01 February, 2014

From scarf to garment: the one-yard top, and pattern comparison

On one of my visits to Montreal, I was tempted by a couple of silk crepe scarves crumpled up in a "going for a song" sale basket of an Indian clothing store.  Not because I wanted scarves that particular day, but because the silk was a wonderful springy crepe with lovely print designs, and I thought they could easily be converted to simple sleeveless tops.

This time, I used the downloadable Marfy 1913 sleeveless blouse pattern. Rather than using the standing collar pattern, I simply bound the neckline and armscyes with bias strips.  Since I don't care for the fashion faux pas of peeking undergarments, I didn't pleat as much of the neckline as suggested on the pattern piece.  Per pattern design, I did insert the elastic in the hem; in the pic above, the hem is pulled down to make the shirring visible.

The print is is so beautiful:  are these lilies?  irises?  not according to the leaf, which I don't recognize at all. Any guesses? And, though at first glance it all appears to be monochromatic in tones of cornflower blue, close examination shows that there are green and brown tonalities as well, clearly visible in the leaves.

The scarf had a rolled edge that I unpicked before testing the layout. Laid out flat, it's a perfect 36 inch square:  since India is a metric country, as is Canada, it was clearly made for the American market! As it turned out, the two main pattern pieces fit perfectly in the square:

I cut size 42, with wide side seam allowances.
The orange pin heads mark the shoulder corner of the back piece moved from upper left to lower right.
The front, at lower left in the upper photo and lower centre in the lower one, was cut on a fold, while the back (at upper left in the upper photo and lower right in the lower one) was cut with a center seam.  The remaining fabric at upper right provided more than enough 1.5" (4cm) bias strips for the arm and neck edges.

Since the neckline is high in this pattern and a back opening is necessary, having a centre back seam was functionally useful. I made a thread chain loop and found a blue button that's a surprisingly good match to this fabric.  A self-covered button would also be great. 

 Here's the finished top again, this time with the elastic hem loosened upwards, giving a short blouson effect.

Silk crepe is my favourite of all fabrics for sleeveless tops. It wears like iron, feels like butterfly's wing on the skin, is warm to the touch without burning, breathes beautifully, and has a springiness that's superbly comfortable.  Some years ago I drafted a simple sleeveless top pattern, and have used that ever since as the basis for variations not just in silk but also linen and poly.

Silk crepe tops:  self-drafted pattern with pleated neckline, early 2013 at left, early 2011 at right.  
So how does the Marfy pattern compare with mine? My pattern has a scooped out neckline both front and back, making any additional opening redundant. The Marfy neckline is high, so even without the standing collar it needs a neck opening.  Note that though it's originally placed at CB in the pattern, this opening can easily be made into a design element  in the front, either angled towards the sleeve or at centre front, perhaps with skinny bias tubes to tie into a pretty bow instead of a button or hook.

Though not readily visible in the finished garments, there are other minor differences between my pattern and the Marfy. My pattern has shaped side seams for a closer fit in the waist, a higher armscye, and its outer shoulder is less cut in towards the neck, for more secure coverage of these pesky undergarment straps.

Self drafted pattern, box pleat variations:  at left, patterned red silk crepe scarf with short hem and two hem pleats; silk-cotton blend at right.
So, will I make the Marfy 1913 top again?  Of course, and at least once with the standing collar!  it's great to have another top variation.


  1. I just cut this Marfy top out and planned to used a bias neck binding but was having some doubts. Seeing yours I am happy to go ahead as planned as it looks very neat. My first version will be a 20+ years old poly. Also loved seeing all your versions of your self drafted pattern. Very inspirational.

  2. Love the top! Great pattern for your scarf yardage!