My friend brought me back some lovely fabric from a market in Shanghai when she was visiting China last month, and I finally got the inspiration and time to make this top. I'm really pleased how it turned out, especially since I didn't use a pattern and just took the rough shape off a top I already had.
It's got a waist band that ties at the side, and the top gathers to a neck band with a covered button at the back.
The top on me:
The side (I had some fitting problems so I had to insert triangles to get the fit right!) :
The front of the neck band:
The back of the neck band (with my very first covered button!) :
I thought I might want to make this again so I took photos the whole way through since I don't have a pattern to refer to next time or anything. If anyone wants a tutorial I can post these photos and my notes.
The best part is, I've already got an occasion to wear it, at my friend's wedding in a few week's time!
This isn't a necessary step, but here's the top I traced to get the rough shape from:
If you've got a similarly good-fitting top, you may want to trace that and alter it so that your pattern looks something like this:
You want the bottom of the pattern to be at your hips, and the top to be at about mid-neck. Newspaper is a good medium for patterns because you can wrap it around you to get the fit right, and it's cheap!
So now that you've got your body pattern piece, you want to cut two of these, on the fold:
Since I like to do all of my cutting at once, you will also need to cut out the waist tie and the neck band. The waist band should be 40" x 4" (seam allowances included), and cut two of these. If you've got really skinny hips, you may want it a little bit shorter, but it's meant to be long so you can tie it in a bow.
For the neck band, measure your neck and add 4" (this is so you've got a flap on either end for the button and buttonhole, and so you don't choke!). Mine was 14, so I cut mine at 18" x 3", and you only need one of these.
Next, you should fold and press 1/4" along the armholes, then fold again and sew so you have a neat edge along all four arm hole edges:
Then place the two body pieces right sides together and sew up the two side seams. You may want to baste this first, then try it on to get the fit right before sewing it properly...
Until now the front and back of your top were identical, but now is the time to make the back slit so you can actually fit your head through the opening! I learned this technique from an otherwise troublesome 1940s dress pattern...
Cut out a bit of cloth about 4"x6-7" out of your scraps. On the right side of what's going to be the back of your shirt, place this cloth face down (so the right sides are together). Sew a V going from the neck opening down about 5-6 inches, like so:
Cut a sliut from the top of this V all the way down to the bottom. You've got to cut as close as you can to the very tip of the V, otherwise it'll bubble at the next step...
Flip the scrap fabric through to the inside of the top, and press it really well. Topstitch close to the edge of the V so the facing stays inside when you wear it.
Now comes the fun gathering part! Adjust your sewing machine to a very long stitch (even longer than basting!) and sew along the neck line on the front of the top. Pull one of the threads so the fabric gathers and is about 6 inches wide at the neck edge.
Flip the top over and do the same for the two halves of the back neck line edge:
Now take the neck band and interface for the length of your neck measurement, leaving two inches free at either side. Fold over the short edges and sew, and then fold and pin the two long edges. Keeping the rough edges inside, fold the neck band in half hotdog-style so you get something like this:
Take your folded neck band and fold it in half to mark the exact center (in my photo, the yellow pin). Measure two inches in from either end and mark these (in mine, pink pins). Measure halfway between the center and the last mark and mark this (in mine, I'm marking halfway between the pink and yellow pins, with black pins). This is so your neck band comes out even. So if you're following from left to right, you will be attaching it like:
buttonhole - (pink pin) - half of back edge - (black pin) - half of front edge - (yellow center pin) - other half of front edge - (black pin) - other half of back edge - (pink pin) - button
This is where you attack the neck band to the gathered top of the shirt. Insert the gathered edge inside the folded neck band so you make a "neck band sandwich".
Start with the front of the top, making the gathers fit so the armhole edges edge align with the two black pins and the center pin is right in the center of your gathers. Pin this very well, and sew close to the edge of the neck band. If you're lucky, you'll also catch the edge of the neck band on the other side, too (otherwise, tidy it up with some handsewing at the end).
Now flip the top over and do the same for the back neck edge, sewing each half between the black and pink pins. The armhole edges should meetthe front armhole edges at the black pins, and the edges of the V opening should be at the pink pins. This should also leave two inches free on both ends for the button(hole).
Phew! Almost done, just need to pretty up the bottom like we prettied up the top! Take your two pieces of waist tie and join them together at one short edge so you've got one very long piece of fabric. Fold the fabric in half and lay against the bottom of the shirt, aligning the fold of the tie to one edge of the shirt, and marking the spot at the other end of the shirt bottom (you want to mark how much of the tie is going to be a waistband, and how much is going to be a tie. Mark this spot on both bits of the tie:
Take the ends of the tie and fold them in half hotdog-style with the right sides together. Sew along the cut edge up until your mark, tapering off the ends nicely. Do this for both ends of the tie.
Turn the ends of the tie right-side-out and press. For the unsewed center of the tie, fold the cut edges together, with the wrong sides inside. Your tie should now look something like this:
Now take the waist tie and align it to the bottom of your shirt, placing the middle seam of the tie against on of the side seams of the shirt. Place the cut edges of the tie against the cut edge of the shirt bottom and sew, so the cut edges are in the inside of the shirt:
Turn the shirt right side out, and sew a single button hole on one of the flaps on the neck band, sewing a button on the other. And voila! You're done!!