Wiksten Tova & Tank and the Cool Sewing Club

I have two Wikstenmade tops in-progress. One is the Wiksten Tova (gray) and the other is the Wiksten Tank (blue). If you asked me to make these tops one year ago I would have told you that I can't follow a pattern. Okay, that's not entirely true. I would've told you that I struggle to follow standard sewing patterns and prefer to make my own. That's closer to the truth.

But in undertaking the Make Thrift Mend project one of my goals was to push myself outside of my sewing comfort zone, to better my garment-making skills, and to try a handful of new patterns. And so that's what I've done here. Push, better, try... that about sums it up.

I remember these patterns circulating the internet a few years ago when they were first released. This was before Instagram and Pinterest really set the stage for visual communication online and many of us were still communicating through Flickr and personal blogs. I miss the days of the personal blog before everyone had corporate sponsors, a professional graphic designer, and even a blog team. Sigh.

So much has changed since then (some for the better, some for the worse) but one thing that hasn't changed is the appeal and beauty of these simple patterns. They are just gorgeous when finished as you can see from the many images of Wiksten Tanks  and Wiksten Tovas. So pretty, right? Mine are still in-progress but they are oh-so close.

But I remember thinking there was no way I could make these tops. Even though I've been sewing for the better part of 20 years I still have not conquered my fear of sewing patterns. The artist in me rears her individualistic flag and I struggle to make original patterns that are pieced and patched together instead of following tried and trusted ones. I am a Slow Design supporter simply by instinct.

What I felt when I saw these beautiful tops being made was also jealousy. That's right, jealousy. I felt jealous that I didn't have the time, skills, or attention span to make these tops. It felt like all the cool sewing girls were making these tops and I was not invited into their Cool Girl Sewing Club.

This, of course, was nothing more than my own imagination. And as my yoga teacher calls it, The Compar-o-matic. The Compar-o-matic is the treadmill of comparison that we eagerly climb and call out in our mind all the ways we are better and worse than the people around us. It's a vicious cycle. It ends in no good.

But in launching the Make Thrift Mend project I wanted to embrace discomfort. That's right, I wanted to step fully outside of my known comfort zone and push myself to try something harder. Something that even felt too hard at the time. Something that felt too big so the only way through it was to take it one garment, one pattern, and one clothing label at a time.

While these tops are not yet finished they will get finished as soon as I can turn my attention back to a few hours of studio time. (The blue needs binding at the neck and armholes while the gray needs a binding at the neck and also sleeves. The sleeves are the most intimidating but this too I can overcome!)

One of the glorious things that has happened in my life in the years since these patterns were released? I became a mother. I quit my desk job. And I waded out into the murky unknown unpredictable life of a freelance artist, writer, and teacher. I'm not sure what frightened me more: Bringing home a newborn baby or quitting my desk job.

I'm still not sure how I'd answer that question but the good news is that everything is working out okay! Most of the time. And the other good news is that parenthood has taught me that not everything will happen today but the things I love the most will absolutely still happen. Just on their own timeline. It's also taught me that the beautiful mess of not knowing is just that: It's just another beautiful mess.

I wouldn't say I've conquered these patterns (the tank is pretty easy but the tova is probably the hardest pattern I've ever attempted, to be totally honest) but I would say that I've conquered my fear of being kicked out of the Cool Girl Sewing Club.

That's right, my imperfect seams and studied approach to any pattern is just fine by me. I'm learning where to insert my imagination, where to bend the sewing rules, and where it just doesn't matter so much. Not so different from parenting, right? I don't think so.

Now, I'm crossing my fingers that I can get one of these tops finished by the weekend. The toddler Goddesses willing.



  1. This is just great…and I can't believe the timing because I just made a Wiksten tank this past weekend!

    1. We're on the same wavelength! It's such a great pattern. I'm so happy to finally have it in my midst. I'm loving the tank pattern but still working to finish the tova. Both are such pretty patterns. Glad you like!

  2. The sleeves won't be bad if you got through the yoke! If you can believe it, the Tova was the second garment I sewed from a pattern (last year when I started making clothes, despite having sewn for years). The first was a failed dress from a Japanese book. The Tova, despite being complicated, thankfully has such great detailed instructions that like you say, given enough time it does come together. And trust me, you ARE already part of the cool girl sewing club. ;)

    1. You are good encouragement! I'm losing steam on the sleeves with all those sweet gathers and details. But you are right, it isn't so much hard as it is time consuming. Though, that yoke made my brain twist and turn in new directions. (Cannot believe this was one of your first ever garments. Amazing.) And...Ha! I do not feel like a part of the cool girl sewing club but that's a very nice thought. Hi you!


Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.