Linen Chambray French Sailor Top


Whenever I sew for myself, I feel like Goldilocks.

Too big. Too small.

Too long. Too short.

Too dowdy. Too racy.

Too something, always in search of just right.


Don’t let these photos fool you, because this unassuming chambray linen top is too, too tight. Look at how loose it is on the model:


I used this book, and thank goodness this was a simple top to sew up because it has all sorts of issues, but they’re completely fixable. First of all, I can’t stretch much in this top. Even this motion was challenging:


And then, there’s the problem with the bust darts that are so off the mark, I can only call them armpit pleats. Lesson learned: check the dart position before cutting out fabric. Since I’ve been sewing mostly with knits lately, I didn’t even think about the darts and automatically traced-cut-sewed.


I cut size M since I seem to be overshooting on the too large side these days, but nope nope nope. Although there should have been enough ease according to the printed finished measurements, my chest is flattened, and had I followed the instructions, this would have been a scandalously cropped top (scandalous for me, at any rate). Instead, I folded the hem a mere 1/2″ total just to give myself minimal belly coverage.

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The fabric, as far as I can tell, is a linen chambray. There might be a little cotton in there since it doesn’t wrinkle as much as 100% linen. The side slits add a nice detail, don’t you think? I’m also loving the 3/4 sleeves, though I did add 1cm extra because the pattern piece looked a smidgen too short to me. Why I didn’t think to add to the hem is beyond me.


It’s too bad, because this is such a lovely, easy-to-coordinate top. But now I know that for the patterns in this book, I need to cut out a large. I’ll try round two of this top with adjusted bust darts in a bigger size and add more length! I could sew it up in a similar fabric, but it’s always fun to try something different. I can’t decide between polka dots and buffalo check (inspired by this version). Of course, there’s always stripes too…

What’s your vote?


26 thoughts on “Linen Chambray French Sailor Top

  1. This shirt is gorgeous. I agree about the side slits — a very nice sporty-but-tailored detail.

    It’s too bad about the fit, but at least you’re prepared for next time. On that note, my vote is for polka dots. 🙂

  2. It’s a beautiful shape and looks lovely. But not good to be squashed! I have that book, and very tempted to try to make one now.

    1. Squashing is definitely no good! I really like the style of the top so I do recommend giving it a go. Thanks, Denise!

  3. Ahem… I am a size Medium… I can also wear small, but I do not like to think much so I just do Medium everything. Kind of flat chested so bust darts do not need to be well placed. Just in case you were wondering, you know?

    You do look so good in this top, fit aside. You are such a great sewist and you pick really flattering fabrics for yourself. I tend to make things that are fun to make. I like my knitted sweaters, but I hardly ever do grey. I think your next one should be polka dots or the same as this one.

    1. Oh, thanks so much Max! I’m a creature of habit, as you can tell, and default to similar fabrics — but isn’t that what people call ‘personal style’? Another vote for polka dots!

  4. Instead of sewing the larger size, have you considered adjusting the dart with a Full Bust Adjustment and then also doing a Broad Back adjustment?

    I have broad shoulders and back and this adjustment gives me that room I need to stretch my arms in tops without changing the proportions of the waistline. Going up a size usually leaves me looking like I’m wearing a burlap sack.

    1. Good points, Angela! I’ll have to try those adjustments. I’ve done all of one FBA in the past, and am a bit intimidated by them, but this will be good practice! And I have a broad back so that’s also an excellent suggestion.

  5. Its a lovely top, shame about the fit. You could make another one! I have been thinking about making this top – I will cut a large, so thanks for the tip. I have made the bolero cardigan and baggy capris from the Simply Sewn book.

    1. Oooh, I really want to make the bolero cardigan! Do you like it? The baggy capris will be fun for spring/summer too. Thanks Caroline!

  6. Haha, this post made me laugh! Happens to me all the time, by the way…
    And I vote for stripes next time!

    1. I do love me some stripes, too, Eva Maria! Glad that the post amused you, and even more glad that I’m not the only one! 🙂

  7. We would make a smashing pair – you in your too tight top and I in my too tight coco jacket! We could both throw our arms forward and burst our seams! Your top is lovely still and maybe it will fit a very high busted friend of yours 😉 (I love your new blog design by the way! So much easier to comment by phone!)

    1. Haha!! It’s a deal. When we meet, let’s make sure to wear our too-tight clothes and the grey wool items! So happy to hear that the new design makes commenting easier. I guess my other design wasn’t mobile-friendly! Thank you, Ute!

  8. What an odd pattern! Maybe it’s for children? Although children don’t really need darts… huh! It actually looks great in the pics, but I’m imagining it feels very strange.

    1. I’m guessing that it’s based on the standard Japanese body type which is slender and less buxom. I think my frame is solidly a medium, but I have a broad back and boobs, so I don’t fit into the mold. The top does feel constraining and those dang darts are just laughable :-).

  9. Hi: I agree about the fit above but have found a great pattern in Lotta’s book, the Esme top. Out of the Brussels Washer Essex linen cotton blend it’s great for spring, fall, maybe too warm for summer, but I love the fit on this. I have broad shoulders but 34-5 inch bust and the medium did not give me enough shoulder room either in that pattern. Going to make the large but leave the fit on the hips. The neckline is perfect, I’ve made it in linen as well, and it’s just a nice shape. Customizable.

    I can not wait for your book:)

    1. Oh! I’ve been seeing the Esme top around, and it does look similar and stylish! I need to get a copy of Lotta’s book – I love her so! Thank you, Annelieke!

  10. This top looks so nice. Why don’t you make it out of stretch material and just forget about darts?

    1. Ha! I thought of that, Greta, but I really wanted a linen top and figured that it was a quick sew so I didn’t really pay close attention to what I was doing. I seem to learn best through mistakes ;-). Thanks!!

  11. Ha, that’s just the kind of thing I would D. I’ll join you and Ute for a seam busting, ill fitting grey top showdown (I’m sure I’ve got one)
    Better luck next time. I’d consider the same again if you can as the fabric looks perfect, or stripes of course! 🙂

    1. Haha! We’d make an excellent seam-busting trio, Shelley! Alas, I don’t have quite enough of the same fabric left, I realized, but I do have something similar!

  12. that made me laugh – armpit pleats?! I don’t think I”ll ever sew a dart again without thinking of your clever renaming:) Such a shame it doesn’t fit – that chambray looks fantastic! Could you cut it down and salvage it for something for K?

  13. this looks great! It’s go to see other people going through sewing struggles 🙂 it makes me feel like I’m not alone. I have to try it too when my copy of this sewing book arrives.

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