Draft your own simple top……A Simple Tutorial

Firstly, forgive the top of my head being lopped off in this photo. I’ve been experimenting with pin curls and hadn’t got round to taking them out when I took this picture. Secondly, yes Karen, you do recognise this fabric! Purchased at the Fabric Fandango, and mindful of Karen’s warning about how much it creases (oooooh how it creases!!) I thought it would be perfect for a simple project like this so as to keep future ironing as easy as possible!
Now, back to the subject in hand….pattern drafting. My toile for the Top Draftalong is FINALLY finished!!!! (More on that to follow) Which means that the design drafting element of the draftalong is imminent, and not a moment too soon in my view. ( Have I mentioned how much I detest fitting…?) Anyway, I thought I’d limber up my drafting muscles with a fun and, yes, easy peasy lemon squeezy, quick and simple “freestyle” drafting project that anyone could do. Seriously. You could draft AND make this top within a couple of hours. Faster if you’re not a slow coach sewer like me. Even if you have never put pencil to paper and drafted anything before in your life. Don’t believe me? Here’s how….

Start with a rectangle and calculate the length of the sides as follows:
A = Bust or Hip Measurement (whichever is the larger) + 2-3″ (ease) divide by  4 and + 3″
B = Required length of top + desired hemming allowance
Mark which is your side seam and which is your centre back/front line….

A = Mark a point approx 8″ down the side seam from what will be the top of your pattern. (This will be your armhole. I made mine 8″. Your’s may be slightly more or less depending on how big you want your armhole opening to be).
B = Along the bottom edge mark a point 3″ in from the side seam

Join these two points up creating a curve for the underarm…this will become your actual stitching line/side seam…

Now for the neckline:
A = Mark a point approx 2″down the CB/CF seam from the top (depending on how low you want your neckline to scoop this could be more but wouldn’t advise it being any less. As you can see from my top, 2″ has it sitting just at the base of my throat)
B = Mark a point along the top edge where you want your neck opening to finish. I used my bra strap as a guide as I don’t like to flash them!

Draw in your neckline curve either freehand or using a French Curve. Where the neckline curve hits the CB/CF seam needs to be at a 90 degree angle so as to avoid “peaking” when you come to cut out the pattern piece on the fold. I’d also advise a slightly less acute angle where it hits the top edge/shoulder seam too. I cut mine as shown here and it’s resulted in a very slight pulling at the point where the neckline hits the shoulder seam of my top.

Add a seam alowance to the underarm/ side seam AND the shoulder seam…

Cut out your new pattern piece. Then cut 2 on the fold out of your fashion fabric and with RS together sew together the shoulder seams and then the side seams. Finish seam allowances.  I also put 2″ slits in the side seams for a little extra ease at the hips, finished the neckline with self fabric bias tape,(see posts here and here) and just hemmed the bottom and sleeves with a narrow hem. Voila! Simple top perfect for layering under a cardi for the winter months. Go on! Give it a go! ( I’d love it if you’d let me know if you do!)

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  1. Forrest October 21, 2011

    I am so glad you posted this! I’ve been wanting to make a shirt exactly like this and I couldn’t find a pattern but I was scared to draft my own! Thanks so much, you’re a lifesaver!

  2. didyoumakethat October 21, 2011

    That’s a lovely top! The neckline really suits you. I’m so pleased to have seen this item from fabric purchase through to finished item.

  3. Chris October 21, 2011

    WOW – very cool!

    Just wondering – what is that nice semi-transparent paper you’re using to draw the pattern on? And where can I get some?

    ps Love your Blog!

  4. Miss P October 21, 2011

    Ah yay Forrest! So glad you can make use of the drafting details. Please do drop me a line once you’ve had a go 🙂

    Hey Karen! Thankyou! I have to say this style of neckline is a bit of a fave with me…:)

    Hi Chris, tickled pink you like my blog, thankyou. I purchased the paper you refer to here:


    It’ssturdier than pattern tissue but you can still trace through it 🙂


  5. Scruffybadger October 21, 2011

    Yay! It’s ace! And I bet it’s a real confidence booster for self drafting. Thank you!! And I knew i recognised that fabric/ thank you for clearing it up! Also Thanks for link to paper too … I’m right out and keep forgetting to get baking paper at supermarket. Might be time to raise my game!

  6. Felicity from Down Under October 22, 2011

    thank you for what looks like a pattern I could draft without too many headaches to produce something that would fit and I not only could but would wear. fantastic.

  7. Marie October 24, 2011

    I love this Portia…what a great fabric find too! I think I was overwhelmed at Karen’s Fabric Fandango and came away with very little…I’d love to do it again, but better! I might have to go back there!

  8. agoodwardrobe.com November 4, 2011

    Karen, I just wanted to let you know that followed your instructions and made a shirt last week! You can find my project here (http://agoodwardrobe.com/2011/11/04/4-a-different-short/) if you’re interested. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  9. johanna September 24, 2012

    Hello! Saw your latest versions of this top on you blog recently and decided I had to try out your method/pattern. It was great and super easy! I haven’t posted on my blog about my top yet, but soon, have to get some decent photos first… Thanks for a quick, easy and comfortable project!

    • Miss P September 26, 2012

      That’s so cool! Please drop by and let me know once you get some photos up; I’d love to see!

  10. RedSparrow February 24, 2013

    Hi! Just wanted to drop by and say thanks for the awesome tutorial! I’ve already made one, and intend to make a whole bunch more! I think this is going to be my go-to summer top! Pictures of my first one here: http://oneredbuttoncrafts.blogspot.com/2013/02/selfish-sewing-sunday.html
    <3 Sparrow

  11. jude May 27, 2013

    thanks for this! I haven’t drafted anything from scratch for ages but have been looking for a pattern for a top like this and my search ends here! I am so excited about trying variations on this – pin tucks, peter pan collar, buttons down the back/on the shoulders… Just need to get some other projects finished before I pick up this as the next one… or maybe not!

  12. Anonymous May 30, 2013

    Thanks for the tute. It was easy and it fit perfectly. Unfortunately, I picked a fabric pattern that made it look like I was wearing a seat cushion. Haha! Will do it again though with a more stylish fabric. =)

  13. Jessica Hudson November 12, 2013

    Could you show how you did the side slits? I think my hips will require it and I have no idea how to do it right.

  14. britishcowgirl January 21, 2014

    AWESOME! Seriously thanks. I have used this tutorial lots of times and am using it for a youth activity tonight to try to get them into sewing. You’re wonderful for putting this on here. Cheers!

  15. Miriam February 6, 2014

    I was inspired by this tutorial and have left a link to it in my latest post (even though i didn’t use it I think it is a great tutorial and def gave me a leg up) Thanks

  16. Susie Jefferson May 7, 2015

    What an excellent pattern! I’ve seen these ‘shell’ blouses in the shops, costing a fortune (and patterns aren’t all that cheap these days either). So to be able to do this from a simple diagram is totally genius. I reckon I could do this in an afternoon… Have pinned this!


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