In the quest for more sportswear that is also part of my handmade wardrobe, I have branched out to make something perfect for playing one of my favorite games – tennis! This top had been part of a previous project back from 2016, only to be left unfinished when my ideas changed. However, I detest sewing items lurking on the backburner and am a stickler for needing the projects I start to be fully finished. At last I have conquered this little odd dress bodice to make it a top that does the job of a sports bra but with a fashionable, fun, me-made flair!
This is a totally different side of me that is uniquely lacking in my normal glamour to show here on my blog. Thus I am a bit unsure about sharing it yet too happy with what I’ve made to hold it back. I felt it tied in nicely with my previous post of 1940s sporty, bibbed “short-alls” so I am sharing this now versus waiting until it is officially summer. This is not a vintage piece, coming from a Burda Style pattern from 2016, but it does incorporate one of my favorite things – color blocking. All of my favorite tones are here present – rich purple, bright pink, and a royal blue – all in a way that calls to mind a lovely stained glass window. The black piping becomes likened to the “cames” of grooved lead which hold together the panels of color in a glass window. I love the irony of recalling delicate stained glass for an item used for an activity that is quite the opposite – slamming of balls and full body movements. Tennis is not listed as a high impact sport but it is the way I play it!
FABRIC: a shirting basics stretch cotton sateen
NOTIONS NEEDED: I had to buy an extra pack of piping to finish this, as well as the back separating zipper, but other than that all I needed was lots of thread, which I always have on hand
TIME TO COMPLETE: The original piped bodice took me about 5 hours back in 2016, but then for the recent fitting and finishing I spent another 4 hours
THE INSIDES: left raw…the stretch in the cotton keeps the fraying of the fabric in check
TOTAL COST: I no longer remember because the fabrics had been on hand from before 2016!
The sizing definitely ran small and quite wonky for the original Burda dress pattern that my top came from. See a full recap on this post here. Such a sizing discrepancy luckily didn’t extend to the skirt portion of the dress, but the top half was another story. Neither did I have any more fabric to recut anything. All the vertical seams together with the fact I added in piping to them set up any fitting adjustments to be a major headache. I definitely had to come back to adjust such an unfinished object when I was fully ready and equipped with a definite purpose and incentive to complete this.
It was a sewing project I truly wrestled with to just barely make it fit enough to be salvageable. Letting out the 5/8 inch seams to 3/8 inch in some places was barely just enough to have this squeeze on my body as well as get the piping back in again. The piping makes the color gradient panels pop with the definition but definitely restrains the stretch of the fabric in between. It restricts the curvy seams significantly yet I loved the overall effect too much to give up on the idea. Now that it is done, I feel that the piping makes sure the fabric doesn’t over-extend its elasticity and also helps this have such a snug fit, which I normally wouldn’t like but found a purpose for this time.
I took advantage of the fact this top has wonderful stretch and is skin tight to wear this as my sports bra. I have only worn loose tee shirts for tennis before and have never been happy with how I move and feel sloppily clammy while wearing them. This top is like a second skin, and keeps my assets securely in place. The top itself stays in place on my body, is fuss-free, and does not get in the way of my movement at all like my loose tee shirts were doing. Plus, the sateen doesn’t show sweat, keeps me cool while wicking any moisture away, and still looks nice. I never knew what to do with it before now since I formerly saw it only as a failure left behind from an unfinished project. Now that this top is not only finished but also useful with a purpose, I am so taken by it. I have something I always needed but never knew I wanted…and I made it myself, which is even better!
In lieu of the side seam zipper I originally planned for when this top was to be part of a dress, I changed to a center back separating sports zipper. A sports zipper is more heavy duty, with chunkier teeth, and the fact it opened up at both ends makes this top very easy to put on. I left the zipper exposed to not only save every little bit of room I could spare but also because it visually gives a black line in the seam similar to the piping in all the other seams. The black back zipper gave me the ideal combo of functionality and aesthetics in one easy step.
Not that I would highly recommend this pattern, but this is the perfect stash busting project. The pattern pieces for this top could probably even fit on some cotton “fat quarters”. When I was originally making this, I happened upon three colors of the same fabric in my stash, all in a stretch cotton shirting, in colors which complimented each other. They just had to be made into a garment together!
The pink is a whole 2-something bolt, still in my stash meant for a future project, while the other two colors were under ¼ yard scraps. I just gleaned a small amount off of the total cut of pink, not enough to dent my greater plans for it. With some recent re-organizing of my fabric bins I happened to come across this pink fabric again, and so I took the opportunity to shave off a tad more to cut bias strips to finish the armhole openings. At the same time, I also happened to find some scraps of black stretch cotton sateen on hand, leftover from a store bought dress I had re-fashioned years back. I then used this to finish off the neck and bottom hem edges. I was left with the feeling my top was very barely cobbled together but also amazed that such little amounts were all I needed. The stash busting redemption of this top has left me further satisfied with it even though the fit of the design is much lacking.
You see on my blog what kind of styles I stitch together for everything else in my life. Now that I’ve finished making this tennis top you see what I wear for sporting exercise fun! Have you made some athletic wear pieces for yourself? What is your favorite sport?