“Draft your own Simple Top” was one of my first proper tutorials and still one of my most visited and repinned posts. (That and the bias tape trick!) I guess because a simple basic will always have appeal and a place in our wardrobes. I posted it waaaaay back in October 2011, and whilst that tutorial will still yield a cute and wearable top….I’ve learnt a bit more since then and there are a couple of refinements to the drafting and construction process that I wanted to revisit in an updated tutorial. Mainly to eliminate the drag lines I would often get around the neckline….but also some of the design tweaks that I tend to apply during construction as opposed to during drafting…in a way….kind of self drafted then refashioned!
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….
This is what we’re going to end up with….
For the neckline:
C = Mark a point between 2-3″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 2” is just about at the base of your throat)
D = 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! This point marks the end of your neck opening and the beginning of your shoulder line.
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.
Now Slope the shoulder (below left):
E = Mark a point 2”down the side seam (The one opposite the centre front/back line) and join to point D. This slopes the shoulder seam to follow the natural slope of your shoulder line and this is the part that avoids pull lines around the neckline….
Draw in the Sleeves (above right):
F = 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″. Yours may be slightly more or less depending on how big you want your armhole opening to be).
G = Square down 3″ from F and and then 3” across (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…
Finish the Side Seam:
Join G to your hemline (straight down or slightly angled to create an A line. I prefer the veeeeeery slight A Line to give me a bit more ease at the hips) and you have your basic pattern piece!
Add a seam allowance to the underarm/ side seam AND the shoulder seam…then cut out your pattern piece and mark relevant details like the grainline, fold, size etc.
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.
You now have a basic kimono tee! (Or tunic/dress depending on how long you drafted it). Try it on for size. At this point you can choose to take it in or let it out a bit. Or tweak the design elements. For instance, I scooped my front neckline down a little, shortened the sleeves, added a patch pocket and cut a shirt tail hem. You could shorten it, cut a high low hem, add cuffs to the sleeves, cut a scoop back, ruche the sleeves, add a faux button placket, peter pan collar….what ever your imagination allows. At this stage you essentially have a blank canvas on which to create. And once you have that basic pattern piece, you can just keep churning out a basic shape, that you can turn into a different top each and every time by changing up design details….what about making this in a semi sheer bold print cotton lawn, and slicing it right up the centre to make a kimono cover up for cool summer evenings…..or drafting it ankle length to and making in a drapey jersey to make a maxi dress?
I guess that’s why I keep coming back to this shape time and time again. It’s easy, it’s quick, its comfy, and it’s as versatile as your imagination allows it to be !
Once you’ve tweaked to your hearts content, finish seam allowances, hems and neckline. I finished the neckline with self fabric bias tape,(see posts here and here) and just hemmed the bottom and sleeves with a narrow hem. Simple as that. Go on! Give it a go!
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