A few years ago, in a moment of insanity, I ordered a big lot of scuba remnants off eBay. Now, all seasoned sewists know that a remnant lot will most likely be random pieces of fabric, that most of the time cannot actually be used for anything useful.
Well, somehow, I forgot this little details. And I clicked ‘Buy now’ without thinking anything of it. And, surprise, surprise, when my order arrived, there were indeed random pieces of scuba, in various colours, none bigger than about 40×30 cm and some even smaller.
I am definitely of the ‘waste not, want not’ persuasion, so for the past couple of years, I have been working my brain to figure out what to use these pieces for.
Until this summer, when the August issue of Burda Style landed in my lap. (Thank you, Chris, for bringing it for me all the way from Germany). This is a cracking issue, and I have seen a lot of amazing makes with patterns from it, but this apparently unassuming little top was one of the first ones to catch my eye.
And then it clicked. I can colour block this pattern and use up my scraps. The scuba would go perfectly with the boxy shape, and by colour blocking, I can use up even the smallest pieces.
But what design to use? I didn’t want too many colour options and a design that would work with the boxy shape of the original pattern. Off I run to Pinterest for some inspiration, and I come across this Top Shop top that fitted the bill perfectly.
(Image from Pinterest).
Here are my versions:
The original pattern is a Burda Style Magazine top that I really loved as soon as I got the August issue. It has a roll neckband, loose boxy shape, overcut shoulders and cropped sleeves. So, it’s the perfect canvas for my idea!
I have never colour blocked a solid pattern before, but how hard could it be?
In essence, I just re-traced the pattern (it’s Burda, so I had to trace it to begin with) and decided the pattern of my colour blocks. In line with my inspiration, I made a cut off-centre across the bust and then another cut on the bottom of the resulting larger piece. And the same for the back. I then added seam allowances for all the new cut lines and also added notches, to make sure I match it all back the right way. I found a great tutorial from Seamwork Magazine, if you want to check it out for a step-by-step tutorial.
I needed 3 colours for the top, to match my inspiration. I had 7 pieces of different colours, some smaller and some a bit bigger. The options were quite limited because of the size of each piece. The red and the orange pieces had to be bottom bands and the neckline band, as I only had very small pieces. I had a bit more of the white, beige, brown and olive. But I had to get a bit creative on cutting, to be able to get all my pattern pieces out. The original design and the pattern didn’t have a centre back seam, but I had to add one to ensure it all worked. Luckily, the scuba is a bit forgiving so I could cheat and go cross-grain, as it’s a 4-way stretch.
I think the orange and olive go really great together, in spite of apparent clash. So I added the beige as a neutral. Then I only had red, white and brown left, which fortunately also went well together. There was a burgundy piece left, but it would not have been enough to replace the brown and it’s not as nice to touch as the other ones. So that was the only left-over from the original lot.
This top is a super quick make, in the original version, and only a bit more complicated in the colour block version. Everything was sewn on the overlocker, and I used the coverstitch machine to finish the hems. I built the back and front pieces by sewing all the colour block items, then joined the shoulder seams. The neckband followed. I then attached the sleeve pieces in the flat and then sewed the side seams. The last step was finishing the hem and sleeve edges with a double needle coverstitch.
The neckband is designed to be very high, almost an inch wide, so it required a bit of support. For the olive version, I used a strip of iron-on batting. It could have used a bit more, to make it stand up easier. In the white version, I forgot to add it in, but the band still sticks out. I think the neckline must have been designed especially to keep it up.
The tricky part was deciding what colour thread to use for hemming. On the orange version, I went with contrasting beige thread and I think it looks really nice. On the white version, I used red, which also went across the brown part, but it’s not too offensive. However, I used a matching thread on the sleeves. Making all these thread changes actually took almost as long as sewing the whole thing together!!
Wear & Style
I made these versions one after the other and I keep having trouble deciding which one to wear. Although they are identical, somehow the olive one feels a bit more sporty, whereas the white one feels a bit dressier… The olive I always wear with jeans, but the white I wore with a skirt, my red Ginger Jeans, and some dressier trousers. Here are a few pics in their natural habitat: lounging in my beanbag and sitting primly on my sofa.
Overall, I love these little tops! Very easy to wear, easy to care for and they make me feel so good about myself for doing a bit of scrap busting too!
Pattern: Burda Style Magazine 08/2017 #112, colour blocked by me; size 38
Fabric: scuba remnants from eBay
Alterations: Reduced side seams and sleeves by 2 cm
Next time: Go down to size 36; add a bit more batting in the neckline
Other versions: Check out Diane’s pintuck version at Dream.Cut.Sew
HAVE YOU EVER DONE YOUR OWN COLOUR BLOCKING? WHAT METHOD DID YOU USE? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS OR TWEET ME @SEWRENDIPITY!
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