Sewing Vloggers

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

A Vintage Top


It was a windy day! Hair fail!

If you are a fan of Threads Magazine , and any passionate sewist should be, you will recognize this top. It was featured in their most recent issue, Spring 2025, Issue 225. As soon as she got her's,  my sister called me to let me know about this top and what did I think? Before we knew it we were collaborating on the pattern, it's fit, vintage linens and were sharing. She sent me the pattern, one you had to go online and down load, but quite simple. I sent her trims and hankies from my generous resources of vintage textiles, most inherited from friends and family. We were on. She finished first and it was lovely. Now I had to get hustling! 


This pattern was in Issue 225 of Threads Magazine, a design by Joan McGowan-Michael. McCowan-Michael's philosophy is that it is better to bring these heirlooms out of the back of the closet for the rest of the family and world to enjoy rather than have them "deteriorate under the beach towels". She does stress making use of those with stains and tears, thereby extending their lives and the possibility of appreciation by others. 

I knew I had tons of these, having been blessed with inheritance of a hoarder spinster great aunt and also the legacy of an elderly sewing friend who was dear to me. These items, and there are many, are preciously cared for and appreciated. Their line of accession is planned. 

The author/designer gives great guidance in choosing your textiles, prepping them, and working with the variations of print and designs. She makes it easy. There is a tie in the back of the top which I chose not to add. My Sis loves the tie. 

There is a schematic of the pattern in the magazine but no measurements other than for elastic for shoulders and cuffs.  You can scan the QR code offered in the magazine to access the pattern in more detail. This will bring you to the magazine site and a "Size Medium (38-40 inch bust) with half inch wide seam allowances." I could not find a size Small or anything Larger anywhere on the Threads site. I was frustrated.  My sis, who uses a 12 or 14 Big Four pattern, used the design with no changes at all. Being a size 4 in tops, 6 in patterns, I took out four inches from the bodice. I did this by bringing in the side seams and placed the shoulder seams in much closer. I figured that out with a try on. I was happy with my fit in the end and so was Sis. I think the fit here can easily be played with by utilizing a center fold and a base fabric to work on. You could place your linens on top of that as desired. The forgiving sleeves can be made longer and placed in or out as needed. Then again, maybe there are other sizes somewhere that I don't know about. 


 Everything in the top is cotton or linen. It was really fun going through my goodies to pull the sleeves together and then the hankies  and embroidery to work with that. Or did I do that the other way around???  It was fun. The top sleeve fabric is a micro-check, then a classic quilting cotton bought in the 90s by moi and finally some gingham.  When I had the top all done, it seemed like something was missing, like the cherry on a sundae fell off and rolled away.  I went thru more trims and laces trying to find something to finish off the bottom hem. Nothing seemed right. Then it ocurred to me that I could bind the bottom edge with more gingham. Bingo! It pulled the design all together. 

Here on the back of the shirt is one delicate hankie of the finest cotton(?) blue roses, so very ladylike. I cut it on the diagonal not quite in half and lined it up so the cut was the top edge of the back bodice. I had a ton of the vintage lace you see and used that to trim off the top edge. I think it is tatted lace. 

On the front of the top you can see a former "table scarf." It is made up of the teensiest cross stitch, with  an Asian theme, stunning hand work. Edging the neckline is the only half I owned of a beautiful lace collar. It still had its half of the snap left on it.  Never found the other half.  The bodice pieces are backed with white voile. 

Below is running yardage of a crosstitched border that I had about 7 yards of. It's about 18 inches wide.  I split it and mailed the other half to Sis for her top. 


Making this top was really quite simple. The designer thought out of the box with the sleeve installation which added greatly to the charm of the top. It also facilitated the ease of construction. While it did that, I felt that the area where the sleeve corners connected to the bodice had vague directions and felt a bit clunky. It was one of those situations where you move things around till they worked and then sewed them together. In the end, it all looked good. I did go back and do a narrow satin stitch where the elastic ended on each of the sleeves and  met the bodice. It just seemed more secure and looked fine. I liked the bound hem on my version and think this is an idea that could be added to the directions. The repetition of the fabric enhances the overall design, IMO. Will I make it again? Not sure. I have many more vintage linens, including some lovely tablecloths calling me. I may leave this one as a unique expression of upcycling and look for another type of expression for the next go round. In the end, it was a really fun make, particularly collaborating with my Sis. 

Would I recommend this pattern and design? Somewhat. I like the design. It is creative and out of the box. It really utilizes the vintage linens well. I feel the directions, at least where you are directed to the Threads website, could be a bit more logical and clear. But, that's me and how I like things presented to me. Others may feel otherwise. For a true newbie, well, I think they might need a little coaching. I am also disappointed in the lack of sizing other than the offered Size 8. Not everyone has the chops to move out from this.  But, in the end, I felt this was worth it and recommend it for those with patience who appreciate creativity and upcycling. You won't be disappointed. 

When I originally went out this morning to set up my camera, this is how I was dressed. It is how all my neighbors currently dress outside. We wear net suits to save us from the scourge of black fly bites. They are heinous, truly heinous. Net suits get very hot, even on cool days. Once the camera was all set up, I went back inside and changed into my little vintage top. You don't want to visit NH in May, you really don't........Happy Sewing!.............Bunny 


  1. Bunny it's gorgeous!!! It's also very similar to the Adrienne blouse pattern that I've used to great effect. I think there's a woven version of it that can be made up as a dress. Might be a good alternative for people who are not a size 8! :) I love how you've honoured these beautiful handmade items. So many memories. And the binding is indeed the perfect flourish.

    1. Thank you, Maryanne. I'll have to look into the Adrienne pattern. Right now I am working on a dress utilizing a beautiful piece of barkcloth from the fifties. I do well with estate sales!

  2. Love your ingenious use of beautiful fabrics. Suits you very well. B


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