What comes before silk?

What comes before silk?


I mentioned in a post earlier this month that one of my sewing themes this year was to sew my silk stash.  But before hitting the silk, I thought it might be sensible to sew some (hopefully) wearable toiles in viscose and rayon.  This is one such top!


The pattern is not new to me.  It’s the Painted Rose Top from Ottobre Design magazine Spring/Summer 2/2014, which I sewed twice last summer (see here and here).  Both of those tops have been worn a lot, but as my frame is smaller these days, I decided to size down with this version.


Fit is such a tricky thing, especially with woven garments.  I’m still not convinced this is top is the perfect size and fit for me.  It’s great when my arms are by my sides, but when I have to stretch and/or lift my arms there is a touch of tightness in the sleeves and across the back.  Not seam popping tightness, but it’s something I’m very aware of.  I think it’ll need a few more washes and wears before I decided if I’ll need to tweak it a little before cutting into any silk.


If I’m being totally honest, I went through a stage of over shortening my tops.  Gasp!  I’m hoping to have found my new preferred length with this top.  No-one needs to see my mid-rift when I’m reaching for the top shelf, pegging out the washing or waving good-bye!


Pattern:  Painted Rose Top from Ottobre Design magazine Spring/Summer 2/2014
Size:  36
Woven viscose from deep in the stash, but originally purchased from Tessuti
The top was shortened by 1.5 inches (4cm) near the hem.
Accessories:   Necklaces from Scarlet Jones and shoes from Gorman.


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  • Hi from a fellow Aussie with a stash of silk I await your final decision on tops to make. The make you have on today is just the style I prefer too, good to see the comments.

    • Thanks Sam. The next contender for a silk top is the Lou Box Top. A few other makes are in line first, so you might need to be a little patient.

  • When I saw the title ” what comes before silk?” my first thought was a childhood memory of collecting mulberry leaves at primary school – to feed the “pet” silkworms!

  • Your comment on length reminded me of a statement by Marcy Tilton in a workshop of hers I attended several years ago. The two best lengths are found by 1) letting your arms hang at your sides and marking the length of your middle fingertip; and 2) with arms hanging, hold hand stiff and bend at right angle to wrist. Where your fingers touch your hips is the other “best” length.

    Of course these aren’t the only lengths. They’re just very good places to start when figuring out the look you love on your body.

    I have such a lovely stash of silks from my travels, but I’m so spoiled by the “give” of knits and wovens with stretch incorporated. I definitely need to find a comfortable pattern to move these from stash to wardrobe.

    Thanks for this post.

    • Jan, firstly I’m very jealous you’ve been to a Marcy Tilton workshop. Secondly, I just tried your information on length and it’s the perfect starting point. Thanks for sharing. Good luck on the silk stash sewing too!

  • I scrutinize my handmade garments far more than anything I’ve bought simply because I know I can control almost every aspect of the garment to have the right fit. So, I can relate! I think this is a lovely top and your use of pattern is always inspiring. I need to branch out from my usual neutral knits!

    • I had a similar thought when writing this post Sarah Jo… would I be so fussy is this top was from the high street? The answer is of course no!

  • Love this outfit combo and absolutely beautiful photography!

  • Fit is a tricky thing! I’m finding that wearable muslins are definitely the way to go to really get a sense of the pattern. This looks lovely. Good luck with your silk stash busting!

    • I find that I’m more fussy about fit since I’ve been sewing my own clothes. Things I wouldn’t have noticed in RTW clothes, like the position of bust darts, are foremost in my mind now. Wearable muslins definitely help iron out some of those issues.

  • Another cute top and I’m liking the longer length on you Anna. Great photography, as usual.

    • Thanks Jean Margaret. I’m liking the longer length too, and I’m pleased to be able to admit that I haven’t quite got it right previously too. I must be maturing 🙂

  • I don’t own any silks! My most precious would just be Liberty tana lawn. I can see lots of lovely silky tops in your future! I have done the same thing with making my tops too short but I think I am finally getting better at not shortening so much!

    BTW, I found Scarlet Jones shop online thanks to you (awhile ago) and I just love them. Another good reason to visit Melbourne!

    • Thanks for sharing Melissa. I’m glad I’m not that only one that was over shortening their tops. Length can be just as tricky as fit sometimes. I’m pleased your enjoying Scarlett Jones too.

  • And the “new” purple jeans! I agree re the fitting of a woven tee. I think the slimmer sleeves make it tricky, unlike a boxy style. No cutting that silk until this one is fully tested! xx

  • Aaah such a quest! I’ll be interested to see (ha lets be real – try on!) the Lou box top too. I can’t remember if you’ve tried the Scout yet or not? It looks super cute despite your uncertainty….. Xxx

  • This top seems really similar to the Grainline Scout which I know you’ve made many times. What differences do you find in fit between the two patterns?

    • Hi Isaspacey. Good question. This top has darts and therefore there is a little more shaping than the Scout. I find that this pattern is better for my small frame and larger than I’d like (which I hide well) bust!