August 22, 2010

experimental top tutorial

Here it is, by popular request: a pattern tutorial for the top in my previous post.
It is a pattern for jersey/knit fabrics and it should be sewn either on a serger or using a stretch stitch on the sewing machine (dedicated stretch stitch or small zigzag). It will take about 1 meter of 1.4 meter wide fabric and no additional supplies.
You will need some kind of pattern to use as a sloper. A standard fitted t-shirt is ideal (Burdastyle's Lydia for example) but it can be any pattern for any knit top, as long as it is at least waist length and has a set-in sleeve. I would always recommend using a tried-and-tested pattern. In this case, you will use the back neckline, the angle of the shoulders and the waist length and width.
All instructions and given measurements are without seam allowance.

1. Trace the back pattern piece onto a new sheet of paper, placing the center back at the left edge of the paper (put it on the bottom as well, the rest of your pattern will be drawn upwards and to the right). Make sure to mark the waistline.

2. Place the front pattern piece with the outer corner of the shoulder touching the corner of the back shoulder. Position it so that the center front is at a 90 d
egree angle to the center back line. Trace and mark the waistline.

3. Draw the waistline for the top at 3 cm under the sloper's waistline (front and back). The length of these lines stays the same.

4. Mirror the front pattern piece.

5. Draw a front neckline/warp-over bit as shown.

6. Draw a diagonal line, connecting the new waistlines.

7. Parallel to this line, draw another one, at 3 cm distance. Create a gentle curve from one to the other, making sure to keep the line straight in the middle.

8. Loosely measure the circumference of your arm above the elbow. Draw a half circle with that measurement as the size of its edge and its center in the middle of the line you've just made. (to find the radius of your half circle, double the measurement and divide by 6.28)

9. Now, your main pattern piece is finished. It will be cut with the center back on the fold. To make the waistband and the narrow bands for the neckline and armholes, you will need to make straight strips of fabric, cut on the crossgrain for maximum stretch.

10. For the neckline, measure front and back neckline on the pattern and substract the measurement by 10%. The pattern piece will be that length and 4 cm wide and should be cut on the fold.
For the waistline, measure the back waistline and the front one from the side to center front. Substract 10%. This pattern piece will be that length and 24 cm wide and should also be cut on the fold (that will give the waistband a center back seam, if you prefer seams at the sides, don't cut it on the fold)
For the armholes, Substract 5% from the armhole measurement. The piece should be 4 cm wide.

Sewing the top

A. Close the shoulder darts

B. Stitch side seams.

C. Fold the neckband in half lengthwise and right side out. Treat as one layer and pin and stitch it along the neckline, stretching it to fit.

D. Sew the short ends of the waistband and armbands together.

E. Fold the armbands and stitch them to the armholes like you did for the neckline.

F. Pin the front pieces of the main pattern piece so they overlap each other and the tip of each one is at the other's side seam (the right side, for the wearer, should overlap the left). From now on, the two front pieces should be treated as one layer.

G. Fold the waistand in half and pin and stitch it along the bottom of the main piece, stretching it to fit.

I hope I've explained everything clearly. If you make the top, I'd love to see a picture and if you blog about it, please let me know.


  1. Thank you for the tute, Lauriana! That's going to be terrific to play with! I'll put it on the fall to-do list and follow up with you when it's finished. SO fun!

  2. Thank you for this tutorial. It's great! It's already on my to-do list.