I’m not really one to participate in community challenges as a lot of the time they’re seasonally inappropriate or the themes don’t really align with what I’m sewing at that time. With two small kids sewing time is a precious commodity so I’m very selective about what I use it for. Don’t get me wrong, I think challenges are a great way to get motivated and to connect with others in our lovely community so I certainly enjoy following along and seeing what amazing things others make.
When #sewjapaneseinjuly popped up with the following description (quoted from @bloglessanna’s Instagram post): “@craftyjane_makes and I are hosting #sewjapaneseinjuly next month. This is a sister event to #sewjapaneseinjanuary that allows for seasonal variations between hemispheres! Will you join us and sew from your Japanese pattern books and/or Japanese fabric stash in July and use the hashtag? No sponsors, giveaways or commercial partnerships… this is a community event, open to all, aimed to motivate and inspire.” I immediately thought of a gorgeous Nani Iro double gauze that had been kicking around in my stash since last year.
According to my Instagram feed I’d purchased this back in October last year at the dreamy Fibresmith. I’d gone there to purchase some see you at six French terry which has been turned into a very well worn pair of Anima pants. While I was taking my sweet time browsing I noticed a lady at the counter purchasing some beautiful fabric. It seemed vaguely familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on why. There didn’t appear to be much fabric left on the bolt so as she was getting it cut I was silently hoping there would be enough left for me to get some too!
As soon as she was done I quickly popped up to the counter to ask about the fabric. It turns out that it was an old Nani Iro double gauze which Leslie (the lovely owner of Fibresmith) had bought on her recent buying trip to Japan. Now I’m really not one for impulse shopping but this print was just too gorgeous to pass up on. When I found out there was about 1.5m left on the bolt I happily snapped it up. This fabric has been happily hanging out in my stash ever since as I wanted to find the “perfect” pattern to use it for.
#sewjapaneseinjuly was a great reminder to use this fabric and once I started thinking about it I realised that I already had an ideal pattern to use it for – the Marilla Walker Maya top. I’ve briefly mentioned my first Maya top here but since then I’ve made three others so thought it was about time I give this pattern a proper blog post. I’d never really taken much notice of this pattern until Lisa from Tessuti fabrics did a post about it in December last year. It seems that lots of sewists have made it up with a few modifications to resemble the cult Georgia tee.
Once I saw Lisa’s version I was completely in love and saw this pattern in a new light. All the possibilities flashed through my head (cropping it even more, adding a gathered skirt etc) and I got myself a copy. I followed the modifications outlined by Lisa (adding an extra inch at the centre front and back seams, lengthened the sleeve length of the size one to the size five, added rectangular sleeve cuffs and finished the neckline with double fold bias instead of a facing) and was so thrilled with the end result.
My second version was made out of another linen, this time from Tessuti fabrics and the only difference between the two versions was to make this one slightly shorter. I’ve gradually been wearing more high-waisted bottoms and a cropped top pairs better with these.
For my third version I veered away from linen (which has quickly become my favourite fabric to sew with) and upped the ante by using silk organza. This was made as part of a wedding outfit to be worn over an Ogden cami lengthened into a dress. I cropped this one even more but construction wise everything else was pretty much the same. For more details click here.
This finally leads me to version number four, made out of Nani Iro. I’ve never worked with double gauze or Nani Iro before but have certainly thought this line of fabrics was stunning. Luckily it was pretty straightforward to work with, and would have been a really simple sew if I hadn’t messed up the seam allowance. The top is French seamed and for some reason I sewed the shoulder and side seams incorrectly making the armholes narrower by a total of 1”. Originally I’d thought “oh that won’t make a difference” and kept on going.
Boy was I wrong! I tried on one of my other Maya tops and pinned the armholes smaller by 1” and it was apparent that they were too tight! I sulked for a night then the next day resolved to get the seam ripper out. I knew I wouldn’t wear the top much otherwise and while I’m very glad I did fix it unpicking French seams in double gauze is no joke (eye roll). The fact that I’d found thread that was a perfect colour match did not help either. As I couldn’t face unpicking the whole length of the side seams and shoulder seams I just unpicked from the armholes for about three inches. I then had to resew those seams with the narrowest possible seam allowances.
Luckily I managed to ekk out enough extra room in the armholes and from there on in it was smooth sailing. I tried on my original Maya top pinned at several different lengths with different jeans/pants/skirt combos to settle on its length. In the end I cropped it by two inches as that way it wasn’t too short to wear with mid-rise jeans but also worked for a half tucked look too. The pattern has a bit of a flare at the hem which has to be eased in however this time I straightened out the side seams. I subsequently also had to straighten out the gentle curve of the bottom edge and this made hemming the top a breeze.
I had enough fabric left over to make a cropped shell top using new look 6483. It may not look like much from the pattern envelope but I found it to be a versatile little top and after making a few alterations I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. I made view E except I raised the neckline 3/4″ all the way around tapering to 1/2″ at the centre back seam. I raised the bust darts by 1 1/4″, straightened out the side seams (it was originally more fitted at the waist) and removed 1″ from the width of the centre back seam on either side tapering to nothing about halfway down as it was gaping on me. I used double fold bias binding instead of a facing to finish off the armholes and neckline and cropped the length by about 5″.
Now writing all of those changes out makes it seem like it was a lot of work but it really didn’t take that long to do. As I’ve gained more sewing experience it’s become a lot easier to tell just by looking at the flat pattern piece what changes may need doing. And fine tuning a pattern has also become less tedious as I can really see the value it getting things just right so that I’m satisfied with the finished garment.
I’m very happy to have finally used this gorgeous fabric and am excited for the weather to warm up so I can wear these tops! I may have yet another Maya top planned as this is such a winner of a pattern. Easy to sew, super comfortable yet more elevated than a basic tee. I feel put together and polished when wearing it and this is a true TNT pattern for me. I’d love to hear about your TNTs. Happy sewing xx
Edited 25/9/19 I’ve tweaked my Maya top slightly as I found the neckline was a bit too wide for me. Here is the complete list of changes I use for my current pattern: added an extra inch at the centre front and back seams, shaved off about 1/2″ from the shoulder seams at the neckline tapering to nothing at the armholes, lengthened the sleeve length of the size one to the size five, straightened out the side seams removing the slight waist shaping, straightened out the slightly curved hem, added rectangular sleeve cuffs and finished the neckline with double fold bias instead of a facing