Laurelfest: all the tops (so far)

Good news and bad news. First, the bad news: my sewing machine broke yesterday and the two closest repair places are (1) closing down, (2) on vacation as of today, and back in a week to work through their backlog. There are at least a couple of places left in the area, so I’ll keep calling.

I don’t know yet how serious the issue is. The machine suddenly seized up mid-seam and displayed an error code indicating that there was a thread tangle. I went in with a screwdriver and found no tangled threads. But the handwheel feels locked up and I can’t get in there myself to see what is actually the matter.

The good news: I got a tripod for my real camera and am ditching the phone. No more photos taken with a potato, at least if I can help it. So to take my mind off the sewing machine tragedy (cue sad violin), I decided to make the most of the three rays of sun that broke through the clouds today.

I give you another glimpse into my obsession with the Laurel pattern: all the tops I made from it so far.

By the way, I had a lot of fun cropping my head out of these photos — not showing your face ups photo usability. One less thing to worry about.

First up, the latest top:

I went up a size for this one. After wearing it a few times I really feel it was a good decision because this rayon from Cotton and Steel, while really lovely, is also kind of peculiar. The Scout tee I cut out in it feels smaller than one I made in a more loosely woven rayon, and both were cut out in the same size.

Once again, I went for a slit on the upper back, but this time with a fabric-covered button and a rouleau loop. The loop took me a hundred years — it was my very first one.

back closure detail: rouleau loop and a fabric-covered button

Now the “oldies” that I have sketched and posted about. Hey, after all, it’s a Thursday, so throwback time:

the black one with a Peter Pan collar, a blouse that doubles as a lint roller (fabric: Cambridge cotton lawn from Robert Kaufman)

the blue one with back ties (fabric: mystery thrift find, drapey)

the one with cutouts inspired by the Datura top from Deer and Doe (fabric: Robert Kaufman cotton lawn)

The skirt in the last four photos is based on the Meringue pattern from the Colette Sewing Handbook.  It’s been in heavy rotation since I made it last fall. No scallops for me, thanks, but I added a lining. The corduroy was a great thrift find, bought together with that blue fabric and whatever else I fit into a bag for $15. There wasn’t much of it so I was lucky that I was able to squeeze out the skirt and the little pocket.

More Laurels to come most likely — especially if I can figure out new details or hacks. I don’t know about you, but I really like the comfort of coming back to a pattern I’ve already fitted and sewing it up again. It’s the opposite of what I enjoy about knitting, where it’s novelty that keeps me going.

What are your go-to patterns? Or do you prefer the thrill of a new challenge?




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I write about sewing, knitting, and may sometimes be tempted to talk about books.

12 thoughts on “Laurelfest: all the tops (so far)”

    1. Hello, Amanda! Isn’t it interesting how we come to discover what kind of sewing we enjoy? You see, I worry I wouldn’t have the patience and precision for quilting. There’s a lot of beautiful quilts out there, so I’m definitely not saying “never,” just “not yet.”

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      1. It is interesting. I started out making clothes (and still have a soft spot for sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes) but the frustration involved usually gets the best of me. Maybe I’ll make it a goal this year to overcome that. 😉


        1. I motivate myself by finding “aspirational projects” — something that I want to make so much that I try to identify what I need to learn and what skills I need to keep honing, and then I try to dive into it. It’s important, I think, not to aim for perfection.

          Ponte de roma might be a good fabric to work with if you don’t want to spend a lot of time muslining to get the fit right. The stretch of that knit helps, but its stability makes it a nice alternative to a woven fabric.

          Now, do you have any tips for picking a good first quilting project?


          1. Thanks for the inspiration and tips! I honestly knew nothing about quilting (other than how terrifying it seemed) but after researching, I decided straight-line quilts looked the easiest. And I was totally correct in my assumption. You can even buy pre-cut fabric strips (jelly rolls) which make the whole process that much easier. I actually just recently posted about my first quilting experience, which has a link to the tutorial I used if you’re interested. It got me hooked for sure! 😊

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  1. All of the tops are lovely, but the Cotton+Steel and neckline cut-out versions are really eye-catching! I bought the Laurel when it was new and the center of a lot of internet hullabaloo, but still haven’t sewn it because I realized that I don’t really like dresses without waist definition. I think I need to revisit it!


    1. Thanks, Melina 🙂 I really worried about the lack of waist definition when I made my first Laurel dress. And I did add tucks to the front to create more shaping. When I spent more time with the pattern, I realized that you can also create shaping by adjusting the back darts and side seams to the natural curves of your body. And it looks great with a belt, too.

      The Megan Dress from Love at First Stitch makes a lovely alternative to the Laurel, I think. It has a waist seam and a bit more shaping. I haven’t made it yet, but I would like to give it a try. Here’s a nice version.


  2. They look great! Love the Frock rayon – I have the pink and red version and fancy making it into a pussy bow collar blouse. Amongst the gazillion other things on my list. I honestly can’t wait until I have a few go-to patterns – I’m looking forward to making a few of the same thing that actually fits me perfectly 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 🙂 I really like that fabric. I have to say, though, I have been disobeying the care instructions — I don’t dry clean it. I give it a gentle hand wash instead. The fabric gets weird in the water but ironing gets it back into shape. I also haven’t observed any additional shrinkage beyond its original snug-feeling fit (that’s why I cut this Laurel a size larger). I certainly hope I’m right and that my hand-washing approach proves sustainable. That will come out in the wash, I guess (ha!).

      I hope I expand my tried-and-tested list beyond the Laurel because it’s really great to have this pattern to return to. I’m also glad that reading about my repeated returns to it isn’t too boring.


    1. I really appreciate it. I might have another look at it myself. I’ve found some advice online that suggests I might be missing a thread scrap stuck in another part of the machine. If I don’t find anything, I’ll have a professional look at it.


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