The second in my series of woven tees is another popular choice – the Maya top from designer Marilla Walker. It’s actually both a top and a dress and after this version I may well try out the dress.
I have a couple of patterns by Marilla Walker and they have been on my to-do list for ages. The Isca shirtdress is absolutely up my street (check out this amazing version by Marilla herself) and the Roberts dungarees have also been super-popular, but I just haven’t quite got around to stitching them up yet. Autumn, here I come! Meanwhile, the Maya top is influenced by Marilla’s Central American background and is based on the traditional Guatemalan Huipil. It’s a cap sleeve dress or top that is designed to hang well from the shoulders and have a wide fit from the bust down. I made the most simple version of the top, with no button placket.
I decided to make it in this gorgeous slate blue rayon linen from District Fabrics (yes, I’m still on a solids kick). It’s soooo soft and silky and has the absolutely perfect amount of drape for this top without being too wispy. It does still have body and that’s good, because I wanted it to feel substantial, even if airy.
It’s interesting (vaguely), but one thing I’ve noticed is that these “simple” woven tops I’m trying out are stretching my sewing skills somewhat. There is nothing technically out-there about a boxy woven top, but the simplicity is quite deceiving in a way, because there is nowhere to hide mistakes and I’m finding I have to be quite precise in the skills that are required. Allow me to explain…
Fitting the boxy tee
In the case of the Maya, this was particularly relevant regarding the sizing and finishing. After reading a few other reviews of this top, I decided to size down from an 8 to a 7. When looking at the end result, this was definitely the right choice for me, and, as I discussed in my Kabuki Tee review, is likely to be the case for any boxy garments with plenty of ease, as I need a little more shaping for my figure. However, I almost always need to do an FBA on a woven garment and have been bypassing this recently because of said ease. This has worked fine – with one exception. An FBA of course adds width across the chest to allow your bust room to breathe. However, it ALSO adds a little length to the front. It turns out that my woven tees have been turning out decidedly shorter in the front hem than the back and this, I think, is the culprit: the combo of sizing down and no FBA.
Conclusion: I need to add some length to centre front (because I honestly don’t want to do a dartless FBA on these and I think it will be easier to estimate a bit of added length).
When I was perusing all the images on Instagram under #mayatop, I found myself being repeatedly drawn to the versions that had been altered or hacked in a certain way. This has been done by a number of sewists, but many of them stemmed from Tessuti Patterns’ post from late last year. Lisa from Tessuti also says she was inspired by other sewists, so who knows who made the change first, but I really liked it!
It’s basically a simple lengthening of the sleeve and the addition of a cuff piece. I lengthened my sleeve from the size 7 to the size 9 and then added a wide cuff piece, which was simply folded over and serged on, much like you would do with a knit tee. However, my resultant cuffs were wayyyy too long and fell at an odd place. So I ended up folding the cuff back on itself again and topstitching along the existing seam (stitching in the ditch effectively). I think these cuffs are a better size, although a little thick and stiff, so they ended up sitting up a little. Hopefully that will soften after a few washes. Of course, if you use a cuff, there is no need for the armhole facing pieces with the pattern.
Having said all that, now that I’ve finished the top, I actually think the original sleeve is really elegant and so am going to leave it as per the original pattern for the next version. It’s definitely not that I thought I could improve the design – I just wasn’t sure the sleeve would suit me. But now… I think it might. 😀
Facing vs bias binding
The Maya top is finished with a deep facing and this is the part that taught me I still need to work on my finishing technique. On the bright side, it’s a lot neater than I would have managed a year or two ago. On the not-so-bright-side, it’s definitely still far from perfect. I noticed quite a few sewists switched it out for bias tape, which I am more experienced with, but I actually very much like the result of the facing. I think it’s quite a sophisticated, deep neckline, so I’d like to persevere with perfecting it. I suspect using a smaller seam allowance would help, but I need to look up some facing tips and tricks, because I’d really like to achieve a great finish on this!
Overall, I’d like to try again with some more finesse, because I really like this top. I also really like this top in this fabric. I’ve worn it in the raging afternoon heat, for a date night the same day (when we snapped the pics) and it is sooo cool and comfortable. I’m in love!
PS. I’m also in love with this version of the Maya dress that I’ve just this second seen on Instagram. Look at that!! Wow! I’m not sure I could ever be that clever, design-wise, but I wish I were. Genius.