As summer comes to a close, let’s look at some tops created with a pile of white fabric leftovers. For years I have wanted to copy a favorite white blouse I loved in my 20s and wore out in my 30s. I saved it so someday I could copy it. Let’s just say the time was right!
Find some Inspiration in an old favorite garment
I found the very sad original blouse in a fabric cupboard while I was searching for other hidden treasures to inspire my pandemic sewing. Uncovering the blouse led me to the boxes of white scraps that were leftover from my days as a dressmaker when each spring I stitched up several graduations dresses for Baltimore girls who wanted something unique.
Look for fabric in your stash
It felt like I had hit the jackpot. There were a number of large and special pieces of cotton and cotton blends in various shades of white. The first step was to organize the best pieces by shade, putting bright whites in one pile, creamy ones and just off-white ones in other piles. Because many of them had interesting textures, color matching was more forgiving.
Choose a variety of textures for easy mixes
First, I chose several well-matched pieces to recreate the original top. Then I envisioned some interesting pieces as a big summer shirt; in fact, one for me and one for my daughter Sarah. She ended up getting a version of the original top too. Four garments were created from these two boxes of scraps and in spite of my effort to consolidate the remaining fabrics into one box, there is still too much in each box.
Texture makes fabrics easier to mix when color is close. Mixing floral damasks with geometric weaves and shadowy dots creates subtly interesting garments, though their special combinations are hard to capture in a photograph.
A shirt is so versatile
Sarah’s big shirt, made with the Tabula Rasa Jacket and its Rain or Shine Variation, has a menswear twill in the front and back bodice, seersucker sides, and lapels with assorted woven dots to round out the composition.
My big shirt from the same patterns has a sturdy Asian influenced damask on the front and upper back with a silkier floral damask on the lower back, sleeves and lapels. White linen hides away as the side panels and inside the roll back cuffs.
As always when mixing fabrics, try to use each fabric in at least 3 places and use soft and silky fabrics on the sleeves. For these tops, sheerer fabrics were used in the sleeves; since many white fabrics have some show-through the sleeves are a safe place to put the lightest pieces.
Little pullover tops are fun too
Now back to the original project. The copy of my old white shirt is plain weave linen with several textures as appliques and finishes. I really love it and it pops over my head easily. The original had a high neck opening; for my new and improved version, I dropped the neckline for a more comfortable feel and a cooler look.
Sarah’s version of the top is made with the stretch cottons found in the scrap box. I was able to cut one large complex floral weave piece into the front, back, sides and sleeves. I added some contrasting inserts and instead of white on white leaf-like appliques, I used some pre-cut circle appliques purchased years ago in France.
Nothing perks up a wardrobe like a new white top, especially in the waning days of summer. But let’s add a little more color to the conversation now. I made the original top in some fun colors too. Linen and silk scraps that had been gathered for a previous pandemic project but left behind on the cutting table were just the right size for a little cropped version of the same pattern. The pull on top looks a lot different in this colorful version and the details are easier for you to see.
I plan for this top to move my wardrobe effortlessly into fall. Are you starting to plan some fall sewing? Make a darker version of a favorite summer pattern with a design you like and feel great in. Keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram this week, I have lots more photos to share.
Are you sewing with scraps or looking for inspiration in your sewing inventory? If you are an ASG member you can join me September 12 for my ASG Mini Virtual Conference class, SEW DISTINCTIVE MIXED FABRIC GARMENTS: TRANSFORMING STASH INTO CLOTHES THAT FIT YOUR CURVES AND YOUR LIFESTYLE. You will get to see some of these fun projects on zoom and hopefully find inspiration to sew up some new unique garments for yourself and others you sew for that look and feel good.
Happy Sewing, RAE