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Kim Werker

Which Simple Top(s) to Sew?

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We've been talking lots in our video chats about sewing clothes. My family is about to dive into a massive financial decision (all good, which is a nice change!), and the resulting tightening of our belts is super motivating, and it's got me wanting to finally commit to making a good chunk of my wardrobe moving forward.

It's a bit fraught for the following reasons:

  1. I have a lot to learn. Which is only an issue because I need to put in a lot of terrible sewing before I gain the competence to be the kind of sewer/ist I want to be – which is a proficient one who can sit down and make some clothes and that's that. I'm going to tackle this challenge by thrifting some bedsheets, I think, and making myself a Sound-of-Music-esque wardrobe to cut my teeth on. This one's a challenge both because I want to spend as little as possible as I make very imperfect clothes and because I get impatient and sewing doesn't make a ton of sense to me at this point, so I'm slooooow.
  2. I wear mostly knits, full stop. I don't have a serger and at this point don't feel the expense is warranted. In this vein, I both want to get good-enough at sewing knits on my regular machine, and to find patterns designed for woven fabrics that I find comfortable and that won't feel like wearing a tent. That latter bit is because I have no desire to wear fitted or very tailored shirts. Both for expediency and because I don't actually wear those in real life. No collars, bust and waist darts, etc. So for woven tops, that means largely unfitted, which means I need to find good options that don't look or feel like I'm wearing a tent hanging from my shoulders.
  3. I've gained weight in the last year and I hate wearing clothes right now. I want to feel comfortable and not shapeless, etc. etc., and see #2 about tent shapes. I'm comfortable melding sizes so the bottom hem of a top is wider than the size I've chosen by bust measurement, and even if/when I lose the weight, my hips will always always be a full size larger than my bust/waist. So this I can do, at least, and it's related to the tent situation except instead of being entirely practical it's also mixed in with shame and self-consciousness.

To sum up: I'd like to get super proficient at making, like, two or three tops I could whip up quickly in a weekend afternoon. For someone who happily wears a t-shirt every day, I don't actually need variety of shapes in my life. These two or three tops may be best sewn from woven fabrics, but I would also like a go-to pattern for knits.

I'm thinking of one (or both?) of these patterns, and I'd love your take on which (or both or neither) would fit this bill, and if you have experience with other patterns that would work for my needs?

Ruby: https://shop.made-by-rae.com/collections/womens-patterns-garments/products/ruby-dress-top#1

Ryan: https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/276407814/ryan-top-pdf-sewing-pattern-womens

To be clear, I've done some sewing. I know my way around my machine, and I have a solid foundation in garment shapes, etc., from my work in yarn. But I don't have an intuitive feel for making clothes out of cut pieces (vs. row after row as done in yarn), and I'm impatient so have little space in my life for fiddly details. I don't care if the inside of a shirt is messy as long as it's not uncomfortable. Even a detail like a split hem is a detail too many. Maybe down the line, once I master this stage in my sewing, I'll want to add in those kinds of features, but for now they're deal-breakers.

What do you think, oh sewing masters? And thank you in advance! 

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Both of those tops are adorable. I consider myself I beginner sewist, but I think even I could handle the Ruby top! I've always wanted to sew my own A-line skirts...I know it would be pretty simple to do, I just need to block out some time to try it.

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Not that I really feel like recommending a Bluprint class right now, but Meg McElwee's Sewing With Knits class  - https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=253536&u=1699437&m=29190&urllink=www.craftsy.com%2Fsewing%2Fclasses%2Fsewing-with-knits-5-wardrobe-essentials%2F35535&afftrack= - was a godsend for me. You don't need a serger, just a sewing machine that has a couple of fairly standard stitches (lightning bolt and 3 step zig zag). All the knit fabric stuff I've sewn (including an obscene amount of custom leggings) has all been on my standard machine. Also, if you are hoping to do this on the cheap, I would highly recommend getting on Girl Charlee's mailing list - https://www.girlcharlee.com/. They have the best prices on knit fabrics I've found including right now the 99 cent half yard sale. They sell half yard cuts, which are great if you're making underpants or small baby things. And from time to time they have super great sales on other stuff. For instance, I got a package this week that had some other cotton spandex jersey in it to make dresses, but 3 yards of a tencel spandex print fabric that cost me $1.70 a yard. Going to use that one for the muslin. 

Also, the patterns that come with the Meg McElwee class are great. 


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Thanks, @Alice Creason! Maybe we should give that Ruby top a try at the same time, and cheer each other on?

And thanks, @Miriam Felton! Yeah, Bluprint; sigh. But knowing you even sew leggings on your standard machine is encouraging! And thanks for the Girl Charlee tip. Shipping to Canada is always a pain, but it sounds like the sales are so good sometimes that it might be more than worth it.

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6 hours ago, Alice Creason said:

Tempting! I MAY have just bought the pattern just to take a look at what's involved. 🙂 

I MAY have, too. 😉

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I just bought a few patterns from Sew Liberated. One of them was this very simple, very versatile tee-shirt sort of top. (I got a 20% discount as I signed up for their newsletter last month.)

The other two patterns which I bought were: https://sewliberated.com/products/reversible-metamorphic-dress-pdf-sewing-pattern

and https://sewliberated.com/products/clara-dress-sewing-pattern. I also considered this top, which can be done in a very super simple way or with a few pleats just for fun: https://sewliberated.com/products/aida.

I have not personally made things from Sew Liberated’s patterns before, but have heard good things.

And they have a 25% discount through midnight on May 31 if you use the code MEMADEMAY. 

The other pattern line I have heard some of my sewist friends up here swear by is Cashmerette, a line that says it specializes in clothing for women with curves. https://www.cashmerette.com/products/appleton-dress-pdf-pattern is a dress that a friend of mine loves so much that she has several of them in different fabrics/trims.

That said: Favourite leggings pattern? I was just going to go the “trace a pair I love” route but I wouldn’t mind knowing if there was a better way to do this.

I bought some fabric on sale today! White with black owl faces, adorned with a wee bit of sparkle. It’s very light, so I am thinking of making either the Clara dress or the Metamorphic, each of which would require lining the fabric in some way (I’m thinking plain white cotton, or maybe white cotton with a subtle tone-on-tone for the underlayer. I am also thinking of adding sleeves to the Metamorphic pattern.

Sewing! So addictive. I spent two days re-sizing a super cute sheath dress of mine that no longer fits me so that it fit Ms. Melody. I put in two more front vertical darts and small one in back, and it fits her perfectly. Triumph!!

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