’s Spring Top Sewalong will work:

Sew a top (or more) for yourself!

Spring tops in this sewalong should be made by you, for you. For these purposes, a “top” is something that covers the majority of your top half, but not the majority of your bottom half. You can see where that would put leggings and negligees, can’t you? (NOT TOPS.) We can have the Unmentionables Sewalong in June. JUST KIDDING. The term “spring” indicates that it should be sewn in spring, THIS spring, to be precise, as opposed to last year. But, generous soul that I am, let’s define “spring tops” as tops completed after March 1, despite the wintry weather of this past month. There is no limit on the number of tops you may sew for yourself this year, since I don’t have to score them all, so knock yourself out. Need inspiration? You can find all of the tops from years past on my Spring Tops page.

Share it with us!

The Spring Top Sewalong 2013 Photo Pool will again function as the primary means to share your photos, either of tops in progress, finished tops, or piles of fabric you wish were a top. Please share those photos! Do try to remember that text-heavy and multi-photo images don’t play very well in feature mosaics. Be sure to include a link to your blog if you post about your top.

If you post your Spring Top Wewalong photos on Instagram or Twitter, add the #springtopsewalong hashtag to your description so we can find it. Don’t forget send them to Flickr while you’re Instagramming them, and then add them to the pool that way, as well (does everyone know how to do that?).


This year I think it would be fun to see more photos of tops in progress, more people discussing fabrics and patterns, and helping each other out if necessary. I felt like the format we had before (where you could only post one finished photo of your top) was a bit limiting that way. It meant that the pool was more of a final show and tell, instead of helping us all sew along with each other. So let’s SEW ALONG!

Top Tops
I’ll feature my favorite tops from the pool here on the blog throughout the sewalong, as part of the fun. Maybe I’ll even hand out crowns again! It’s going to be great!!

Take a button

Feel free to use a button on your blog or website to help me spread the word. The html/widget code for the button can be found at the bottom of this page (scroll allllll the way down). Adjust the width by entering the width of your choice in the width=”x” area of the code. Anything up to 200 pixels wide should look OK.

Let the sewalong begin! What are you going to sew this year?

*I have it on good authority that KCW will run this spring from April 22-29, so that’s perfect timing, right? First get yourself all prettified during STS, and then you can refocus on getting the little blighters looking spiffed up and presentable during KWC. Am immensely pleased with self at clever planning.

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