Thursday, 13 August 2015

Sew Over It cowl neck top & simple skirt refashion

Today's post brings you the excitement of two finished projects for the price of one - a Sew Over It cowl neck top and a simple refashioned skirt, which go quite nicely together even if I do say so myself.

This outfit has been brewing in my head since I found this skirt in a local charity shop a couple of months ago...

I loved the butterfly print and the fabric is beautifully silky soft (it's 100% cupro), but it was too small for me. The skirt had generous pleats though, and was pretty long, so I knew there was enough fabric there to make it work for me and that it was worth the £5 price tag.

It came home with me, where I hung it on one of the hooks on my living room wall so I could ponder what exactly to do with it. Unfortunately it looked quite pretty and colourful hung on the wall so I started subconsciously treating it as some odd form of art instead of a project that needed attention. Really, that was a waste though so I decided to make a top to wear with it, that I wasn't allowed to wear until I could wear it with the skirt. I like these strange little self-imposed challenges!

So this is the top that motivated me to attack the skirt...

I actually bought the fabric (it's a viscose jersey from Guthrie & Ghani) with the intention of making an Agnes top, but when it arrived it was so lovely and drapey that I thought it might be better suited to the Sew Over It cowl neck top instead - I'd bought the pattern on offer when it was released but hadn't got round to making it, so this seemed like a good opportunity to do that.

It was a nice simple project, and sewed up pretty quickly. I did ignore the instructions a bit though - they have you sew the shoulder and side seams of the top and then set in the sleeves, but I sewed the sleeves in flat and then sewed the sleeve and side seams in one, which just seemed easier to me.

If you're making this top, it's worth bearing in mind that it's a more loose fitting style than lots of knit tops. I made a size 12, which matches my measurements if I'm trying to flatter myself slightly rather than being completely honest, and there's still plenty of ease. I'm happy with the looser fit, but I think I could have gone down a size and still ended up with a top that fit me fine.

If I'm being picky, the PDF could be a bit better - it would be good if there were instructions about which pages you don't need to print if you're only making the top instead of the dress, and there are 6 blank pages that you don't need to print off at all. I can see why they're included in the PDF to make it easier to draft, but again there could be instructions about not printing them. Those are minor niggles though and don't affect the actual pattern at all.

They didn't really cloud my experience of making the top either, and I can definitely see myself making other versions at some point.

So, I had the top and now I needed to refashion the skirt!

I unpicked the waistband, and with all the pleats released there was masses of fabric to work with (I ended up chopping about 10 inches off the front and back at one side). I then washed the skirt fabric, left it quite wet and hung it up to dry by one of the side seams to encourage the pleats to fall out. Magically they did, and the fabric didn't really even need ironing before I got to work.

I decided to keep it simple and make a gathered, elastic waist skirt, and used this tutorial from Handmade Jane. As a bonus, I've also got side seam pockets in mine, mainly because the original skirt had pockets so I thought I might as well use them! The only other thing I needed to do was shorten the skirt - it was that horribly frumpy length favoured by older ladies, and I think the hem had been altered before because it was a bit uneven - so I took about 6 inches off, rehemmed it and that was it!

I'm glad I finally got round to cutting the skirt up and doing something with it - it's definitely better as something to wear than just something hanging on the wall to look at! It may have only been a simple project, but I really enjoyed hacking apart the skirt and making something new. It's inspired me to think of various possible projects for taking part in The Refashioners - is anyone else going to play along?


  1. They look great together. I made the top too and it's huge. I want to trim it now I have seen yours. I just needed encouraging thanks K xXx

  2. Wow! What a great idea! Ive never thought of being able to refashion a too small skirt before. The both make a really great outfit!

    1. Thank you! I don't think it would work with every skirt, but the pleats were so big here that I knew there's be plenty of fabric once I got rid of the small waistband!

  3. What a great outfit! I love your skirt refashion. I'm glad to read your comments on the cowl top. I made one a few weeks ago, and couldn't find much about it in the interwebs. You're right about the generous sizing, I think I will sew my shoulder seams in a bit, because mine is a bit wide at the neck. That was a good idea to sew to sleeves in flat, that's what the instructions say to do on the Agnes and Bronte tops.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad I'm not the only one who found the sizing to be quite generous. I found it quite odd that the instructions said to set in the sleeves, because I've only ever seen them sewn in flat on other knit tops so that seemed like the best thing to do here too!

  4. That is a great combo. The cowl neck really compliments you.


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