My “Inspired by Preen” shell top is finally finished

My Vintage Inspiration  recently posted about unfinished things – disembodied knitted sleeves for example. I too have unfinished projects. One item that has been getting on my nerves was conceived back in May, when I first started this blog; my “Inspired by Preen” silk shell top.

Months ago I cut out a 1960s sleeveless top (Vogue 7379), in a piece of natural silk. I joined the five pieces together at the side and front seams to create a flat (tish) piece. I then used washable gutta to mark out 2″ squares, and painted them to look like a pixelated peony. I had some technical problems with the paint and some of the colours bled. I strenthened some of the colours and in applying the second layer I had a few blips. As you can see in the photographs the painterly effect is very different from the sharp edges of the Preen digital print. I was disappointed, torn between finishing it and chucking it. At the beginning of November, in an attempt to “get organised” I  finished it.

Thank goodness for our warm early Autumn weather that means I could wear it for Sunday lunch with the family. Here I am with my fast growing grandson Kit (age 3 months), and I am thinking “Will he fit into that ‘up to nine months’ Christening robe that I made?” All will be revealed on 23 November!

Grandmother in jeans
With Kit

It will also work well with a more formal skirt. I like the 1960s styling of this top – its squarish shape works well with the square pattern.

Hand painted silk blouse
Vogue 7379

The pattern calls for the garment to be underlined, to which the facings are attached. I am not fond of this couture finish, so I did something different. The fashion fabric is very light and it needed something, so I chose another piece of natural silk to line it. This layer was more slippery whereas the outside was very slightly crisper. I understitched it at the neckline and armholes, and hemmed by hand. It is really light, but slightly warm, and very nice to wear against the skin.  The back zip is hand stitched too.

Silk shell top, back view
Back view

Of course it is flawed but I rather like it. I love the fabric, the colours, the soft lightness of it. My colour direction is Cool-Bright-Light, and this top is all those things. And although it was an idea that was really about spring, autumn is surprising us. I am wearing it with a yellow (!) leather (!!) skirt that I bought at the Shelter charity shop last week. The skirt is spring-like too – but actually warm enough, with a sleeveless top, in Autumn.  Shelter, the UK’s campaign against homelessness was set up by the same man who established my organisation, Notting Hill Housing, Bruce Kenrick.

Shell top, Vogue 7379
Shell top, Vogue 7379



12 Responses

  1. erin

    This is so pretty. I’m glad you didn’t chuck it away. Love the colours and the painterly effect. You have the perfect skirt and shoes for it too! And there are so many other colours that you can coordinate this with.
    I have been enjoying reading your blog, so many interesting posts about sewing, colours and styles for different bodies. 🙂

  2. Maison Bentley Style

    Definitely a success! It reminds me of something I can’t quite put my finger on..but I know it’ll come to me at some obscure task today..good luck for the 23..he’s going to be a dashing rugby player! xxx

  3. amaryllislog

    Ah, I love this shell and the hand painted squares. It looks as light as air! Love that you can easily go casual or dress it up. The color story is wonderful and although spring I think it can extend into many months. I hope you continue to paint fabric, it’s such a nice addition to sewing, truly unique!

  4. maryfunt

    It looks fabulous. I like the slightly irregular shapes and mottled effect. It does look like water colors and goes well with both the jeans and skirt. Enjoy the 23; what a handsome boy!

  5. Stephanie

    You always look fabulous and your sewing makes me envious. This is really pretty and I think you’re too critical about the squares. Love the yellow skirt and the accessory is well-chosen (adorable baby!).

  6. Galina

    The finished top looks great! This is so you Kate, I think you can’t do better colour wise. When I saw your Facebook post I thought the top is looking interesting, I had completely forgotten the whole preen collection story:)
    Love the yellow skirt too. Somehow, I’m also finding myself craving for some spring colours out of season. I’m knitting a yellowish green cardigan and the colour is cheering me up every time I pick up my knitting. Shame you can’t attach photos in replies.

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