Something strange is happening with me. I think I might be proceeding through sewing backwards. A few years ago, when I first started making clothes in earnest, I was most interested in sewing with knit fabrics. After all, it’s what I wore most, bought most in RTW, and I liked having incognito handmade clothes, things that looked like what I might buy in a store. I made like a thousand jersey dresses and tops. It was my thing. I had no interest in making garments from woven fabrics like most beginning sewers.
But lately, I’ve been feeling the woven fabrics. Trying to think about why, it could be because there are so many great prints from the quilting cotton designers showing up in rayon and voile, it could be because flowy and boxy woven tops are so in right now, it could be because indie pattern designers are making more fun patterns than the big 5 right now and many of those are for woven fabrics, or it could be because I’m just enjoying sewing with fabrics that press well after years of troublesome jerseys. So I guess I don’t really know. But in March, before work got crazy and I came down with the worst cold I’ve had in ten years and we had houseguests staying in the sewing/guest room and I didn’t sew anything for like a month, I made three woven tops. That I really like. And I’m gonna do it some more in the future.
I started with double gauze. I had never worked with it before, never actually had any interest in wearing a garment made of it. Until I saw this print on Miss Matatabi. I mean, polka dot cat heads. My wardrobe has definitely taken a whimsical turn of late, and I’m digging it. So I went searching for a pattern that would be appropriate for just a yard of double gauze (I’m still cheap and buy as little expensive fabric as possible) and came up with the Made By Rae Beatrix Blouse. I started following Rae when I first started sewing bags, then sort of lost track of what she was doing once I moved on to jersey garments. But she’s been busy making a bunch of women’s woven patterns. And this blouse is really well drafted. I made a size Medium, A/B cup based on my measurements, and the fit is great. The bust darts are a smidge too long for me, not unusual, but that’s easily fixed for next time.
Also, I am thrilled to report that I squeezed this blouse out of just one yard of 44″ wide fabric! I made View A with the shirttail hem, but with the contrast button band. I think using the contrast band made it possible to get it all on my fabric. It took me a while to find something that I liked for the contrast, but I settled on this pink linen. Since it’s 100% linen it does not behave well and wrinkles crazy, of course, but I love the color. And I think what really makes it are the buttons. I fell down the Etsy antique button rabbit hole searching for buttons for this top, and wound up ordering a bunch of other buttons too… They’ll find good homes soon.
As far as the fabric, other than my camera’s light meter apparently being totally unable to properly expose it, I found the double gauze very easy to work with. It pressed like a champ and didn’t fray too much. I finished all the seams with the serger, and rather than use the facings I finished the neckline with a bias strip of off-white voile that I had laying around – double gauze would not be suitable for bias tape, too wubbly. And I do like wearing the double gauze too. Sadly it needs to be ironed when it comes out of the dryer, something I’m not used to from all my jersey tops, but that’s true for pretty much all the woven fabrics I’ve been into lately.
I had a bit of a squirrel moment with the next top – even though the Sew DIY Lou Box Top pattern was released last year, it wasn’t on my radar at all until a linen version popped up in my instagram feed in March and I was instantly obsessed. I spent about a week thinking about trying to draft my own similar top, until I remembered that I really don’t know how to slash hate drafting and I would rather support someone who does like it and so I just bought the pattern. I then immediately cut it out of a remnant of Marrimekko linen that I got at the Crate and Barrel Outlet (seriously, at the outlets they sell Marrimekko fabric remnants for 95 cents a pound, and the yardage is like $5 a yard, it’s amazing). This remnant was just under a yard and 55ish inches wide, but that was enough! I made the front and back rounded hem version, and both the front and back pieces fit easily on the fabric. (I did cut the bias neck binding from some white cotton lawn since there was no way I had enough for a bias strip.) To finesse the print placement, I even did a double-fold layout, so I could’ve cut the back on a fold too if not for the back neck opening. So even though the back is half blue, half silver, I literally just cut a sliver off between the two back pieces. It’s a weird print.
I made the size XS-S (which is, let’s say, not my typical size in most things), but with the boxy nature of the pattern there is a lot of sizing leeway. I don’t mind the ease, that’s kind of the point of the pattern, and I think in a drapey fabric it’d work too.
This fabric is a somewhat stiff 100% linen, so it really has a mind of its own. I think the extra body of the fabric is actually kind of fun and suits the style… until I sit down and wrinkle it, anyway. I do like the pattern, and I can see making more in various different fabrics. It’s basically my beloved Kirsten Kimono Tee, but in a more current (boxy) style.
And the last woven top I made before I was felled by illness was the True Bias Sutton Blouse, to wear to my anniversary dinner. I’ve been dancing around both this pattern and this fabric for a couple years – as in, I’ve almost bought both on many occasions and then just haven’t. But when I really started feeling the woven bug, into my various carts they went. It didn’t occur to me until I went to cut it out that this giant zigzag print might not have been the best choice for a v-neck blouse with a center front seam. I had a momentary freakout about pattern matching across the front, tried to figure it out, then just went for it and I think it worked out okay. I cut my usual True Bias size of 8 graded to 10, and I don’t think it’s too big, especially in this drapey fabric.
The fabric is a Joel Dewberry rayon from several collections ago that is still in stock in a bunch of places. I actually ordered the recommended amount for the Sutton, 1.75 yards, but with my scrooge-like cutting habits I managed to cut the blouse out of just over a yard, simply by piecing the bias neck binding in the back. So I think I have enough left for a summer tank top too.
I french seamed the whole top except the side seams, as instructed. While I’m familiar with french seaming technique, I have literally never used it in a garment (I’m lazy and I’m the only one who sees the insides of my clothes, after all). But now or never, I guess. It makes for a nice look on the inside, and at the neckline where serging might be hard to hide, but sewing the seam twice did make the center front seam a little wavy. Probably a combo of my cutting, which wasn’t particularly careful and might have shifted off grain, or my machine, which is not the most even feeder of thin fabrics. I also probably should have let it hang before hemming, since the hems are so straight across, but hey, I had an anniversary dinner to get to.
Since I love coining collective nouns, I’ve decided a group of woven garments should be called a ‘weft’. ‘Cause it sounds cool. And I will say sorry, this will not be the last weft of woven garments you’ll see this year. I went on a bit of a shopping spree when the weather was crummy and bought a bunch of gauze and rayons with visions of summer tanks and dresses dancing in my head. I am so excited about summer sewing, bring it on!