Handmade Wardrobe / Inspiration / MN2106 Rowan / MN2401 Reef

layering reef and rowan // aka salvaging a sewing failure

Megan Nielsen black Reef camisole layered over a white Rowan tee

If you asked me what was one of the silliest trends i wore as a teenager in the height of the 90’s, I would tell you it was camisole tops over t shirts. Paired with cargo shorts, Superstars, a stupid choker necklace with “meg” on it, and a heavy swipe of sparkly blue eyeshadow. Shudder. This is how i know everyone who says fashion is cyclical is right – because here I am 32, and wearing a camisole over a t shirt. To add to the hilarity, I actually owned basically these exact same shoes when i was a teen. Full circle.

Megan Nielsen black Reef camisole layered over a white Rowan tee
Megan Nielsen black Reef camisole layered over a white Rowan tee

The interesting thing about seeing the whole camisole/camisole dress over everything trend come back, is the updated approach to it. Something about slightly different cuts and better fabrics, and pairing much loved pieces together. I think layering pieces that are already your style together, makes for a more winning combination. I think the trick to wearing a trend from your past, is to wear it sparingly, so you have a few elements that throw back, but aren’t wearing an entire dress up costume.

The Reef camisole actually started out as a dress variation i tried last year. I absolutely loved it and had every intention of wearing it all summer, but i must not have prewashed my fabric or something (very unlike me) and it shrunk terribly in the wash. It ended up a very awkward tunic length, that I knew wasn’t workable in my wardrobe. It felt like a massive waste of fabric. But after mourning it a bit, i trimmed the hem back to the original Reef camisole length, which has resulted in a rather nice black cami. Now I have a black camisole – which if i’m honest, has turned out to be a much more useful wardrobe piece than a black cami dress would have been. My lifestyle after all is very casual.

Megan Nielsen white Rowan tee

The Rowan tee is also a bit of an accident, though not quite as happy. Actually, i’d almost call it a failure, The fabric is (i thought) a really amazing knit from Potter textiles in Perth – i would describe it as dreamy. It’s so soft that you just want to stroke it over and over. I wanted to make everything out of it! The problem is that it’s shockingly see through. Which is something i didn’t anticipate when i was making this tee, hoping it would be the perfect little white tee i could wear with everything.

It’s so transparent that there isn’t a bra in my possession that can be worn underneath without every detail showing. I really can’t deal with that. So sadly, this really gorgeous perfect little white tee… is actually just a perfect layering tee. It’s job now is just to be worn under things. Which on one hand i do find sad, but on the other hand has helped me to stretch my wardrobe a bit more by wearing pieces like this Reef camisole in different ways.

People often ask me about my sewing failures – and i think these two are pretty good examples of projects that have failed, but that I managed to salvage at the end of the day. And thank goodness for that – because is there anything worse than wasting good fabric? I think not.

Megan Nielsen black Reef camisole layered over a white Rowan tee
Megan Nielsen black Reef camisole layered over a white Rowan tee
Megan Nielsen black Reef camisole layered over a white Rowan tee
About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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6 years ago

That definitely beats my recent failure – making style changes to a basic tee pattern, and then cut along the lines of the original pattern and didn’t discover it until I had everything done up to the sleeves and putting the neckband on. Unsalvageable…..

Your Reef and Rowan look great together Megan!

6 years ago

I have your Reef pattern Megan (your gushy fan hailing from Victoria BC :) ) and I have to tell you how WONDERFUL this pattern (obviously you already know this) Love the top and shorts and wear these all summer long in the house – but I’d never thought to make it out a fabric that I would wear as an overtop so thank you for this inspiration! In my journey to making the perfect fitting Tee for ME (I don’t like it boxy or too fitted) I’ve created a couple out of the wrong fabric (rayon knit can be just too revealing and clingy for my preference anyway – I’m 62 and have a few too many bumps that I would prefer to keep private thank you very much :)) so I’m always on the look-out for just such an “overtop” – something not too tight that swings a big out at the waist and hip.

Let's Get Sewing
6 years ago

Brilliant saves! They are both gorgeous individuals but also look stunning together.

Susan Wright
6 years ago

Regarding the (too thin) fabric from Potter Textiles. My favorite tee has a double layer in front, which allows me to wear it in our very hot summers while staying cool and modest.
I say stick with your original plan “…I wanted to make everything out of it”!