Draft a spring cotton top

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Sewing Bee Fabrics Tutorial
Draft Your Own Spring Cotton Top

How to draft your own cotton top

When this beautiful pink fabric arrived around the same time the sun did, I decided it was destined to be a lovely spring cotton top!

What you will need:

Cotton – I used 1 meter x 1.5 meters of fabric but you may need more or less depending on your size

Optional - Lace trim – I used about 2 meters

How to make it:

I took my hip and bust measurements and went with the larger of the 2. From this amount, I added 10cm (as you can see on my pictures, this makes a comfortable fit, but if you want a looser fit, or don’t want the side slits at the bottom of the top you will want to add a little more. I wouldn’t recommend adding less).

Divide this number in half. This is the width of your top you are drawing. For the length, measure from the top of your shoulder to your desired length and add about 4cm. Draw this as a big rectangle.

Now the sleeves and shoulder lines are the parts I cheat on. You have 2 options here. You can either use any pattern you already have for a top and just trace these 2 lines, or find a top that fits you well and draw around the seams. Remember though that if you pick a stretchy top and make this top from a material that isn’t stretchy, you will need to allow a little more give. So ideally pick a non-stretchy top to draw round or you’ll have to give it a bit of a stretch as you draw and hope for the best! Just remember to add a little bit after you trace as your seam allowance.

As front sleeve lines differ from back sleeve lines, this is the part where I folded my rectangle pattern in half from neckline to bottom, and treated one side as the front and the other as the back. Then all I need to do is cut the paper in half then cut the fabric on the fold. I find doing it like this means you can cut identical shoulder lines, and neck line widths by folding in half as you cut, then split it in half to cut the different sleeves and neck line shapes.

I wanted the top to look a little more tailored and a little less square so I took out a bit out on each side at my waist too. I find the easiest way to do this is later on once your part way through your sewing then you can pin it perfectly to size, but I drew on the pattern how much I removed so you have an idea of roughly what this should look like.

The last touch is the neck line. I copied the back neck line from the depth and rough width of the top I used for the sleeves. I then drew by freehand the front neckline. I put darts in the top, but like the waist, I waited until part way through the sewing to do this as the larger chested you are, the more dart you are likely to want.

The actual sleeves I didn’t use a pattern for – just did this freehand later – I will show you how!

Draft your own top tutorial pattern

When cutting out your front and back pieces on the fold, keep in mind what pattern you have on your fabric and where that will sit on your body – for example, you may not want 2 big orange birds highlighting your chest, or thick set stripes that don’t line up at the side seams.

Pin together the shoulder pieces and stitch along your seam allowance, sewing them together right sides facing each other.

Now spread the top out opened up so the pattern is facing the floor/table. To make up the sleeves, you want to start with a rectangle (if you are not copying from a pattern for another top). The width of the fabric needed is simply measured from one end of the sleeve opening to the other - I would then add 4 or 5cm for both a seam allowance and allowing for slight bodge ups if the top wasn’t completely straight on the floor when you measured! – Easier to trim a bit off than to make something too short look good! The height of the rectangle will be the measurement from the tip of the shoulder (where the sleeve seam on a t-shirt sits) to the desired sleeve length plus 2cm to allow for a seam and a hem. Cut that out as a rectangle. Leave one end that width (the armpit end), but chances are that you want the sleeve to taper down a little as the arm gets slimmer the lower you go, so measure around your arm at the desired length and slacken off the tape measure until you get to how baggy you want the sleeve (you may want to try sliding this measurement over your hand to make sure you didn’t get too carried away!). This will be the width you want the other end of your rectangle, draw diagonal lines along the height of the sleeve to take off the excess. Hem the end of the sleeve first. Then pin your sleeve being careful to keep it completely flat so you pinch only the edges together (right sides together). Sew the shoulder part of the top to the sleeve.

Attach sleeves DIY top

From the remaining fabric, cut out 2 inch wide strips. Join them until you have a piece long enough to go around your neck line with 5cm extra to allow to overlapping and joining. Attach binding to the neckline. I used a bias making tool and bias binding foot to make the job quicker and neater.

Making binding with a tool for neckline

I sew the sleeves up and join the body pieces in one go so now is the time I would recommend pinning the top together inside out and very carefully trying it on. Mark with a pin on both sides of your waist how much fabric you want to remove – be careful not to take too much or it won’t move easily. Just bring the excess down in line with how loose it feels over your bust or a little looser. Pinch together the fabric at the corners of the neck line to decide on your dart width. I used 4cm but I’m curvy so you might need more or less.

Trying not to stab yourself, wriggle out of the top and re-align the pins to make sure they are symmetrical. For the dart, I find it easiest to remove the pin then pinch the fabric into a diagonal before sewing.

Top tutorial - Inserting a Dart

Trim away excess material at the waist then go ahead and sew from the sleeve end all the way down to about 3 inches from the bottom of the top on each side. Any little errors with lining up should be hidden in the armpit.

Top tutorial how it is sewn up

To tidy up the side slits, simply press the side seam open, then continue tucking the raw edge under and top stitch in place.

Inserting a Side split

Finish the top by hemming the bottom, and I like to over-edge stitch the inside seams to keep all the raw edges enclosed.

Tutorial blouse making hem for a top

Overstitch edges with overcast foot

Lastly if you like a bit of frill, attach the lace. I picked one with a fairly solid top to it so that it is really quick to hide my stitches attaching and just did a basic top stitch sitting it on the ends of the top. The only tricky bit to it is sorting the ends. All I did was trim around the flower pattern at the side splits.

Top tutorial - Attaching lace to hem

For the sleeves to overlap the lace without a visible join, I cut around a flower pattern as I did for a side split then overlapped it slightly, trimming the end in a similar way. Hand stitch the layers together all around the edge of the overlapped pattern. I challenge you to spot where I joined it!

How to Hand stitch lace to a sleeve

And that's it! Top finished.

Draft your own DIY how to make a top

Finished Draft your own pattern cotton pink top tutorial

We hope you enjoy our tutorials and love hearing what you think so please leave us a comment or send me an email to linda@sewingbeefabrics.co.uk

Happy Sewing!

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