China-blue Top


So here are the long-promised pictures of that top I’ve been going on about.

It started life as a pillow-case in the sale in Coop, reduced down to a couple of francs, and I bought it purely for the fabric, as Swiss pillows are much larger than the ones we’re used to in the UK. (Actually, it turned out that this one was the right size for one of my English pillows, so I have less scrap fabric left over than I expected, but there was still enough for a top that I fit in.)

I had a rummage around on Pinterest, and the internet in general, and somewhere along the line, instructions for a box blouse were thrown up. I’ve never come across this before, so I read through the instructions. It’s essentially two rectangles sewn together on three sides leaving gaps for the arms and head. I decided I could do it. (Sometimes, when I’ve had a success at making something previously, I am completely invincible.)
On working out my measurements, the pillowcase turned out to be just big enough with a little bit to spare, so I unpicked all the seams, took out the zip (hey, free zip for another project!) and ironed that baby flat. Then I cut two rectangles for it, as per the instructions, and tacked them together.


I’m not one to go for a pattern without making my own modifications, though, I like a challenge (although heaven knows, I spend a good amount of time cursing that particular predilection!) I decided that making French Seams would be fun to try, and end up neater than regular seams, and a neck facing would be a smart idea to ensure the neckline was smooth. The French seams, which consist of just sewing the fabric together the wrong way to start with, and then folding it back on itself and sewing again just outside the rough edges, were not too much of a challenge. I used them for the shoulder and the side seams, although when I tried it on before starting the neck facing, it turned out that I hadn’t allowed enough room in the measurements for my hips. Although the top doesn’t go right over my hips, I had to unpick two sets of French seams for a couple of inches to create side slits (or do they have a fancy name?) to allow it to hang properly. Lesson learned (or is that wishful thinking?)

French seams

Aside from my mother’s skype, (which is permanently open on my desktop,) Tilly and the Buttons is a blog that I’ve been turning to recently for all my sewing confusions. She describes sewing terms and processes really well for people who are just dipping their toes into the pool for the first time, and wondering whether the water is warm enough for them to go any further. The French seams presented no problem, but the neck facing was altogether more of a learning curve: I was gently introduced to stay stitching, understitching and interfacing (which, in German, turns out to be Vlieseline rather than whatever word I had carefully prepared earlier. It’s always an interesting experience when the word you’ve researched in advance turns out to be the wrong one, and you have to resort to a combination of describing and acting out what you’re trying to get hold of.) I also had to contend with zigzag stitching, which I at first despaired over. My sewing machine is so old that I was sure it wasn’t able to. But after a lunchtime going through the box of random attachments that came along with her, and a website showing old Singer attachments open in front of me, sticky labels and a pen, I found, joy of joys, that I did have a zigzag stitch attachment. And when I had tried it out on scrap fabric, I was once more invincible!

Somewhere in here…
… is the correct attachment…
… and it works!

With some of the left-overs of the fabric, I interfaced, zigzag stitched, stay stitched, stitched, ironed and understitched, just as is explained here.

The length I decided to crop just at the hips, so that you can see the belt buckle peeping out from under the top. I’ve been wearing longish tops for a while (whether or not that’s been fashionable..) and I’m quite liking a slightly shorter style now – not quite cropped, but just slightly shorter.


The incident with the unintended side slits enabled me to make it just slightly longer at the back, I don’t like a draught!


The armholes could be a little looser, my sister tried the top on and said that I could make her one (what a kind thought!) but that the arm holes should be bigger. She is taller than I am, though, my “little” sister..


And check out the little delft windmill ring that I found in the monthly “vintage and collectors market” that managed to coincide with my last trip home at Easter :)


Oh go on, while you’re here, have a look at that zigzag stitch on the neck facing. But don’t look too closely at the understitching, I’m still getting the hang of sewing long lines of stitches in a smooth curve, or straight line on my machine!



So, all in all, I’m pretty pleased with the result. I’m now squaring up to the idea of re-making one of those Indian tops…



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