The Crop-Top Conundrum

Value Village Haul

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.

Bathroom selfie crop top love

Bathroom selfie crop top love

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?

Front view

Front view, with mudgie.**

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.


With high-waisted skirt. Not the right skirt, I know. I actually don’t hate this look as much as I thought I might, although this photo is probably as good as it gets.

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.

With jubbly tummy

With jubbly tummy

So, out of my comfort zone? YES! Pushing things? YES! And yet, I feel totally cute, jubbly tummy bits and all.

Full view, with shoes

Full view, with shoes

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.



Filed under Sewing

40 responses to “The Crop-Top Conundrum

  1. Love the Nettie pattern and especially love what you’ve done with stripes + crop top! You look fantastic in it, I dig the skirt ensemble, and I can only cross my fingers that I look half as fabulous as you after I have kiddos!

    • Thank you! The kids thing is really a crapshoot, and I can’t say that I did anything special—I was young and had some of the right genes. I don’t think I’d fare so well if I were having them now. 😉

  2. Heather Lou

    YES TO BODY LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE!!! Love that you turned a scrap into something wearable… and I love the sharpie trick! I think a full, gathered skirt is just the thing to wear with this!

  3. This is why sharpies come in a rainbow of colors now.

  4. Great top! Love it with the skirt.
    Also love the comments on body acceptance. Each person has their own jiggly bits. And quite often they are the husband’s favourite bits. 😉
    Wear what you love and feel comfortable in. Even if it’s spandex stripes or gold denim! 🙂

  5. Amy

    I’ve actually been enjoying the crop-top-with-high-waisted-skirts thing that I’ve been seeing around. Not that I’ve dared try it out for myself yet, but maybe with a bit more time to gain some post-baby-body acceptance, I’ll be there!

    • You know, I want to like the high-waist-with-crop-top. It solves so many of the “issues” with crop tops. I just… I dunno. It’s so much the opposite of everything I’ve ever liked (at least on my own body—anyone it works for, more power to you!)

      We’ll see… I’m getting more used to it already.

  6. Crop tops… Yes, they were a big trend when I was a teenager here in the Netherlands as well. However, back then I was a really timid dresser, so I didn’t wear one until I was eighteen (and that was just the one, worn only on the hottest days of summer. Although it was among the first things I made).

    I think your top looks good. Love the stripes and, well, yes, of course I agree about dressing the body one has and enjoying that.
    Personally, I wasn’t very aware of the return of the crop top yet (possibly because my fashion sense has been stuck in 1956 lately) but I kind of like the idea of wearing one with a high waisted skirt (or ditto trousers or shorts, for that matter). I know E would love it if I tried to adopt this trend…

    • I tend to get pretty far off the rails from mainstream fashion, as well—I don’t really follow any mainstream fashion media, so it’s only when something hits the blogs or the teenagers in my life that I really start to notice it. In this case, it was all over the dance costumes at the kids’ competitions this year.

  7. I like your top with the skirt . The most important is what you like and how do you feel. Have fun and enjoy wonderful summer with your crop-top 🙂

  8. Great shoes, great top, adorable mudgie. It’s like, barely even there!

  9. You Are totally cute in this crop top! And I’m totally drooling over that McCalls maxi dress pattern!!!

  10. You are working this better than just about anyone! Personally, I think you’d wear it more (and more easily) if it were just a smidge longer (2 inches). Of course, I know you only had so much of that terrific fabric and you used it to great effect. You should totally make more Nettie crop tops!

    • It depends, I suppose, if I’m wearing it “for real” or just as dance practicewear. For the former it’s a bit short—for the latter it’s a bit long. 😉

  11. I color all sorts of things with sharpies when it comes to my clothes. I do it with stains- being an art teacher and all. You look awesome in the crop top. I’m sure you have a circle skirt you could pair it with!

    • Yeah, I think if I taught art my entire wardrobe would have to be tie-dye or nothing. A circle skirt would be great fun—all of mine are wintery, which is un-ideal. 🙂

  12. Sufiya

    You look GREAT. Don’t sweat it until you are in your FORTIES (I didn’t). I was a body piercer back in the day and saw PLENTY of teens and twenty-somethings who didn’t look HALF as good as you do! I assure you (and everyone else reading this) that just because you are young, doesn’t automatically mean you “look good”. I’ve seen teenaged FLAB aplenty in my day and it isn’t any more attractive on THEM. And, now that more and more of them spend their time laying about playing on the computer, there are MORE flabbly teens than EVER. Just keep up the belly dancing and you will have nothing to worry about!

  13. Melina

    You look fabulous!

  14. I’ve been wondering if I could even pull off the bodysuit and here you are rocking a crop top! You look great, and it sounds like it’ll be put to good use. 🙂

    P.S. I have absolutely no idea why it’s so much better to have the pudge covered than uncovered, maybe someone else will know? Mine is riddled with stretch marks, so I’ll probably never uncover mine–regardless of the fact that I’ve “earned my stripes”.

    • I hear you. I want to be aware of the external impositions and the double standards—but we all also have to live in our own skins, and be comfortable doing so. If covering is what that takes, there’s nothing wrong with that, either. 🙂

  15. The crop top certainly seems to be making a come back. And this one’s a beauty!

    And as a huge fan of body love and body acceptance, I think ALL shapes and sizes should get to wear whatever they want without the body-police saying that your shape excludes you from wearing things. As they say, “how to get a bikini body… put a bikini on your body”. If you like it, then you should wear it! Screw all those arbitrary rules!

    And I think it looks AMAZING on you, fwiw.

  16. Hey! I just made a Plantain top in a similar fabric (only, with red stripes). I think it a decent length for belly-dancing (so that’s on point in your favor) but it also reminds me of 1940’s ensembles with high-waisted skirts.

    Not really the subject here, but how comes seventies style patterns illustrations always look so neat and cute?

    • I don’t know (about the 70s patterns) but the Style ones especially absolutely bring me to my knees. I think we’ve discussed this before. 1972 Simplicity, I’m looking at you. 😉

  17. LinB

    Wear it with pride, you Egyptian goddess, you! It’s not a style I ever felt comfortable wearing, but then I am at least 20 years older than you, with a long waist + deep rise that exposed a lot more real estate, even when my belly was as flat as it ever got.

    Looks adorable with the jeans, I like the shape of the hi-lo skirt with it, you could wear it under suspenders with a high-waisted skirt or trews — the crop top is a more versatile garment than it gets credit for being. Children, teens, twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings can all get away with wearing this style. By age 40-something, it just looks as if you are trying too hard, imo. It is cringe-inducing to see a woman my age wearing such a youthful style. (Well, it makes me cringe, anyway.)

  18. You look amazing and totally cute for sure! Such a great look on you!

  19. Pingback: Sew All The Red Things | Tanit-Isis Sews

  20. JDM

    good christ you look amazing in that

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