Saturday, 6 December 2014

More Simple Shapes

We're approaching Christmas - help!

By this time of year I always feel like I'm going nuts - work projects are accelerating to try to wrap up in the calendar year, the kids have a million special end-of-year concerts and events on at and after school, and then there's the scramble to try catch up with lots of different circles of friends in the last few weekends before Christmas.  Oh wait on, we have to think about Christmas presents for the extended family too, right? So while I have a super long queue of new sewing patterns I'm aching to try out, frankly there isn't enough capacity left in my brain for anything complex.

At the other end of the scale to complex, we have simple. I reckon this is THE archetype of simple tops: front piece, back piece; no facings, and no darts.

A ridiculously easy top to make from scuba knit fabric

The shape may look familiar from a few months back on this blog - it's yet another of my "simple shapes" tops! 

I wore this top last week on the day Emma, Steph, Kristy and I met up for lunch - I'd finished it the night before, and I'd been thinking I might be able to twist someone's arm into taking photos for me, but when we met up I found I didn't want to waste any of our catchup time on photos. And so these awkward photos happened instead at the end of the day, on my way home from work.  I haven't taken blog photos outside in ages - you can probably see how nervous I was feeling!  Obviously the sunlight was very bright that afternoon, and all the photos I took were a bit blown out - but the fabric colour is spot on and I think you can still get a feel for both the fabric and the shape of the top...

Back view, boxy scuba knit top
Oh dear, I didn't realise my skirt was twisted around! There is no centre back seam on that skirt...


I picked up this cheap scuba knit fabric in Spotlight a few months ago when they had a crazy pattern sale on. The colour is terrific BUT the fabric pilled substantially on the side where my handbag moved against it within an hour of my putting the top on for the day. And that was on its inaugural wear too - very disappointing!  I'm glad I didn't try to make something special from the fabric, and I'm really glad I only bought a metre of the stuff!

Close up, self-drafted boxy top in scuna knit fabric


No purchased pattern; of course not - it's such a basic shape!

Of course it does take a bit of effort to draw a simple pattern shape the way you like it, and no doubt it would take even more effort if you were fussy :P.  But if you want a simple knit top like this for yourself and you're not too fussy, it is very easy to draw up a 'pattern' for one - just make sure you measure yourself first!


Here's a photo that shows you the shape of this top as compared to one of my earlier attempts - you can see the main change I made was to the slope of the shoulders, though I also raised the neckline and lengthened the top.

Adjusting the shoulder line on my boxy top

I made this change to the shoulders after doing a bit more retail research into the shape I liked, backed up with simple logic. I wanted the fabric to fold deeply on itself at the underarm area, and make a smooth slight downward curve from my shoulder. My original 'pattern' had sharply angled shoulder seams, and these made for folds in the shoulder area when I raised my arms - but when my arms were by my sides there were only small folds under my arms. For more exaggerated underarm folds (doesn't this sound ridiculous when analysed!) I needed more room in the shoulders - more of a natural shoulder line, as this would make for more slack from shoulder to underarm.

The following photo adds nothing; it's here purely for light relief. Note my wry smile as I gently hold the bus in the air by its wheel rim - with no perceivable effort!

How to lift a bus by its wheel rim, while wearing homemade clothes

The verdict? Although it's very basic, this simple boxy top, with shoulders curved downwards, and creases where the sleeve shape folds, is is exactly what I was after. I do realise I was originally planning to make the final 'pattern' into a brocade top, but now that I'm happy with the pattern that aim is feeling less important. I guess enjoying the journey was enough...

See you soon

- Gabrielle x


  1. I really like the simplicity of this top. Shame the fabric is pilling. For us teachers, these final weeks are pretty cruisy. Lots of craft and presentations and the upcoming holidays - yay. I'm sure you'll make it through - us mums always do!

  2. Great colour and congrats on perfecting the simple shape!

  3. Melanie Y (Miss Piggy)6 December 2014 at 08:39

    Great top - I LOVE simple sewing projects (I also keep X-mas VERY simple with one present for my husband and one for a family Kris Kringle...I'm the original Scrooge McDuck). I wish I worked in the city so I could catch up for lunch with you ladies. Maybe I'll take a day off work one day to do just that!

  4. I love this top - the colour and shape are fantastic, pity about the fabric quality. Also love your post pics, they are fantastic! Great seeing you for lunch, looking forward to our next one! Oh yeah i love your shoes too! Perfect outfit.

  5. Probably not intended but I laughed a lot reading this post! The top looks a really great shape and colour. I've got 3 things that I have made recently with fabric from Spotlight that have balled up instantly or run and keep running - even a laminated fabric that is meant to be water proof (resistant?). That is very disappointing and not good enough.
    If someone said "I'll give you a million dollars to hang onto that bus by the rim" you wouldn't be able to do it I'd bet!

  6. Great basic, made exactly how you like it - the joy of sewing one's own clothes! You must have had your WeetBix that day, nice work with the bus!

  7. I love simple shapes too, for sewing and wearing. Great job on modifying the pattern, super outfit!

  8. Love this outfit! It's what I would wear to work! The scuba knit fabric looks just right for this style and the colour is fab. So sad it pilled :(
    My rtw tops have a similar gradual slope too and I like that deepfold / crease at underarm.
    It's funny how you do look like you are carrying the bus wheel :)
    Hope you manage to tame the Christmas stress and still find time to sew something or two :)

  9. Cute top Gabrielle! I really like the color, it's such a shame that it pilled so quickly! Uggh!! I just had that happen to me recently.

  10. Great photo to finish on! Oh what a shame about the top. I've had some good luck lately with Spotlight fabric, so this is disappointing to hear. Great shape though - really perfect.

  11. I agree. You've got a simple top now that will be great on the fabric that you want to use.
    I hope Santa brings you some nice gifts because it sounds like you're flat out - and on Santa's 'nice' list.

  12. Lovely! The scuba knit really lends itself so well to this style because even without any seamed design features, it gives so much body and shape! You look lovely in it :) Here's to the Christmas crazies!

  13. Thanks Christy. I thought around now it'd be frantic school report writing and planning for the next year - it must feel good to have that all done. Yes, I always get a bit stressed at this time of year, but we always do seem to make it don't we!

  14. Thanks Eve; and yay! for small victories!

  15. Thanks Mel, there is absolutely nothing wrong with simple sewing projects in my book :). A simple Christmas would be amazing... we've tried previously to limit the Chrissie gifts to kids only, but the majority don't want to play it that way which means we have about 25 - 30 to think of pressies for :(. I am currently thinking food for all the adults to make it easier on myself... Yes, you should do that! Let us know if you plan a day in the city - I think there are quite a few of us in the CBD!

  16. Thanks Emma, aren't they silly pictures :). The last one was one of several I took under the bemused view of the bus driver, who was enjoying a quiet ciggie break - he must have thought I was such a nutter! It was great seeing you for lunch too, I'm looking forward to continuing the tradition next year! Have fun tomorrow with Steph! Oh thanks, re the shoes, I've only recently realised that pink shoes - like red shoes - go with everything!

  17. Terrific, I'm really glad to hear that - making people laugh is the BEST! Oh no - Spotlight, what are you doing!!! Laminated fabric should be completely stable! Kristy of Lower Your Presser Foot also mentioned their fabric quality is really variable - it's such a gamble! Ha, yes, I know - but now that I've carried a bus I reckon I could also prop up a building. Maybe Centrepoint?

  18. It is a joy, isn't it! And then a joy to look in the wardrobe and see the shapes and colours you like.. Actually I think it was pear and raspberry "bread" for breakfast that day - imagine what size of vehicle I could lift after a bowl of weetbix!

  19. Thank you, simple shapes can be really satisfying, can't they!

  20. You are on my wave link! Love the ease of this top for the office.


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