Hot! The “That’s Good Enough” Top

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image from The Facts
Fabric: Thrifted white cotton, thrifted gauze print, $1
Pattern: Colette Patterns Crepe
Year: Contemporary
Notions: Embroidery floss, double-sided applique transfer, $4
Time to complete: 12 hours
First worn: May 2011
Wear again: Sadly, no.

Total Cost: $5

Hey, you know what I'll probably never do again? Ever? Sew seven dress in seven days! The adrenaline produced while actually being in the midst of the challenge has long gone and now I'm a sewing shell of a woman. That's precisely why The Sew Weekly Monday site refresh was late and why I created something that, sadly, I won't be wearing again.

My week after the challenge involved extreme tiredness from a one-day trip to NY, a (still) broken sewing machine, life and all its drama, watching my daughter, volunteering for four hours at the BurdaStyle booth at the Maker Faire and then, finally on Sunday, beginning my weekly creation. Yes, I didn't start until yesterday morning. That's how burned out I was.

I had originally planned on embellishing the yellow Crepe that I made for the Mother's Day challenge. But, of course, that would have been too easy! So instead, I decided I was going to make another Crepe! And I was going to do some majorly ambitious embroidery to the neckline!

I'd love to say that I created something as fabulous as it looks in photos. But, the truth is, this shirt is a full-on Monet*.  The way that I did this embroidery was very similar to the "Not on My Watch" outfit. I cut out fabric to use as an applique,  attached it using double-sided iron-on adhesive and then embroidery directly onto the fabric as a guide. Because the pattern of the fabric was so intricate, there was a lot of white space — that's where the problem lies. The fabric's white is a little darker than the white of the blouse so it looks all messy and hacked together.

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It's quite sad because I spent about 10 hours on the embroidery yesterday. Luckily, a good bulk of that time was spent at the park and it turned out to be quite a pleasant day. But still, I don't need to spend ten hours on a top that I'm not going to even wear.

And, oh yeah, it was supposed to be a Crepe dress. I was so defeated that I said, eff that, and just made it a poorly constructed top.

And that was my week.

* The Clueless reference: "It's like a painting, see? From far away, it's OK, but up close, it's a big old mess."

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Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. That is such a shame that it didn’t work out for you. I am taking your word for it because on my screen it looks just fine and rather pretty!

  2. Wow Mena! I think the top looks great! I can’t even see the difference in the white colours in the close-up! You’ve got awesome embroidery skills to do all that in one day! But I bet you are tired…a quick trip to NYC from the West Coast no less and 8 dresses in 7 days PLUS a very detailed embroidery top! phew…You’re making me tired :) Great way to pull through though!

  3. Shannon Burchard

    After seeing you at the Maker Faire, the size of your project is quite impressive and here I was thinking a little bit of pocket work.

  4. Mena, that looks amazing! But I understand that it’s not about how I think it looks, it’s about how much or little you like it, you are the one who has to wear it, after all. Sigh. That’s the worst when you sweat blood over something, and then it doesn’t work. Still way to pull through, Mena for the win! And for the record, I got the clueless reference immediately. And you could NOT be a farmer in those clothes….

  5. Such a shame because it looks amazing on screen :(

  6. It looks wonderful and that skirt is fabulous. Could you maybe tone the white down with a tea stain to match the appliqué up? It looks so lovely it would be a shame to never wear it again. Loved the 7 in 7 days, well done I would never have managed that. Have a wonderful week honey. ax

  7. I’m so sorry to hear you’re not happy with it. From this vantage point it looks stunning, and your embroidery is awesome.

  8. Okay, but YOU look amazing! So good job on that ! :)

  9. margueritedesigns

    You could always try it again (sometime in the far distant future!) using what you’ve learned – but it looks great to me anyway …

  10. Thanks, Rachel!

  11. Thanks, Debi! Yeah, it’s just not right in person, but it photographs quite well. I really quite knocked myself last week.

  12. Thanks, Shannon. My plans were for something far less ambitious. But that’s me, I guess. It was good seeing you at Maker Faire and thanks for the Gatsby tip.

  13. Thanks, Leah! Yeah, it’s all about feeling comfortable when I wear it. But, at least I know that I can try again and do it better. I’m glad you got the Clueless reference — it’s such a great movie!

  14. Thanks, Lisette!

  15. Thanks, Amber! That’s a great tip. Considering that I don’t plan on wearing it again, I can’t imagine that not being a good thing to at least try.

  16. Thanks, Tasha!

  17. Thanks, Julie!

  18. Thanks, Diane! Yeah, I will definitely try again, but like you said, not for a while.

  19. Shannon Burchard

    I wonder if you could turn it into a batik experiment by covering the embroidery with wax and then dying the whole thing. Might be an interesting try if you think the work is going to be wasted otherwise.

  20. I’d rather see you make something you like and will wear again instead of throwing something together for the sake of a challenge! I don’t think anyone would be upset if you took your time and posted on Wednesday instead. It seems silly to rush through an ambitious task just to get it done “on time” when you’re already feeling burnt out. Sewing should be fun! Don’t make it another chore.

  21. I had the same thought about trying to dye it. The embroidery really is pretty. Hope you get a bit of a break this week!

  22. I love the vibrancy of the colours against the white – on my screen it looks great. I think the galloping horseman theory needs to be used here.
    If the fault can be pinpointed by a man going past on a galloping horse, then it needs to be addressed. Otherwise, it is fine.

  23. dwell it seriously looks amazing. that top could do stunt work. what if you took a q tip an bleached the off whiter whiter?
    you know, you could just squeeze it in the spare time during your seven pairs of pants in seven days challenge.

  24. To me it looks nice! :) I really applaud your effort with the sewing challenge and week of dresses–that takes a lot of even the most dedicated seamstress! ;) It seems such a pity to waste all that work on the embroidery though–is there some way you can salvage it?

  25. Well it looks great on the page, sorry it didn’t turn out as you wanted. Still your skill is amazing.

  26. The embroidery is gorgeous! Bravo!!
    and I LOVE the shoes you are wearing with it :)

  27. I used to do theater costume design and construction so I know what it feels like to do many garments in few days : ) You pulled it off beautifully! I also know what that burned-out feeling is…too well… I finally left theater and its taken me years to get back to sewing and love it again. BTW we met at the Alameda Flea market and few months ago and you were talking about a summer picnic in perhaps the 30’s style, still planning on it? We’d LOVE to be a part! Keep up the amazing job you do : ) One of these days I’ll sew for me again.

  28. I understand the benefit of embroidering right over the fabric for the pattern and colors but like you said, the white space kind of “ruined” the final project. Have you ever done a solvent transfer? If you make a color photocopy of the fabric and then transfer the image to the fabric with a solvent (like citri-solv)it would only transfer the colored part of the image and still provide a guide for the embroidery.
    I’ve done several transfers of b&w images to fabric and several “tricks” include:
    1) Keep your fabric as stable as possible (don’t use a bent up cardboard box as your base. if the paper slips it will smudge the final image.
    2) After you heat set the transfer, i always find the there’s a sort of dirty perimeter around the transfer image. Throwing the fabric into the washing machine won’t get rid of that, but a little hand washing scrubbing action will.

  29. That is an interesting idea. I actually wore the shirt yesterday and really didn’t mind the things that initially bother me. So, there you go. Distance makes it all better.

  30. Hey Amy — I totally see what you’re saying. Burning out doesn’t help me or my sewing (as well as setting a bad example for readers). I have a forgiving readership who would totally understand if I didn’t have to take on such ambitious projects. So, yes, I’m going to be easier on myself.

  31. Thanks, Amanda. Yes, I’m already pretty rested.

  32. Thanks, Jen! That horseman theory will serve me well in the future!

  33. Thanks, Oona! Yeah, I think I’m just going to appreciate the embroidery work and wear it with abandon!

  34. Thanks, Casey! After a couple of days, I’ve realized that only I notice the flaws. I even wore it yesterday. So, yes, it has been salvaged!

  35. Thanks, Sue! I’m just being harder on myself than I should be.

  36. Hey Loran! It was great talking to you at Alameda! I actually emailed you at the address on your website but it bounced. The picnic is on hold since I couldn’t get it together in time, but it’s still a plan for the future! So glad to see you here at The Sew Weekly! And if you still have any patterns you’d like to part with, I’m your gal.

  37. Hey Ryan, Thanks for the tip! I assumed there was something like that out there, but didn’t know what. I’m going to give it a try!

  38. I know what you mean about just not feeling something when it’s done, but you look great in this top! I love the colors – reminds me of a Mexican sundress I bought in Tulum a few years back!

  39. Still looks cute Mena! Congrats on such a busy week and I do hope your machine gets better soon!

  40. Mena, I think you have out-sharked the sharks! The embroidery looks incredible – I’m astounded that you were able to do it in one day. You, your sewing and your life schedule management amaze me! Well, I think the top looks cute and if it can’t be redeemed in your eyes, I hope that it can find a loving home.

  41. It looks great to me. I’d be happy to take it off your hands if you really want to get rid of it… : )

  42. Me too1 – Its fntastic, you’ve done an amazing job. Maybe you are a little too close to it now.
    If you are interestd in selling it let me know & I’ll promote you down in NZ!
    Thanks for being so inspirational!

  43. Love this! I love color and to me, this top is fabulous with all the detailing. I am a big fan of this whole outfit – the fabric belt and skirt make a great ensemble.