Hot! The “Not So Fast” Top

The Facts
Fabric: Thrifted polyester, $5; discarded men’s shirt
Pattern: Colette Sorbetto
Year: Contemporary
Notions: Bias tape, 10 cents
Time to complete: about 5 hours
First worn: To the park with my family
Wear again? I wish I could say yes, but it needs to be reworked again. I like the idea, though.
Total price: $5.10

For no very good reason, I’m a little buttonhole-averse (and it was a relief, reading through the introductions, to know I am not the only one). So, I wanted a pattern this week in which the buttonholes were the only complication – no set-in sleeves, no fussy collar.

None of my patterns really met the criteria, so I decided instead to add a placket to the Sorbetto tank. There are some examples online, and I was all set to follow one when I remembered a sweater I used to have in which the buttonholes were sewn into a piece of grosgrain ribbon, and I thought, “Oh, that would be even easier.”

It was a promising start, anyway.

I cut and assembled the top as directed, turning the front piece into two. Then I spent what felt like a month cutting and gathering bias strips, basting the ruffle to my ribbon and attaching the resulting “placket” to the front of the blouse. It was turning out well, I thought.

With nothing left but the buttonholes, I was feeling pretty confident. Still, I figured it would be smart to practice on some leftover ribbon. Good thing I did – It took a lot of adjusting to find the right settings. After that, the first couple of buttonholes were a breeze. Why had I been avoiding buttonholes?

When it came to the third one, though, the machine completely chewed up the ribbon. Had I been working with higher quality ribbon, I might have been able to salvage it, but as it was, the thing was totally irreparable. So disappointing.

I didn’t have it in me after that to try again with a new piece of ribbon. Instead, I cut a section from the front of a shirt my husband had thrown out and sewed it, Frankenstein-style, into my blouse.

I’m glad I finished, and I think I can get the blouse into wearable shape. I also don’t feel so anxious about buttonholes anymore, so there’s that.



Jennifer T.

Jenn Torres lives right in the middle of California. Sewing is one of the things she's trying to get better at.


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  1. That’s so pretty with the little frills. I really like red and white together.

  2. Great save Jenn, and a cute top

  3. What a great top! I love the polyester print – it reminds me of coffee beans!

  4. I love the print of your fabric. The whole ensemble looks great!

  5. I like the print too – the ribbon I had planned to use was striped, and I wanted something geometric to go with it. But I didn’t want to be heartbroken if the top was a disaster in the end, so this fabric worked well. (I think it’s probably meant to be a lining??)

  6. The print is super cute and nice work on the improvised ribbon! Nicely done :D

  7. Bravo on the save!

  8. I love how you hijacked a men’s shirt to complete this challenge, that’s real determination. :)

    The red piping and ruffles ‘make’ your sorbetto pretty and unique.

  9. What a great save! That took some creative thinking to fix it with your hubbie”s shirt. I admire your perseverance.

  10. Great little top. While it was a shame that the ribbon didn’t work on this occasion, that was a very clever fix. I do like the ruffles too.

  11. The top is beautiful. I hope your next experience with buttonholes is much better.

  12. I like that save too; it reminds me a bit of what Carolyn has been doing with men’s tailored shirts (

    Even if you aren’t 100% happy, I think it looks great and you’ve give us all some ideas…….

  13. It’s a great save – I love the fabric you chose!

  14. The top looks lovely – good save!

  15. It is a cute take on the Sorbetto! I’ve done lots of buttonholes and still have trouble with them, but I’m really glad Mena got everyone started learning them, they are invaluable.