Thursday, October 11, 2012

Everyday plenty AND make do and mend

I admit to purchasing an Eileen Fisher that I didn't need*, partly because the hang-tag describing the sweater ended with "Everyday plenty." It made me think about value in a different way.  How much do you spend on a blazer and how often do you wear it?  How much do you spend on a tank top and how often do you wear it?

I have enough blazers that sit unworn in the closet.  What I needed was cool and easy-care tops to wear around the house during warm days.  That brings me back to "everyday plenty".  How much time to you spend sewing a "couture" jacket and how does that translate per wearing?  Do the same for a tank top.

YMMV, but the investment return of a tank top beats the one for a jacket in my real life. 

My sister is returning to sewing and asked me to recommend shell patterns.  I was wary of recommending something that works for me and not for her.  For instance, I have excellent results with vintage Calvin Klein patterns from the 1980s and 1990s.  Iliana, who performs FBAs in her sewing, wrote:
I've always felt like Calvin Klein depended on having very flat-chested, boyish-figured models as there's not much shaping in evidence, and the people you see successfully wearing the designs generally seem to be that body type.
So, when my sister admired the Liberty lawn shell made up in Vogue 1071, I could not recommend it for her.  I like it enough to have made it three times, but I cannot recommend it for her very different figure.

I do unequivocally recommend Simplicity 2938.  I've made it three times.  The princess seams allowed me to make a SBA in the bust and a broad chest adjustment in the chest.  The end effect is a top that fits perfectly smoothly.  There are 31 reviews on Pattern Review.  Look at the variety of figures of women wearing Simplicity 2938 on Google images. Look how many are smiling! 

There is a connection between these disparate thoughts. Don't save your "best" sewing techniques for things you wear on special occasions. Take the time to do it on the pieces you wear the most often. It's my version of everyday plenty.

My most recent version of Simplicity 2938 began as one of my father in law's old shirts.  The collars, cuffs and center front placket were worn, but the rest of the fabric had enough life in it to become this top.  The two fronts became the side front panels.  The shirt back became the tank back and one sleeve was cut up into bias strips for binding the neckline and armholes.

The other sleeve would have yielded a large enough piece for the center front panel, but I opted for a double layer of this delicious piece of preconsumer waste cotton lawn.

The front panels can be sewn into a burrito as shown below.  Then pull the blue pieces out through the openings at the top or bottom.

The straight-ish shoulder seams can be sewn with a flat-fell seam.

The curves side seams can also be flat-felled into submission, but I opted for easier French seams here instead.

2" bias strips were then folded in half to 1" wide, seamed at the short ends into tubes, and then applied in the round to the openings.  The finished product is completely smooth and clean-finished inside and out.  Everyday plenty out of make do and mend.  See it out on the town in Carmegeddon 2 adventure.

* I wore that sweater enough times to obviate any guilt over an impulse purchase.  The color, texture and feel of the sweater all sing to me.


  1. This is so pretty - I love the colors. Worn shirts are also very soft and preshrunk of course, so they make great tops.

  2. I love that Simplicity tank! I've made it a dozen times, from new fabric and from old garments cut apart and re-used. I am very full busted (and generally fat) and it's flattering and easy to wear. I never do the facings, just bias-bind the neck and arm holes.


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