Close But No Cigar...Yet!


I have had a pile of fabrics with accompanying patterns queued up on my cutting table all summer.  They are all ready for me to make into a new Key West-ish wardrobe.  I have decided that my 'mud colored' closet just won't cut it in Florida so I have been collecting some other colors to try out.  I'm not sure I have moved significantly away from the mud, but I have added some hints of turquoise and coral and a dash or two of pink and yellow.  OK, baby steps!  I am really liking them but the problem is they just sit there.  I think I am so worried that with the virus hanging about we won't actually get to go to KW this fall.  If I make a bunch of new things to wear it will be even more disappointing if we end up in Michigan.  So I keep shying away from the pile.  Maybe next week....

In the meantime, in another part of the sewing room...I actually have made a few things!  These are definitely going to stay in the muddy Michigan closet!

There is a wearable art artist in Oakland who makes lovely, elegant garments using salvaged kimono fabrics and other Japanese textiles.  I have lusted after her work for literally years!  They are simple T-shaped tops made by patchworking the kimono scraps together.  To look at them you would think they wouldn't be that difficult to make.  But they have been deceivingly elusive.  I'm not sure if it's the fabric, the pattern shapes, the proportions....but some how I have not gotten there in my attempts.

Here are some of the pieces that have been inspiring my forays...

(You can see more of Susan Eastman's work HERE)

 As I said, deceptively simple!  

Here is a top that I made when Rhonda from "Rhonda's Creative Life" and I did several posts together last summer.  Rhonda had sent me several kimono pieces to work with and I immediately thought of the Susan Eastman tops that I had been wanting to try.

I knew it was going to be for Rhonda and she is lovely in blues.  I can definitely say that it was "inspired" by the Eastman tops, but it isn't quite there.

More attempts...

A few years ago I had a funky brown linen tunic that I wasn't wearing anymore, but still loved the soft, worn fabric.  I decided it might work as a skirt and a top...

I don't have a picture of the original tunic, but it looked something like this...

It had a high waist seam and a "breast pocket," which hung rather low even for me.😉 I cut through the seam and ended up with a "skirt" and a very short "top."

I finished the skirt with a simple drawstring and I have worn it often.  The top was a conundrum.  Too short on its own, big wide sleeves, I did like the V-neckline...I collected some scraps to add to it and ended up shoving them all into a "project bag" for another day.

When I came across them last week I again thought about the Eastman tops.  Another go...

The top is still a bit short, but when I put a band around the hem to add some length, it only made it stick out like I was in a hula hoop!  For now it will just be a bit short.  If I wear it with the skirt it blends enough to make it OK.  

Still not quite...

Round 3!

I had a small pile of Japanese scraps that my husband had brought back with him from a business trip eons ago.  I also had a pile of men's suiting sample swatches that my sister-in-law had sent even more eons ago.  I thought they would have the right Eastman 'vibe.'  I also had a few scrap of a bark cloth that I thought would work...the suiting samples ended up determining the size of the patches since they were all cut to the same size.   I mixed them all together...and...it started to look like a top.

I kept fussing and piecing and finally called it 'done.'  I had to scratch my head a bit on the neckline.  The suiting piece that ended up at the center front had a very definite windowpane check.  Because of the way it was cut, the center of the top did not match up with the windowpane pattern.  I just couldn't ignore.  A scooped or V-neckline would really point out the 'almost but no cigar' placement of the design.  I ended up creating an asymmetrical scoop, which I think works OK.


I feel like I am almost there...

I think my next go should probably be with some Key West colors!  We'll see.  Maybe it's time to dig into the KW pile?!

Note:  The stenciled leaf pieces in the brown linen top were done when I went to a Diane Ericson, Design Outside the Lines workshop several years ago.  It is a bit eerie and I didn't know it at the time, but as I was working on this project, Ashland, OR, where Diane lives, was being engulfed in a wildfire.  Diane actually lost her home and workshop in the fire.  It makes me incredibly sad that Diane has lost everything.  She has been such a huge inspiration for me and so many others in the sewing community.  She has always been unbelievably generous with her talent and her spirit.  I am holding a gentle space in my heart for Diane right now and wearing my "leaf" shirt makes me feel closer.  There is a GoFundMe effort underway to help Diane through this tragedy.  It is amazing to see the sewing community rally.  



  1. Love your top! Also, I am so sad to hear of Diane's loss. I did not know this happened to her.

    1. 2020 just keeps coming with one disaster after another. It gets tougher when it gets personal.
      I just keep sewing! On most days it keeps my mind busy. Thanks for checking in!

  2. Your tops look great. Looking at the pictures of Diane's tops are her sleeves even wider?

    1. I've been studying them for awhile...and yes, some do have extra wide sleeves. For me that's just a recipe for laundry! I would drag them through everything.

  3. Just means you need a bigger stash! So sorry to hear about Diane and Ashland. It's a place I know we'll. So sad.

    1. The news has been sad and scary all year...when it gets personal, it's even harder to take.
      oh-oh...I have been trying to de-stash a bit!