My streak of extremely simple projects continues! This summer I found myself in desperate need of simple tops to wear to work. I wanted all the following characteristics:
- Short sleeves, since I always seem to get cold in sleeveless tops in air conditioned buildings.
- Low enough neckline to be comfortable, but high enough that I won’t have to worry about flashing anyone.
- Relaxed enough fit to not have to worry about showing off a full stomach, but close fitting enough to still be flattering.
- Must be made of 100% cotton (to survive the 1-mile, often very sweaty, walk into work) and knit fabric (for comfort when moving around all day).
Ah work, you kill me! So many requirements! Of course, these are all self-imposed requirements, but they limit the available design options a bit. I hemmed and hawed over what to do, and I finally decided on simple t-shirts, modifying my already-heavily-modified Renfrew pattern to fulfill my list of demands. It was a good excuse to make a few fitting changes that I had been putting off, most notably a broad back adjustment.
Here’s essentially what I did:
The 1/2 inch broad back adjustment made a huge difference! I really needed that extra width in the shoulder and upper back, even in a stretch fabric. The sleeve cap actually hits my shoulder now, and the whole top just hangs more smoothly off my wide frame. Why didn’t I do this sooner?? Note that I added 1/2 inch to the front shoulder seam so it would match the newly adjusted back, but I didn’t add the extra width to the front below the armscye. I really only needed the extra width for my broad back, not my small bust. 🙂
Other adjustments for this round of tops included scooping out the Renfrew neckline by 1 inch (a less aggressive scoop than what I did last summer, which I found to be too low cut for work) and adding some width to the hip (after my cowl-neck top mishap). The schematic above shows 1 inch added to the hip, but I later reduced it to only 1/2 inch. I also wound up eliminating the shirttail hem because I just wasn’t crazy about how it looked on me.
That’s about it! On to the tops!
Top #1 – Cream geometric print
All three tops were made with Art Gallery knits that I picked up at Z Fabrics in Portland, Maine a few weeks ago. This shop is like a mecca for high quality apparel fabrics and contains a well curated and well stocked selection of heavenly offerings. I would highly recommend checking out this shop if you’re in the area (it doesn’t look like they have an online shop). Warning: everything is way overpriced! I bought three 1-yard cuts for about $19 each. I blame it on being on vacation. 🙂
This print is from the Gramercy line by Leah Duncan and is called “NY Circuit Ashen” (sorry, no link, it seems to be sold out everywhere). I like this print in theory, but I’m not convinced that cream is a good color next to my face. Truth be told, I’m crazy about any of these prints on me! I should have stuck to my color palette instead of giving in to the “oooh pretty fabric” syndrome. The dangers of fabric shopping!
A perfectly fine top though, no big deal. It’s a neutral so will go with a lot of my skirts and shorts, and even with jeans when the cool weather starts to roll in.
Top #2 – Navy geometric print
This print is also from Leah Duncan’s Gramercy line and is called “Commute by Limo.” If only I could commute to work by limo and avoid getting all gross and sweaty in this top. 🙂 I think this dark navy is a little too close to black for my taste, but again, not a big deal.
I tried to center the print on both the front and back of this top after noticing that the little triangles actually form vertical columns down the fabric. I’m so glad I caught this, as it would have driven me crazy if I only realized it afterward!
Top #3 – Blue and white striped print
This is my least favorite of the bunch and was the first one I sewed. It has the remnants of the shirttail hem and actually started its life as a much different (and much bigger) top, which thankfully I managed to save.
The print is from the Wild & Free collection by Maureen Cracknell and is called “Woven Path in Night.” I think the bold vertical stripes might have made an awesome maxi skirt, but I’m not convinced they work well in a t-shirt. Oh well, another perfectly good top that will fill a gap in my wardrobe, but not exactly a garment I’m dying to wear everyday!
Thoughtful print placement was mandatory with such a bold stripe, so I was careful to center the stripes on the front and back, make the sleeves symmetrical, and center the print on the front portion of the neckband. I like how the stripes emphasize the somewhat hourglass cut along the side seam – a little surprise I guess. 🙂
Construction notes and miscellany
There isn’t much to say about construction since these are about the simplest t-shirts you can imagine, but I couldn’t help including just a few detail shots. The sleeves and hem are folded up once and zig-zagged, catching the raw edge in the stitching. Most of the seams are serged with matching thread in the left needle; the neckband is attached with my regular machine and finished with the serger.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my blog photos are so stiff and awkward, so I attempted to “relax” in the photo below:
Hahaha, still super awkward!! I swear I’m not this stiff in person, but I freeze up in front of the camera, especially when using the self-timer. And speaking of the timer…
Here’s how I’ve been setting up the camera lately – propped up on some cardboard boxes, on a lawn chair, with a coaster to hold up the lens. Clearly this is not a professional blog, LOL!
Anyway, my apologies for the long post, but I figured it was better to lump these three simple tops together instead of posting them all separately. I’m glad I finally have some new work-appropriate tops for my casual-but-still-an-office workplace (i.e., the university), and these quick and simple projects have allowed me to keep sewing despite the craziness going on in the rest of my life right now.
Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without sewing and the wonderful online community that surrounds it. Thank you, as always, for all your inspiration and support! 🙂