Completed: Embroidered Silk Shell Top

22 Mar

shell top

And another one down!

I don’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but I picked up this silk turquoise skirt at my favorite thrift store about a month ago – at half off, it was $2. And it was plus size, and long, which meant lots of fabric for me to play with. Silk for $2? I’ll take it! I was able to salvage some giant pieces of fabric, plus the lining. And the zipper, for about 5 minutes (until I forgot that there wasn’t a zipper stop and I immediately pulled the zipper off the teeth. DERP.). I know the tag says ‘dry clean only,’ but I washed a little swatch of the fabric in the sink & it didn’t seem to be an issue at all – no water spotting, no weird shrinkage. Anyway, I had enough fabric to make the little top in Simplicity 4400 (which, I might point out, is the very first vintage pattern I ever bought – at the same thrift store, no less!). I was even able to finagle the pieces so that I kept the original skirt hem intact. Yeah!

A word about this pattern (and every other vintage pattern I’ve ever sewn up) – there is still ease in vintage patterns. Lot and lots of ease. Notice the size on that pattern is for a 32″ bust? My bust is actually 36″ – and the top fits me perfectly. I have noticed this a lot with vintage patterns, so do what you will & make a muslin (or tissue fit, like lazy me :3).

To keep this top from being *too* simple, I embroidered a rose by the right shoulder:
Silk Shell Top - embroidery
I got the design from Hoop Love Vintage Transfers on Flickr – a GREAT embroidery pattern resource! To transfer the design, I laid it over a sheet of wax transfer paper and traced with a pencil. The stitches here are split stitch (on the rose) and back stitch (on the leaves & stems). Oh, and if you are apt to try this – make sure you staystitch those curved seams before you start! It’ll keep them from stretching out with all that extra handling 🙂 I probably should have serged my edges too, since this silk frays like nobodies business, but you know me… livin’ on the edge & shit.

As a side note, can we discuss these wtf directions?
Silk Shell Top
I’ve never seen this before – it’s a dart, but without the dart legs. I have to make my own dart legs. How intriguing!

Ok, anyway, back to my top.

Construction was fairly simple & straight forward. I opted to hand-pick a center zipper (instead of the machine-stitched lapped zip in the directions) and did not topstitch the facings, as I wanted the top to be simple so the focus would be on that embroidery. The top sewn as-is ended up being too billowy for my tastes, so I added vertical darts below the bust for a little shape. I originally planned to wear it tucked but I think I prefer it untucked now! Unfortunately, the arm holes are a little on the tight side but, eh, I think I can deal.

Silk Shell Top
(huh, I really need to re-press those dart tips!)

Silk Shell Top

Silk Shell Top

BONUS: Tucked!

Silk Shell Top

Silk Shell Top

Silk Shell Top

Silk Shell Top

Silk Shell Top - handpicked zipper
Hand picked zipper – I got a little obsessive & tried to match the stitches up on both sides hahaha

Silk Shell Top
Remember when I said I broke the zipper that came with the skirt? Well I found this one in my stash – and it matches perfectly! Talk about a happy accident!

Pretty pleased with this little top – I think I’ll get a lot of wear out of it this summer. The silk is so deliciously soft, and I just love the color!

Silk Shell Top

52 Responses to “Completed: Embroidered Silk Shell Top”

  1. Mikhaela March 22, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    Love it–you are totally inspiring me to keep going with the embroidery! I totally had some vintage embroidery transfers and gave them away — silly me!

  2. Quincy March 22, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    Soooo pretty! My next project is the same color 🙂

  3. Sue March 22, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Cute, cute, cute! love the color and embroidery. 🙂

  4. rehanon March 22, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    oh another win my dear. This top is so blinking sweet it made my teeth hurt 🙂 I’m loving that just one craft isn’t enough in a make and you’re going for embroidery too.



  5. Kerry March 22, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    I love your use of the embroidery to finish it off – and how on earth do you have the time to whip off all these fab creations you make?! I’m very impressed with your productivity 🙂

  6. Cynthia March 22, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    I love turquoise and red together. The embroidery is the perfect touch.

  7. Claire (aka Seemane) March 22, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Love the colour – what a great bargain make! 🙂

  8. Crystal March 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    I love it! I really love extra details on clothing and am always tempted to add embroidery to stuff. I like it styled both ways.

  9. Seraphinalina March 22, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Nicely done. So often I don’t like details on a simple shirt like that because it’s usually put in an awkward place bust wise. LIke one t I have is from a comic and the character has a bit of text I find amusing. However.. the character ends up curving under my bust and encourages people to stare at my bust to read the text. Love the shirt flat, not so good on me. That’s a lovely placement for the embroidery.

    • LLADYBIRD March 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

      Haha I know what you mean! Having a larger bust means lots of stretched out text & stuff on shirt fronts – and my boobs get enough attention as it is! I like this placement because it reminds me of a brooch:) Except not removable, of course haha

      • Seraphinalina March 22, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

        Non removable brooch, yes, that’s the perfect description. I hadn’t thought of it like that but it’s true.

  10. cationdesigns March 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    That is so lovely! The embroidery work really makes this top, and it is a great color too. I like the look of it tucked in, but it’s nice that it really works both ways.

  11. Pippa March 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    A very cute top and I really love the colour. I imagine it must have been bagy with out those darts in it.

    • LLADYBIRD March 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      It wasn’t horribly baggy, but it made me look much heavier due to the fabric hanging off my chest 🙂 Haha!

  12. BeaW March 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    Looooove the colour!!!! Such a cute top.

  13. Cisa Barry (@Cisamisa) March 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    Super cute, as always. Did you know that if you use pliers to take the bottom stop off of a regular (ie not invisible) zipper, you can re-track the pull? After you’ve put the pull back on and zipped it up, either put a new zipper stop on, or just whip stitch the bottom of the coil together. I do it all the time and it’s a real life saver since I have a bad habit of wonking up my zippers. Sometimes you can get it to work with invisible zippers, but that’s usually not worth the headache.

    • LLADYBIRD March 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      Interesting! Hmm… maybe I need to go dig that zipper out of the garbage can now…

  14. leahfranqui March 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Oh man this is a god-damn dorable. I love that embroidery, it skirts the line between “look at my boobs” and tasteful. Which is a line we should all be walking at all times. Such a nice fit! And color! It all works for me.

  15. grenouille78 March 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    $2 for usable silk is a major score! Man, I need to get thrifting again. Love the color and the embroidery was a great idea to add some pizazz.

  16. Rachel March 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    This is fantastic! The colour is so cheery and the fit spot on. I would wear the heck out of something like that were it in my wardrobe!

  17. symondezyn March 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    OOoooo cheap silk! Lovely! 😀

    LOL Nice work on adding the darts; I would have done the same thing! I hate the way shell tops make me look ginormous, because they hang off my chest and then people think I’m preggers or something LOL – but I’m glad you mentioned pressing the dart tips cause I was gonna say… 😉

    Thanks for the headsup on the ease in vintage patterns – good to know we have to measure the pattern pieces like any other pattern before we ‘assume’ – I’ve just bought my first few vintage patterns and it’ll be good knowing this going in – thanks! 🙂

  18. Mary March 22, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    Okay, this is just too adorable. Why don’t thrift stores in Austin ever carry giant silk skirts? I am so jealous of that find! And, let’s be honest, your mad embroidery skills. That rose looks perfect on the blue. What a perfect blouse for spring!

  19. zilredloh March 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    Oooo How pretty! And in my favorite color no less. 🙂

    I’ve had the ‘no dart legs’ on a pattern before but only for the mini darts that were on the back edge of a neckline. Is that where yours was?

    You’ve inspired me to go thrift shopping for plus-size garments now!

    • LLADYBIRD March 22, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      Yes, that’s exactly where they were! Never seen that before, it caught me off-guard haha.

  20. Fiona March 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Gorgeous! That colour looks great on you, especially with those candy pink shorts! It looks great tucked in too

  21. Marie March 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Oooh lovely! The colour is so pretty and your embroidered rose is such a sweet touch. I love how this top can smarten up little shorts, but it also looks great with your Ginger. You can wear it with so many things…you’ve got me itching to have a look for something similar in my stash ;o)

  22. Tilly March 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    Too cute! The fit is great, really shows off your waist and curves. Lovely colour and the embroidery is just darling.

  23. staciethinks March 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    Fantastic shirt. I want to do embroidery now. I just awarded you some awards on my blog too.

  24. Lou March 22, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Gorgeous and very versatile.

  25. Neeno March 22, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    Sew pwetty 🙂

  26. Kristie March 22, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Love it! The color is pretty and Springy. I’ve been wanting to try embroidery and your roses have convinced me. I’ll also be paying more attention to plus sizes when thrifting too.

  27. Bonnie March 23, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    What a wonderful top! I love everything about the clothes you make 🙂 very inspiring-I’m always looking forward to seeing blog post from you!

  28. Scruffybadger March 23, 2012 at 5:31 am #

    It’s gorgeous (as always!) & can’t get you wearing shorts in March! I do love the embroidery, it’s a really lovely personalisation & I think you’ve caught the vintage vibe with all the choices – fabric, embroidery & pattern obviously. Nice!

  29. sallie March 23, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    oh my gosh this is just precious!! I love the embroidery! its so weird that such a simple top can scream “60’s” to me – but it really has that feel. Good call on the tucks/darts – it looks great all nice and fitted.

  30. gingermakes March 23, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Love this! It fits great, and I LOVE the embroidered rose– great job! It’s super summery and sweet!

  31. oonaballoona March 23, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    this is exquisite. i love it with those teeny shorts!

    you’re rocking your wardrobe challenge. do you have magical elves assisting you?

  32. Sigrid March 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    Amazing! and you made it out of thrifted materials? Thanks too for the heads up on vintage ease. I know I’m small chested, but I was starting to fell like there was something wrong with me everytime I made a bodice with billows of extra chest space.

  33. houseofpinheiro March 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm #


  34. Nan March 23, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    This blouse came out beautiful and my favorite aqua color too! The hand picked zipper caught my eye as just a week ago I put in my first one. I notice your stitches are a bit farther apart than mine I wasn’t sure about how close to make them and I really like how even yours look. Well next I’m putting a zipper in linen by hand should be easier than my last one out of satin I would think.

  35. Gina Vintage Girl March 23, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    Beautiful, you did a wonderful job and the color is sweet!

  36. Sophia March 24, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    So fun! I love the turquoise-y color with the red accent in the rose, it’s very much modern vintage!

    And here I thought only modern sewing patterns had a ridiculous amount of ease built in. This is new to me about the vintage patterns.

  37. Marchelle March 24, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    This is gorgeous! I LOOOVE it. I must learn how to embroider. Do you have any website or book recommendations for beginners?

    • LLADYBIRD March 24, 2012 at 9:20 am #

      The sublime stitching books by Jenny Hart are great. I also really like they have videos for pretty much any stitch you can imagine. Embroidery is pretty easy – you’re just tracing with stitches – but its also really fun. 🙂 I love it!

      • Marchelle March 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

        I’m checking it out now thanks!!

  38. Roobeedoo March 25, 2012 at 4:07 am #

    This is perfect! 😀

  39. Janice March 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    It looks beautiful! I love the embroidery.

  40. Noas'Libellule March 25, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    So pretty, I love the shape of the top and the embroidery..

  41. Bold Sewist March 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    Lovely top – the embroidery really makes it. I need to go hunting for plus size silk in thrift stores!

  42. Lavender March 30, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    The embroidery is divine!


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