Sewing for Me: Tova 1.0

Having gotten over my reluctance to sew the same patterns as everyone else with the Washi, I enthusiastically jumped into trying yet another highly-acclaimed and popular pattern: the Tova Top.

There’s so much to rave about this pattern. The pieces are superbly drafted, the instruction are very clear, and other than the inset portion which can get tricky at the corners, it’s a very easy top to sew up.Β This has been on my to-sew list forever and I had high hopes of a perfect fit with little to no alterations. It’sΒ almostΒ perfect — so, so close.

I cut out a medium, and you can see that it pulls a little at the bust and it’s a touch too snug in the armholes/shoulder area, which makes it hard to lift up my arms. I have a feeling these would be pretty effortless adjustments and I’m looking forward to trying this pattern again because I think it’s universally flattering.

If I were to be nitpicky, I would have chosen to use a different fabric with more drape. I believe this is a linen-look cotton (I originally thought it was Essex linen but I’m pretty sure I was wrong), and it’s a little stiffer than I’d hoped, but it’ll probably soften up with time. The collar looks like something that belongs on the Jetsons, and it feels rigid. But the textured grey is very me and though it probably doesn’t look like anything special, this is one of those fabrics I’ve been saving for a long time. I’m also glad that I used a black batiste for the collar lining to give it a tiny bit of visual interest.

Another reason I’ve been wanting to sew the Tova is because many moons ago, I promised a reader (hi Emily!) that I would show her how I laid out the pattern pieces if it was different from the suggested layout. I ended up using only two yards of 45-inch fabric as opposed to the suggested 2 1/2, so I did squeeze the pieces in there. Obviously, this would only work with solid colors with no nap, but this is what my layout ended up looking like (please keep in mind that this is a very rough sketch, not drawn to scale. Also, I ultimately opted for a contrasting fabric for the collar underside rather than using the same fabric as shown below):

Whew. I feel so much better already – I’ve been riddled with guilt about the many tutorials and other off-handed promises that I have yet to deliver upon.

Even with the smidgen of tightness, I love this top! Next time, I might lengthen it a little to make it more of a tunic, but overall, I’m very pleased with the way this came out.

My photography assistant decided that she needed an impromptu hug, and these shots that the camera captured make me happy — because I’m usually the photographer, we have very few pictures of the two of us together. Everything is better with a hug.

50 thoughts on “Sewing for Me: Tova 1.0

  1. Okay, the top is pretty great (though nothing makes me more uncomfortable than snug shoulders!), but this pics of you and K are so sweet. Made me smile!! πŸ™‚

    1. I know, the snug shoulders could get pretty annoying, but mine isn’t horrible so far…we’ll see if I can work some alteration magic with the next one!

  2. The top is so lovely. I’ve sewn the Tova once as a dress (with a zip front) and now you’ve made me crave for one more. The pictures of you and K are fantastic!!!


    1. Thanks Trine! For some reason I haven’t seen your Tova version and I thought I had scoured your entire archive! Must check it out – I love the idea of a zip front!

  3. The top looks great! I have seen the Tova top around blogland and have been hesitant to purchase but your version has changed my mind. I really like the fabric you used. But the pics of you and K are really the best part of this post! So sweet!

    1. Thanks Meghan, my little K is super affectionate and I’m lucky to get about a jillion hugs and kisses a day! The Tova is a great pattern and worth the investment – I’ll be making more for sure!

  4. I agree with the others, the stars of your post are your pictures with K! (But I also love the tova! It would get a lot of wear in my wardrobe!) And I would be really interested in your future changes for the tova. I also made a size M and have the same problem with the tightness. I made it out of a very thin brown linen and it actually ripped at the shoulders after a few wears…. I considered sewing a size L next time, but maybe there are better solutions? I am still such a novice at altering the fit…

    1. Oh, thin brown linen sounds lovely! I’ll definitely keep you posted on fit modifications – I’m finding it helpful to have these little notes to myself here, and it would be awesome if they’re helpful for others too!

  5. So inspiring–I’ve been really hesitant to make this top despite having the pattern for years, because I wasn’t sure if it would be flattering, but my shape is similar to yours and this looks great on you! And, oh, the last four pictures are so fabulous. So much love in them.

    1. Thanks Amanda! I really think this is a flattering pattern for a wide range of body shapes. Once I’ve got the tightness issue squared away, I can see this becoming one of my go-to tops!

    1. I hope you do try it, Kristi! I have some silky material I’m eyeing for the next Tova and will share when done!

    1. Thanks Bernadette! I’m still learning how to match fabric density/drape with patterns – I don’t think about it as much with K’s clothes because it seems like most things are adorable and wearable when miniaturized. It’s all fun though! πŸ™‚

  6. My heart melted at seeing the pictures of you and K – so precious! How wonderful that not only are there now some photos of the two of you, but they’re such great, spontaneous photos that clearly show the love between you. A double bonus photo shoot!
    Love your color choice for the Tova, and the black collar lining is a nice detail. This length looks great with jeans, but I can see that a tunic would be super cute too.

    1. Aw thanks Lucinda! We also had some fun, silly ones of me and K dancing together, but you know my rule of not showing K’s face…those will go in the family album…

    1. Isn’t it always shocking how so few images there are of us family photographers? I put together a calendar for our relatives last Christmas, and there was literally one photo of me with M and K!

  7. Love your work Sanae!, that Tova top is wonderful, I think certain linens can be a little bit stiff at the beginning, I’m sure it will show its true softness with time!. The pictures with K just put a smile on my face, BEAUTIFUL -yes with capitals, and I’m not shouting :P-.

    1. Thank you, Maria! I think this fabric might be 100% cotton but it might very well have some linen…whatever it is, I do hope it becomes soft and comfy though!

  8. Congrats on jumping on the tova bandwagon. Wah, I can see why you were stashing that fabric away. Its really lovely. Now I’m itching to make one similar too. The question is how many tovas can you have in a wardrobe without looking boring? I’ve made 3 so far but want to make more… is that excessive?

    1. Thank you, Grace! Clearly, the Tova bandwagon is the hip and happening place to be. Given the price of this pattern, I would say the more Tovas you make, the better!!

  9. Love this top! Wow, it looks great on you even though there are changes you want to make. And I love the smile on your face when your daughter comes running πŸ˜€ How wonderful are the two of you together!

    1. Thanks Liz! πŸ™‚ I think the changes will be pretty minor and I do love a good grey top – this one will be in high rotation for sure!

      1. OK, I had to try it out – grey linen/cotton blend worked beautifully with the pattern! (I didn’t know about this type of fabric until you gifted it to me, so thank you for that!) And thank you for mentioning the shoulders – I often find the shoulders are too snug for me in patterns so I widened them before making a muslin and it worked out great. Yay!

        1. Oh, excellent! My Tova had been stretching out a bit and is a lot more comfortable (I’m wearing it now), but I’m definitely adjusting the shoulders for the next one.

  10. Looks like I am not alone in saying you have inspired me to purchase the Tova pattern and make one up myself. I also agree – the hug photos are wonderful

  11. Ok ok….time to finally buy this pattern. I have been eyeing it forever! I love your take on it. And I adore your pictures with K. They grow up so fast and it is pictures like these that remind us to slow down and enjoy our little ones before they are not so little anymore!

    1. They do grow up so fast and I swear, I can’t keep up! Thanks for the sweet comment, Shelley, and can’t wait to hear how your Tova-making goes!

  12. Your Tova looks very good! The yoke seam hits you above your bust point, which is very flattering (in truth, in many of the other versions I’ve seen, the seam hits at or below, which is not so great). I think that inch or so makes a crucial difference.

    I know you didn’t ask for opinions on fit, so please ignore the rest of my comment, if you wish. The shoulder width actually looks correct to my eye. I wonder if the tightness there and at the bust is because you need a full-bust adjustment (FBA). This pattern lacks darts, right? An FBA may help with the tightness and will also help the bottom part lay closer to your body. The second picture, right side, I’m not sure if it’s your posture or if the shirt is just getting caught on your jeans, but you may have slightly uneven shoulders (totally normal), which contributes to the wrinkling at the lower back. You could raise the back left shoulder seam just a titch, and you could play around with the seamless swayback alteration (

    Lastly, your final pictures are wonderful. Thank you for sharing those.

    1. Oh, your fit suggestions are fantastic, June – thanks so much! You’re spot on about the FBA- I do think the shoulders should be widened just a hair too though and maybe expand the arm scythe…hmmmmm maybe this will take more finessing than I originally thought :-). And yep, my right shoulder is slightly higher, but not as much as it appears in the photo…all those years of carrying school bags on my right shoulder has come back to haunt me!

  13. Aww, it’s so sweet to see you two together. I get the same thing with my daughter — I’m also the family photographer and thus have so few of me and my girl.

  14. love it! especially the contrasting collar. i have the same reluctance about sewing what everyone sews, but i made one of these a couple weeks ago and LOVED it, too. it surprised me how much i loved it (besides the placket corners), and i want 10 more. mine too is too tight in the shoulders, but instead of altering the pattern, i think my next one will be sleeveless πŸ˜‰ i can’t wait to see your next one! and the pics with k are so precious. your face is totally alit. lovely.

    1. Oh, looking forward to seeing your Tova, Ashley! I didn’t realize the shoulder tightness was such a common issue! My shoulders are rather football-player-esque so I thought it was just me. πŸ™‚ Sleeveless would look super cute!

    1. Thank you, LM! I sometimes feel like the clothes I make would be considered boring, but I try to sew things that I would actually buy. That means a lot if neutrals and solids – it’s such a nice surprise to read such lovely comments like yours!

  15. Love the colour and fabric for your first Tova! I can’t seem to stop making them, I think I’m on version 7.0! I’m now making mine with knit fabric–still retains the style, but super comfy. The first one I ever made, my mom told me I looked like I was wearing scrubs–she’s a nurse and the colour was exactly the same minty green. The perils of buying fabric online… I wish I had 0.1% of your stash!

    1. That’s so funny about the minty green Tova! I’m impressed you’ve made 7 – quite an achievement, Irene! I think I’m on the same path though…

  16. love your tova! such a great pattern indeed. this is pretty much the only thing i’ve sewn for myself with any success, so i have a special place in my heart for the tova :). it looks great on you!

  17. Ah this tutorial was for me! Thank you sanae!!! I will be cutting into my fabric soon now and sew myself a tova just in time for fall. Thank you again I appreciate it.

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