Pattern Review: Laurence Top by Vivian Shao Chen

all of Laurence tops hanging

When I first started sewing my own clothes, the Laurence Top pattern by Vivian Shao Chen was the first piece of clothing I sewed! Since then I’ve made it several times and have also hacked the pattern into a dress. Its definitely one of my favorite patterns!

I highly recommend Vivian’s patterns – they are well thought out and the instructions are written clearly. All of the designer’s patterns I’ve made – Laurence Top, Orchards Dress and the Nepheline Blouse (which I’ve also hacked into a dress!) – are ones that I’ve repeatedly made and regularly wear.

The Pattern

The Laurence Top pattern has an Advanced Beginner level of difficulty and I found the trickiest part to be the v-neck. There’s a video tutorial on Vivian’s Instagram which I found to be really helpful. I had sewing experience before making this top, but I found it to be a great pattern to start with when I first started sewing my wardrobe. And the great news is, once you’ve tried it (mistakes and all!) you’ve gained valuable skills and experience.

There are two views included in the pattern – a v-neck sleeveless top and a scoop-neck three-quarter length sleeve top. I’ve never made the longer sleeve version, but I have used the pattern pieces to borrow the neckline shape for a curved neck on a Laurence Top and the sleeves for an Orchard’s Dress top hack.

Fabric

This pattern is designed for woven fabrics – the designer recommends 100% linen – but if you choose to try a different type of fabric, keep in mind it can affect the drape and structure of the top. I’ve made mine mostly in cotton, a cotton-linen blend, organic hemp and a really flowy rayon challis. I made the rayon version in my regular size but it ended up feeling bigger in the end. I don’t mind at all, but just good to know that fabric choice can make a difference in the final fit.

My favorite Laurence Top is the one I made in a terracotta color midweight hemp slub from Blackbird Fabrics. Sadly they are out of stock but as soon as they get more in, I’ll be getting some! It has a similar feel to linen, softens so beautifully when washed and creates a lovely lived-in look. I made it using leftover fabric from when I made my Pomona Pants and ended up with a matching set that I love.

Modifications

The only thing I change to the pattern is the length since it’s a little too cropped for me. I usually do a smaller hem than the wide hem written in the pattern, but it’s easy to add length to the top using the lengthen/shorten lines indicated in the pattern. Other hacks I’ve done to the Laurence Top are adding a v-neck to the back, making a rounded neck in the front, and shortening the bodice and adding a gathered skirt to make a dress version.

showing the back v-neck of the Laurence top

During the warmer months, my Laurence Tops are my most worn – usually paired with my Peppermint Spring Shorts (pictured below) – and even when it starts to get cooler I love to throw a cardigan sweater or jacket on top. It really has become a staple in my closet and a tried and true pattern!

showing all Laurence tops

I’ve also hacked this top into a dress several times by adding a gathered skirt. My tutorial How to Sew a Gathered Skirt to a Bodice walks you through those steps!

I’ve also made a version with a button placket and a two tiered skirt. If you want to try a button down version, head over to my tutorial to learn how! I love how much variety you can get from a simple top pattern 🙂

I hope that sharing my Laurence Top versions has helped inspire you to make your own or given you some ideas to hack the pattern. Thanks for reading, and happy sewing!

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