This top has been sitting in my pile of things to work on for far too long, making me feel very guilty.
I made it at a lesson with Claire-Louise Hardy, aka the Thrifty Stitcher, last year! It was a one-off session on making a shell top, and I booked it in the hope of kicking off my sew-jo (yeah that really worked, didn’t it?!). It was at her studio in Stoke Newington, and I was really lucky because there were only two of us there, so we got tons of personal attention and guidance. It was the first time I’d seen any serious pattern-adjusting in action, and since the other lady there had a very different figure than mine, I got to see different kinds of adjustments. Claire-Louise was a lovely giving teacher, and I would go to another of her classes like a shot, and heartily recommend her classes to anyone. She’s also just a really interesting person to be with.
I came away with a top which was all but finished. All it needed was a tiny, tiny adjustment, which Claire-Louise had pinned for me. I don’t know why I didn’t do it as soon as I got home. Well actually I do, because Stokey’s quite a long drive away from Guildford, and it was late. But I could have done it the next day, or the next weekend. I don’t know why it’s taken me a whole flippin’ year. I’ve been feeling bad about not actually wearing the thing that such a good teacher has helped me to produce, all for the sake of adjusting a couple of underarm seams.
However, I can now cast off that guilt, and move on, so let’s look at the top I’ve managed to complete.
The first thing to say is that I bought this fabric in Hong Kong, when I visited there back in 1991, while HK was still a British colony, and I was still in love with my ex-husband. It was a wonderfully vibrant and exciting place to be, and we were there over the Chinese New Year, so it was extra special. I bought three or four dress lengths of silk, including this one, which is a silk/cotton blend, and feels divine. I gave it to my mother, as a gift, but she’d stopped dressmaking by then, and it sat in her sewing box until my sisters and I had to clear her flat when she moved into a care home. At that point I bagsied it back. So the fabric had been lying in my stash with a lot of emotional baggage attached to it, on account of the holiday, the ex, and my mum. But I decided there’s no point in hanging on to it, and it might as well get used, so it was one of the choices of fabric that I took up with me to sew this top from.
It’s a plain and simple sleeveless shell top, from Claire-Louise’s The Great British Sewing Bee- Fashion with Fabric book. It’s perfect for the summer, or even the spring and autumn months with a suitable cardigan, and I could make a dozen more now, because it’s dead simple, and I’ve still got the adjusted pattern (I’d need to tweak that underarm seam, though!).
The amendment to the underarm seams, taking them in a smidge to reduce a bit of gaping, meant that the integrity of the previously beautifully overlocked finish had to be compromised. I hunted around to see if any of the stitches on my Singer would mimic that stitching, and tried a couple. It’s not perfect, but it’s only for neatening, not for actual seams, so it’s good enough. When I make the top again, I’ll see if I can find any other stitch that will neaten nicely.
I’m happy that I’ve got this available as a wearable top now, especially to boost my Me Made May wardrobe slightly. It’s a bit of a wardrobe orphan at the moment – because it’s such a dramatic print, I need to pair it with something plain. I’ve got tons of plain/plainish black skirts, so in the long term that won’t be a big issue, but not many of them are me-made, so not brilliant for May. I’m planning on making a skirt with the remainder of the fabric, to match the top, there’s still nearly 2 metres left. That may be be one of my Thursday night sewing class projects for later in this term.
This uses one piece of stash fabric, but doesn’t use it up, making the current blogged tally 1/10.