From Inspiration to Reality: How this top was made

by | Jun 7, 2018

I made this... Chalk & Notch Farrah Blouse

I like to wander around the shops to get a feel for what people are buying and want to wear, so that I can plan my workshops to be something that my students will actually want to wear and during one of these window shopping trips I came across this lovely little embriodered top that I thought would be fab for me for the summer.


The top was in Gap and was ยฃ34.95 and I thought I could draft myself a pattern for something relatively similar without much trouble.

However, what I did not anticipate was how much trouble I would have with finding suitable fabric. I wanted a cotton (not poly-cotton) scalloped border Broderie Anglaise in white with coloured embroidery and I searched the internet hight and low without success.

At this point I noticed that Gap were running a promotion and I could buy the top for ยฃ9.99, and as my fabric search appeared futile I trotted back to the store to buy the top; even though on principle I do not buy clothes on the high street; this top had got into my head and I had to have it!

Imagine my dismay when I tried it on and I did not look like the model in the picture (and they didn’t have the blue/white version in my size). I loved the sleeves but the top sat a bit wide on my shoulders and a bit snug around my hips and belly, so I decided to stick to my principles and not buy it after all.

The idea struck me like lightning: what about some vintage bed linen?! I know I had seen pillowcases woth a similar type of embroidery, so I started trawling eBay and discovered this fabulous vintage tableclot, that I knew would be perfect for my version of this top.


I knew I could use the corners and borders where all the detailing is to create an amazing top inspired by the one I had originally seen.

So I purchased the table cloth for around ยฃ15 from eBay, it duly arrived and I loved it and then other more pressing projects arrived and the poor tablecloth got pushed farther and farther down in my current projects box.

Until this week that is; I was browsing on Instagram, as you do, and came across Chalk & Notch Patterns and I spied some flutter sleeve tops (the Farrah Blouse) that reminded me that I had this beautiful tablecloth waiting to be turning into something even more fabulous with sleeves just like that.


  • on Sunday I purchased the PDF of the pattern
  • on Monday I printed the pattern, stuck it together and cut the paper pattern in my size &
  • on Tuesday I finally finished by top, months after my initial inspiration!

And guess what? I love it! It’s going to be a perect summer top to wear on my holiday!

Because I wanted to create a feature of the corner embroidery and the borders on the tables I cut the main front and back panels on the bias, which skims the body in a way that the Chalk and Notch pattern doesn’t as it is cut on the straight grain. The corners also give a brilliant hankerchief hem, that I think works so well.

I was a little short on fabric to get it all out of the tablecloth, so I had to cut the front yoke on the bias too, but it is stablised by the front yoke facing. I raided my Mum’s old pillowcase stash and found a white cotton pillowcase, which I cut up to make the back yoke, back yoke facing and the front yoke facing.

The border on the tablecloth meant that I did not have to hem the top as the lower edges are already finished.

These photos were taken just as I completed the top and was so excited to try it on, I hadn’t even pressed it!

I made this... Chalk & Notch Farrah Blouse

A sucessful upcycle inspired by a Gap top that I love so much more that the original insiration!

Alison xx

***EDIT*** After the response to this, I’ve added a workshop to make your version of the Chalk & Notch Farrah Blouse or Dress on Saturday 21st July. Click here for more info.

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