tova top

My first sewn garment!!

tova top in quilting cotton

I knew I was coming to a glorious location here in western Wisconsin (that’s the Mississippi River in the background—I had never seen the Mississippi before!), so I wanted an FO that I could rope my favorite photographer, Caro, into shooting for me. But I wasn’t going to be able to knit anything in time, and I wasn’t going to drag a quilt halfway across the country, so it was time to actually sew some clothing! I think the tight deadline plus the almost insane panic I felt that I would be missing out on gorgeous photo shoot locations were what I needed to finally get over my fear and start cutting into fabric for garments.

It was super steep on that bluff, you guys, and I was wearing flip-flops. (I stopped about halfway down to a stone ledge that friends were exploring.) So excuse any weirdness in these photos. But about this shirt, the Tova Top. I used a quilting cotton, which I knew would probably be too heavy; it hangs pretty well in spite of that. It does feel slightly stiff, though, and I’d be interested in trying this out in a more appropriate fabric—plus running it through the wash a few times.


The inset probably gave me the biggest trouble, because working around its corners was tricksy. I actually picked it out once; it came out much better the second time. The collar was also somewhat mysterious to me (fold over what?) until I actually did it, and then it was pretty clear—it came together without too much hassle. Confession time: Practically every seam in this garment had to be sewn twice! A combination of always forgetting to change a setting (lengthen stitch length for basting, but forget to switch it back!), being slightly confused by the black and white step-by-step photographs in the tutorial, and being almost a complete novice (those garment sewing classes I took 10 years ago are in my brain somewhere, but not at the front of my brain). In all, though, this top wasn’t hard to make at all and it came together in a 2-day intensive.

One major delay in the process was learning how to thread my serger and get the hang of using that. Illana gave me the serger years ago (she had a new one) but it had literally never come out of the box upon being transferred to my possession. And of course I got it threaded and ran out of thread soon after, so I am now an expert on threading that machine! But I figured if I was going to start sewing garments I ought to get them finished as well as I could. Caro, a professional, told me she peeked inside my garments and approved of the job I did, so: PHEW!

tova top in quilting cotton

I’m looking forward to the weather turning so that I can wear this more! The flap at the front really is very revealing if you’re not standing still, so I’ll need to wear a camisole underneath, and if I were to sew this pattern again I think I’d add a button or somehow cause that to be more closed.

tova top in quilting cottonI’m telling you, that bluff was steep.


15 Responses to tova top

  1. andrea says:

    oh i love this top and have wanted to make it for so long! i, too, have a fear of garment sewing and even took a dress class a couple of years ago. the fact that the dress was well sewn but looked terrible on me didn’t help my fear of garments! i think it’s time for me to make this…

  2. Cele says:

    Wow, Erin! So ambitious for a first sewing project!!! I confess, I never had a serger (or wanted one), and I have never basted anything (I always thought it was a waste of time, my mother never basted, hence neither did I).

    Your top is adorable, I am impressed – can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with next!

  3. Mintymom says:

    You have an abundance of talent! This is so cute on you. Looks comfy, casual but just dressy enough paired with the skirt. Glad you didn’t plummet to some demise for the shoot!

  4. Caro says:

    In that last photo you can almost tell how steep it was. I wasn’t that far away from you and look at the angle! I’m so far above you!

    Pam crawling up that hill was maybe the best thing ever.

    (And the Tova top looks GREAT!)

  5. Illanna says:

    Your top is gorgeous and I’m so happy you got to use the serger! I haven’t serged anything since I saw you, but I did knit up the beautiful Brooklyn Tweed you brought. Can’t wait to see what you sew next! Bravo for blogging!

  6. Janieb says:

    2 days for a completed top, you have to wonder why we knit! Looks like a fun shoot, the fabric & style are fantastic on you. Congrats on your first garment.

  7. earthchick says:

    Oh, Erin, this looks so fantastic!! Wow. Love it. You did a great job and it looks so good on you.

    I was given a brand-new serger for my birthday – FIVE years ago. I have downloaded a class from Craftsy and am determined to learn how to use it this fall!

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