Teal Linen Top with Smocking

Smocked Teal Top

Smocked Teal Top

A yard of teal linen blend was crying out to be included in the Summer Top Series.

It was selected to create a “wearable muslin” – which is a trial attempt at new pattern.  Fitting and improving design are integral parts of the trial.

Smocking Detail (color is off)

Smocking Detail (color looks green, but linen was a true teal)

Vogue 8472 is a jacket, but the wider neckline and A-lined body  made me think it would be a lovely hot season sleeveless linen top.

One of the main reasons this design required a muslin was the length.   However, adding an inch to the front and  2 inches to the back still created a “cropped” length.

The final garment – which is to have a much more ethereal look – will require adding at least 2 more inches – and the use of a much lighter fabric!

Smocking, rather than gathering was used on the back panel.  It maintains the non-clingy A-line shape of the top and adds that “Stash Couture” element.

Not being a teal person, the Fabric Stash was somewhat bereft in that color for lining choices.  But a marbled purple blue green teal quilting cotton presented itself.  Somewhat darker than planned on, it will extend wearing of the top well into the fall!

Vogue 8472

Attaching the yoke in a sleeveless version was a bit tricky.   The yoke and its lining were sewn together – almost all the way around – but only machine basted at the bottom edge.  It was then trimmed, clipped and turned right side out and ironed.

And steamed.

And ironed again.  The lower edge basting was then removed.

Lining Fabric

Lining Fabric

This created a perfectly rounded seamline guide on both the lower linen and the lower lining edges.  The armholes of the lower body had been finished using bias binding cut from the marbeled fabric.

Teal LInen Top Back View

Teal Linen Top Back View

After understitching the neck edge of the yoke, the lower body pieces were attached to the linen yoke at the created “seamline guide.”  The shoulder edges were then sewn together – by machine – (this requires heavy pinning and some maneuvering, but was doable.)  Lastly, the yoke linings were hand stitched down. No topstitching was used.

Bound Buttonhole Detail

Bound Buttonhole Detail

Bound Buttonholes on a trial garment?  Seemed like a good place to practice them. Problem was, the garment was all but done when the decision was made to use bound buttonholes….

Note to self:  Bound buttonholes should be constructed early in the garment sewing process – certainly NOT after the linings have been attached and understitched!

Posted in Clothing, Embellishment, Sewing, Smocking, Stash Couture | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Silk Twill Tank Top with Subtle Smocking

The flowy silk used for the Shadow Embellished Silk Top was not the first fabric I cut out for the top.  Initially I had selected a crisper silk twill in a paler lavender.

Silk Twill Tank Top - front

Silk Twill Tank Top – Unflattering photo of front

Not wanting to return the cut fabric to the Fabric Stash, I was determined to finish the twill tank top.

To be truthful, I should note that what I did was take a week and remake the tank top four or five times.

Twill and Georgette do not behave the same.  Georgette is sheer and flows.  Twill is crisp and well, is crisp.

The redesigned tank pattern required several reductions in width to avoid looking like a maternity top tent.

Subtle Smocking Detail

Subtle Smocking Detail

Once under the spell of the embellish, it is difficult to embrace “plain-ness.”   Some subtle smocking replaced the pleats in the center back.

The smocking was done using a single set of iron-on smocking transfers from Vogart circa 1950s.  Perfect for just a touch of smocking.

I have always loved smocking and it is nice to work it into clothing once in a while.

Subtle Smocking on Back

Subtle Smocking on Back

During the remakes of the remakes, the tank was shortened, shoulders width reduced, neckline lowered and width increased and bust darts re-angled and relocated (the rather humorous first attempt had horizontal darts at my waistline!).

I became an expert at setting my sewing machine tension gauge for easy seam removal (I can only hope I reset it prior to final seaming!!)

All the remakes and revisions overcame the good intentions of making a true pattern post-fitting.  I did get a final version of the yoke pattern, though.

Now, what to wear it with?   Unfortunately, the top “bunches” in the front (as shown in the unflattering front view photo) when worn with the grey skirt I had in mind.

Perhaps white stretch jean skirt or leggings?








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Shadow Embellished SIlk Top

Shadow Embellished Silk Top - Back

Shadow Embellished Silk Top – Back

Lilac sheer silk from The Fabric Stash.

A few beads.  A few pieces of lace.  A few fun hours spent sewing….

The Result: A Shadow Embellished Top.

The Shadow Embellishment is a short piece of lace sewn between the double layers of the back.

Embellishment on vertical lace piece.

Embellishment on vertical lace piece – out of the “shadow.”

The lace was embellished by burning (with a candle flame) the edges of petals cut from scraps of dark violet fabric.  Beads and embroidery stitching were used to stitch the petals to the lace and highlight some of the lace pattern.

Embellished lace piece - in the shadow (under one layer of silk)

Embellished lace piece – in the shadow (under one layer of silk)

The burning seers the edges so no raveling will occur… yes, it is easy to burn too much! (But we try, try again!)

The desire was for the skirt of the top to have more ethereal embellishments than the yoke. By placing the embellished lace between the silk backs a silk “shadow” falls over it.  The shadow is sufficiently sheer that the lace remains visible, but it doesn’t overwhelm the top.

Right Upper Yoke Detail

Right Yoke Detail

The yoke is heavily embellished with stitching and beading.  As the sheer silk has little or no structure, it was layered over linen.

Left Yoke Embellishment Detail

Left Yoke Embellishment Detail

The natural colored linen is not visible as it is sandwiched between layers of the silk and the lining, but it provided the needed “stiffness” or structure for the embroidery and beading.

Shadow Embellished Top - Front

Shadow Embellished Top – Front

Although small portions of the yokes are visible, the front of the top was designed to highlight the flow of the fabric. An overlay, slightly shorter than the top was added to the pattern.  The silk almost flows when walking.

The pattern used was a heavily modified Simplicity 1694.  The modifications included those used for The Stash Couture Tunic. Then the front overlay was cut and the back doubled.

The curved hemline is 4″ longer in center back than the center front.  This hem variation also adds to the “float” of wearing the top.

Side seams were french seamed.  Hems and bias binding were handstitched.

Can’t wait for an occasion to wear it!

Back Yoke

Back Yoke

Yoke with "Burned" Petal Flower

Yoke with “Burned” Petal Flower

Beading and Stitching on Yoke

Beading and Stitching on Yoke

Additional photos of embellishment.




Posted in Clothing, Crazy Quilting, Embellishment, Goddess, Sewing, Stash Couture | 3 Comments

Search for the Perfect Knit Top – Attempt 2

Alabama Chanin Tank Top

Alabama Chanin Tank Top

Have huge ugly T-shirt – can remake!

Alabama Chanin designs caught my eye recently.  The neon pink 3XL T-shirt had more than enough fabric for her princess seamed tank top.

Princess seaming is one of the rules guidelines for the Perfect Knit Top.  So is muffin top camouflage width below the waist.  Alabama Chanin’s tank top included both.

Her books include embellishment stencils and ideas.  So Attempt 2 was sewn.

The fit is wonderful.  Love the wider hem – it does its camouflage job perfectly.

The straps are a bit too narrow to hide “undergarment” straps – but even so, the top is perfect for working out in.

Tank Top Embellishments

Tank Top Embellishments

The embellishments are on the back of the tank.

The heathered knit used for the flower petals is from The Stash.  The raspberry accents and neckline edging were cut from an old workout top.

Children’s washable markers were used to transfer the design to the fabrics.  They worked well – and washed out completely!

As the top must stretch, the hand stitching must stretch as well.  The Alabama Chanin books provide excellent instruction on how to stitch with stretch!

Is this the Perfect Knit Top?

No.  It is a nice workout top.

Embellishment Detail

Embellishment Detail

Can’t wait for another ugly T-shirt so I can revise the pattern and try again!





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Search for the Perfect Knit Top: Attempt 1.

Beading and Outline Stitch Embellishment

Beading and Outline Stitch Embellishment

T-shirts are, well, not complimentary.

The neckline of a Tshirt works for him!

They are boxy and have a neckline that may have worked for Dennis The Menace, but has never been included in a list of “fashion musts” or “this spring’s runway styles.”

But knit fabrics do win for comfort.  So, the Search for the Perfect Knit Top  – Not a T-shirt – was commenced.

Fitted, Comfortable and Embellished!

Fitted, Comfortable and Embellished!

Rules (more like guidelines):

  1. Stash Fabric
  2. Princess seaming
  3. Flared below the waistline (AKA:  muffin top camouflage)
  4. Sleeveless preferred.  No raglan sleeves.
  5. V-neck preferred
  6. Curved hem, slightly longer in back.
  7. Embellishment whenever possible

The combination of princess seaming and v-neck did not appear in the Pattern Stash.

Simplicity 1466

Simplicity 1466 seemed to meet all rules guidelines except for the V-neck. The princess seaming with the curved hem (and the $2.00 price tag) won me over – even though I am not a fan of a wide horizontal yoke.

The fabric is a knit remnant left over from a failed attempt at a different blouse.  Failed garments happen to us all.

Lower Hem Curve

Lower Hem Curve

The top went together easily.  I toyed with a plain colored yoke, but did not want to emphasize the width of the yoke.

Pattern modifications included adding width (a total of 2″) to the hem.  With all the seams, this was accomplished by adding just a slight amount to each  vertical seam starting just below the waist.

The brown and off-white print was a bit too brown and off-white.  It needed something.

Bright raspberry pink beading and edging were added to the yoke. Running stitch in the same color embroidery thread highlights the printed design.

Yoke and side seam embellishment

Yoke and princess seam embellishment

A slight vertical accent was added by adding decorative hand stitching to  the front princess seams.

Is this the Perfect Knit Top – close, but no.

It wins for fit and the hem curve is perfect, but the high horizontal yoke is too high and too horizontal.

With a V-neck, it might have been The Perfect Knit Top.



Posted in Clothing, Embellishment, Scrap Couture, Sewing, Stash Couture | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

SLS Summer Top Series 4

Does anyone else feel they should set a phone reminder so as not to forget to purchase Vogue patterns when they are on sale?

Vogue 8982, Marcy Tilton

Missed one sale – and found another.   Which allowed my to purchase Marcy Tilton’s vest/jacket pattern (Vogue 8982.)

Vogue 8982 Options

Love the simplicity AND the complexity of the design.  The pattern includes options for both knit and woven fabrics.

The SLS (Sizeable Linen Stash) contained some very gauzy black/ecru stripe.  It was not exactly in the form of yardage – it was a pair of wide-leg pants I had made years ago and never really worn.  The fabric was too nice – and at would, of course, be perfect for something/someday so I kept the pants.

Striped Linen and Buttons from The Stash. Lining is a new purchase.

Striped Linen and Buttons from The Stash. Facing Fabric is a new purchase.

With just a bit of piecing, I was able to cut out the vest main pattern pieces.

I searched through The Stash looking for a bright pink/magenta print facing fabric … and to my surprise was not able to find anything.

So (merrily) off to the LFS to break the Destashification Rules.

This 100% cotton eyelet weave with an aqua background could not have been further from the pink/red combination I set off to find, but I kept going back to it.  The colors include a “weathered” black and ecru that matched the linen perfectly.

Striped Top

Striped Top

Luckily, The Button Stash had the perfect matching aqua.  I layered them over some appropriately sized plain ecru buttons.

The facings used almost as much linear fabric as the main vest pieces. The front band facing piece extends under the collar so it is quite a long single piece.

Note to self:  Gauze linen stretches.

Especially in comparison to a 100% cotton eyelet weave print that has been interfaced!.

Much hand basting was required prior to topstitching the facings to the linen.

I love the top.  It will go nicely with ecru or black shorts when the temperatures soar (like tomorrow – 97 degree expected).

Back View

Back View

With the exception of the stretchiness and some confusion as to which way was up on the back side piece, the pattern went together very easily.

Waist shaping was added to the back by curving a modified center back seam.

Striped Top

Striped Top

I will definitely make this top again….

…and have already searched the SLS for another gauzy linen.

If I modify the pattern for the second top, it would be to make it just a just a bit longer in the back.





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SLS Summer Top Series 3

FLoral Linen Tunic

Floral Linen Tunic

Different Fabric and Different Pattern.

Vogue 8810

This top began as Vogue 8810. The V-neck front bands were what I was looking for.  Unfortunately, that pattern was a bodice and had gathered shoulders.  So, the length and shoulders were gleaned from Vogue 8854.

During the process of sewing, shaping and embellishment morphed it even further.

New Look 6082

If I had found New Look 6082 prior to cutting this top out, there would have been fewer modifications.   The Jacket in New Look 6082 has V-neck front bands and princess seaming for shaping – and comes in a longer length!

Embellished Front Bands

Embellished Front Bands

Next top, maybe!

The body is another lightweight linen. This one has a black background and many greens and blues in a large floral print – almost a Magnum PI Hawaii Print!

The black bands are dupioni and the embellishments are quilting cotton scraps.

For those of you that think people who sew know exactly how garments will be made BEFORE we sew, allow me to recount the journey that was this top:

1.  The tunic was originally sewn with front bands of the same linen print – too busy.

2.  Then the bands were sewn of black dupioni (the only sizeable piece of black fabric in The Stash) – too dark.

3.  Neither were “just right” so the stitching was removed (twice, yes twice).  During that process, a “clip” in the back neckline extended itself into a “rip”.

Back Neck "Clip to Rip" embellishment

Back Neck “Clip to Rip” embellishment

4.  The rip was sewn closed and a fabric triangle sewn over it as another embellishment!

5.  The new embellished bands were sewn, interfaced and then attached to the body.

Side View

Side View

6. The resulting large print rectangular bag, was very shapeless and …well, not attractive – although it might have worked on Thomas Magnum!  I had to walk away.

7.  To resolve the shapeless bag look, a waist was added to the  vertical back and side seams.  Front darts were also added.  In all, the waist was reduced by over 4″.

Embellished Front Band Detail

Embellished Front Band Detail

8.  The side view shows the openings left at the lower side seams – the longer length fits better with the slits.  The back was made just slightly longer than the fronts for no special reason.

In the end, the top had been revised numerous times.  Each revision I liked better than the previous.

More Band Detail

More Band Detail

The revisions require a bit of ripping out (and this time apparently, a bit of just plain ripping!), but it is enjoyable to see the garment evolve.

As with the other SLS Summer Tops, the buttons for this top are double-layered Stash Finds.  Plain black buttons layered under a smaller plain blue button.

Total Cost:  Less than $4 (I had to purchase the blue and one green quilting cotton)

Comfortable, lightweight and Stash Couture!


Posted in Clothing, Embellishment, Scrap Couture, Sewing, Stash Couture | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments