Wednesday Outfit: Ottobre Marja Top



As you know, I’m devoted to my Japanese sewing books, but K is starting to outgrow the 130cm size which is usually the largest size offered. Luckily, I happened to be organizing all of my sewing books and patterns and discovered that I’d purchased quite a few Ottobre issues back when I’d first caught the DIY bug. Look, the sizing goes up to 170cm!

I decided to try the simple Marja knit tunic in 134cm from the Spring 2009 issue. This was my first experience with Ottobre patterns, and I have mixed feelings. Ottobre Design hails from Finland and it’s a mystery why the magazine name is in Italian (it means October). At any rate, branching out to this Scandinavian publication confirmed a few things about myself.

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First of all, I am an entirely visual learner when it comes to sewing. The instructions were sparse for this pattern and there were no illustrations or photos accompanying the constructions steps. None!! After reading through the instructions twice, I gave up trying to process the words and sewed it the way I normally would. It’s a good thing I’ve made dozens of tops like this and it’s no wonder that I love Japanese sewing books with their superb illustrations. I’ve always known that I’m a visual learner, but I didn’t know how utterly dependent I am on images to follow instructions.

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Second, I used to be convinced that my perfectionism was unparalleled, but this top proves that I’ve become much more laissez faire. Or maybe just plain lazy. I initially missed cutting out the front bottom piece and seeing as to how I only had 3/4 yard of this lovely 95% cotton/5% spandex knit, I had to do away with the gathering and reduce the width of the bottom pieces to squeeze out the needed piece. I actually shrugged to myself and muttered, “oh well.” Believe me, a few years ago I would have scrapped the whole project at this point.


This top would have been much cuter with the gathers, but you know what? K likes it a bunch. I realize that her smiles up there look more like sneers, but she was actually singing the whole time I was snapping away with my camera, and singing always means thumb’s up.


Related to the easing of my perfectionism, but not exactly the same thing: I’ve relinquished all control of trying to style K’s outfits. That purple tiered skirt and the animal print headband would not have been my first choice (I had visions of pairing the tunic with grey leggings and a cute neutral scarf), but hey, the combo makes her dance — another good sign. She happily wore the top for the day and now it’s in the black hole we call the laundry basket. Who knows when we’ll see it again.


M tells me I’m uptight (in a way that’s not annoying, he adds. What??), but I beg to differ and feel that I’m practically Rastafarian these days. Case in point: I haven’t even bothered to make her a first day of school outfit mainly because I have no idea when the first day of school is. It was supposed to be today, but negotiations for salary increases and other amenities are underway and teachers are on the brink of going on strike as of this writing. Maybe when this post goes up, it’ll be resolved. I hope so.


Alright, the cafe where I’m typing this is closing so it’s a wrap.  I leave you with this image — don’t the pocket edges look like closed eyes? I suppose this tunic would also make an excellent pajama top…

11 thoughts on “Wednesday Outfit: Ottobre Marja Top

  1. This top is pretty. I’ll bet K got a million compliments on it–I think that she will wear it again, the color looks beautiful on her. And, I also love this top the way you styled it with the skirt. Fresh and different!! This is one of the things that I like about your sewing.

    1. I hope the top gets worn frequently, Greta! And how cool is that Zac Posen site?? I love the idea of promoting STEM for girls. Although K didn’t enjoy the coding camp that much (it was a lot less interactive than we expected), she loves coding itself. She’s been making up her own video games with an app called Hopscotch, which impresses me to no end!

  2. oooh, I love the sleeves! My daughter would probably complain when washing her hands, but I think those little bells make it different and fun.

  3. I hope school started for K too! so far it seems like teachers everywhere are one the brink os striking or still not settled. We have school here, but things are still in negotiation and the might strike.

    I was reading your last post about the mountain of clothes and I like that idea in the comments about scaling back production. by making really challenging things.

    I have not been sewing much at all. I made 3 dresses, for two girls in June and I have two more each, so four, for Christmas and my little one’s birthday Dec. 29 planned. I do not find these dresses challenging, but practice makes perfect. The most I can manage is 4 dresses apiece a year. I find things take me forever. I do not really care to improve my skills. I am a bit ho hum about sewing myself, but I do knit. Now that is really slow!

    1. No school!! There’s a rumor that school may not start until mid-next week. I was counting on the extra hours so this is a bit of a setback, but it’s also nice to still be in summer mode.

      I too love the idea of making more challenging clothing though I’ve really been giving this whole sewing for K thing scrutinization. Not even counting my handmade items, between my mom’s huge boxes of thrifted clothes that she keeps giving K and the neighbor’s hand-me-downs (both sets of clothes that K adores, by the way – my mom found a Michael Jackson-esque leather jacket and K is in seventh heaven), her wardrobe is outrageously out of control.

      Maybe I should take up knitting. Or quilting. 🙂 Thanks, Max.

  4. Yup! Exactly my issue with Ottobre as well! (well, that and the mind-scrambling pattern tracing!). Even though Ottobre instructions are written in English, I would take a Japanese pattern book any day of the week. Because they’re so much clearer! Genius illustrations – perfect in their simplicity:) But despite the confusing instructions, you clearly managed to overcome and produced this lovely tunic! I’m sure after all the animal-print clothing is in the hamper, this will be the top of choice:)
    And I hope K is able to return to school soon – for both your sakes!

    1. It’s amazing how much of a difference a good illustration can make, isn’t it? I’m in the final illustration phase for my book, and I’m keeping those excellent Japanese sewing books in mind as I work on them!

      ohhh…school…I do wish it would start (I’ve had to cancel so many things these past few days, including a doctor’s appointment), but I also fully support teachers and want them to get their fair share! As a former teacher myself (and I know you were too, Lucinda), I completely empathize.

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