The joy of simplicity

What are your ‘staple’ garments? When you make your own clothes, it seems like it should be easier to fill your wardrobe with them, but there is such a thing as having too much choice – and, boy, does sewing give you that. I had so many fabric fails when I first started sewing, be it cheapy synthetics (sweaty to wear and not great for the environment), bright prints (just not me) or fabrics that didn’t work for my everyday life (satin. When was I going to wear that??).

Obviously, sewing garments you’ll wear for years, in organic, eco-friendly fabrics, is the ideal. But not everyone has a stash full of lovely organic cottons to pick from – and deciding which garments fall in the ‘staple’ category is subjective. For some, it’s amazing wax-print dresses (hello, SewVee). For others, it’s designer-inspired pieces that wouldn’t look out of place on the pages of Vogue (Ada Spragg and House of Pinheiro spring to mind). For me? Well, it’s polka dots, stripes, monochrome, leopard print…and black. Lots of black. I’m obviously a secret goth at heart. Not exciting for Instagram, but easy to choose from when I’m in a rush in the morning (i.e. every morning). I realise this is a whole lot of rambling for what’s essentially a post about the most simple top in the world. It’s The Boxy Top pattern from Simply Sewing issue 45, originally from Jen Hewett’s lovely book Print Pattern Sew – and it may not be the most impressive thing you’ll see on Instagram today, but I can tell it’s going to be something I’ll wear a lot.

I didn’t make any alterations apart from, as usual, shortening the length – and that was mostly so the pattern would actually fit on the fabric. I’ve had this cotton gingham in the stash for a while – I think it was from eBay – but its narrow width (and the fact I only bought 1.5m for some reason. Who the hell just buys 1.5m?) meant I had to be ‘creative’ with cutting out. So, if you were hoping to see some expert pattern-matching today, you’ve come to the wrong place (I did manage it at the shoulder seams though, so will obviously be showing those off at every opportunity. Feel free to ogle my shoulder seams, everyone. Don’t be shy).

Although seriously simple to make, with techniques I’ve done endless times, it did involve one new skill I haven’t tried before: flat sleeve insertion. Where has this type of sleeve been all my sewing life? So much easier and speedier than set-in ones. It was a real boost to make something that wasn’t challenging but still taught me something new, so that’s going to be my criteria for projects from now on. Heck, I might just apply that to the rest of my life as well. 

Pattern: The Boxy Top by Jen Hewett, from Simply Sewing issue 45.

Alterations: Shortened the length. That’s it!

Fabric: Cotton gingham from eBay (if I was going to buy more gingham – and I probably will – I’d get this one from Organic Textile Company).

Sewing soundtrack: Have just started learning Lindy Hop, so currently obsessed with all things swing. Also, Lizzo.



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