When Styling Is Everything

When Styling Is Everything. Altered Mandy Boat Tee

You know when you see those videos on YouTube that talk about styling and putting outfits together? Well, it turned out to be a case of ‘when styling is everything’ with regard to my feelings about my new make.

As you know, I’ve made a few items in Merino wool jersey and I simply love the fabric for light but warm tops. I ordered a few shades from The Fabric Store in the beginning without seeing samples (now I have a full sample pack). When it arrived I thought that this sage green colour was just a smidge paler and less bright than I’d hoped for but nonetheless, it is *almost* like one of my Soft Autumn shades, so I knew it could work.

I fancied sewing a really simple shape and I ended up using the free Mandy Boat Tee pattern by Tessuti Fabrics. The top is a very basic design with a wide boat neckline, dropped shoulders and slim sleeves. It comes in sizes XXS to XXXL (Aus sizing). I’m glad I read a few reviews about the top because they all said that the sleeves were very slim and in some cases, they felt tight. As a result, I used the sleeve pattern that was a couple of sizes bigger than the body size that I chose.

It’s a fairly straightforward top to construct, but when I sew up a loose boxy shape for myself, I often find that the back hangs out on me because of my forward shoulders and high neck/back. To help my top hang better at the back I used my trick of creating a back yoke seam and shaping the top edge of the lower body piece so that the joining seam slopes at the outer edges. I did the same on my chunky knit sweaters here.

Anyway, I finished sewing up my top and tried it on…But it felt a bit off. I realised that actually I wasn’t keen on the wide boat neck on myself, it felt a bit bare and not so flattering on me. As a result, I sent my top to the naughty corner to give it and me some time out…

…In the meantime, I got on with some other projects and a bit of client work, but the top kept whispering to me from the corner “Alter me, alter me” 🙂 So, eventually, I dug out the leftover fabric and summoned up the energy to change up the neckline. This also involved straightening off the shoulder slope and closing the wide opening.

PS: I’ve also added bust darts to my top because there’s no law to say that a knit should have them and I always prefer how they improve fit 🙂

Neckline detail. Altered Mandy Boat Tee.

I’m so glad I didn’t give up on this top and as soon as I tried it on with the new neck shape I knew I’d made a good call.

When Styling Is Everything. Altered Mandy Boat Tee
Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee.

I decided to zhuzh up the pale green by styling it with some burnt orange and cream and you know what? I absolutely love it now! Basic doesn’t have to mean boring and it feels really quite luxe in the lovely merino wool. I’m even wondering if my initial reservations about the light green colour were just down to my biorhythms being off or Mercury in retrograde or something, hehe 🙂 Either way, giving it time-out was a good call. I think my top will be a great ‘neutral’ and work with quite a few pieces from my wardrobe.

When Styling Is Everything. Altered Mandy Boat Tee
When Styling Is Everything. Altered Mandy Boat Tee

Tell, me, have you had makes that needed time out for a rethink? Let me know in the comments.

See you soon!

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  1. PatB
    November 25, 2023 / 5:01 pm

    Thank you for this post, when neck lines don’t workout or don’t suit us. I love your solution, perfect. Very neat neckline.

    Also discovered the benefit of a back yoke to prevent gaping armholes on a blouse which I had removed the sleeves.

    I too need time and space to solve problems in garments I sew, or bought items that are not working for me. Currently I am remaking, adjusting, sizing down my current wardrobe.

    Appreciate the detail of your posts. Enjoy

    • Diane
      November 25, 2023 / 8:49 pm

      Thank you so much as always, Pat. Nice to hear that I’m not alone in needing time out from a project to think about it and problem solve. I frequently go back to makes and tweak the fit a little. Good to know also that you’ve tried the back yoke idea to fix your blouse. When I did my moulage and sloper drafting course the teacher told me that due to the size of the back shoulder dart that I needed it’s often a good idea to hide such a fit need in design features like a yoke for instance. It works for me every time where a big dart might look odd (like on a knit top).

  2. Vânia
    November 25, 2023 / 6:52 pm

    Acontece de vez em quando. Quando um projeto parece não estar dando certo, é melhor deixar ele quieto mesmo. Depois de algum tempo, as ideias vão surgindo e eis que, de repente, tudo vai tomando jeito. Belo exemplo você nos deu. Amo suas postagens, pois me incentivam e me.servem de inspiração.. obrigada..Deus te abençoe

    • Diane
      November 25, 2023 / 8:51 pm

      Thank you Vânia! I really appreciate your lovely comment, it’s so kind of you to say. (I was able to use Google translate 🙂 )

  3. Roswyn
    November 25, 2023 / 7:52 pm

    Love the ‘time out’ for garments, trouble is sometimes my ‘time outs’ get forgotten about altogether until I do a clean out.
    Just found a jacket I cut out 18 months ago so now I will finish it,

    • Diane
      November 25, 2023 / 8:53 pm

      Hi Roswyn, hope you’re well. Ah…yes, I have had that happen to me too where time out becomes garment forgotten. I hope you manage to get that jacket sorted 🙂

  4. November 25, 2023 / 10:35 pm

    I love the new neckline! Boat necks aren’t good in the winter unless they have another layer under them. I also love darts in knits, they do fit so much better. This has turned out to be a lovely top, well done!

    • Diane
      November 26, 2023 / 9:21 am

      Thanks Sue! You’re right about the seasonal aspect of a boat neck, I think that was part of the reason for me changing it too. I’m happy to hear that you like darts in knits as well

  5. Heather Myers
    November 26, 2023 / 12:20 am

    Hi Diane, a great save, looks like a wardrobe staple! Thanks again for your back yoke / seam side shaping hint. Was this yoke also 7.5 inches deep or tall? Boat necks are not for me for the same reasons.

    • Diane
      November 26, 2023 / 9:20 am

      Hi Heather, I hope you’re well :). Glad you like my top. I checked the measurement for the yoke and it is indeed 7.5 inches deep from the back neck.

  6. Vicki Maiorano
    November 26, 2023 / 7:23 am

    Great outfit! Colours look classy together.

    • Diane
      November 26, 2023 / 9:17 am

      Thanks ever so much, Vicki!

  7. Joan
    November 27, 2023 / 8:08 pm

    The NEW version with slight V-neck looks great, Diane. And the soft sage green is pretty on your coloring.

    Do you sometimes shorten the extends shoulder for style reasons?

    • Diane
      November 27, 2023 / 8:39 pm

      Thank you Joan. I’m glad I didn’t give up on it. Yeah, I do bring an extended shoulder up sometimes for style resons but I didn’t on this top.

  8. Joan
    November 27, 2023 / 8:12 pm

    Oops, typos – sorry!
    i meant “extended shoulder”
    And no “!”

    • Diane
      November 27, 2023 / 8:38 pm

      No worries 🙂

  9. Sandra Baumgartner
    November 30, 2023 / 3:39 pm

    You continue to impress me with your precision sewing and the fabrics you source. Your colour combination is great as it took the pale green top to another level when you added the burnt orange and cream. It immediately reminded me of top notch colour combinations Ellena Hue specializes in on YouTube. She’s the best I’ve seen. https://www.youtube.com/@EllenaHue

    • Diane
      December 1, 2023 / 11:31 am

      Ohhh, thanks for your lovely comment Sandra. I love this combination. And funny that you mention Ellena Hue, because I discovered her a few weeks ago and I absolutely love her videos about colour. I must have been subconsciously thinking about her methods when I put this look together 🙂

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