Striped Jersey “Nantucket” top

“I don’t really know how to do casual clothes.” Oscar de la Renta


I don’t know how to sew casual clothes – the kind of knock around frocks you wear on the weekend – but I’m going to learn.

I believe the art of making a simple garment requires an underestimated level of sophistication that I’ve yet to acquire. How does one

– Avoid the discount department store look?
– Address excessive ease in loose-fitting patterns?
– Achieve a finished appearance despite a lack of construction details?
– What is Eileen Fisher’s secret?

I gave myself the assignment to sew a very casual top – one I would wear on a spring morning while sipping coffee on the porch at the beach.

As a devoted fan of blue and white everything, I ordered this double-faced navy and white nautical stripe cotton-blend jersey from Mood Fabrics.


The fabric is beachy and the price is right. I can make a top for under $15.00.

And is it possible to get more casual than this McCall’s pattern?M6355

I liked several things about the pattern description such as a semi-fitted garment, optional vertical darts, and a pattern designed for knits and wovens.

All that was left to do was fit the garment and add my personal touch, which came in the form of a mistake. The fabric was too thick to fold over the double-layered neck facing forcing me to finish the seam with the serger and leave the bias facing exposed. Adding the bottom bias band seemed like an obvious next step.

What do you think?


I guess I passed the assignment, and I like the added touches, but I’m not completely happy.

I opted out of sewing the vertical darts due to the weight of the fabric, but look at the line drawing – very shapely without the darts if you ask me. I didn’t believe they were necessary.

M6355 line

This top is just too boxy.

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I’m not much for pity parties and I had fabric left over, so guess what?


Kenneth King’s Clone Your Favorite Garment class to the rescue! I cloned a favorite , two year old, J McLaughlin top and now I have just what I want.

The front fabric piece reveals the curves that give it simple, attractive shape.

IMG_0795 IMG_0796

There are no darts and the top is well proportioned.

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This second time around I sewed French seams in the sleeves allowing me to neatly roll the sleeves and show the contrasting band.


As I mentioned before (blogged here), Kenneth King’s course is quite enlightening! No measuring is involved whatsoever, the use of materials is very efficient and it unlocks designers’ secrets to coveted clothes. I’ll never understand why the search for simplicity is often so complex – but I suppose it’s worth contemplating one of these days while sitting on the porch at the beach drinking coffee – perhaps wearing one of these tops.


Best wishes 🙂



  • Kacie
    March 7, 2013

    This turned out beautifully! Especially the fortunate “mistake” that gave this top added interest. I say you more than succeeded! A++

  • Amanda S.
    March 7, 2013

    Love it! And yeah, casual clothes are hard.

    • Sarah Gunn
      March 21, 2013

      Thank you, Amanda. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in thinking casual clothes are just not so easy 🙂 !

  • Kathy F.
    March 7, 2013

    Best stripey top I’ve seen.

    • Sarah Gunn
      March 21, 2013

      Ahhhhh…… that’s so sweet! Thanks 🙂

  • Angela
    March 7, 2013

    I LOVE IT!!! This is so cute. It looks fabulous. I think you did a great job.

  • Amy
    March 7, 2013

    Well, you look awfully cute in casual clothes! And, that fabric is all over the place! It’s also in my Mood shopping bag!

    • Sarah Gunn
      March 21, 2013

      Thanks, Amy! Can’t wait to see what you make with it 🙂

  • Cissie
    March 8, 2013

    Such a cute, beachy top, Sarah! You shouldn’t have taken this “course” pass/fail since your grade would certainly be an A!

    • Sarah Gunn
      March 21, 2013

      Thanks, Cissie! I tend to judge everything I make….. pass/fail…..A B C D & F……..scale of 1 to 10…… but I’m not giving myself an A on this…….my fault of course 🙂

  • anne jewell
    March 8, 2013

    i like both tops on you. if you really want more shape in the boat-necked one, try adding vertical darts in the back first, then if you want, even in the front. you might baste them in before actually sewing them.–anne

    • Sarah Gunn
      March 21, 2013

      Thank you, Anne! I decided against the vertical darts due to the weight of the fabric, but you are so right……. they would most certainly give the top some shape!

  • Lori
    March 8, 2013

    I think both tops looks great and will welcome additions to your casual wardrobe. Isn’t that fabric fabulous.

    • Sarah Gunn
      March 21, 2013

      Thanks, Lori! My daughter took the first one so all is taken care of. 🙂

  • Ginger
    March 9, 2013

    Ooh, I like both versions and don’t think the first one is that boxy. These are both so classic and cute!

  • oonaballoona
    March 11, 2013

    oh, your numero dos is killer!!! i liked the first one, but when you revealed the clone, wow.

    and i guffawed over eileen fisher. i walk past her store daily and stare in a mixture of confusion and amazement. “i like this. no i don’t. yes i do. WHAT IS THIS.”

    • Sarah Gunn
      March 21, 2013

      Thanks, Oona! If anyone can pull off Eileen Fisher, its you 🙂

  • Jackie
    March 16, 2013

    I thought the first one was cute until I saw the refashioned one. You have a real winner in it!

    • Sarah Gunn
      March 21, 2013

      Many thanks, Jackie! No !1 was OK but I knew it wasn’t me – I love #2 and am wearing it as I write 🙂