Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Easy Tunic Style Top Tutorial

I cannot stand to wear maternity clothes that look like all I've done is draped a tent over myself, you'd be surprised how many things look like this, especially dresses. I need some summery tops so I decided to create a simple pattern and make one. I used this beautiful, sheer, navy and white polka dot cotton/poly knit that I picked up on the Hancock's discount table several months ago ($1/yd, score!!)

Here's a snapshot of me wearing my version (without the belt, which I'm adding in this tutorial). It's cropped like that because I entered it in Made by Rae's Spring Top Week competition.

I love how it turned out, it's super easy and comfy and there are so many ways you can vary or alter the pattern to fit your body and your style.

Here's what you need: 
1) 1-2 Yards of fabric (I used something with a little stretch to accomodate the baby bump, but it would also be really pretty in a silky fabric or nice cotton)

2) Matching thread

3) measuring tape, scissors, sewing machine, etc...

How to:
1) First cut 1 rectangle:
    width=across shoulders from sleeve to sleeve plus hem
    length=shoulder to bottom of shirt plus hem (cut on fold)

The shape of this shirt is basically a rectangle, folded in half with an opening for your head (then sewn up on the sides of course). Hold your arms straight out to your sides (like you are about to do arm circles, remember elementary school PE?) and measure from elbow to elbow across your shoulders and upper arms. If you want shorter sleeves like mine, just measure in the same way but starting and stopping where you want the sleeves to hit. Take this measurement and add 2 inches. For the length, measure from your shoulder to just below your hip (or desired length) and add 1 inch (we're going to cut on the fold so this measurement is actually half the total length of your rectangle). I did this measurement on my front so I could add in a little bust and belly room.

(At this point, I went to the ironing board and pressed all edges under 1/2" then another 1/2" and hemmed the rectangle all the way around. I didn't do anything fancy for the corners.)

2) Now we are going to cut out the neckline hole and make bias tape to finish the edge. Grab a shirt to use as a guide. I like a v-neck, but boat neck or round neck or whatever would also look good.

Start with the gentle curve of the back neckline, cut through both layers, then adjust the front until you have what you want.

Next, cut a strip of fabric (about 1 3/4" wide, I was using a 1" bias tape maker) long enough to line the edge of the neck opening. I did not cut my strip on the bias, it's up to you. Make your bias tape, then start pinning it in place, sandwiching it around the raw neck edge. I sewed the strip together at the center of the 'V' with a straight seam so I could hide it. Now, sew the bias tape to the shirt.

To form a nice 'V', pinch the bias tape with right sides together and sew along the crease, creating a little 'wedge.'


3) Now for the fit! Stand in front of a mirror (bring some pins!), put the shirt over your head and be sure the bottom edges match up perfectly (center the fold at the top of your shoulder). Matching side seams as you go, start at a comfortable spot under your arm and pin down the sides in a straight line. Pin close enough to your body to give you a flattering fit but with enough slack to get the top on and off easily. Use another pin to mark where you want the belt to go--it could be around your ribs if you're preggers or at the natural waist if you aren't. You can see in the picture below the outside line of pins is going to become my side seam and the inside yellow pin is where I want the belt.

Before you start sewing, measure to be sure left and right seams are in the same position and that the side edges are perfectly matched, then just sew in a straight line from the underarm to the hem on the right side of shirt-forward and backstitching securely. Repeat on the other side. Try on your shirt before going any further, make adjustments if needed and double check your belt position (measure and mark belt position on each side, right on the side seam).

4) For the belt, we're going to make buttonholes right on the side seams, that way the belt can be cinched in around your middle but leave the side ruffles 'ruffly.' Mine are 1 1/4" long, (about 25 mm on my machine). I did not reinforce the fabric with interfacing, if you use a really delicate fabric, make the holes just inside the side seam and use a small piece of interfacing (it will be completely hidden that way).

5) This is the last step! The Belt!! Cut a strip of fabric: Length= your waist (x2) and Width=3 1/2" Take the strip to the ironing board. Press the short ends under 1/2" and press one long edge under 1/2". Next fold the raw edge over about 1" and press, then match long pressed edges and press again. Now just sew along the ends and down the long, open side.  (ignore my horribly stained ironing board cover, clearly that should be my next project! :)

 That's it! Tie in the back or on the side, or wear without a belt. The buttonholes don't show at all if you do them in a matching color. This top was so easy, it was an hour project at most. I love something you can completely finish during one nap time...or one episode of Sesame Street. I will be making this again!

If you make this, I'd love to see comments or pictures (add them to the "You Sewed!" Flickr pool, click the tab at the top right of my homepage).


  1. Very cute! I would love for you to link this up to "I Made This" at Grits & Giggles! http://www.gritsandgiggles.blogspot.com/2012/05/i-made-this-6.html