August 15, 2020

October Brings Box Tops: The Wardrobe Staple You Never Knew You Needed

There are jokes out there on the internet that "Pandember" is the longest month of the year, stretching out for unknown number of days and passing without any sense of time. After six months since the Pandemic started in earnest in the US, it's hard not to agree with this assessment.

And if you're like me, this blurring of time has had an effect on your sewing. Maybe the lack of structure has unlocked your creative juices and you're churning out me-mades left and right. Or maybe time keeps messing with your planning and you start a project and then realize it's two weeks later and you still have only cut out the fabric. Whichever side you fall on, we think this month's box will be a breath of fresh air.

The humble box top, a sewing phrase for a loose fitting, usually woven, top without darts or cut-on sleeves, is the epitome of the sewing palette cleanser. No fiddly fitting, no complicated sewing techniques - just pure sewing ease. If you're pandemic productive, this is a top that you can knock out in the morning and wear in the afternoon. And if you're a pandemic procrastinator, like me, you can easily sew this top to get your sewjo pumping again.

But don't think that just because box tops are easy to sew, they're boring. We've gathered four stylish patterns that are anything but staid. And as the weather transitions into fall, they will be the perfect tops to layer under those cardigans you made in September!

Sew Fearless Box: Lou Box Top from Sew DIY

This whole month, we're using pattern companies we've never used before, and we kick it off with fantastic company called Sew DIY. Their pattern collection is small, but each piece in it has an effortless style that fits the current, mostly at home, moment perfect. The Lou Box Top was their very first pattern, and has become a classic sewing pattern on Sewing Instagram.

The pattern itself is simple yet elegant. Plus, the loose fitting top has two neckline options and three hem options, for a total of six different silhouettes! Designed with beginners in mind, the steps are very easy to follow, using the most basic techniques and the loose fit of the design requires minimal fitting. It's a great project for beginners looking to get their feet wet and for more experienced sewists who want to add some quick-to-make basics to their wardrobe

We've chosen three fabrics that will allow you to find the right look for your style and ability. So let's dig in to them!

  • Indigo Cotton Gauze - If you've ever made a garment out of double gauze, you know how soft and lush it can feel. In the softest of cotton, this fabric feels like light, airy, and, wait, did we mention soft? It honestly bears repeating; it's that good. The relaxed but not fluid drape will show off the shape of the box top, and, in a classic indigo color, this fabric will transform into a stunning top that will pair with both jeans and sweatpants. 
  • Forest Tulips Rayon Lawn - This fabric is all about the print, as most Cotton + Steel lawns are. Dark green tulips pair with polka dots on a white background, accented with gold lines. It's the perfect print for fall, with warm tones and light hues. The rayon lawn is also light and cool, making it a great option for transitional weather, and the drape will soften the square lines of the pattern for a relaxed and flowing look. Paired with the cardigans for last month (the turmeric will match perfectly!) and you have a killer combo!
  • Maple Viscose Linen Slub - We've been all about this color - a muted pink similar to dusty rose or red clay - and we think it's perfect color for the autumn season. Plus, who doesn't think about maple in the fall?? The fabric itself is sort of the lovechild of a rayon challis and a crepe, combining the cool hand of your favorite challis with a slightly nubbly texture you get with crepe. The texture will really be on display in this top and will feel like an added surprise whenever you wear it!

Sew Confident Box: Athina Top from Tessuti Fabrics

Tessuti Fabrics, an Australian based fabric store, has its own gorgeous collection of patterns that are normally only available in pdf format. However, they've started offering paper patterns in the United States this year, and we couldn't be happier. The patterns themselves have a relaxed, beachy style, and simple, well drafted lines.

While there are several patterns in their collection that would qualify as a box top, we chose the Athina Top, which has two length options as well as two sleeve options, so you can create the exact look you want. Its loose style makes it a lovely shirt on its own, paired on top of jeans or leggings, or you can pair the short sleeve version with a cardigan or knit undershirt for a more layered look.

As for fabrics, the loose fit made us think of lighter fabrics that will transition nicely from the summer-like days of early October to the cooler temps towards Halloween. So, let's take a look!

  • Amber Viscose Linen Silky Noil - It's not Fall without a rich, deep yellow hue. If you've followed this blog for a while, you know that the silky noil, which is the nubbly combination of linen and viscose, is one of our favorite fabrics. Because of the viscose content, it takes color beautifully and drapes like a dream, and because of the linen, it's got good heft and a lovely texture. This amber color is ideal for fall and will brighten up your fall wardrobe. A gorgeous choice!
  • Feather Fern Viscose Linen Woven - Similar to the silky noil, this fabric combines viscose and linen to great effect. However, unlike the noil, longer strands of fiber are used, giving the fabric a silky feel and cool hand. Printed with a large scale design of white feathers and teal ferns, this fabric feels like a Charley Harper interpretation of a tropical print. It's modern and minimalist and will look amazing as the Athina Top
  • White Embroidered Eyelet Cotton - If you're looking to create an heirloom look for your top, this is the fabric for you! The beauty of the box top is that it's a great layering piece, a light shell to wear over a camisole or tank top. You can really play with that with this eyelet fabric that will look amazing over a white knit tank. The eyelet is very subtle, with tiny holes at the center of embroidered flowers, and in a lightweight cotton, this fabric will have a softly crisp drape, like a cotton voile. If you're looking to make a white top with lots of detail, this is the fabric for you!

Sew Curvy Box: Torrens Box Top from Muna and Broad

Muna and Broad is a relatively new company, opening up late in 2019, and at the time, I missed their releases of several patterns. Thankfully, someone on facebook suggested I check them out and now I feel like a dolt for not knowing about them before! Two sewists from two sides of the world - one lives in Canada, the other in New Zealand - paired up to make patterns with sizes that extend beyond what you can find in stores and, in doing so, have made sewing accessible to so many more sewists. I'm so excited to be using them in this box!

The Torrens Box Top is one of the their first releases and has everything you would want in the style - loose, architectural fit, the option for a variety of looks depending on the fabric, and both sleeved and sleeveless variations. Oh, and they also have some really inventive construction details, for those who like to learn new techniques.

I love the way the fabric can really change the look of this top, and we're offering three different fabrics that will allow you to get the look you want. Here they are!

  • Autumn Floral Printed Ecovero Twill - If you've never heard of ecovero, don't worry, it's a relatively new fabric on the market. It's very similar to tencel, in that it's a fabric from wood pulp, but the process is very sustainable and uses less water - all wood qualities in my opinion. Like other processed natural fibers, it takes dye really well, and that means we can offere lovely prints, like this autumn floral. The red, green, and orange flowers are ultimate Fall colors, and they will really shine on this box top. The drape of the fabric will give you a soft look, perfect for layering all season long!
  • Tropez White Linen Gauze - Forgive us if I don't want to give up linen as the seasons change. The beauty of the box top is that it can be used as a base underneath a sweater or as a layer over a knit tee, so I feel like we can make our favorite linens last well into the autumn season. In a bright white, this fabric will transform into a top that will pair with so many things in your wardrobe. The gauze has a fuller drape than the other options, which will allow you to show off the architectural design of the pattern. A lovely fabric, if you ask me!
  • Royal Blue Check Linen Gauze - Ever since I saw this fabric, I've been searching for the perfect application and I can't think of a better one than the Torrens Box Top. The fabric itself is a jacquard weave that creates translucent and opaque squares, adding both visual interest and texture. To account for the translucent bits, we're including silk cotton voile to underline the top if you want. Or you can leave the top unlined to create a shell layer over an undershirt. No matter which option you choose, you'll have a top that is absolutely one of a kind and a shot of color and texture in your wardrobe. 

Sew Indulgent Box: All Well Box Top from All Well Workshop

If up until this point, you weren't convinced of the wonder that is the box top, this pattern from All Well Workshop will convert you. There are so many possibilities in this pattern, variations that change the overall look, and this pattern lets you explore each and every one. In fact, it comes with a 50 page hacking guide. Oh the possibilities! 

Within this pattern, which, like the others, features a loose fit and simple sleeve opening, you have the option for a short sleeved version, a long sleeved version, a ruffle hem top, and even a long shift dress. Any one of these variations would be an amazing addition to your wardrobe. But, because this is our indulgent box, we're giving you two cuts of fabric - one to make the basic short sleeved top, and another to make any of the variations - so that you can turn this pattern into your next tried-and-true.

There are so many fabric possibilities that it was hard to narrow it down to just six, let alone three. So let's take a look at what's in store!

  • Black and White Tencel Plaid - This tencel woven is light, with a fuller bodied drape, perfect to show off the shape of this top. The plaid is created with thin, white yarn dyed threads that are subtle yet stunning. While the fabric would work for any of the variations, it would be especially fun to play with the bias on the ruffle top to transform the top into a truly one of a kind look!
  • Mustard Viscose Linen Crepe - We do love a good golden yellow, and this viscose linen crepe is a good one. The soft drape and cool hand of the fabric will create a softer look. And the color will be a great base for your autumn wardrobe. Plus the crepe texture adds a hint of sophistication that we simply love.
  • Ivory Crinkle Cotton - This cotton has a softer drape than a typical poplin, but is the crispest of the fabric options. The volume that this creates, notably in the ruffle top, will give you a billowing, unique look that will play with shape. And in a bright ivory, it will pair beautifully with legging or skinny jeans for a stylish and easy look.
  • Turquoise Border Print Linen Blend - What's better than a lightweight linen? A lightweight linen with a fabulous border print! This turquoise fabric has a wide band of darker blue, and you can transform it in to a wide hem feature or sleeve detail. How ever you use it, it will look so professional, people won't believe that you made it. And isn't that what we always hope for when we make our own clothes?
  • Tropical Shapes Rayon Voile - If you really want to create a drapey, almost silk-like top, this is the fabric for you. The rayon voile is incredibly light and soft, and it will turn into a truly dreamy top or dress. And that pattern! A black background covered in vibrant, primary colored shapes that are both abstract and not (there's definitely some fish in there). A truly unique for a truly unique sewist!
  • Petal Splatter Print Viscose Crepe - If you love soft pinks, cool viscose crepe, and the art of Jackson Pollack, have we got a fabric for you! This crepe is simply stunning, with its pinks, reds, and blues on a pale, blush pink background. And it will make for a fabulous box top that can be dressed up with a blazer or dressed down with jeans and a scarf. Express your inner Abstract Expressionist with this gorgeous option!


You made it this far, now, we've got one more thing before you go! We're trying something new this month by giving you the option of getting the boxes with or without the pattern. We realize that many of you, especially long time subscribers, buy many of the patterns that we use, and we want to let you get the fabrics and notions and all the goodies that come in our boxes without worrying about duplicating your pattern stock. We'd love your feedback on this feature, so don't be shy!

This month, we're reviving our Jacket Boxes for our Classic series. If you're in a spot where the weather turns cold early (hi, Canada!), or if you just really want to sew a jacket, these boxes feature some great lightweight jackets, perfect for the autumn season.

Lastly, I know our swatches have been spotty at best. With all the delays in shipping, many of our fabrics are backordered and don't make it to us in time to send out to you. But we will do our best, which is all any of us can do in these abnormal times. If there is ever a question about a fabric, please don't hesitate to reach out to us via email at and we will do our best to guide you to the right fabric.

And that's it for this month! Until next time. . .

Happy sewing,



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