Anyone who has had or known a child growing up in the last 10 years might know “The Wiggles” song my title refers to! I can’t help but think of that quirky tune when looking at or even wearing this fun little vintage crop top. Only half of a yard of this bright fruit print rayon just had to be redeemed into something more than just a supporting role in a sewing project, in my opinion. I am so happy to have made the remnant work as this 1950s sun top! With a bright print like this portraying a yummy cocktail salad how can I not be put in good spirits by my new creation?
My headband and earrings are me-made, and my sandals I had refashioned (yes, I even work on shoes!) but otherwise my skirt is a ready-to-wear standby item. I can’t wait to see what my new crop top looks like with some vintage style jeans or a bright circle skirt! The busy print with all the colors help this to match up with all sorts of bottom pieces – yay!
FABRIC: a printed rayon challis on the outside, a bright yellow cotton inside, and poly/cotton blend broadcloth for the straps
NOTIONS: I actually had everything I needed on hand, which is amazing because I used some notions which were more complex than what the pattern called for…more about that down later!
TIME TO COMPLETE: This was made in about 8 hours (two evenings worth of sewing sessions) and finished on June 1, 2019
TOTAL COST: I was able to pick up the rayon for about $1 but the lining was ‘more expensive’ at $2.50. I’m not counting the scraps used for the straps and interfacing, or notions from my generous stash of supplies. My total was about $4 – how awesome is that?
This summer has been so busy that a few hour project is all I can handle if I want a finished project. Yet, I am all about not sacrificing quality. Thus, I put in some extra time to make sure this little summer top is comfortable, effortless, nicely tailored, and will last me many more years of warm weather fun!
The most obvious part of construction that took some of the extra time to reach completion was the faulty amount of ease put into this design. This needs to have a close, tight fit – both to stay up and to look right (not slouchy). This is not a blouse or shirt. That means there needs to be about zero to negative amount of wearing ease. Tasha at “By Gum, By Golly” has an excellent, helpful review going over this same subject. Looking at the finished garment measurements as compared to the size chart, it’s obvious there is a several inch ease added in for every size. I myself went down one size to be safe, but even still, I had to bring in the top by over an inch for my first fitting. I am pretty sure this was not how the original was and something added in when the pattern was re-released. Vintage re-issues from the Big 4 pattern companies are sometimes really good at tweaking something that was just fine to begin with. I’m sorry to be negative. I should be glad for re-issues, though, because they do make vintage sewing something more mainstream, affordable, and attainable for all body sizes. So, if you reach for this pattern for the first time, just remember this heads up to check the sizing, instead of recalling my crabbing!
Hiding under what might look like a simple little top is many seams and a secret to keeping them straight. Boned seams further structure the body and combine with (what should be) a snug fit to share amazing tailoring that the 50s are so good at. Many extant original 1950s evening dresses and summer bra tops have boning in them, too, so I like this true vintage touch. Yet, I got rid of the boning directly through the bust as directed and instead opted for something a bit more naturally structured. The side seams and center front alone have boning and there is a bra sewn into the front half in my version. Boning is still in the back as well, as directed, but only on either side of the center because I added a back zipper. It’s so much more convenient rather than a
buttoning back, as the pattern directs and true vintage items have. As I said, for me to fully enjoy this, it was going to have to be easy to wear – lingerie is sewn in already for no bra straps peeking out and no circus trick required lurking behind me either whenever I elect to put it on. I chose a metal exposed zipper because it was what I had on hand but I do enjoy the funky, modern flair of it. This might be vintage, but the time is today and I frequently don’t mind a little crossover between the two.
For my first time attempting to make a fully boned garment I am pretty happy. (My first trial at boning was for the back of this 50’s strapless romper I made awhile back, but that was just two little strips I added so I’m not fully counting that!) I figured this little top was a good piece to go all out and experiment with. It was no real biggie if I messed up or things didn’t turn out just right, between the busy print and the style itself. Nevertheless, it wasn’t really that hard to do, just a bit tedious and time consuming, and I can’t think of how I would have done better.
The boning I used was the pre-packaged Dritz brand lightweight kind, already covered in a soft cotton blend sheath. I had a pack of soft, jelly-like plastic caps to cover the cut ends. I cut to the measurements provided in the instructions and pushed the caps over both the boning and its fabric cover, then stitched through all layers using the hole in the caps provided to anchor them on the ends. Since my boning was covered, I top stitched it directly to the inside of the lining along the princess seams, but if it hadn’t been fabric coated I would have used the seam allowances to form a casing channel.
My only complaint is that the packaging of the boning had it all curled up too tightly in a roll and I had a hard time working to straighten the unwanted curving in it. Even still it tends to want to do its own thing sometimes, working against my body. That aside, I can’t wait to try boning again. When I sew it, a boned garment is much more comfortable than I would have thought, especially compared to the scratchy boning in my extant vintage garments, it turned out well, and was fun to do. I love the confidence and assurance in a great shape that a boned garment lends!
The ‘collar’ has me on the fence. I like it but would rather have had it not have so much individual personality but stick closer to the main body. It is cute though and makes this so fun and different. You know I just had to make things so much harder for myself to squeeze this in on half a yard! The grain line for the collar piece calls for it to be cut on the bias cross grain. However, was lucky enough to make things work the way I cut the collar on an off-kilter straight grain. I rarely go against the grain line so this was a rare deviance for me. Perhaps this change in the cut and layout of the collar effected the way mine hangs on the finished top. Sometimes it’s best just to make things work rather than finding perfectionism. Coming from me this is something (I’m so hard on myself) but I really wanted that extra touch! For an alternate idea, I can actually picture a big bias ruffle (not in the pattern, I know) coming from the neckline in a white eyelet version of this top. Oh no, another project to add in my projects queue! Apparently another version of this top is probably in my future.
Having the little black edging united both the contrast straps and bold back zipper together with the top as a whole – another reason I wanted the neckline collar. I disregarded the pattern piece for the edging and used pre-made bias tape instead out of convenience. Mitering the corners is still important whether you use the pattern for the edging or bias tape or ribbon for edging, though. Perfect points make that overhang really appear as if it is mock-collar.
The instructions call for a lot more interfacing than I committed. It called for the whole body to be stabilized on top of adding the boning. To me that doesn’t sound comfy for a summer top…it sounds like sweaty, unbreathable torture to be. I left out the interfacing through the body and added it instead in shoulder straps. This makes more sense to me and feels better to wear. The straps would be even better with an adjustable option like lingerie, but I really didn’t feel like something complicated and they were too wide to even work like that. I didn’t want to make new skinny ones. Perfect is being done, sometimes.
Well, I hope this post inspires you to think outside of the box and look at small cuts of fabric, what we consider remnants today, as having great potential. Our grandmothers were onto something with their depression era practice of making scraps work in more ways than modern minds find imaginable. Fabric is fabric to me, in any size cut! It find it so funny how one little half yard turned into one complexly structured vintage top. The many seams (10 vertically around) were my friend to help my idea along. Between the bright print and the fun design and the thriftiness of it all, this make of mine really is a cheerful, ‘feel good’ summer piece. Fruit salad, anyone? I do love a healthy treat.