Saturday, 26 August 2017

Eureka, I found it - The Perfect Sleeveless Shell Top!

Well, I have been away from writing posts for a while on holiday but now the holidays are over and I have a quite a collection of things that I would like to put on my blog.

I made a sleeveless top in July and wanted to make two more to take away on holiday, so I was looking for the perfect pattern. The one I made here was nice but I was annoyed every time I wore it by the neck and the armhole facings. I caught them down at the seams but they still kept poking out and gave the top an untidy feel. While I was searching though my pattern collection and reading other people's blogs I came across a post on Handmade Jane here. She had also been looking for the perfect summer top and was recommending the Sleeveless Shell Top in GBSB book, Fashion with Fabric and.... I have this book!!

Jane's version covered with red roses was beautiful, inspiring, and what was more, she posted it on my birthday! It was obviously meant for me.

I decided to start with a wearable toile because my holiday was coming up and time was short as always. I had a small remnant of pink floral cotton in my stash with a flaw in the printing. I traced the pattern and after a bit of careful manoeuvring I managed to fit all of the pattern pieces on to the fabric. The facing had to be cut from the piece with the flaw in it but since it would be inside the blouse no-one will know unless they read this blog.

I made the blouse in a straight size 12 which is my usual RTW size. Like all GBSB patterns the instructions are very good with clear pictures and written instructions. Lots of basic sewing skills are included in the first part of the book in cased you have never sewed before or need a reminder. The pattern is rated beginner plus. All of the pieces came together easily and I would describe it as a really satisfying pattern to make. The way that the facing is sewn in is very clever. Leaving the centre back seam open, both sides turn out through the shoulders. There are no fiddly bits that need hand sewing and the finish around the neck and armholes is so neat. I chose a fine, iron on interfacing which added just a bit of body and I am very pleased with the all in one facing. It is exactly what I was looking for. I hope these pictures will show just how well the blouse is designed and how nicely all of the pieces fitted together.

Another feature of this blouse that I really like is the shaped centre back seam that adds a bit of extra shape at the waist. The top pulls on easily over my head without needing to undo the button but I like the button and loop detail so have decided to keep this in my second version.

I also really like the up/down hemline. Most of my short summer tops ride up in wrinkles at the front and soon look as though they need an iron. The raised front on this top comes up high enough that it does not wrinkle when I sit down. I wore my blouses for whole days of sight seeing in Paris and they were still fresh looking when I struggled, weary but happy, back to the camp site in the evening.

The pink flowered cotton was a small, bargain remnant that I didn't really like all that much when I bought it. It just seemed too good a bargain to leave behind. I am very pleased to say that now I have made this top I love the fabric. It has turned out so much better than I expected.

This blouse made its debut on a visit to Eurodisney on the first day of our holiday.

After making a successful toile that I will wear again and again I was ready to use the fabric I bought especially to make a new summer top. The moped design seemed very suitable for a holiday in France. The second shell top has turned out as well as the first and has had just as much wear while I have been away. I had 1.5 metres of this fabric so cutting out was easy this time. The fit seemed good without any alterations so I made the size 12 again.

I like the way that the mopeds line up across the blouse and then run in diagonal lines from corner to corner. It feels really summery. I was pleased to have matched up the lines across the back but with a curved seam it wasn't possible to match up the mopeds exactly and in the end I didn't have quite enough fabric to attempt this.

This top climbed the Eiffel tower the long way, up the stairs! The photo was taken on the way down when I wasn't so out of breath.

I would highly recommend this pattern and will definitely make more of these simple tops. I am tempted to try the pattern hack with buttons all the way down the back and have a piece of broidery englaise waiting but there are several other projects in the queue before I start that.

We had a really amazing holiday and now that I am home I am bursting with ideas for new projects. That is always the danger when I have some time away from home to relax! Does anyone else find that?


  1. Such brilliant tops! They seemed to have been working hard in your wardrobe already! Great work there Rosemary. My favourite is the pink and purple floral top. The Disney castle backdrop worked out beautifully with the pastel colours.

    1. Thank you Caroline. I think the pink top is my favourite too. I have worn these tops so much since I made them and I am sure I will use this pattern again.