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24 Jan 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?

No Comments
  • Art Attack
    Posted at 22:19h, 24 January Reply

    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!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:05h, 25 January Reply

      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.

  • Ann
    Posted at 23:58h, 24 January Reply

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

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:18h, 25 January Reply

      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!

  • Peggy
    Posted at 00:52h, 25 January Reply

    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!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:24h, 25 January Reply

      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!

  • prttynpnk
    Posted at 06:51h, 25 January Reply

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

  • goodbyevalentino
    Posted at 07:33h, 25 January Reply

    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……..

  • Carolyn
    Posted at 09:13h, 25 January Reply

    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…

  • Meg, a.k.a. Lindsay T
    Posted at 09:28h, 25 January Reply

    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:

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 21:09h, 25 January Reply

      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.

  • Chris
    Posted at 12:49h, 25 January Reply

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

  • Heather
    Posted at 14:15h, 25 January Reply

    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.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 21:11h, 25 January Reply

      Thank you, Heather! I’m loving sewing clothes again even if I experience frustrations now and then. It’s amazing how quickly one’s skills improve with a little practice!

  • Claire Tharp
    Posted at 14:33h, 25 January Reply

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

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 21:12h, 25 January Reply

      Me either – I guess that’s why J McLaughlin makes the big bucks! Many thanks, Claire.

  • Nat
    Posted at 16:01h, 25 January Reply

    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 ?

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 21:15h, 25 January Reply

      Many thanks for you kind comments, Nat! I’m just focused on getting through the year since I’m not halfway through yet. I just hope I can do this!

  • JoanneM
    Posted at 20:19h, 25 January Reply

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

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 21:16h, 25 January Reply

      Thanks Joanne – I’m over it. Hooked???? I think you may be right 🙂

  • Valerie
    Posted at 02:11h, 27 January Reply

    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?

  • goodbyevalentino
    Posted at 05:51h, 27 January Reply

    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!

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    Posted at 13:58h, 06 April Reply

    […] Diana pattern page while I was writing my last post.  Since I had a little spandex left over from this endeavor, and since I knew another Diana top was only an hour away, I headed back to the sewing […]

  • gwen
    Posted at 06:21h, 07 May Reply

    “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

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:00h, 07 May Reply

      Hi Gwen – thanks for writing! I need to take my own advice more often 🙂 This top project was fun and easy.

  • Jessica
    Posted at 01:22h, 16 May Reply

    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!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 06:46h, 16 May Reply

      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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