Sewing Bee Fabrics Tutorial
How To Draft Your Own Strappy Top
What you will need:
Approx. 1 metre of cotton and some thread
How to make it:
First, you need to take a few measurements so you can draft your own pattern. You want to know your hip or bust measurement - measurement 'A' (use the largest of the 2). The distance between your bra straps at the front - measurement 'B', the distance between the highest point on your bra and the under bust band going over the cup - measurement 'C' , and the length of your bra strap.
Your dart size will depend on your bust size. I would recommend somewhere between about 2-5cm with a 'C' cup about 3cm, so scale up or down as required. Dart height should be approx. under bust to just under nipple. Plot your measurements on some wrapping paper or parcel paper or similar to draft your own pattern like so (back piece on the left side on, and front pieces on the right):
You will be using your left over material for your straps and bias binding later.
How to sew it together:
First you need to transfer your markings for your darts on to the wrong side of your fabric. To sew the darts on your front top section, simply fold the fabric right sides together down the center of your dart markings. Place a pin or 2 diagonally to mark your line to sew from your bottom mark to your top mark. Sew with a running stitch then press your seams as you go. Depending on the size you made your dart you may want to leave the extra fabric and just press it to the outside, or trim and sew an over-edge stitch (a zigzag stitch very near to the edge will work too). Your top section should now be the same with as your middle front section.
Sew the bottom of your top front section to the top of the front middle section by putting them right side together. Sew together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance and over stitch the edge.
This piece should now be the same length as your back piece (If it isn't quite then just trim them so they are level - a good tip here is to place one on top of the other so you will get the edges to exactly to same height. There is nothing worse here than trimming it only to find you took too much off).
Leaving them right side together, sew only 1 side seam to join your front and back pieces.
Next you want your long strip to make a slightly ruffled base. To give a neat finish to the bottom hem of the top, I folded the hem up, then folded again to conceal the raw edges inside the hem and pressed in to place before sewing.
On the raw edge, you want to make a slight ruffle. I passed mine through a ruffler foot quickly on the sewing machine with it set to ruffle every 6th stitch at a depth of 2.5 and a stitch length of 2.5.
I then joined it to the base of the top with right sides together, quarter inch allowance running stitch just below the line created by adding ruffles, followed by an overlock stitch. If your brave, you can pass the top under the ruffler as you ruffle to stitch them together, but I prefer to do them separately for more control as it is such a large piece. Without a ruffler foot for your sewing machine, you could always pin your seam, creating the ruffles as you go by bunching and folding small segments of fabric evenly along the length.
I like a bias binding finish to the top edge, so with your remaining fabric, cut strips 5cm wide on a 45 degree angle to the grain on the fabric. For a smooth attachment, join your pieces so they sit with 1 horizontal and 1 vertical, and your stich at a 45 degree angle so that the join lies across the fabric.
I like to attach bias binding quickly and easily with a bias binding foot (available HERE). If you are attaching it by hand I would recommend pressing a centre fold in it to help make sure you are keeping it perfectly central as you sew. Simply push your fabric up inside the edges. I like to reinforce mine with a zigzag stitch over the edge.
To make you straps, decide how wide you want them, double it and add enough to allow for a tuck under of the edges. The length will be the same as you bra strap length plus 2cm. Press the raw edges in, then fold in half. Press again then sew down both sides of the strap with a zigzag stitch. I like to do this over the edge to make sure it is fully enclosed. Do the open edge first to make sure it doesn't slip out of place. Overlap slightly and sew over the base of the strap as well as level with the top edge of the top. If you want your stitches not to show, you can always sew this part by hand.
To make the back sit close, you either need to add a small length of elastic or pleats. I added 3 pleats after my bias binding in the centre to make a more decorative look but if you'd like it to look more subtle, just do it before adding your bias binding.
Sew up the second side seam in a straight line down the body part but flare out a little at the ruffle to hold it's shape. Then try it on inside out. You will find it probably gapes a little bit around the armpits. To sort that, simply pin diagonally at the top to your desired fit on both sides. Sew then trim the excess before fixing with your over edge stitch.
Turn it the right way around. Press any seams you haven't already done, then go enjoy showing it off!
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