Thursday, August 19, 2021

Color Blocking and a Theorem

Just finished my upteenth* version of the Eureka top from the Sewing Workshop. It is this month's featured garment for the subscription service called Sew Confident!

Their kits include woven rayons and silks of similar weight, so not really color blocking. I do like the combinations in their kits, but not enough to buy a kit. I might have been able to pull off something similar but decided there was serious danger of creating a quilt top with armholes. 

And I have all these lovely remnants. You may know how much I love my remnants. I was fairly sure I'd be able to make a color-blocked version with solid colors of linen. So I started mapping out my plan. 

I remembered a theorem from my college days - the four color theorem. It states that any map can be drawn with 4 colors and no more. The theorem assumes that countries (or counties or whatever) have adjacent sides. It does not matter how many sides or how many countries. I think that's pretty cool. But as my daughter says, Nerd alert!

So I set out to draw and color (with 4 colors, of course!) the shapes needed for my new Eureka top. First I checked the finished measurements of the Eureka in a size XS. I have made this in size Medium, but wanted a closer fit, particularly since this was to be lengthened. As a more cropped top, the Eureka is good in a crisp fabric. There is no real fit needed in this top, as it is mostly boxy. It does need to big enough, of course. 

I traced a size XS from the lengthen/shorten line up. Then I carefully moved the pattern piece down 9" and traced the rest of the size XS. It was easy to true up the intervening cutting lines.

I made several copies of the line drawing provided by the Sewing Workshop for this project. I like the overall plan of their blocks, notably long rectangles, instead of wide rectangles. Their measurements did not match the size XS I wanted to make so I set out to determine my own measurements. I kept roughly the same proportions.

I planned on 1/2 inch seam allowances for piecing the blocks. I chose 1/2 inch simply because I wanted to keep the arithmetic simple. I added 1 inch to the overall width and length of each rectangle. This allowed me to make flat felled seams and avoid lumps from piecing.

I have lovely colored pencils that were just right for this project, but I was not careful enough to try for the actual value (tint) of my fabric. This tripped me up a few times but was a good puzzling activity.

Here were my fabric choices:

  • Navy blue silk twill
  • Very light lavender linen
  • Medium purple linen
  • Medium gray linen
All are of about the same weight. And the values are 1 dark, 2 medium and 1 light.

Carefully following my map, I cut each piece according to plan, pinning a label to each piece. As I got close to finishing my cutting, I realized that I did not have enough of the lavender linen to follow the plan. I think there were 3 pieces left, all requiring the lavender linen. 

In one case, I split the planned piece, using a smaller lavender plus one of the other colors. In the other two cases, I chose one of the other colors instead of the lavender. I made sure there were no adjacent pieces of the same fabric.

It was quite fun. 

I began the piecing process by sewing two pieces together for the front, then two together for the back. The Sewing Workshop line drawing provides a perfect road map for the order of construction, though that's not hard to determine. I still managed to confuse myself. The solution was to finish piecing the front, and then piece the back. That way, I could keep the maps handy and triple-check things as I went along.

After the piecing, the rest was super easy - shoulder seams, neckline binding, arm bands, then side seams. I finished the neckline and the armbands by hand but all else was finished by machine.  

After trying it on, I decided on 2" hems. Then I finished it and took some pictures to see which pants I like best with it. I actually have a pair of Quincy pants in the navy blue silk, but they need to be modified. They feel quite sloppy with this tunic. The Helix and the Hudson pants work great though.

After looking at the pictures and reading a bit more, I realized that I made the front too long. TSW recommends adding 6" to the front and 9" to the back. I added 9 (or was it 9.5) inches to both.  The silhouette was not the best on my 5'5" frame.

In the end I created very deep hems so that my finished Eureka is 6" longer than the original. I am pleased with the result. I wore it today and felt good. Isn't it nice when wearing a piece makes you feel as good as making it did!

*The pattern calls for using a knit but I much prefer a woven for this pattern. Just checked my closet and found 5 previous Eureka tops. That does not count the first one I made in a rayon jersey. I never was happy with that one and gave it away. 

L to R: rayon woven stripe, B&W linen pin stripe, green pique, white textured linen, blue cotton voile

I have some more ideas for the Eureka top, a nice canvas for creative playing.


  1. This is absolutely beautiful...and thank you for sharing your process!

  2. WONDERFUL....Thankyou Martha!

  3. LOVE this! And thank you so much for the 4-color theorum. Totally makes sense and I think may come in helpful! (Talk about scraps ... wanna compare?)

  4. Lovely and that length adjustment was perfect.