So I stumbled across this amazingly simple, yet stunning white top on The Man Repeller the other week. I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I decided to make it! I made the linen pants too, Chado Ralph Rucci V1347, modified for use as pyjamas, post photo shoot. But I’m not here to talk about them, other than to say they are a fabulous, wide leg, elastic waist pant if that’s what you are after. I’ve made them before. They make the best PJ pants ever, especially in linen. Like my last version, I simply skipped the pockets and the lining, and cropped them A LOT.
I’m also not going to talk much about the fabric, other than to say that I won’t be buying this particular linen again. It’s Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen Blend in white from Fabric.com. It’s ok. Their service was great and the description reasonable. But I have to say that I was still quite disappointed when it landed on my doorstep. It is lighter than I expected and blended with rayon (how did I miss that?). Personally, it isn’t really of a quality I would be happy to use for outerwear, but lining it certainly helps. I should also say that I think I’ve been incredibly spoilt for quality with the linens I’ve used in the past, mostly from Tessuti Fabrics and sometimes from The Fabric Store. Linen is a very tricky fabric to purchase, especially unseen, because of the vast differences between one type and the next. You really do need to see it and feel it in person.
But let’s get back to this top and talk about how it can be made. My brain doesn’t picture pattern pieces well right off the bat. For new-to-me or unusual designs, I need to drape calico onto my dressmaker’s dummy to better understand the shape of the pieces and for my head to figure out how they will come together. Then I take my rough marked calico to the floor or the cutting mat, to modify and make further adjustments from there.
I began creating this top by draping it. I knew the design was going to be simple, but it was even more basic than I could imagine. So basic, in fact, that I was also able to work backwards on the design, to show you how it can be done even easier. Forget about draping! All you need is a basic T-shirt, woven or stable knit (without darts), to use as a template. Grainline’s Scout Tee also comes to mind as a suitable pattern that you could modify. To give you an idea of fit, you can see me wearing the T-shirt I used here.
I’m going to explain the pattern pieces in this post. I’m pretty sure most of you will be able to put the top together with just this. But if you need more instructions, just let me know. I’m planning another top already so I can photograph it through the construction stages next time if I get enough interest.
The top itself consists of three main pattern pieces: the front bodice, the side drapes, and the straps. You can probably already see how you would put it together.
Front bodice: cut 2 on the fold (one piece is the lining)
Sides: Cut 2
Straps: cut 4
So to work out your measurements, start with a basic T-shirt. Lay it nice and flat with the front facing up. You’ll need some tracing paper and long piece of calico.
Lay the tracing paper on top of the T-shirt. You need to trace around half of the front piece. I forgot to photograph this stage, but you can easily see what I did below. Mark the CF, the neckline, the armscye, and the side seam. Also mark the length, as this can be useful in identifying where you want your new top to sit.
I’ve laid my finished pattern piece on top so you can see how I modified my original lines. How you change yours is entirely up to you. I would recommend doing the following:
add a seam allowance to your shoulder seam (see how my pattern piece extends over the top)
keep the side seam line where it is (don’t add a seam allowance, you are just using it as a guide
lift the underarm seam (bottom of the armscye) by 1-2inches, depending on how your original T-shirt fit. Mine was quite loose to begin with.
re-draft the neckline and shoulder seams to fit the shape you want. It doesn’t matter how wide or narrow you want those shoulder seams to be either.
You can see how the entire pattern piece looks below before you add a side seam. You can also see where my pieces have been basted together.
Use the side seam you marked from your T-shirt (purple dots) as a guide to measure your new seam from. In my finished top, my side seam was cut parallel and 6″ from the original side seam.
Cutting it straight like this means that your new side seam will hang on a diagonal when you are wearing the top. I don’t mind the angular look of this, but I’d prefer my side seam to hang straight up and down, perpendicular to the ground, so I’ve drawn a new side seam for my next version. It will be about 4″ from the original line and run on a diagonal (marked in black).
It’s not essential that you mark your side seam in exactly the same place as me. The nature of the top is that it drapes and the fit is pretty flexible. But as a guide, if you are bigger than me, you may want to increase the distance to your new side seam a little, and if you are smaller, then perhaps narrow that distance a little. Also keep this in mind for when you draw up the side pieces and straps. FYI my bust measure is 35″ and my waist is 27″. I am 5″10 or 178cm tall.
The next step is to decide on how long you want the top. Mine was 22″ in length along the side seam including a 1″ hem. This measurement determines how low the top will sit in the front.
The side pieces simply extend straight out from the front bodice. You could just make this a big rectangle. I sloped my top edge up a little so it finished 2″ higher at the far end. My side pieces are about 34″ in length. How long you make this piece will depend on how long you want it to drape down at the back.
Finally, to draft your shoulder straps, just line them up with your bodice shoulder seams to determine the width. They can be as long or as short as you want them to be.
I made mine about 20″ in length. The seam allowance I used in making this top was 5/8″.
I sewed the bottom of my shoulder straps straight onto the top but you could attach yours with buttons. You could also close the back seam up if you want, by overlapping it, or sewing a seam down the middle. I might try doing this next time to make a dress out of the pattern instead.