I’m really sorry about the name. I just couldn’t resist. And I’m probably the last person on the planet to hear about “octomom” or whatever, having gotten my first pedicure in eons last week. I know I can’t be the only person who only gets their celebrity news by reading ten issues of Us and People on the rare occasion that they visit a salon. And lest you think I’m some sort of Gentlewoman of Leisure, getting manis and pedis on a whim while an au pair pushes my toddler around the park, I’d just like to say that my getting a pedicure is more an act of community service than anything else since I can no longer comfortably reach my toes. Strangers were starting to look away in horror as I passed on the street. In addition to learning who/what “octomom” was (if you don’t know, please don’t bother) I also learned that no one else goes to the salon at 6 pm on a Friday night (Mr Rae was watching Elliot). Sad, but at least I got all of the magazines to myself.

Enough of that. Here’s today’s FO, evidence that I am chipping away at the Mendocino in my stash slowly but surely. This one almost made it onto the Spring Top Week roster but I couldn’t get it finished on time:

: : Pattern Process : :
This began as the back of this top and the front of this top. Neckline, armholes and waist width later got adjusted for various reasons (Arm: you need more room if you add a long sleeve; Neck: you need more room if you’re going for a boatneck look; Waist: you need more room if you get knocked up), resulting in a finished product that no longer really resembles any of those beginning tops.

The neck thingy (what IS that called?) was just a trace of the neckline about 4 inches or so wide, with a longer portion in the middle for the slit. I sewed the right side of the neck thingy to the wrong side of the shirt, then clipped the edges and corners, flipped the whole thing around to the outside, and sewed it down.

Oh the arms: the bane of my existence! I didn’t have a good “arm” pattern anywhere, so I had to draft these bell-shaped ones out myself, resulting in many, many reject muslin arm pieces on the floor of my sewing room and multiple tearouts.

In the end, the urgency of knowing that the top would not fit me if I tarried too much longer was enough motivation to get it finished. Here’s one last pic, in which I’m starting to resemble another large sea creature…


The votes have been checked and tallied and the results are in! Congratulations to Astrid from Denmark who won the most votes for her beautiful striped top! Yaaaay!

Astrid made this lovely top from an Ingelise (so sad for me that it’s in Danish!) pattern with lightweight striped cotton and white linen for the yoke and covered buttons. You can see her excellent craftsmanship in some of her pictures (photos from: Astrid’s Flickr):

I love the button detail and the top is just perfect for spring with its airy sleeves and subtle colors. This was one of my favorites so it was fun to see it move into the final ten and then win! And how about that adorable baby! (:

If you haven’t had a chance to go over to Connecting the Dots yet, it’s a lovely place to read about Astrid’s sewing projects and family life (did you know that ducks say “RAP” instead of quack in Danish?). She also has a link up to Onion patterns which I think will be my next European pattern addiction (although I’m not sure anything can touch Ottobre).

Astrid will be receiving a copy of the Toddler Backpack Sewing pattern and some other goodies from me for her prize.

Thanks again to all of you who entered the contest; congratulations to the runners-up, and a very big congratulations again to Astrid!


Here are the winning tops from each of the ten groups in the Spring Top Week vote held earlier this week:

Row 1, left to right:
Layla, Kate, Brittney, Kate, Carrie
Row 2, left to right:
Sinje, Kelli, Cheryl, Meg, Astrid

Congratulations to those who won the first round! And even if you’re seething with jealousy, be sure to check out their blogs and leave them nice congratulatory messages.

So before I post the link for the final round of voting, let me clarify a few things:
I’m asking for a name and email address for each vote cast in the final round so that I can verify votes if needed and more easily delete duplicate votes (one vote per person, obviously). This is also to avoid potential votes cast by ones toddlers and/or cats and/or spambots. If you are casting a vote, you should be old enough/sentient enough to have an email address (although…do spambots have email?). Anyway, please know that I would never share your information with anyone or use it for anything other than voting data.

Voting ends Friday 11 pm (eastern time)


(Update: Voting is working again as of 12:20 pm, I have been assured by my VP of Programming that it is working correctly now; unfortunately if you voted b/w exactly 9 am-12:15 am your name was entered but your vote was not counted…ack! I am so, so sorry for the inconvenience; please vote again if you voted this morning. If you are unsure if you voted after 9 am, feel free to email me and I will let you know!!!)

Isn’t it exciting (despite somewhat major glitches?) May the best top win!

SPRING TOP WEEK: Get out the vote!

UPDATE: VOTING IS NOW CLOSED. THANKYOU FOR YOUR INPUT!So it’s time for you to vote on the tops from last week to choose this spring’s BEST TOP from our showcases! Here they are again if you’d like to look back: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. They are also pictured on the voting page.

ROUND ONE DEADLINE: Tuesday, 11 pm (Eastern time)

There were 100 tops entered in Spring Top Week last week (I know, how weird is that?), so for the first round of voting you will be able to pick one top each from ten groups of ten. I will take the final ten winners and the final round of voting will be Thursday and Friday.

The tops have been randomized and unlabeled. However, you can click on each of the images for more detail. By the way, you do not have to vote for all ten groups if you don’t want to (just find the one top you want and go for it).


UPDATE: Um, how can I say this kindly? It looks a wee bit suspicious when certain votes are cast, let’s say for example, in rapid succession for, let’s say, the same top. Remember that I can see the voting data, in a spreadsheet, as it comes in…please don’t make me eliminate your top from the running!

Feel free to steal either of these buttons to post on your blog or send to your friends and family; remember to remind them that they have until Tuesday night to vote for you, also remember to tell them which top(s) are yours (Group 2, Top B, for example).

Thanks to all of you who worked so hard on your tops and made Top Week such a great hit! Also a great big thank you to Mr Rae for putting together all the images and programming the poll for me (that was a ton of work when he really didn’t have time to spare). *Smooch*

SPRING TOP WEEK Day 5: Rae’s Victorian Collar Top

This is the last completed top for this week; I’m hoping to have enough nap this afternoon to finish just one more…we’ll see! I’m not exactly sure what to call this top, but the neck seems a bit Victorian to me so I’m just going with that. It’s actually just a ruffle around the neck (ruffles seem to be my thing this spring) which I’ll give a few directions for below.

This top was a make-it-up-as-you-go creation. I started by putting a set of pleats in the fabric (before cutting even), each 1/2 wide and 2 inches apart. I traced the line on the bottom of my modified Smashing Smock pattern so I’d know where to stop the pleats, and then traced a “front” piece from some newsprint pattern I’d made along the line. The pleats made it baggy enough in front to work for maternity, and I did a non-pleated back to match. I made up a flutter sleeve using the armhole circumference. And there you go!

The ties are 3″ below armpit and can go in front or back. The fabric is from JoAnn and as you can see above, has a sort of fuzzy nature to it. It’s also really see-through and thus requires a tank or camisole underneath. You may also have noticed that Kate made a top of the exact same fabric that was posted yesterday in the Spring Top Showcase.

I roll-hemmed the ruffle, sleeve, and bottom hem again with my serger (some of you have asked: it’s a Brother 1034D) which worked great for this weight of fabric. I also serged the inside seems since this lightweight stuff always seems to fray. The beauty of the rolled hem on the bottom is that when I’m post-baby, I can just hem it shorter to make it more normal-looking.

Here it is mid-construction:

How-to add a ruffle to a neckline:

I cut 2 yards of 1.5″ wide fabric for the ruffle and finished the top edge of the ruffle with my serger. Then I stuffed it under the presser foot on the right side of the blouse while sewing 1/4″ away from the edges. This gathered it just fine (I imagine this is what a gathering foot does, but a bit more unpredictable and erratic). You can see this finished step above. Then I serged that raw edge you see there (you could also pink that edge or cover with bias tape), pressed the ruffle away from the blouse, and topstitched the seam to tack the edges down underneath the neckline and force the ruffle up.

SPRING TOP WEEK DAY 4: Smashing Smock in Mendocino

If you’ve hung around here awhile you know that I’m a big fan of Heather Ross’ prints. Her Mendocino line is no exception. The muslin I posted about on Tuesday was a test run for this top, another Smashing Smock (pattern: Anna Maria Horner’s Seams to Me). This time, though, I made the top backwards, with the yoke pieces made out of a tiny dotted print by Lecien (I don’t think this is available anymore) and the bottom the aqua mermaid print by Heather Ross:

I trimmed it with white piping, which I curved around the corners. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: piping makes everything look better!

Smashing Smock works again for the baby belly!

Serger tidbit: One thing I’ve been doing with all my tops this week which is a huge time-saver is using my (still pretty new) serger to finish the hems with a rolled edge. It goes extremely fast, doesn’t require extra fabric allowance at the bottom for hemming, and reduces the bulk. I know many of you still have The Serger Fear, but once you try it, you never go back!

SPRING TOP WEEK Day 4: Your Creations!

Here’s today’s Spring Top Week entries for your inspiration and enjoyment!

LEFT: Lorna of Lorna Doone made the Summer Blouse from Weekend Sewing
CENTER: Mette from Mammaumulius made a top from Danish magazine Ingelise 9/08
RIGHT: Layla from Carrotflowers made this top from a Japanese pattern book

LEFT: Su from Vively Online made a vintage Simplicity top
CENTER: Bekah from Bekahomeka made New Look 6179 in white eyelet
RIGHT: Sue from Berkshire Cottage made Simplicity 4589

LEFT: Mariana from Portugal of Mae da Mafaldinha made her own version of New Look 6677
CENTER: Cheryl of SewCanDo made McCalls 5050 with vintage 60’s satin fabric
RIGHT: Kristin of PajamaMama made matching tops for herself and daughter Belle with my SMS top tutorial

LEFT: Susan made Lila Tueller’s Funked Out Peasant Blouse
CENTER: Kate of Curiositys modified a SewU pattern and added embellishments
RIGHT: Ragnhild of Anti-nostalgic made a top from Burda WoF 7/2008

LEFT: Millie made Vogue 8390 in floral jersey
CENTER: Sinje from Mighty Mouse with a circle top (see her blog for the pattern!)
RIGHT: Silvana from Miss Behave with a second trapeze sunshirt from Weekend Sewing

LEFT: Another entry from Lulu at Gus + Lulu, a Spring Ruffle Top
CENTER: Bonnie from Fishsticks and Fries with her second entry for the week, a top of her own design
RIGHT: From Ragnhild at Anti-nostalgic, her top made from Simplicity 3835

LEFT: Bonnie from Fishsticks and Fries with her third entry of the week, a modification on her Emmy blouse
CENTER: Jessie of Tiny House made a ruffle top with my tutorial
RIGHT: Raesha made Simplicity 3835 with polka dots

Tomorrow is the last day to submit your tops (please, please: remember to put the pic on Flickr AND send me an email) for Spring Top Week! I will be closing the pool at 9 pm EST so don’t miss the deadline!

SPRING TOP WEEK Day 3: Rae’s Tie Top

Here’s another one of my creations, the adult-sized version of the Itty Bitty Baby Dress. The pattern was modified from this top from last summer (from a vintage pattern my mom gave me). This time I lengthened the top part with the idea that it would be an empire-waist top, and therefore be a bit more flattering than the original version. I also lengthened the ties and added pockets, a move which would have worked had I not accidentally cut the hemline too short. So now the pockets stick out under the hem when you have your hands in them…oops. Throw this one back on the pile!

The fabric is from Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern line. The background color is almost a candy pink, but in combination with the yellows and oranges it mellows out.

While I am happy with the overall look here, I am sorry to admit that this top is not working as a maternity top for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’m not sure if you can tell from the pictures but I am stuffed into it like a sausage. I must not have measured the width correctly because I can barely breath. This unfortunately is a thing that cannot be changed because silly me (!) I trimmed the side seams to under a 1/4″ after sewing them. The other issue is the length. While it may not look too short now, believe me, I’m going to need more length in a few weeks for sure.

I do like the pockets though. I’ll move them up and maybe a seester will have to borrow it until next year…

By the way, tomorrow’s top is NOT pink!!!

SPRING TOP WEEK Day 3: Your Creations!

Happy Wednesday! Here’s another batch of new Spring Tops for you to peruse and enjoy!

LEFT: Kate of Curiositys made a top of her own design using a tank top and her Lei Neckline Tutorial (check it out on her blog)
CENTER: Sinje from Mighty Mouse with the first of two contributions today, her version of McCalls 5819
RIGHT: Shean at Diary of an Unconscious Mind made her very first top from my tutorial on SMS

LEFT: Bekah from Bekahomeka made KwikSew 3222 with a flour collar
CENTER: Lauren from Bananas for Breakfast made McCalls 5661 for her first non-baby sewing project
RIGHT: Wendy of West 38th made Jalie 2566 (I’d never heard of this pattern line before — does anyone else have Jalie favorites?)

LEFT: Emily from thedabbler made a Summer Blouse from Weekend Sewing (read about the sleeveless version she made for her aunt on her blog!)
CENTER: Julia made Vogue 5556 with some Anna Maria Horner fabric
RIGHT: Angela from Clothesline Chronicles made Simplicity 4589

LEFT: Kristin of SeeMommySew made a top from Ottobre Woman 2/2008
CENTER: JessiB made a top inspired by the Busy Bee Quilt Design Lilly Apron and a purse to match!
RIGHT: Sue of Berkshire Cottage made Simplicity 3835

LEFT: Sazzie from Sazzie Sews made up her own tunic pattern
CENTER: Silvana from Miss Behave with version 2 of the Summer Blouse in Mendocino fabric
RIGHT: Millie in Ireland with her second version of Vogue 8558, this time with jersey

LEFT: Bonnie of Fishsticks and Fries modified the Spring Ruffle Top to include sleeves
CENTER: Lulu from Gus + Lulu made Simplicity 2892
RIGHT: Meg from Fashioned by Meg made a modified Summer Blouse from Weekend Sewing

Three more lovely Spring Ruffle Tops…
LEFT: Sue at Vively Online
CENTER: Sinje at Mighty Mouse
RIGHT: Rachael at the park avenue sweat shop

LEFT: Adrienne at A Cultivated Life modified BuiltByWendy’s Simplicity 4111 (so it’s not so revealing — who else has had this problem besides us?)
CENTER: Ragnhild at Anti-nostalgic made Danish pattern Onion 5036
RIGHT: Astrid from Connecting the Dots made a top from Danish sewing magazine Ingelise

You can go to the Spring Top Week Sewalong pool to comment on any of these lovely creations or to submit a top of your own. It’s not too late! But Thursday at 9 pm EST is your last chance to submit a top, so the deadline’s almost here!

Didn’t see yours today? Check back again tomorrow or Friday; I’m spreading out the tops out over the week.

Also: make sure that if you want it posted on the blog you have:
1) Sent me an email with your name, top info and blog link, and
2) Put your image on Flickr
I still have not received emails for some of the tops in the pool — please do that so I know you’d like to be featured on the blog.