Saturday, September 26, 2020

Sewing...why? a few more summer tops

The title of this blog post kind of sums up my feelings lately. A whole lot of why. Like my fellow N. California quarantinos (just saw that nickname recently and I love it) we aren't doing much in terms of going out other than necessity or very limited socially distanced gatherings. So it's been a super weird summer but things are looking better. Last night I finished my first class for our Hello Stitch Sewing Club, and despite the limitations of distance learning it was fun and I hope useful. Like my in-person classes at Hello Stitch, I tend to sprinkle each session with extra tips on fitting or useful techniques for better results. The next class for October is a basic button-front shirt (you can use any pattern you have). I think shirts are a great garment for learning all kinds of techniques and a good project for someone who is familiar with the sewing machine and sewing simple items. 

However my end of summer sewing is not a button front shirt - wearing something with a collar and sleeves sounds stifling as we continue to have heat waves. I made three different tops using fabrics from my stash and two aren't my favorites but one will be repeated next summer. If I were playing baseball that would be a good batting average but this is sewing and I want everything to work out :)  

First up is this top from Burda, the June 2020 #114.  I saw my far away sewing pal Ellen show this and it had already intrigued me, so I sewed it up with the fabric remaining from my recent Cielo top. I don't think it is a success, but it's not bad and I'll keep it and see what I think next summer. It was really windy and tricky to photograph, you can see that the arms are open and flutter a bit. Maybe it's the neckline which I don't love, I will have to think of something else. 

Blue flutter sleeve voile top

Blue voile flutter sleeve top composite

Burda June 2020-114 tech drawing

Next up is something I like a lot more. This fabric was also in the stash, a remnant from a previous top shown here. 

Ruffle tank top red 2

Burda ruffle tank composite

I have seen a few versions online of this sewn up and I think I made the ruffle too narrow, most of the ones I've seen show the ruffle cascading a bit over the shoulder, which I think is a more interesting look. I will probably make this again next summer. it would be really nice in silk crepe de chine, which would give just the right drape. 
This top has my nemesis, which are ties that you have to make by sewing a tube and then turning right side out. 


Honestly - this is one of my worst sewing skills. I almost never have success with this and often end up sewing it by folding, pressing and topstitching. I think this one worked because the fabric is so soft. 

Burda tank top tech drawing

Here's the image from the magazine. This is Burda June 2020 # 106. Super quick to sew. Can you believe this is the 4th item I have sewn from this issue?  The other ones were my blue jumpsuit and the less than successful tunic top.  There are a couple of other things in the issue I really like, but they will go on the back burner until next spring. 

Lastly I wanted to try the Lola top from Fibremood again, without the front ruffle. and so here it is. 

Pink lola top front and back

While I thought the first version with the front ruffle was too much, now I think this one is a little plain. Oh, just like Goldilocks - never satisfied.  Actually I think the front needs something, perhaps a keyhole or other feature to echo the back opening. (Which reminded me of this dress which I made last year and think would also make a good top version, another one for my endless "to-sew" list).

Lola top in pink voile

That's the latest for my stashbusting summer top sewing. I just started a pair of corduroy jeans ( ! ) and despite the forecast for 103℉ tomorrow there is a hint of autumn in the air so next season sewing will commence soon. 

It's been a weird six months and I'm starting to dread the coming winter, but I did find this series of posts very interesting and helpful. (which was shared widely and is also a newspaper article?). Autumn is my least favorite season, it gets colder, darker, the garden is tired and I just feel uninterested. Earlier in life I think this season is more interesting, with school starting, the fun of Halloween, fall sports, etc. but as an adult I just find it blah compared to the glory that is spring and summer. To each their own right? with many people proclaiming joy at the end of summer, to my dismay 😉.
So combine the end of summer with the sixth month of stay-at-home and it's getting very wearying. Plus the election looming, I just want to say wake me when it's over and we have a new president (please!). But enough whining, the air is clear, cross our fingers for no more new fires in N. Cal and we will get through it all. 

Ruffle tank top 1

Happy Sewing and stay well,

Today's garden photo, here is a mallow that I planted a few years ago, purchased at the local junior called horticultural department sale. It's now over 5 feet tall so a success. And scroll down to see my latest purchase at Costco which means my work is cut out for me when the weather cools down and the soil softens up. 




  1. I always enjoy your posts, Beth, as we have similar styles and I so appreciate your precise level of sewing. Your newest tops are cute especially #2. Like you I live in a warm climate (Texas) and am still sewing summer tops in darker colors. But unlike you Fall is my favorite season as I have fond memories of living in Missouri and all the beautiful leaf color and crisp air. I'm a redhead so all the rich colors of the season suit my coloring so sewing lighter fabrics like rayon challis in warmer shades makes me feel like it's Fall. Keep posting so we sewists can stay inspired during these difficult times. Karen

  2. I love the fabric from your first top - it matches your shoes so perfectly! But the open sleeves would be too much exposure under the arm for me. Would require a camisole which sort of defeats the purpose of wearing a light summer top in 110° temps.

  3. I love the first top! Maybe the color and print, but I think it drapes beautifully and is different, interesting, and a complementary shape.

    I planted tulips, crocus, etc. All were eaten the first year. The only annuals that stay and multiply are narcissuses, jonquils, daffodils. Critters don’t care for the taste!

  4. I can never work with that little snagger tool you photo’s, I still own one. Much easier are the tubes that look like three straws from boba tea to almost coffee stirrer size. I’ve never tried the fasturn kit that costs quite a bit more as the straws have always worked great for me at about 12 dollars for the kit. And why not sew summer tops in September? I’ll send intentions with you for fires to pass and the presidency to switch and throw in a legitimate SCJ.

  5. Hi Beth:

    You're set! Your tops look perfect for warm weather, this year or next.

    I have a loop turner, but I never use it because my loop turner kept ripping the fabric and losing its grip part way through. It was frustrating until I found a tip that works. I don't know which sewing book I got this from, but ever since I read this tip, I have been using a small strong safety pin for turning loops. The weak ones won't work, they'll rip the fabric like the loop turner, but a strong safety pin is perfect. It'll work much better than the loop turner. The only time it won't work is when it won't fit in the tube because straps are really narrow. But the straps that I sew are never that narrow, so it works for me. HTH.

  6. The Burda #114 has potential. I would keep the depth of the neckline but scoop it. I think it would look nicer softened a bit. The V shape is a bit harsh with the billowy sleeves thing going on. Just a suggestion. Always really enjoy your column and what you have been getting up to. Take care and happy sewing.

  7. The second and third tops are great. You have a LOVELY, petite, well-proportioned figure and could wear anything, but I'm not sure the first top would look well on anyone but a very young girl. It's too boxy and the design of the sleeves widens it right at waist level-not flattering to anyone. I'm something of a fussy old hen, but in my poor opinion it's simply not a good design. Though I think it could be saved with some long slender darts sloping in from under the bust and then outward to about six inches above the hem. And I'd change the sleeves to be wide at the top and narrow at the bottom, making them more like a flutter sleeve. Of course this makes it a whole different pattern I guess, but that's my "2 cents", for whatever it's worth! :-}
    I love your blog because even though I've been sewing for many years, I still can learn something new from you.

  8. You need the Fasturn kit if you hate turning loops. It works like a dream. I've had mine for many years and don't know what the current cost is, but it will be worth every cent you spend. I always enjoy seeing your latest sewing projects. Wish I were nearly as productive as you are.

  9. Oooh! Maybe I can help you with the spaghetti straps! My Mother taught me this trick and we used it to make loops for covered buttons. Cut the fabric on the bias with a seam allowance. Use a piece of cotton cord or yarn ( we used acrylic yarn because it didn't shrink after washing) that is a little more than twice as long as the strap fabric. Fold the fabric over the cord, right sides together, starting in the center of the length of cord and covering the lower half of the cord. Using a zipper foot, stitch the fabric from the folded edge across the top of the fabric and the cord, catching the cord inside. Pivot the stitching, and line up the zipper foot next to the cord with a little bit of extra wiggle room for turning. Don't catch the cord in the stitching and sew down to the end of the fabric. There should be some cord sticking out at the bottom. Trim the seam allowance a little bit at the top where you started stitching. Pull on the cord at the bottom, gently, and with your other hand ease the top of the tube over onto the top half of the cord. Pull it all the way through. If you want a flat strap, you can cut through the stitching and remove the cord, or it can stay in. I hope my written instructions are not too confusing. I would be happy to send pictures if that helps. Love the summery tops.

  10. Thank you I enjoy reading your posts. I love the information on the tops, for our upcoming summer. It will be good to finally get out of winter clothes although it did snow last week! Our 'lockdown' in Victoria, Australia is easing up as we have few Covid cases now which means we will be able to socialise and be 'seen' little more. Hope the fires don't reoccur over there too. My tulips are blooming beautifully and the veg garden is looking healthy. Sam the Ausssie

  11. Oh I love your third top, I think the front is perfect just the way it is. The print says enough. I agree the second top might just need a bit extra wideth. I sew for summer too, we have about 8 months a year warm in Queensland Australia, my winter clothes last forever....