One of my goals for this year and next is to learn how to sew my own clothes. I have this dream of having a closet full of clothes I completely made myself. This may be a dream too big for reality but I can hope!
I've seen some beginner patterns and tutorials on Pinterest but even they seemed out of my reach. Until I saw the pillow case dress (for kids!) but I thought I could easily adapt it to an adult top. After a few days of thinking how to make one I thought I had enough of an idea to give it a try.
I went out, got some gorgeous fabric and gave it a go and I turned out with this...
I was so pleased I wore it practically every day for a week! It has become one of my favourite items in my wardrobe. I did try a dress but that will take a few more attempts It was so simple I thought it would be great to share on here.
This is totally for beginners, you don't even need a sewing machine! I have made all of these tops, purely by hand sewing! It takes a lot more time but you have complete control and can take your time making it perfect. Also I cheated a lot by using webbing you can iron on, which is available in most fabric and craft stores.
Here's what you will need to make your own...
This is the material folded in half with the right sides facing together. This basically means the sides you want on the outside of your top facing together.
Iron the material so the fold is clean and cut along the fold to create two panels. Then fold in half long ways so you can cut out the arms.
Roughly using the measurements in the photo below, draw out the outline using chalk. I didn't even use any fancy material chalk, just normal chalk! For this top because Kathleen (my sister) is small I cut three inches in from the side, but you can easily do two inches. When you finish, this part gathers so it is better to have more than less.
Iron again just to make it easier to cut all of the material together.
Now it's time to start the simple sewing! Seperate your panels and have the right facing side against the table. With the arm holes, pull down about a centimetre of fabric and pin down. It should look a bit like this:
Sew along the curve about half a centimetre from the edge. I simply sewed along the edge like this:
It doesn't have to be neat, just make sure it is consistently half a centimetre from the edge. Once you have got the end, turn the fabric and sew back down filling in the gaps like this:
So you have one line, this also makes it stronger. Do this on the other side then repeat with the other panel.
Once you have finished that, take one panel and place it right side facing down on the iron board. Have the bottom of your top in the middle of your ironing board.
Turn up the bottom about half an inch and iron along the fold. Then trim the corners so they don't get in the way.
Cut some webbing the length of the bottom of the top. Place in the fold, then iron.
This simply is to save time, if you want to, you can always go over and secure with thread. I have found the webbing is fine. If it is not sticking well, get a damp teatowel and place over the webbing and fold, then iron over both. Repeat this for the other panel.
Now it is time to make the fold for the 'drawstring' effect straps.
Firstly, again lay your top right side facing on the iron board with the top in the middle of the ironing board. Lay across your string so you know how much room you need in the fold. Cut a piece of webbing to fit.
Use the webbing to create the fold:
Then repeat on the other side, you should end up with two panels that look like this:
Place the two panels together the right sides facing together. Pin down the sides and sew together in the same way we did the arms, again about half a centimetre from the edge.
You are almost finished I promise! Firstly turn out the top so the right sides are now on the outside. You only have to add the string. Thread through the end of the string and pull round so the two ends are to one side.
Hold the top against yourself to gauge how long you need the string and cut appropriately. Cut a small, long rectangle of material with matching webbing. Slowly wrap around the join ironing as you go:
This technique has worked for me every time.
Pull this join round so you can't see it and then you are ready to wear!
The best thing about this top is it is so easily adaptable. Also it can fit many sizes. My sister is tiny and I am curvy; we both got into the same top, it just falls slightly differently.