A New Crop of Tops

 After my last post I realized that I have been whining and stalling all summer!  I keep making lists and refolding my pile of fabrics...definite signs of a major stall happening.  After the flurry of tops I decided I was on a roll so I should just keep it going.  So here is a whole crop of tops, but these are from the Key West pile.  

Since I was on a Susan Eastman inspired journey, I made a Michigan/Key West crossover top.  A mix of my Michigan mud colors with a few hints of my new ocean inspired colors.  I like it, but not sure if it will make the cut for Key West.  I think it landed somewhere in Tennessee!  

The pants in these pictures were the first thing I made from the pile.  The fabric came from Merchant and Mills as did the pattern.  They are my favorite Eve pants.  The fabric is a lovely teeny tiny hounds tooth check linen.  I really liked the selvedges so made them a feature on the pockets and the waistband.  I truly adore the way these pants fit and feel.  I wear them all day and they are comfy like my knit pants, but I feel so much more 'dressed' in them.

The first top from the pile is also an M&M pattern.  It is the Factory Dress pattern but made into a top by leaving off the skirt.  I think they actually have done a pattern release of a top variation, but I just make the top and "forget" to make the bottom!  The fabric is the softest aqua color I have ever seen with a twin grey thread stripe.  It just screams ocean to me.  I got it when I visited Italy a few years ago.  The stripe is actually on the cross grain, which is a bit unusual for a woven fabric.  I like this version but have decided that I prefer it without the bust darts.  It is roomy enough that I don't think I need them and the extra volume also makes the hem circumference a bit much.  I did a mock up using an old tablecloth to see if my fiendish no-dart plan would work and I think it's a winner.  The next time I make the Factory dress or top it will be dartless.

The Factory Dress from Merchant and Mills

The next top is a pattern that I got a while ago but never made up.  It's the Monty Dress and Shirt from Style Arc.  I have used several of their patterns and find them to be drafted with me in mind.  The shoulders are usually generous enough and even the sleeve lengths are closer than most patterns.  I did quite a bit of messing about with this, so you might not recognize it from the pattern envelope.  The original had a front yoke and was very cropped.  I was using a big stipe print and thought it needed more space to really show it off.  I added a dropped back yoke with gathers to add some volume at the hem.  The rayon fabric really moves well and the longer length gives it a lovely flow.  I think this is going to be a favorite.  It feels like it will be perfect for hot sunny weather.

I spent an inordinate amount of time matching the back yoke and absolutely no time on the center front.  I just got really lucky with the palm placement at the center.  Whew!

The Monty Dress and Shirt from Style Arc Patterns

OK...last top!  (did you notice how nicely they all go with my Eve pants?!  I may need to make at least one more pair of pants so I can swap them out for laundry day!)

This top is a version of my square shirt that literally doesn't touch my body when worn!  The perfect top for really sweaty days!  The loose open sides let the breeze in and the light Liberty silk absolutely floats.  

Finally, I made a maxi length T-shirt dress.  I built a bra into the top which makes it really comfy.  I think this will be just right for after the beach.

Whew!  A flurry of summery stuff.  It feels good to be making my way through the pile.  It's a bit odd that just as the weather is saying corduroy, I am hauling out the silk and linen!  I have a few more things that I'd like to do, but I am pleased with my progress.  I'm also enjoying working with some new colors.  Now that my hair is more grey than brown, I think the soft grays and aquas will be nice, and more at home in Key West than mud.  👍


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.