For years, a collection of black cotton and cotton blend fabrics waited patiently to be stitched into a garment. I regularly added to the pile when I spied an interesting remnant or finished another project. The I-sew-lation of the last year was the perfect time to pull them out and make a plan.
Use Scraps Mindfully
When presented with a group of monochromatic fabrics, first look to see if the colors blend well. Blacks in particular, can have a green, purple or blue hue so pick and choose to find the best group to work with. Check them in a variety of lights to confirm that they coordinate well.
Choose a Reliable Design
The second thing to do is decide what sort of garment to make. These fabrics were destined to be a tunic length shirt that could be worn open or closed. My Tabula Rasa Jacket Pattern adjusted with the Shirt Variation Pattern would be my starting point. Sketch a few ideas to play with design and fabric combinations. The sketches will help you plan a successful garment with the fabric available. We like the My Body Model sketching tool that is available for personalization online.
Pick a Favorite to Feature
Third, choose the best fabric and plan its placement, usually the rest of the garment will fall into place around your focus fabric. For this project, my favorite fabric was the eyelet remnant and it was big enough for a shortened front and back. But the eyelet seemed problematic for a shirt. The facings would show through and minimize the fabric’s impact. There was also a scrappy piece of pique which led me to consider a shirt redesign, featuring a pique placket and stand-up collar to frame the eyelet. An embroidered cotton would add length at the hem and the softest piece would make great sleeves.
Add Details Thoughtfully
My fourth task was to decide on the buttons. In this case, the buttons and placket width needed to complement each other and the buttons would set the tone. I wanted an interesting but versatile garment. Some small vintage brass and mother of pearl buttons set the right tone. They would pop on the black fabric while allowing the shirt to be dressed up or down. If memory serves, they were purchased in an antique store in Quebec City on a family vacation in 2002.
The fifth task was to check these design and button ideas using the pattern pieces to confirm there was enough of each remnant to create the design. Once the placement was confirmed, everything was cut. For this project I cut the main pieces and then used the leftovers to design the sleeve cuff. Fortunately, there was enough pique and eyelet to accent the sleeves and two extra buttons to shape the sleeve’s final flourish.
Finally, it was time for construction. I wrote out the steps since the use of remnants and the addition of the placket and other details required a rearrangement of the construction steps. The opaque pique was also used in the shoulder seam to anchor the eyelet and hide the seam allowances.
Look for Options in Styling
This is such a great wardrobe addition for Spring, Summer and Fall. Changing the tank top and pants under the shirt completely change the mood. A blue tank and tight denim Eureka! Pants make it comfortably casual. The platinum bouclé tank from my Faux Missoni Twin Set with black Eureka! Pants and complementary jewelry dress it up admirably. On Saturday I wore this second combination to teach a zoom class for the St. Louis chapter of the ASG and immediately after went to the zoom memorial service for my Mother-in-Law. I removed the jewelry and changed into denim pants for a late afternoon nap and dinner outdoors.
The Tabula Rasa Jacket Pattern and its Variations are perfect tools for visualizing and stitching up a group of precious scraps into a new wardrobe addition. What are you waiting for?
Click through the links under each photo to read about more scrappy tops for additional inspiration: The Tiger Tee, The White Shirt, and the Sashed Cotton Tabula Rasa .
Stay well and sew happy. RAE