The Latest

One top costs $150.00 and the other is $29.99.

Why is that?

In March of 2011 I bought the blue and white top at J. McLaughlin in Charleston, SC. I thought $150.00 was expensive for a spandex top, but the sales clerk explained to me it was made of fine French swimsuit fabric, and somehow I justified my purchase.                  I love the top and have worn it repeatedly since I bought it.

This McCall’s pattern reminded me of my J McLaughlin top, and I anticipated replicating it. I bought fine Korean swimsuit fabric – seriously, it is identical in weight and quality … but in the end, I didn’t have the skills to alter the pattern and duplicate the style. Removing the front gathers from the pattern threw off the scale, and I quickly realized I could sew it as is or have a mess.

I like it, it fits and I’ll wear it, but it’s not what I thought it would be.

Disappointed at first, I learned something today and I’m applying the following rule to my sewing projects:

Be inspired by, but do not try to duplicate ready to wear.  Originality is far better than copying…. I wonder how many patterns were drafted before reaching a conclusion on this J McLaughlin top?

No wonder it costs $150.00!

From now on I’ll learn from others and appreciate my own ideas.

Don’t we sew to express ourselves anyway?

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28 Responses to The Latest

  1. Art Attack says:

    If you don’t like all that ruching on the sides (I happen to) you might try pleating the front pattern piece and cut those front pieces as more of a flat piece than one with gathers. I don’t have that pattern to have a look but it sounds like it might be a fix…I love it as it…pretty darn good knock-off if you ask me!

    • Thank you, Dorcas! I like the top and was frustrated by my own limitations – expecting to be an expert after a multi-year hiatus :) I have a feeling I’ll get a lot of wear of it beginning around March and plan to wear it with brown pants, brown skirt and later with white pants. I’ll was unable to post a modeling pic yesterday but will soon.

  2. Ann says:

    I think it looks really nice! I bet you’ll end up wearing it just as much as the $150 one.

    • Thanks for writing, Ann! I’m sure I’ll wear it – I know the issue was more about the expectations I had of myself rather than the top itself, but I’m over it today.
      What a great blog you have!

  3. Peggy says:

    I like your new top–surplice bodices are so flattering! I think you have developed the right attitude re duplicating RTW. Have you tried Jalie patterns? I love them. You might like Jalie 2910 (faux wrap top) which is similar to your RTW version (except for the shawl neckline). And, true confession: I so loved your last dress that I purchased the OOP pattern this afternoon from the McCall’s website!

    • Thanks for writing, Peggy and thanks for the Jalie tip! I just checked it out and plan to order it. The McCall’s is a great pattern but the bodice and length are very short – can’t wait to see your dress!

  4. prttynpnk says:

    Imlove them both, but for different reasons- I agree that you should follow your own muse- it has always taken your work somewhere lovely.

  5. Thank you and it’s what I plan to do! One exception – I have a pair of pants that I love and I WILL figure out how to copy them……..

  6. Carolyn says:

    So true! I’ve been inspired to try doing that myself at various times, with very mixed success!
    Thank you so much for your comment too…

  7. Meg, a.k.a. Lindsay T says:

    Oh, I wouldn’t give up just yet on duplicating RTW. As your fitting skills and pattern knowledge increase you’ll be able to replicate your favorite pieces with ease. Check out here a J. McLaughlin silk quilted vest I recently duplicated:

    • Thanks for your encouraging comments, Meg – your silk quilted vest is super! Frankly, all of the clothes on your tumblr page are beautiful. I may come around to replicating RTW later, but for now I have several patterns I’m happy to try just as they are, and that seems to be where I belong at this point.

  8. Chris says:

    If the expesive top ever wears out, you could take it apart & use it for a pattern. Until then, they’re both great tops!

  9. Heather says:

    I am really enjoying your blog – thank-you. I haven’t sewed regularly for years either, my skills are rusty but improving. It is really interesting to see you tackling different things, it is giving me confidence never mind you! I really like both tops and wouldn’t have been sure which one you had made, which is rare sewers can usually tell.

  10. Claire Tharp says:

    I would not have thought to make a top out of swimsuit fabric! What a good idea….I really like both of your tops.

  11. Nat says:

    I love it, I wouldnt have been able to tell which was the bought one.
    I really really enjoy your blog, you make me want to sew more and buy less :)
    When your year is up do you think you will return to buying all your clothes,or will you settle on a happy compromise ?

  12. JoanneM says:

    Don’t be so hard on yourself!!!!
    Your rendition is just as superior as the $200 job.
    You are getting hooked…….. :)

  13. Valerie says:

    Don’t give up o RTW knock offs just yet. I thought your top was the store bought one and I was going to suggest pinching out the pleats too. Why not give it one more go?

  14. Thank you, Valerie and I hope you are safely back in Australia!
    I wore the top the day after I made it and it worked very well as it. I doubt I’ll make it again but I will eventually try RTW knock offs. Good to hear from you!

  15. Pingback: Style Arc Straight Up | Goodbye Valentino

  16. gwen says:

    “Be inspired by, but do not try to duplicate ready to wear. Originality is far better than copying….”

    Amen, sister!

    And… your top looks great

  17. Jessica says:

    I’ve been reading your blog this evening–and am now SO inspired. I just received a big bundle of patterns today from the McCall’s/Vogue sale, including V8790, which looks similar to the tops above. Thanks for sharing your passion for clothes, fashion, sewing and style. You look marvelous, and your clothes do too!

    • Thank you so much for this nice comment, Jessica! I was a little rusty when I started sewing clothes again last August, but found through practice, sewing cute clothes is not the impossible task I imagined! Many thanks for writing :)

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