so, blogging. I love making things — dreaming of new projects, making modifications, choosing textiles of course, cutting, sewing, and all the way through a finished garment. but photographing a new piece? Apparently not my strong suit, and definitely my biggest hurdle to having an active blog. I asked Jenn to take some photos of my new shirt several months ago but never got around to posting it because I didn’t really like most of the photos. but this simple top has been in heavy rotation in my wardrobe and I had several lovely conversations about it at the latest Bay Area Sewists meetup, so I think it’s time to get over my self consciousness and on to sharing this quick pattern hack with the world! (which is a rather bold statement considering I have 6 blog followers)
I’ve been admiring the indie line Osei-duro ever since I saw someone wearing a pair of pants in their signature wax print style — graphic, bold, but still very wearable. I love the modern shape of their designs and the emphasis on traditional artisan textiles and ethical production, and would absolutely support the brand if it was in my budget. When I found an Osei-duro-esque lightweight cotton at my local fabric shop (/happy place) A Verb for Keeping Warm, I had to have it. I didn’t have a pattern in mind and it was a little pricey so I think I bought 1.25 yards or so.
I started to see similar tops appearing all over instagram and pinterest — boxy, sleeveless shell tops with interesting prints or luxurious fabrics. Longing for the silhouette, I tried on several tops like this at local boutique Ali Golden:
Though I was tempted by the Ali Golden sale rack, I realized in the dressing room that the shape was simple enough to recreate & all I needed was a basic top to provide the neckline curve and proportional guidance: enter Grainline Studio’s Hemlock tee. Though it’s drafted for knits, I knew from previous experiments that the shape would translate well to woven (and recently Jen of Grainline Studio did a post about woven Hemlocks!).
I remember making this in one afternoon, on an unseasonably warm day that I had off from work — I think it was Labor Day. Four months later, here’s a basic outline of what I did (+ funny illustrations/midnight doodles):
In my eagerness, I actually mis-cut the front so that the pattern was slightly off center. I wanted to create the “V” shape in the middle, as opposed to just the diagonal repeat, so I decided to cut the front piece in half, discard one half, and cut a new piece with the mirrored pattern. Thus the center front seam. I think the flat felled seam is a nice touch, but if you were working with a less obvious pattern, you could easily omit this and just cut the front as one piece. Because I was working with limited yardage and I had to re-cut the front, I ended up taking the sides in a bit — I think less than an inch per side. I would recommend pinning the sides together to determine your desired proportions — for the width, for the armholes, and for the hem (I think I cropped mine about 2″).
p.s. on the ecology of this fabric — I fell for the print, and didn’t take any notes (mental or written) about the fabric otherwise. I think it’s plain old cotton (not organic) and feels like voile. The print looks like a true wax print, not an imitation silkscreen, since there are variations in the pattern. Does this mean it was made at a smaller scale? Perhaps a lower impact? Hard to say. Sometimes I think smaller-scale industries can actually be less efficient and more wasteful/resource-intensive than larger scale operations, but having no real information about this fabric, I can’t even make an educated guess. Which brings me to my greater quandary about handmade wardrobes: are we really lessening our impact/divorcing ourselves from an oppressive system (“sweatshop”-manufactured clothes) if we’re still buying fast-fashion-type fabrics? I just finished reading Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline and I want to recommend it to everyone I know so that we can all talk and keep talking about these issues. Overdressed focuses mainly on fashion consumption & the cut-and-sew end of garment manufacturing, which while certainly highly problematic, is only part of the supply chain. Raw materials and everything that is required to get them to the cut and sew stage have an enormous impact — on the environment (especially cotton farming, and plastic microfibers polluting the ocean), and on the workers in the field and in the processing factories, and on the communities nearby every step of the way. I think many people, myself including, are drawn to handmade projects for the economics of it — clothes for a fraction of the cost of ready to wear! But as sewists and makers, how can we avoid those same fast-fashion, destructive systems? So far I’ve got two main (and rather unoriginal) ideas: transparency in the textile industry, and re-use/recycling. Neither of these are approachable alone, so I’m grateful to be able to join in the “sewcialist” community to keep questioning, and keep making, together.