Just before the weather turned, I was shopping for the warmer temperatures at a few local stores and in the distance in one store, a blue, floral printed top caught my eye. The colors were vibrant and that’s just what I needed after a winter that wouldn’t go away. I walked over to the table where the blouse was perfectly folded and when I held it up in front of me, I realized that it was just two rectangles that were shirred, sewn together, and had straps attached. My mind goes nuts when I discover things like this. Nuts! Madeleine Vionnet, a fashion designer during the early twentieth century, was known for transforming simple shapes like squares and rectangles into both chic and flattering garments. On body, these garments drape and highlight every type of figure.
The goal of my blog is to take the fear out of pattern making and teach other enthusiasts the tricks of the trade. Unlike sewing, pattern making is a closely guarded skill. Unless you’ve had experience in the industry or you’ve had a great mentor, many of the fundamental pattern making skills, like armhole balance, are unknown and hard to learn.
About an hour before my bus ride back to Philly on one of my trips to NYC, I met Lindsey, Editor at Kollabora, for coffee. It was the middle of winter so naturally we talked a lot about the summer. She wanted to make a simple top for a summer festival she was attending and asked me for direction. I gave her one suggestion of how she could create a pattern for a simple tank using the pattern making technique of slashing and opening but when I discovered this blouse, I thought it would be the perfect project for her. “Lindsey, I have an idea…” I wrote to her in an email around April or so. I told her my story and pitched her my idea. She was totally up for it. So over the past couple of months, I created and tweaked a tutorial that shows how you can make a simple summer top, named Reese, from two rectangles. Lindsey and her intern, Cina, tested the pattern making DIY along the way to make sure there were no mistakes and that my directions were clear. Today, Kollabora and I are releasing the tutorial to you – to download, click here or the footer of this post. We also created a Pinterest board for inspiration – check it out! If you decide to make a Reese top, upload a picture to instagram with the hashtag #Madalynne. We, Kollaboara and I, would love to see your interpretations. Plus, you’ll be able to check out all the tops that were made if you’re on the fence about making one.
For those of you who make your own Reese, Lindsey and Cina are here to tell you about their experiences. Hopefully, it will guide you as you work through your project and answer any confusion you may have.
Cina: Making the Reese top was a pretty new experience for me. Being a fashion student, it is easy to get stuck in complex pattern constructions and seam finishes. This top was super easy to cut, just simple rectangles, and had no shaping to it. I thought that it would be pretty quick from there but I realized that getting the gathers even and sewing the basting stitches for the gathering took so much more time than I thought it would! It was a good lesson in being patient.
I love how the top turned out! It is the perfect top to wear on a hot summer day because it is so airy and loose fitting!
Lindsey : I’m an instant gratification type of girl (also maybe a little lazy…?), which usually means I “measure once, mess up twice, just keep going anyway.” This has resulted in me knitting tanks that could fit toddlers and hacking sewing projects at the last stages because I inevitably missed a step or didn’t read the instructions all the way through before starting. Of course, I did this with the Reese as well. Basting stitch, what? Who has time for that?
So what happened (after I pulled my shirring out twice and broke a machine needled) was that the bulk of my fabric ended up at the back of the tank but created this really cool cropped, avant garde shape that I love. I also hacked the strap a little bit so I could adjust it at the neck which created more of a dip in the neckline rather than it falling flat against my chest.
I absolutely LOVE my Reese and I can’t wait to make another one but I have a feeling that it’s going to turn out slightly different than the first. I’ve worn this with high waisted jeans and shorts and funky asymmetrical skirts and every time I wear it someone always asks about it.