the fabric-failure top


Do you ever fall in love with a fabric, then get it home and ask yourself what on earth you’re going to do with it? Don’t answer that; I know I can’t be the only person with lengths of fabric malingering in my stash because they don’t lend themselves to anything I’d ever wear.

(True story: On three separate occasions, I decided to finally make the Colette Chantilly, bought 5 yards of fabric for a self-lined version, and then decided I didn’t like the fabric that much. I’ve since decided that the Chantilly doesn’t even really suit me, so I’ll probably never make it in any fabric. So if you have any projects — or any three projects — that need 5 yards of lightweight fabric, let me know.)

I’m always looking for ways to turn a fabric failure around. So when I saw the Wiksten tank hack at Katy & Laney, a lightbulb went off in my brain. Oh my God! A summery top! That’s what you could make with that oversized gingham fabric that has been stumping you for a year!


I’d been racking my brain trying to think of ways to turn this gigantic print into a dress. Idiot!

(Disclaimer: I have a lot of this fabric left, so it might still turn into a dress.)

I knew it was a sign from the sewing gods when I realized that Katy had bought her oversized blue gingham at Grey’s Fabric in Boston, which is where I bought MINE, you guys. But as much as I love the K&L hack, crop tops are no friend of mine.  I needed a different direction.


Oh, hello. What’s that I feel back there? Bit of a breeze?

I used this tutorial to hack my standard blouse pattern, which is modified from the Licorice dress in the Colette Sewing Handbook. Take out the sleeves, the collar, and the waist darts, and you’ve basically got what looks like a Sorbetto with a wide, pretty neckline.

Like most of my projects with bias binding, this was something of a misadventure. “Just use bias binding,” I tell myself when I start a project. “It’ll be so much quicker and easier than a facing.” That has always been a lie, always, and I end up going around the edges of the bias binding, painstakingly stitching down the flapping edges that didn’t get caught in the topstitching.

Happily, I tried the Lladybird bias facing method, and it’s working a lot better — especially when I realized that I could avoid sewing my bias pieces together if I just folded one edge down while pinning, like so:


Then I overlapped the other end of the bias strip over that point, and sewed away. By the end, all the raw edges were tucked inside (although it might have looked better if I hadn’t been seething over my choice to use silk habotai for the bias strips. Don’t ask.)


Also, if I’d been smart, I’d have lined up the bottom of the back yoke with the bust dart. As it is, they look like a really badly matched seam. But it’s OK. I’ll just try not to move my arms from my sides.  /sarcasm


Ignore that fraying at the underarm. I’m sure it’ll be fine. #sewingmotto

I cut the front on the bias to give the fabric a bit of drape. I needn’t have worried; this is a really nice, soft cotton. I also really like to keep bust darts in a loose blouse; to me, it makes a huge difference in providing some shape.

The panels at the back are made from another problematic stash fabric, an open-weave, sheer silk that I found on the “Silk Novelties”/a.k.a. “damaged fabric” table at G Street. It’s a beast to work with — frays at a glance and loses its shape if you breathe on it. It flutters beautifully on this top, though, and anyway, I really needed to use it up.

But as you might guess, I still have a lot left.

Pattern: Much-hacked blouse loosely based on the Colette Licorice
Fabric: Less than a yard of 45″ wide quilting-weight Moda cotton, $10/yard from Grey’s Fabric. Unknown quantity of unknown silk purchased for an unknown price (although I knew it once) at G Street Fabrics.


5 thoughts on “the fabric-failure top

  1. Pingback: the this-was-once-a-licorice dress | root branch bole

  2. Pingback: one week, one pattern, mostly | root branch bole

  3. Pingback: summer stashbust 2014 | root branch bole

  4. Pingback: and now for something completely different | root branch bole

  5. Pingback: me-mades in the wild (year-end roundup) | root branch bole

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