So this morning we went for breakfast with some old friends, and afterwards the female half of said friends (who is also sewy, although she’s been at it hardcore far longer than I) and I abandoned both spouses and all children and made for the wilds of the East Side Value Village. It was a fun trip, and got a trunkful of excess stuff out of my house, and I came home with a small but pleasant haul: a few patterns, some really cute and surprisingly comfy shoes that are totally not my usual colour scheme (my mom will be jealous, though, or rather she won’t because it would take far more than one pair of shoes to compete with her fabulous Collection.) The fabric section was mostly disappointing, but there was one, tantalizingly tiny piece of gorgeous black and white striped spandex—barely half a metre, for a $0.99.
For a dollar, how can you lose?
We bounced around ideas for swimsuits and booty shorts, but, by the time I was home with my prizes, I knew what I was going to do. The scrap of spandex was going to become a Nettie crop-top.
So, can we talk about crop tops? It seems like they’re all over the place* this year. Certainly they were all over the costumes at the kids’ dance competitions. Oona’s been wearing them, so they must be stylish. Usually with a high-waisted skirt this time, which I gotta admit throws me a bit.
Now, crop tops are a style that’s easy to hate, not least because they’re so unforgiving to the vast majority of us (although with the high-waisted bottom they’re arguably more forgiving). And I won’t blame anyone who does—I feel kind of ambivalent about their revival, if in fact they are experiencing a revival.
But back in the day, oh, damn, crop tops were ME. From the age of fourteen until I was pregnant with Tyo, I was an early adopter and a long-term fanatic. From May until October, it was highly unlikely on any given day that my tummy would be covered. (Yes, I wore them while pregnant, usually with the giant Mickey-Mouse overalls…) I was so pissed off when, shortly after Tyo was born (and I recovered about 95% of the pre-baby tummy, yes I got off easy), fashion moved on and it was pretty much obligatory for a top to come at least to your waist or a little below. Just a sliver of flesh around the hip, not that wide canvas of tummy I had been so fond of.
Yeah, I know, y’all are full of sympathy, aren’t you?
Which brings us to the next conundrum, the part about if you wore it the first time around, you’re too old the second time. You see, my mostly-flat-if-not-actually-washboard tummy, after surviving two pregnancies, finally deserted me about five or six years ago, part of a combination of a more sedentary lifestyle (we moved to the Big City and I could no longer walk everywhere, plus I had my driver’s licence) and the transition from mid twenties to late twenties to early thirties. While I still wear a two-piece bathing suit, and I don’t have an issue with dance costumes (bellydance tends to bare a lot of belly), it’s not something I’m really comfortable with in my everyday wardrobe anymore. And I gotta tell ya, I’m not at all convinced I will wear this one for everyday life anyway—but I have been needing some cute and inspiring things to wear to dance class, and this will definitely fit that bill.
But I also wonder. Maybe a crop-top doesn’t have to be about flaunting that perfect beach-body. Maybe it can be about loving the tummy that you have already, jiggly bits and all?*** And why are those jiggly bits just fine with a bit of fabric over, but unacceptable without?
So, as soon as I got home, I tried on my new shoes (Yep! Comfy!) and set to cutting out a Nettie crop top. Yes, this may be the fastest turnaround from fabric purchase to finished object ever. I used the same size eight Nettie I’ve been playing with all week, cutting it off at the bottom “lengthen or shorten here” line on both front and back. This is actually below the waist of the pattern, but without a bottom half pulling it down, I was pretty sure the height would be about right for what I wanted—and it is.
So, I’ve been futzing with a lot of wriggly, thin, and otherwise annoying knits lately, and I have to say, sitting down with a really nice spandex to play with is so awesome. It’s beefy but not overly thick, it’s smooth yet stable, and it handles gorgeously. I sewed the entire thing by regular machine (my old Pfaff, actually); I wanted lots of control when sewing those stripes, which I wouldn’t have on the serger.
I cut the neck binding lengthwise. Actually, I made sure I cut out the binding strips first, from the longest part of my scrap. I still had to piece the neckline band, too. And I may have to take a sharpie to the stitches where they show on the black stripes, though.
I tried to match my seams as best I could without wasting more than an inch or two of fabric. I succeeded fairly well on the side-seams, not so much on the sleeves. Actually, we’ll call that a complete fail on the sleeves.
Not too bad for just pin-basting. Definitely need a sharpie. You can also just barely see the teeny zig-zag hem. I’m not sure how well that’ll hold up over time as the thread definitely has less give than the fabric there.
So, out of my comfort zone? YES! Pushing things? YES! And yet, I feel totally cute, jubbly tummy bits and all.
Also, I think I may have just fallen back in love with these jeans, which are my very first pair. I am loving how they look cuffed up with heels, even with the raggedy knees. Maybe especially with the raggedy knees.
So, I don’t know if I’ll be baring it all, or even a high-waisted sliver, this summer. My latent teenage self is screaming YES YES YES! while my more sedate thirty-something side is saying hmm, maybe leave that to the kids, Tanit. We’ll see who wins. And I have a new dance top in the meantime. So we’ll call that a win.
And, I just might have enough spandex left for some booty shorts…
*This link is not an endorsement, I have no particular familiarity with this site or its content, it was just the first hit that looked relevant on my google search, and it talked about the “current crop top trend.” Although, it’s talking about a trend from two years ago. Which might explain why it’s only now making it to my little backwater corner of the world, but anyway.
**mudgie is like pudge, but on a mommy, and is also, according to my husband, adorable.
***And, yes, I do know, in the grand scheme of things my jiggly bits are pretty minor. That doesn’t really change how I feel about them, though.