Tangerine Tamara Shirt: free pattern included

Tangerine “Tamara” Top: free pattern included

A sheer, loose fitting blouse, cropped length, batwing sleeve with collar, pocket detail, front button tab & cuffs.

Recently, a young friend with her finger on the pulse of fashion shared her love for the bright new colours and designs for Spring. Check out Tamara’s  great blog, “Ad Idem”,which she co-authors with her best friend , Natalie. The new designs have a great 70’s vibe – my heyday!

Totally serendipitously I came across a gorgeous piece of soft, sheer cotton fabric in her favourite colour – tangerine. It just had such a lovely weight and draped beautifully – I knew immediately what I wanted to make with it!

So, ta da …the “Tamara” top!

I drew inspiration from these lovely designs :

Unfortunately, I did not think to take photographs of the sewing process for a tutorial, but did draft a pattern which I am very happy to share with anyone who would like to try their hand at it. You can click on this link here (Tamara Batwing cropped), or select the Tamara “ top from the Box on the right. The pattern is in letter size parts. Print it off and match the pieces together by matching the coloured symbols.

I will make another top soon, and post “how to” tutorials shortly (collar, front button tab, cuffs, patch pockets, French seams). The top requires about 50 inches of sheer  fabric, so look out for remnants in your fav fabric or Thrift store! A fabric with a good drape/weight is essential – don’t try this in a stiff sheer fabric. Unless you are already an expert seamstress, avoid chiffon – it is a nightmare to sew.

I have also been looking at the extra-large size clothing racks in Thrift Stores, and have seen lots of sheer dresses and blouses that can be recycled instead of using fabric. I will post my “recycling” projects soon.

The fit is very loose and drapey, so the width and length can be adjusted as desired. The design will be wonderfully cool for Summer, worn over a tank, bandeau , bustier or bikini top. The pattern size is a 12, but will fit any size from 6 -16! The length is about 19 ½ inches long. It can be allowed to slip back, making the front shorter, and the back asymmetrically longer. It looks really cute when the front hem just skims the navel. The length of the sleeve (including the cuff) is also about 19 inches. You will need at least 7 buttons (I got mine off of an ugly $1 shirt but the sewing section of thrift store often have baggies of buttons).

One thing I would change if I were to make this top in a sheer fabric again, is to sew it so that the white iron-on-interfacing doesn’t show. (you can see it shadowing through) I added an extra fold to the front button tab so that the interfacing is hidden. I’d also cut 3 collars and cuffs and double up the fabric where the interfacing shows towards the outside.


  1. Cut out fabric. The first page of the pattern shows how to lay out the pattern pieces on the fabric.
  2. Iron the interfacing  on to the  front button tab, collar and cuffs.
  3. Sew the front button tabs
  4. Sew on the patch pockets (Just realized I forgot to include a pattern for them…darn!) They are about a 17cm x 19cm rectangle – adjust the size and position as desired (Pattern piece Front #7 would work!)
  5. Sew the collar. I have included a sewing guide for the collar that you can print out, glue to cardstock, and trace around with tailor’s chalk or seamstress’ pen.
  6. Sew shoulder seams (I suggest using a French seam method for neatness)
  7. -Stay-stitch the neckline
  8. Attach collar to neckline
  9. Gather the lower edge of the sleeves (where the cuffs will be attached)
  10. Sew the cuffs.
  11. Sew the underarm seams (French seam again).
  12. Attach the cuffs to the sleeves
  13. Sew the button holes on cuffs, collar, and front button tab
  14. Finish the lower hem
  15. Sew on the buttons

And…you’re done! If you try the pattern, please send me feedback, and suggestions for improvement.

Tutorials coming soon – promise!




Rising clothing prices

I have read/heard recently that clothing is going to be very much more expensive soon due to the rise in cotton prices. I guessing that , as clothing manufacturers jack their prices up,  sewing and clothing construction skills will become much more important than they have been in the last 20 years. My concern is that many young people have grown up not learning skills that my generation did, simply because it was cheaper and easier to buy clothing than to make it.

I don’t even make ALL of my own clothes as I used to before I emigrated to Canada – finding what I need at thrift stores, and making slight adjustments is quicker and less expensive …in fact I can get high quality articles there that I would not normally be able to afford like brand labels  Mex and Jones New York etc. The point , however, is that I wear “classic’ designs more suited to my “age and stage” that have made their way to the thrift store. Modern trendy styles that more fashionable people are looking for are usually in short supply.

I thought if I shared some patterns of modern, fashionable designs that employ simple techniques, it could help young people who are more fashion conscious to either make clothes from scratch, or re-purpose vintage items to make them look more trendy.  With all the bad news out of Japan recently, it looks like the recession is going to deepen, not get better anytime soon. Most of your very high fashion pieces for this season will be out of fashion next year, so they don’t have to be made to last forever like they did in Victorian times! Using easy shortcuts that are not as complicated as “traditional” techniques,  saves time and money.

Over the next little while I will share some thoughts about the following:

1. creating fashionable designs from clothing where the difficult parts are already done (like collars, cuffs and buttons). My aim is to design patterns that are quick and easy to create, so you get maximum impact for minimum effort and cost. I hope to motivate people to reuse and recycle the cotton and wool fabric we already have – tossing high fashion clothing after one season is such a waste of the earth’s resources, IMHO (in my humble opinion).

2. sourcing and availability of fabrics/notions/ etc. If you are a sewer, you have probably noticed (as I have) that the variety /choices in sewing notions has narrowed and quite  hard to find (not to mention expensive). It may just be that I live in a small town on an island?  Perhaps it  because not as many people were sewing, and large chain stores have a stranglehold on the market, squeezing little companies and local “Mom and Pop” shops out.

3. I’m wondering if there is a need for online forums for sewing co-operatives and swap meets – I think there are probably lots of the older retired persons who have skills or stores of notions and fabrics they would swap for dog walking or something a young person could do.

I’d welcome feedback and any tips you may like to share.