Hello friends! Fall is upon us, and I’m really enjoying seeing the leaves change and the weather get cooler up here in Maine. I don’t have any intention of staying into the winter (brrr!!) but for now, we are soaking up the autumn vibes and hoping for a spectacular leaf peeping season!
I’ve also really enjoyed staying put for the last few months, as it’s allowed me the time and space to do more sewing. When the Cali Active Top from Greenstyle came up as a new test, I was happy that I had the time to join the team and sew it up!
Often, when I’m testing a new pattern, I’m taking my best guess about whether I’ll like the finished result, but on this one, I knew I’d love it, because the pattern is based off of the Cami tank, which is already a staple in my wardrobe (video tutorial on my YouTube here). This made the testing process even more exciting than usual, and I was able to create some custom matching outfits using my “good” fabrics, without worry about them going to waste.
The Cali Active top packs plenty of options into one pattern- gathered/pleated, dress/hip/waist/cropped length, lower/higher armscye and skinny strappy/wide strap. For the cami part of the bra, you also have the option for turned under elastic, a fabric enclosed elastic band or exposed elastic.
I chose the gathered waist length with the higher armscye and turned under elastic for my first version, and picked out some Greenstyle soft mesh in “south beach” and printed Endurance XC from Styled Magnolia for my set.
I really like the length of this option- it hits me right at the high hip, without any adjustments for height (I don’t usually need to adjust Greenstyle tops, so this fit is spot on for me).
The higher armscye shows just a little bit of skin below the cami part of the top, but not so much that I feel exposed if I’m wearing this as an everyday top. For a workout only version, I might try the lower armscye, but I feel like this option is the most versatile for both types of wear. During the test, testers with bigger busts tended to show less skin below the bra- perhaps due to the pull of the overlay around the chest, or the FBA option, which is included in the pattern.
I really like the look of the skinny crossed binding, so sewed that view, but decided to narrow my straps slightly so they would meet up with the back overlay placement.
The binding is really easier than most people expect, and I have a tutorial for that HERE in case you need it. My only additional tips for this version of the top would be to use clear elastic cut to length for the gathering- I think it makes a more even gather with less risk of shifting when it’s serged on that the two lines of stitching method included in the pattern.
For example, I cut my elastic to 6″ for the front, plus a short tail for holding onto, then zig-zagged it onto the seam allowance on the wrong side of the top while I pulled and stretched it from both in front and behind. After this was done, I basted the overlay to the cami portion of the top, and continued per the instructions.
To complete my outfit, I made a pair of matching Inspire tights (wth the zipper hack, here on my blog) for a complete set!
I’m much more comfortable creating gathers than pleats, but for the second version of my Cali Active Top I decided to try the pleating (might as well go for the challenge, right?).
Three dimensional manipulation is not a strong skill for me (you should see me try to park the dually truck in these tiny National Parks) so I struggled a bit with the formation of the pleats, but I managed it after a few tries.
In the end, I surprised myself that I actually like this view the best!
This set was made with soft mesh in “cobalt blue“and printed Arete fabric from Greenstyle (love the mesh for the overlay, such good ventilation!) and features the same options as the first (waist length, strappy finish).
On this one, I also wrestled a bit with the bottom band- I was too lazy to quarter it, and paid for that with extra time required to fix my mistake.
If you don’t get the band distributed evenly, the overlay will get pulled to the side, and it’s especially noticeable on this pattern, so it needs to be done accurately.
Once I unpicked and re-sewed this part, I had a new favorite set, which included a new pair of Inspire tights I made especially for the occasion (Inspire Sew-Along here on my YouTube).
I’m really happy with the way both of these outfits turned out, and I’m looking forward to adding a couple more soon. I have several scraps from leggings I’ve made that would be perfect for this, but I’m curious what y’all think of the matched sets- is it too much? Should I try coordinating solids instead?
We are still in Maine, but getting ready to leave and head toward New Hampshire for some rock climbing! I hear Conway is the place to be for that, so we are looking forward to getting out on some rocks! This past week we had some rainy weather, but in between we hit a couple cool trails.
Our favorite was the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park. This trail had been closed for Peregrine Falcon nesting for most of the summer, but it finally opened and we were able to hike it! The first part was 100% bouldering over large rocks, and then we got to the section with exposed ledges, iron ladders and sweeping vistas. We had a bit of fog that obscured some of our view, but we saw a pair of bald eagles saoring right next to us, and the kids loved testing out their climbing skills getting up the mountain.
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That’s it for now, but I hope you get a chance to sew this top, and add it to your collection! If you want to grab the pattern, my affiliate link is here. All proceeds go to rock climbing gear or coffee, or both!