My Summer Top

This is a great little top to tackle if you have worked with store bought patterns before and have a basic understanding of garment construction.  If you get a little lost at any point, breath and re read previous steps.  Once you get it and make it, you will love it.

You will need a tape measure, pins, pencil or pacer, rubber, ruler, triangle ruler if you own one, paper scissors (that will double as a paper weight) and some patterning paper (brown paper roll will also do the trick).

First steps is to measure your top of bust – so under the arms, around your back and across the top of your bust.  My measurement for this is 84cm.  Add 3cm to this measurement which is 87cm for this example.

So the side seams have enough room to get around the bust you want the front patter piece to be 5cm bigger than the front.  Stick with me here and work out what the front  and back measurements will be across the top.  In my example it will be 87cm – 5cm which equals 82cm.  Divide 82cm by 2 which equals 41cm.  The back bodice across the top will be 41cm.  The front bodice across the top will be 41cm + 5cm or 46cm.  To check your calculations add your front and back measurement together to make sure it equals the original measurement.  In my case 41cm + 46cm = 87cm.


STEP ONE:  Lets start by making the front bodice pattern.  The simplest way is to create your pattern piece is on the fold or on the half.  To get the measurement for the top of your half front pattern divide 46cm by 2 which equals 23cm.  Add 2cm to this line making it 25cm to start with

Draw a line down your page that which will be your centre front or fold line. You can make the length of your top what ever you want.  I’ve gone for a length that sits at the top of my hip bone which was 32cm.  From this draw a line at a 90 degree angle at the top 26cm long. At the bottom of the CF line draw another line at a right angles to mark the hem.  The top flares out slightly at the hem so I have added an extra 5cm making my front hem 23cm + 5cm equals 28cm.  See images below as a guide.

STEP 2:  The next step is to prepare your side bust dart position.  Dart are very important to create shape and contour for the body.  In the pattern making world there is a term called bust circ which refers to the area that your bust sits.  A general allowance for the bust circ is 7cm.  To identify bust level mark a line 7cm down from the top of your top pattern.  We want the dart to be an angled dart so mark a point 4cm down from this bust line at the side seam.  Mark a point along the bust line 8cm in from the side seam.  Draw a line from the mark on the side seam 4cm below the bust line to the dart point 8cm in from the side seam along the bust line.  Follow the image above.

STEP 3:  To create a dart you need to transfer the area of the dart into another part of the pattern.  We are going to create the bust dart by transferring the dart area into the top of the bodice around the area that the straps will join.  This is why we made the top line slightly longer at the beginning.

The next step is to mark the strap position at the top of the bodice.  My straps are going to be 2.5cm wide and sit 9.5cm in from the centre front.  This was a good position for the straps to cover my bra straps.  Finish this stage by drawing a line from dart point to the outside edge of the strap. See images above for further guidance.

You will need to cut out your paper pattern to create the dart.  Once your pattern has been cut out, cut along the angled lines that end at bust point but don’t quite cut through so you can spin the paper and create your dart.  See the first image above as an example.

STEP 4:  Pin your pattern to a new page and spin your dart to create a 3cm gap for the dart.  Once you have created you 3cm gap pin the top part of your pattern to the page ready to trace of your front pattern piece.  Marrk a point in the centre of your dart and draw a line from the dart point to past your side seam.  Extend the side seam down in a line to meet your Center day and then shape back to the side seam.  This will ensure your dart will fold down correctly when sewing.  Mark a point 3cm down from the old top of the side seam which will become the new side seam finish point and trace around your new front pattern piece.

STEP 5:  To straighten the front hem line once the garment is on the body I have added 3cm to the centre front body length at the hem.  This is shaped back to the side seam.  The final step is to add seam allowance to the front bodice pattern piece.  I have added 6mm to the top, 1cm to the side seam and 4cm to the hem.  At the hem I am going to do a 1cm turn followed by a 3cm fold to create a nice wide hem.

STEP 6:  The final step to finish your front bodice is to cut it out, mark you CF on the fold, notch your strap points & hem and finally label your pattern piece as per below



STEP 1:  Grab a fresh piece of paper and mark a straight vertical line that will be your Center back that is 29.5cm long.  From this line draw a line at a right angle at the top that is half your total back body measurement that you calculated at the beginning. In my case it was 41cm divided by 2, 21.5cm.

Draw another line at right angles to your centre back line at the bottom that is your half centre back measurement at the top plus 3cm.  21.5cm + 3cm = 24.5cm.  Connect this with the top back bodice.

Pattern making is all about angles.  So that your front bodice & back bodice have a nice flow through at the hem, raise the side seam at the hem by 0.5cm and redraw your hemline as per the image below.  This will prevent a point from forming at the hem.

STEP 2: Mark the position for the back button which is slightly less than half the total back bodice distance at the top.  My button position will be 9.5cm in from centre back and 1.5cm down from the top edge.  The next step is to add your seam allowance.  I have cut out my pattern and retraced due to all the writing on the pattern piece but you could add seam allowance to your existing pattern piece.

STEP 3: Add 6mm seam allowance to the top, 1cm to the side seam and 4cm to the hem to match the front bodice pattern piece.

STEP 4:  The final step is to cut out and label your back pattern piece.



STEP 1:  Pin your front and back pattern pieces to a clean piece of paper and trace around the top half of the patterns.  I have made my facing pieces 13cm one at the side seams and centre back and 15cm long at the centre front.

STEP 2: Cut out and label your front and back facing pieces.  Depending on your fabric choice you may need to fuse your facing pieces.  My top was made in a mid weight cotton / linen blend so there was no need to fuse my lining pieces.

STEP 3:  The final pattern piece for this style is your straps.  My finished straps measurement was 45cm long x 2.5cm wide.  To achieve these finished measurements draw a rectangle 47cm x 7cm to allow SA 1cm seam allowance.


You now have all your pattern pieces ready to cut out your very own simple summer top.  Please see a quick overview of sewing instructions below.


This top really suits mid weight linen or linen / cotton blends.  If you use a mid weight / stable fabric there is no need to fuse your facing pieces.  You could also make this top in a plain or printed rayon or viscose.  I would recommend fusing your facing if you are going to use a lighter weight fabric such as this.

1. Sew front darts in front bodice and front bodice facing.

2. Sew front and back & front and back facing pieces together at side seams.  Overlock side seams and lower edge of facing.

3. Fold straps in half along the long edge and sew across one small side and along the long edge.  Turn straps in the right way and single needle edge stitch along long edges of strap and across the end.

4. Baste stitch straps right side of front bodice at notched points.

5. With right sides together sew the facing to the bodice along the top edge.  Understitch seam to facing and press well.

6. Stitch lower hem.  To do this I first iron the hem folded over at 4cm and the turn under another 1cm to give a clean finish.  Iron and pin hem to make stitching the hem easier.

7. Sew button hole on ends of straps and sew buttons to back body.

Your little summer top is now ready to wear.  Goodluck and please ask if you have any questions.


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