I recently had a couple of precious mornings all to myself i.e. no children to entertain. This was my last chance for garment sewing until September, so I chose what I was going to make carefully. I wanted an easy top for my holiday, it had to have minimal fastenings (ideally no zips or buttons), a fitted shape and be made in a lightweight fabric for wearing at the beach.
I trawled through my pattern collection looking for inspiration, before finally settling for Simplicity 2154 - a sixties style bow blouse which I first made here. Now, you may think something Miss Moneypenny would have in her wardrobe would be highly unsuitable for holiday wear, but stay with me. As a casual holiday top, there's a lot to be said against using this pattern: it's quite high necked, it looks formal, it has a ginormous bow and if you're not careful, you could end up looking a bit too 'Dog Toby'. Looking like 'Dog Toby' is an expression my mum and I use if something looks a bit too frilly and ridiculous around the neck, named after the fine, ruff-wearing dog from Punch and Judy. Moving on… you'll be relieved to know that I never intended to keep the original bow on the front. I might have a thing for bow blouses, but even I realised that a giant one would be just too Dog Toby for the beach!
Let's talk about what was right about the pattern instead. What drew me to it was the fact that I managed to get away with not inserting a side zip the first time I made it. It has bust darts and contour darts to the front and back, so although it's roomy, there's enough shaping there to still make it look fitted. It also has cute keyhole details at the front and back neckline which I thought would be a nice feature for holiday wear. I wanted it to be a quick make, so as well as the bow, I also decided against including the collar - it would just be a simple shell top with added keyhole details.
It sewed together like a dream but when I tried it on, the neck was too high. It wasn't unnaturally high, just not as casual as I'd hoped. I decided to lower the front neckline and have the front fasten with a thin bias binding bow - I'd still get a bit of bow blouse action, just not of the Mrs Slocombe variety. I lowered the front neckline edge by about an inch and drew a curve to join it up with the rest of the neckline. Because the neckline is finished with self bias binding, I simply cut out double the amount of neck binding and let the remainder hang loose from the centre front edges. This extra neck binding became my bow. Simple!
|Back detail: fastened at the neck with a button and handworked thread loop|
The fabric is a Japanese cotton lawn from the same selection at Abakhan that my lemon lawn came from. I was delighted to receive a gift voucher from Mr Will Abakhan himself as a thank you for inadvertently helping to shift copious amounts of lemon lawn fabric! The voucher burnt a hole in my pocket for all of five minutes before I blew the whole lot on….more cotton lawn! I couldn't resist, it's so soft and lightweight, absolutely perfect for hot weather clothing. I chose two metres of a gorgeous red and turquoise rose print, and as the blouse only requires a front piece, a back piece and a few strips of bias binding, I still have nearly 1.5 metres left to make a dress with next year. Woohoo! I didn't bother underlining it this time as I deliberately wanted it to be as light as possible.
It took me one morning to cut out and sew the blouse together, and another to fiddle with the neckline, so it was still a quick, easy make. It teams up really well with my vast collection of red and denim skirts, shorts and capri trousers too, hoorah! Thank you for the generous gift voucher Abakhan - last minute holiday top sorted!
I'd quite like to plan ahead next year and make a few more holiday tops or camisoles. I've got my eye on the new Silk Cami pattern from Sew Over It, which looks promising, plus there's some great inspiration in Katie's recent Camisole Crazy post, but if you know of any other suitable top patterns (preferably without zips or buttons) please share them in the comments. Happy Monday! x