shirting tova


you guys would be proud of me…over the past week or so, i have been devoting maybe half of my sewing time to art fair inventory.  it’s creating an irrational fear that if i spend so much time making pouches and bags, i won’t have anything to blog about.  but in fact, there’s no reason i can’t also share those projects with you (and maybe you’re sick of seeing my squinty face in a new dress every week anyway), and my self sewing fever hasn’t fully subsided, so i’m accumulating a steady backlog of projects.  so today, squinty face in a new dress it is.  i’m sorry; there are no clouds in this part of the country.


if you dabble even a little bit in the online sewing community, this garment requires no introduction.  obviously, it’s the 803,671st wiksten tova sewn to date.  i have a bit of a rebellious streak, and it’s hard for me to conform to trends.  this top/dress is just. so. popular.  and for good reason.  it’s loose fitting but also flattering, and easy to construct but with enough pizzaz to make it special.  i didn’t scourge the flickr pool for tovas…i really just saw one that sold me.  and because i want to do everything karyn does and be just like her, i set out to find plaid shirting to make a cute little tova dress of my own.  as it turns out, [affordable] plaid shirting is hard to find.  i’ve searched many an online store, drove cherie halfway crazy rifling through plaid for an entire day in san francisco, and still couldn’t find something quite right.  it was either $100/yd for something beautiful at britex, or $3/yd for something perfectly suitable and practical on sale at joann’s.  you can guess how that ended.tovawallgiven i’m still in the mindset that whatever i make for myself won’t likely be wearable, i have to say, this was a pleasant surprise.  i made a few minor alterations to the pattern (no muslin…) based on the fit of the dress.  i cut it in a small per my measurements, but graded to a medium in the shoulders.  at least i tried to.  i noticed in my long sleeved darling ranges dress that the shoulders felt snug when i lifted my arms and assumed this would be the same.  i have a long held belief that i am broad shouldered, because early in high school i began to notice my head looked too small for my body sitting atop my linebacker wingspan.  people try to talk me out of this to be polite, but now that i’m sewing for myself, it’s confirmed; i have proportions like michael phelps with hips and i’m trying to embrace it, so back off.  i also graded the pattern in to the xs line at the natural waist and then back out to the s over the hips to the hem to give it a more flattering and feminine shape.  i really believe the only people who can get away with super boxy dresses are the thinnest of the thin or totally curveless, and i am neither.


since my shirting is really more striped than plaid, i did a fair job matching the print, since i have a special communion with stripes.  i even paid attention to the varying colors of the stripes at the side seams, you guys.  one is dark grey, the other is *light* grey.  the placket is cut on the bias a la karyn‘s, and the only place i really screwed up matching the print is at the collar, where it didn’t occur to me (obviously, did not read the whole pattern through before cutting) that i could match the collar print with the back print, so the stripes are slightly off there.  i’m dealing with it.  shirtingtova

other than that, i lengthened the hem by about 4″, then cut it into a men’s dress shirt shape.  the whole thing looks like an oversized man’s dress shirt, so why not go for the whole look, right?  i got a little steep on some of my hem curves since i go for the “just eyeball it” technique, which made hemming a little sloppy and a bit of  a pain.  for reference, the hem is (purposely) higher in the front than the back, and the curves at the side seam are as short as the original hemline in the pattern–for me (and my toddler chasing) that would be too short to have all around.  i felt self conscious about the back of my wiksten tank dress…the back of this one with the lengthened hem felt very appropriate for public spaces where legislation is passed.  other than that, it’s quite nicely constructed, french seams and all.  the only other place i struggled was sewing the placket in at the corners.  i know i’m not alone here.  it made me angry.  any suggestions from tova placket experts?  i’d like to just get it on the first vs. 18th try next time.


and there will be a next time!  again, i liked how the dress looked on the hanger, but didn’t know how it would fair on the michael phelps with hips body.  david too was on the fence when he first saw it–neither of us are accustomed to me wearing dresses not cinched at the waist.  we took this little tova on a trip to visit our state capitol for high noon squinty sun face photos, and it grew on both of us as the afternoon went on.  the loose fit and the light colored shirting made it so comfortable to wear, even on an august afternoon in sacramento, when people walk around with umbrellas to shield themselves from the cloudless sky and desert heat.  IMG_2330the longer i wore it, the more i loved it, and now i can’t wait to make another one (maybe sleeveless, since the shoulders were still a bit tight and i haven’t figured out how to fix that without messing up the sleeves and arm scythes…tips?).  we ended our outing with a little summer shandy at a favorite local watering hole; a perfect summer afternoon.  yes, that’s the september martha stewart living in front of me.  i’m sure everyone takes that on a date to a bar, right?  anyway, i already have some fabric from my india stash prewashed for the next one, so after i earn some self sewing time with a few more zippered pouches, i will tova once again.


24 thoughts on “shirting tova

    • i know i know, i am so overwhelmed by the amount of projects. at least art fair is limiting them somewhat! the shirting was super cheap and you can make a tova in 1.5 days easily… omg, love irene’s take! i had not seen her blog before but recognize her daughter from kcw pics. is she in norcal? i might have my next target for a blogging blind date!

  1. Your Tova is beautiful! Looks crisp and cool, even on a sunny CA day:) (jealous of your cloud-less days . . . we’re just behind Seattle for number of overcast winter days here in MI). And I would love to see your zippered pouches when you feel so inclined to post them – art fairs are about my favorite thing to attend – good luck with yours!

    • thanks, lucinda! did you know i’m a native michigander? what part do you live in? i can’t say i miss the weather. people don’t believe that the sun doesn’t shine between november and may, but i know this to be true after 25 years there. once i get a little more inventory up and going i’ll do a post about what i’ve been working on–would love to get your feedback!

      • You endured our sun-less Michigan winters for 25 years, but managed to get out . . . good for you:) (I say that tongue in cheek, as despite the overcast days, it really is not such a bad place to live). I live in Grand Rapids, about 45 min. inland from Lake Michigan. But I am not native, having grown up in Ontario, Canada. Met my husband at college here, and after living in Vancouver for four years, ended up settling here in the “mitten”. My biggest complaint is probably the lack of good fabric stores!

      • grand rapids is nice! you have good access to all the west coast stuff and close to chicago. i lived in kzoo for a year and found the west side sunnier in the winter, but it could have been a fluke. you must really love your husband…grand rapids is no vancouver!!

  2. I love it…I think it looks great in these summery shots, but I can just picture your dress with tights and boots and a cowl scarf! Okay…so now I want one. The Tova is officially on my to sew list!

    • put it on the list for sure! great transitional piece from summer to fall (and then spring to summer, right?). i have at least two months before tights and cowls weather, but it’s never too soon to start planning, right? i have just a bit more summer sewing to get out of my system, then i’m going to start looking into fall patterns!

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  5. Love this, so cute and wearable, I have a slightly similar dress that I made, not a tova though. To fix the shoulder thing you can add a cm or a cm and half to the top of the shoulder seam on the front and back. This usually causes minimal change to the armhole shape, and if you need to make the whole thing bigger you can drop the points down on the sleeve and re-draw the curve, I was doing pattern drafting during the summer and had the same problems with a few of the things I made. Broad shoulders and proud!

    • thanks! i love to wear it, in spite of the tight shoulders. interestingly, i made this again with a different fabric (not yet blogged), and without adding anything additional to the shoulders, it’s much more roomy. not sure if i messed up the seam allowance on the first one or what? i purposely cut it a size up in the shoulders, and on version two that seems right…a mystery. thanks for the tip though! i really appreciate it!

  6. Your Tova dress is beautiful! I love the white plaid–so great for the summer. I’ve made oodles of tovas, but only one dress that I hardly wear because it’s too short. I like your take on the curved hem! I’m in San Mateo–you are welcome anytime! – Irene

    • hi irene! i have seen some of your tovas–love the woven with the jersey! i have been meaning to email you 🙂 i just did some major damage to the old fabric budget in nyc, but once it recovers, let’s make a bay area fabric shopping date. thanks so much for stopping by and saying hello!

      • Thanks! I’d love to go shopping with you! I have to warn you though, I am a sloooooooow fabric shopper. I need to really love a print, then I need to figure out what I would actually make with it, then justify purchasing more fabric–it’s a decision-making nightmare that I absolutely love!

      • it will be good for me to go with someone precise and methodical. i am a HORRIBLE in person fabric shopper (and everything shopper), but it’s something i’d like to improve on. i usually end up having a minor internal meltdown, overcome with indecisiveness. but if you love the nightmare, maybe i can just go with you and you can pick fabrics for both of us 🙂

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  9. Hi, I just stumbled on your blog, and I love what you are doing. This tova, along with the gingham tova and the striped peplum shirt are adorable. I love your classic, simple yet feminine style. So inspiring, I want to sew a tova and peplum shirt for myself!
    Regarding sustainable fashion, check out the refashion projects I have done on my blog.
    Regards, April

    • hi april! so nice of you to visit. the tova is a fantastic pattern. i love it in plaid for fall and winter, but i’ve yet to make a sleeveless version (or several) for summer. your refashion projects are great! so cute. i really admire your thrifting!

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