Sunday, March 4, 2018

Two tops and two skirts.

Hello! My stash busting and blog catching up continues. I wanted some nice knit tops for chilly days that were work appropriate (business casual) and I have been meaning to try out the Grainline Lark Tee Expansion - this expansion pack includes a dress view and a two different neckline options, a regular turtleneck and a "cowl" neck. I was hoping for something like the Renfrew Cowl neck but without having to purchase another t-shirt pattern when the Lark fits me so well.

You may have noticed that this shirt doesn't actually fit me that well .... Well, both the regular turtleneck and the cowl neck use the crew neck Lark, which I haven't ever made before, so I went ahead and cut that out. Problem being, I forgot my size and cut it out in a size 12 instead of a size 10 like my former Larks - size 12 is definitely a bit large, although still wearable.

Background information: I have a dread of fabric touching the hollow of my neck. I hate it. I like a nice cowl that falls away from the neck, or a loosely wrapped scarf or collar, but no tight turtlenecks for me! Welp, the expansion cowl is very, very tall. Very tall!

When pushed down, it is also very heavy, and quite tight. This is the face of a woman being strangled by her own collar.

Okay, now some people might really love this neckline! I could see it being very warm and cozy in a cold climate and, obviously, not everyone has my weird neck issues. But it wasn't going to work for me!

I cut the cowl off, shortened it by half, and sewed it back on. Ah. Now my neck can breathe! A much better garment for my climate, too.

This change made this top wearable, but I wouldn't say it's my favorite make. It's a bit too large, and the neckline, while better than before, wasn't the cowl neckline of my dreams.

Sidebar: This is a Mabel Skirt I made last year in mustard ponte, which I am only now blogging but wear all the time. I lengthened the skirt to a midi-length and used the plain front version of the pattern. I added wide elastic at the waist, too. This is one of my most sewn patterns, I believe this is my fifth skirt and I would love a few more! I've really personalized this pattern and I love this version.

 I retained my favorite part of the pattern, which is the lovely kick pleat. It's an easy feature to add, and it definitely adds some polish to this basic knit skirt.

Back to my quest for the perfect cowl ... after conferring with Masha, who has sewn the Refrew many times, I decided to try altering the Lark cowl to more closely resemble the Renfrew. I used the scoop neck version of the t-shirt (in size 10) for a much lower neck, and made a much wider, somewhat shorter cowl than the Lark expansion piece. In looking at these pictures, I actually think I could have made the cowl taller and fuller without it becoming claustrophobic at all. I think a larger cowl would balance out my large bust really nicely too. Well, it's a continuing journey! 

Unfortunately, I initially put the sleeves on backwards, and had to redo them! They still look a bit messed up to me, but I have been wearing this top a ton so it's obviously not worrying me too much.

The fabric for both these tops came from the sales that Britex had before its move to a new space. This olive green rayon lycra is really knit perfection - so buttery soft and drapey.

And yes, I made this skirt as well! More precisely, I refashioned it. I found a Gap minidress at the thrift store, and was immediately drawn to the firm, stable fabric! The dress fit me in theory but it was unflattering with a high neck (again!) and mini length. I simply chopped it off below the bust, folded the top down, and added wide elastic to make it a skirt. I didn't change the angle of the skirt, so it's slightly a-line and hits just above my knees now. I have been wearing this skirt to work (on more casual days) frequently, it's comfortable and goes with all my solid colored tops.

All of these fabrics came from the stash (and one came from the pile of "mend or refashion" items).In the month of February, I sewed up about 6.5 yards from the stash, which was pretty good! Unfortunately, I also went to Stonemountain and fell off the wagon pretty hard, buying 9 yards (in my defense, some of that was on sale?). Oof! But I'm still ahead for the year and I'm still trying to make a dent in my stash this year!

I have a few more pieces of fabric that would make great cowl tops if I want to continue on my journey of drafting the perfect cowl for the Lark tee. But at some point, I might switch to spring tops instead, we'll see! (Of course, our Bay Area summers are colder than our winters a lot of the time, so there's that to consider too!)

Are you still sewing for cool weather? Or have you moved on to hot weather sewing? (Realizing my Southern Hemisphere friends are considering the reverse!)


  1. Yay, you did it! Looks much more comfy than the Lark cowl. I love both your skirts. I had a Mabel in mustard ponte but it was too tight and I donated it. I ended up donating the pattern too as it did not work for me but I think I need another mustard pencil skirt!

  2. That picture of you with the giant cowl pulled up over your head is really cracking me up! That cowl is huge. I think you totally saved it but I really like the second one with the cowl put on the scoop neckline. Your skirts are both great. I have seen a couple of different mustard bottoms recently that are making me want to get my hands on some mustard fabric. It’s such a good color for a skirt or pants.

  3. Oh I am really wanting some knit pencil skirts for the upcoming cool weather so I'm loving this look of yours. Cowls seem like an all or nothing proposition to me, super drama or a stiff little turtleneck but the in between never quite works out on me....


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