Sunday, January 8, 2012

RTW-inspired Navy and White Check Shirt

More pictures

First, I thank all of you for the wonderful comments and feedback you left on my Marcy Tilton top, both on the blog post and the review. I am really overwhelmed!

Marcy Tilton featured pictures of Margy's tops on her blog. What a nice surprise! Also, Vogue patterns asked if they could feature my top on their Facebook page (which hasn't posted yet). It seems that this top, with my machinations, struck a chord with many.

I have tops on the brain. There are no less than two separate year-long top sew-alongs on Stitcher's Guild - one for "top of the month" and one for "shirt of the month". I have not joined either, formally, but my mind seems to be in "top" mode so it's possible my sewing mojo has signed up on its own accord. (I try to follow the mojo where the mojo leads.)

Several months ago I was in a boutique and I saw an interesting blouse, very briefly. It had a hanging front band, which I loved. I looked at it for maybe 5 seconds and moved on. I didn't take notes or draw pictures, or even try it on, so I can't remember that much about it, other than the hanging front band. I can't even remember what color it was. I believe it was a Kedem Sasson top, but am not even 100% sure about that.

Often I see interesting details in RTW and forget about them, but not this time! I decided to use a pattern I had as the basis for this top. Butterick 5034, recently out of print, is a good basic pattern.

Somewhere along the way I had cut the tissue paper pattern as a size 16. Now why did I do that? I am not a size 16. I am a size 18, and I still need a hefty FBA, in most patterns. But I can deal with a 16 if I widen the back and pay even closer attention to the FBA, so that's what I decided to do. (And it helped that this is not a fitted pattern.)

I wanted the front of the top to be shorter than the back, and I wanted side slits. At first I planned a regular shirt collar, but in the end I went with a plain neckline, finished with a bias strip. Since the front band extends below the hem, I had to use separate front bands, rather than a cut-on facing which folds to the inside.


  • Drapey navy/cream check fabric from Fabrix. I think this is another rayon/poly blend and is very crepe-like. It ravels like crazy, but has a great drape.
  • 11 5/8" mother-of-pearl buttons from Fabrix.

Alterations and Modifications:

  • 3" FBA.
  • Widened the back by 1" (2" total).
  • Narrowed the shoulders by about 1.5".
  • Shortened front to 2" below the waist. Marked the waist point because I wanted to stop the side seam at the waist, leaving side slits.
  • Shortened the back to 4" (or so) below the front.
  • The upper sleeve measured narrow, so I widened it by 1".
  • Folded out (removing) the cut-on facings. Instead, I cut two front bands 2.5" wide and several inches longer than the front. I used 1/4" seam allowances for the front bands, so the finished band is 1" wide.
  • Originally I was going to use a standard shirt collar, but, while sewing, I decided not to. Instead, I stay-stitched the neckline at 5/8" and trimmed off 3/8", leaving a 1/4" seam allowance. I cut out a bias strip 1-1/4" wide and longer than the neckline. I sewed it at 1/4", wrapped it around to the inside, folded the raw edge under, and hand stitched. I really like wearing this sort of easy, casual finish.

I decided to finish the front bands by sewing them together, at the bottom, wrong sides together. I trimmed close to the stitching, turned them right side around (after pressing), and top-stitched close to the edge.

When it came time to put on the buttons, I raided the button box. I didn't have any fabulous buttons, but I did have the ubiquitous mother-of-pearl buttons that I have used for other projects. These cost 10 cents each at Fabrix, so I stocked up. (I probably would have preferred navy buttons.)

During construction, I put the blouse on many times. (Don't you love to sew wearing a bra and PJ bottoms?) I realized that the blouse is loose enough that I could pop it on and off over my head, so I decided not to use buttonholes. The buttons are merely sewn through both bands. All but the top two - those are sewn to the left band only. I never planned to wear it buttoned all the way up anyway.

I know, it's pretty cheeky of me to cheat and leave off the buttonholes. But I won't tell if you won't tell. :)


I really like this top! It will be great in warm weather. I made it a tad too short in front, so it won't be the top to wear to a revival meeting, or a sporting event, or anywhere one might want to throw up one's arms, unless one wants to exhibit one's belly button. I will definitely make this again.

By the way, I wrote this blog entry last night, as I often do, but waited to post it until I could take photos in daylight. I accidentally hit "post" instead of "save". Once that happens, even when the post is deleted from the blog, it can't be removed from blog readers.

More Pictures

Worn with my cream corduroy Linda pants

On New Years Day (morning) I took a walk and discovered this abandoned New Years top hat on the side of the street. I love to take shadow pictures and that morning I was wearing a skirt. After taking a few pictures, I picked up the hat and was walking along when a man, walking his dog, asked if it had been a good party. :)


  1. This is a great look for you, Shams. The crisp checks and shorter length are youthful and your slim hips are highlighted. Your sewn blouse is so much more attractive than the pattern illustrations. Such poor illustrations, I think, keep many a good pattern unsold.

  2. I'm glad that you went with the white buttons instead of the navy ones. The white ones really work well with the top! The hanging band is an interesting detail along with the longer back. This is a really kewl top!

  3. I love the top Shams - and I wont tel about the lack of buttonholes!

    I love the idea of someone thinking you hadn't made it home from a party yet - clearly you look like the fun person you seem in blogland in real life too.

  4. that is an adorable and edgy top! And that fabric is just perfect for it. I have some similar fabric (coral and white) in my closet that I look at, then walk away, then look at a few months later, and walk away. . . your top is inspiring. Those coral and white checks might get to leave the fabric category and enter the clothes category!

  5. Great top, even without buttonholes! :D Actually, I think that length is very flattering on you, although I understand about not wanting to throw your arms in the air...

    Love that fabric, look like spring!

  6. I like that top, too. Very nice. You are cruisin' girl!

  7. What a great take on a shirt - love the extended front band (very quirky indeed, without being over-the-top). Great work - as usual!!!

  8. Shams, you've managed to make gingham contemporary! I love the eccentricity of the tab, and the tiny buttons.

  9. Super cute top! You really seem to be on a roll with creating clothes that not only have your usual creative flair, but are really flattering as well! Great job :)

  10. OK, the shoes are just killing me. They are fabulous with your new top. God bless America and your top looks great!

  11. I love this! It's a wonderful funky take on a basic blouse. And your fitting skills are superb

  12. Love the shoes! Your whole outfit is really cute, and has a summery flair. Very fun. :)

  13. This blouse is just darling and I love the fit. I also love the fabric. Another success! Thank you for your comprehensive description of the process!

  14. Thanks, everyone! These are Icon shoes, from a number of years ago.

  15. What a great top! I love your design changes/ details. I too often snoop shop in boutiques then forget the details of what I've seen. :)

  16. Oh my goodness...I really like this top! I have tried to get my mojo back but I am just not going to be regimented to sew with a plan. I don't know if that is wrong or not...but for now, I think I'll allow my mojo to guide me, like yours seems to be guiding you :-)


  17. Love the top, I like the length on you, it's shorter than what you usually make isn't it? Good choice on the buttonholes, no buttonholes, no gaposis, right?

    Thank you for explaining what happened with your post from last night, that has happened with other blogs I follow and I always wondered what was going on. Now I know.

  18. I'm sorry, after reading my comment, the first sentence sounds vaguely like a backhanded compliment. I really didn't mean it to sound like that. I follow your blog because I love everything that you sew.

  19. The top is great. Your choice of shoes is the icing on the cake!!

  20. Very cute top, Shams. I love the extra bit of detail that makes one do a double-take. Great idea.

  21. What wonderful details on this top!

  22. Oh I like this a lot! Another pattern to buy and a look to steal......

  23. That hanging front band is mega-cool. You are such a wealth of inspiring ideas!
    I've had some read and white check sitting in my stash for simply yonks. I'm wary of sewing it up and looking like a picnic blanket... the colour is the sticking point. If only it was not red! But possibly something really edgy would be the way to go...

  24. Love this, and am pinning to save it for spring!