Sewing Vloggers

Monday, February 1, 2021

A Cobbled White Shirt


I so enjoyed making this deceptively simple top.  It brought together a lot of creative ideas of mine and I am pleased with the results. I apologize for the pictures. Many are highly corrected to show the details. White is so hard to work with photographically. I'll describe what you see above. It is a top inspired by a pattern specifically for knits. I was determined to used it but had none of the knits needed and shoved it aside for another day. I decided to move on to other possible projects. I have been longing  for some time to make my annual white shirt and I was overdue.  I made one, a total total failure, and I will tell you about it in a later post. Right now let me glory in the results of this one. I love this top, LOVE IT. I think it is elegant and I like elegant. I'm in lockdown and elegant gives me some fantasy and right about now that feels good. I am preparing for that elegant life once my vaccinations are all injected. A girl can dream, can't she? There is another side to this misery, right? Anyway, about now, elegant is what I need even if it sits in the closet for a few more months. I also have had on my mind some creative use of some lovely textiles needing upcycling and this seemed like a good opportunity for that.  Let me give you all the really interesting details on this one. 


I have been searching out and collecting patterns for more casual sweatshirt type garments. This one caught my eye. I've yet to find the right fabric for it but it is in the top of the queue and just nagging the heck out of me.  It is a knit only pattern with center front and center back seams. Even though I didn't have fabric yet, I took the pattern pieces out the see how the neckline was done. The center front seam has this "hump" in it that when stitched and added to the funnel shaped neckline it becomes this lovely slight cowl collar. It looks very natural and unstructured. There are sleeve options. I did not like them. I did not have a knit but I loved the  cowl effect. Sigh...I thought that would work on another day............... It is McCalls 10736, aka, 8144 



This is where it starts to get interesting. I love to cruise rummage sales at churches and places like thrift shops and Good will. I have scored some gorgeous textiles in them. What you see above are the scraps leftover from my top. This top was made from an exquisite HEAVY cotton damask tablecloth, very vintage. I wonder if it was actually an alter cloth in the church where I bought it for one dollar. It was beautifully pressed, folded and cared for. I've been wanting to utilize it for a long time but until McCalls 10736, nothing hit me. I did try various painting techniques and none excited me so it had  to be something white. It was a delight to work with. There was a very wide border of  an almost  fleur de lis design and a negative center space with sweeping branches and little berry cluster things. You'll see more as we go along and get closer. It was great to sew on. Alas, it did not stretch and surely was not a knit.


Hubs has been taking my pics from too high. Gotta talk to him about that!

First there was the challenge of the pattern. It was for knits. I measured it all and went up  a few sizes  to a 12. Then I  crossed my fingers and it worked. So I cut my garment in a size 12 with my woven fabric, flat patttern measured all to make sure it fit and moved on. 

To accommodate the fact that this was not a knit and it had to get over my head and the fact that I had to use the designs in the tablecloth with a bit of respect I decided to split the back of the pattern and make a large yoke.  This allowed me to do a lovely match of the small motifs in the negative space of the tablecloth and to add an invisible zip at CB. The zip really is invisible. Shadow and the high contrast I had to use are making it look open. 

About an inch up from the yoke seam is where the Inviz Zip actually ends. I marked it with the red line for you. I used Kenneth King's method which I highly recommend.

Here you can see the inside of the back and the invisible zip. All the seams are serged. There is a one inch seam at CB before you hit the yoke. The long zipper is then stitched with a stationary zigzag and cut off below that. That is not done yet in this pic. 

What is really lovely about this pattern is the neckline. There is an interesting bump in the center front seam. Once on the body it makes a lovely cowl effect as you can see above. It is even better on a real body. It is what sold me on this pattern, so very simple and so very elegant. If you look closely you will see that the entire front is all the tiny leaf motif in the damask. I was able to arrange it so the sleeve received some lovely border treatment on each side. When we think about using panels and border prints it is so universal  to stick a big medallion of sorts on center back or center front. Most sewists take that option and think no further. Nothing is written in stone and you can use your panels and tablecloths and borders any way that feels right. It was a challenge  to figure out a way to get the small leaves all over the entire front and still have a bit of  border on the sleeve edges. I love this sort of fabric play and it feeds my creative soul well. There is no interfacing in this garment anywhere. 

The funnel neckline had a deep facing that went into the shoulders. I ditch stitched this in the well of the shoulder seam to keep it in place and also in the center front seam but just for an inch or so there. 

I did do topstitching, mostly on my machine hems. The hems were changed radically from the pattern as well. The original pattern was a bit flared and even all around and a second option offered a band. I did my own thing. For the  petite I am, I really like the hi lo hem in tops,  but in a  more subdued way. It allows for a longer looking leg length in front and covers a bit of bum in the back. I decided to do a shaped front hem and the back hem would be even all across and about an inch and a half longer. 

To do this I used my aged french curve and placed the 19 at the center front seam and moved the other end of the curve to the side seam to where it looked pleasing and was an inch and a half above what I decided the back hemline would be, which frankly, I forget. I drew two  lines with my frixion pen. One was at the hem edge to cut and the other at the hem fold. I found this fabric, being all natural and not a tight weave, easy to shape with some steam and heat from the iron. The shape is pretty subtle and more noticeable from the sides. The back hem had the same depth and markings but was straight across the back and longer. 

The edges were all serged and  then topstitched into place.  

The side seam meeting of the hem left the bulk of the hem seam allowance. I pushed it to the back in a wedge shape and secured it down with topstitching that then ran down the edge to meet the back hem and continue, a fun little feature. 

This pattern had sleeves. When I tried on the top early for fit testing, I decided right then and there, no sleeves. This would be an evening sort of top or a summer wear piece. All in all, I think with the fabric I used, a woven, and the design changes I made, I feel it is an original other than the gorgeous McCall's funnel cowl neckline. Let's see...what did I do?

   * Used a woven when a knit was designated.

   * Used short sleeves instead of the long sleeve options offered.

   * Used a Hi-Lo shaped hem instead of the flat or band hem offered

   * Separated the back into a yoke to utilize my vintage textile to best advantage. 
      The pattern is a solid back with a center back seam all the way. My design has a
      solid piece with no CB seam in the "skirt" below the yoke. This way I could show 
      a solid flow of beautiful fabric. 

   * Added an invisible zipper in the back yoke to accommodate dressing. The pattern        is a pull over the head design. 

I emphasize all of this with the bullet points to make the point that patterns are just a beginning. It took me years to learn that I could break the rules and move a seamline or actually change a design. I was so afraid those reknown Pattern Police were watching and I was not a beginner. I was just one of the good girls who really didn't break rules. But as I began to look at sewing and fiber work as Art and began practicing other forms of creativity, I  realized you really can do what you want, You can create and when you do it is the most wonderful feeling. I am thankful for those years of sewing that I did follow the rules because it laid a great foundation. I often see newer sewists going full tilt into the mash up hack up mode and then throwing the garment out because it didn't come out so well or asking online what is wrong and why is it so awful. We all have to start somewhere. We need to build that foundation by sewing, sewing and sewing some more. We need to learn how to use patterns before we can mash and hack to our best advantage. We also need to remember we are not in a race. The biggest joy of creativity is being "in the zone". Once you've found that, you will never feel like rushing again and will learn that's where the good part is, not in completing the mostest and the fastest. Hope you enjoy my Vintage tablecloth top as much as I did figuring it out and getting it together. .........Bunny


  1. Fabulous, Bunny, just absolutely fabulous.

  2. Love your creative use of discarded fabric, looks so elegant, and totally unique.

    1. I've always enjoyed using tablecloths over the years. Sometimes they appear stained, but a good overnight soak in a bucket of Biz can do miracles. I like the challenge of figuring out where the various borders and motifs can go. Great fun.

  3. beautiful, love the hi lo hem, inspired and will definitely try this - thank you so much for sharing, the stitch finish on the hem is beautiful.

  4. I loved reading your thoughts about the process and your end result is so lovely on you. Isn't it the most fun to salvage leftovers into a beautiful piece? Great job.

    1. Thank you. Yes, I have always enjoyed, upcycling of various sorts. It's been something started in my youth out of financial need and has just been instilled in me ever since.

  5. .....and this is a wonderful pattern to camouflage my sagging and creping décolletage. beautiful work!

    1. I had the exact same thoughts. The extended sleeves help a little bit too!

  6. Very pretty top Bunny! All the little details just make it pop!

  7. Bunny, Another triumph!. Classic elegance on a classy elegant lady.
    Can't wait to see a picture of you out with Ern at the end of lockdow, wearing your unique top.

    1. Thanks, Marysia. Sounds sort of tacky but I just bought the most gorgeous pair of slim pants out of a dark grey and black leopard type print, very subtle. The top will go beautifully with those. Now I just need a place to wear all this finery after shots and lockdown!

  8. Pure couture, Bunny. That's a $1500 top. Gorgeous.

    1. Thanks, Urbanite. Who knew my dollar rummage sale purchase would make inspire such comment? :) Thanks, Urbanite!


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