Terri’s Tunic

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Here is my new “Easy Open-Front Tunic” that I made following Karen’s instructions from the last post.  It was easy!  I used this colorful silk that she used to demonstrate how to cut the front and neck opening, so some of my work was done for me. (Thank you, sis!)

Rather than using a trim for the bottom, I opted for a trim along the sleeve edges.  This pattern is so versatile that you could make several versions and they would all be different depending on the type of fabric and trim you use.

You could also cut a longer piece than the original instructions call for, to make a longer finished tunic.  Just remember to double the amount of length you want to add since your fabric panel is both the front and the back.

I used a trim at the edge of the sleeve/side.

I used a trim at the edge of the sleeve/side.

The hardest part to this pattern to me was the edge around the neck area.  Since it is a curve that you need to turn in twice to create the narrow finish, you may find it helpful to clip.  Be sure, however, that you create very shallow clips so that you do not create a raw spot in your finished edge.

Use very small clips in the curve around the neck.

Use very small clips in the curve around the neck.

Take your time pressing and pinning the edges. I found it helpful to use plenty of pins, especially on the curved neck area.

Take your time pressing and pinning the edges. I found it helpful to use plenty of pins, especially on the curved neck area.

This is a simple pattern, but remember that “simple for the experienced sewer” does not mean a pattern and instructions are suitable for an inexperienced sewer.  If you are new to sewing, don’t try this one just yet.  The slippery fabric will be hard for you to handle, and the tedious narrow hem will be frustrating.  But, we have other posts and patterns here on our website for beginners, and we will soon begin posting our Beginning Sewing video classes.

We are “in production” for our video classes right now (which means we are taping with an iPhone, throwing away a lot of outtakes, and learning to use iMovie).  Stay tuned!

 

Easy Open-Front Tunic

Easy Open-Front Tunic

Long Tunic Wrap with Fringe

Long Tunic with Fringe

 

Black Tunic with Fringe

Black Tunic with Fringe

Swim Suit Cover with Ball Fringe Trim

Swim Suit Cover with Ball Fringe Trim

 

 

 

 

Flowy tunics and tops have become quite a fashion accessory.  I have seen them all over department stores and boutiques. I want to show you how to make an easy one, without the need of a pattern. You will find this process to be very forgiving, so perfection is not necessary–you will be able to tell that from my instructions!

*One word of caution about fabric choice: Be sure you do not choose a fabric with design that all goes in one direction.  If you do, the design will be upside down on the front or back.

PROJECT SUPPLIES:

  • 1 3/4 yards of thin, softly draping fabric–can be 45″ or 60″ wide. (The width of the fabric doesn’t matter, but if you use fabric that is 45″ wide you probably won’t have to cut any length off on the arm.)
  • 2 1/2 yards of fringe or other trim
  • Matching thread

TOOLS:

  • Sewing machine
  • Serger (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Yard stick or straight edge
  • Fabric marker and/or chalk
  • French curve
  • Tape measure
  • Pins

Prepare your fabric by pre-washing and straightening the grain.

CUTTING OUT:

How much length you cut depends on how long you want your wrap to be. I am rather short, so I cut about 60 inches of length.  Measure down from your shoulders to the length you want it to be, double that number,and then add about 3 inches. Cut that length. (The length is doubled because it will become both the back and the front panels.)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Once you have the fabric cut, you need to locate the center point of the entire piece. Carefully fold in half lengthwise, and then fold crosswise. The center point will be the corner that has no fabric edges – only folds. Make a chalk or other mark at this point.

Mark center point at fold with pins or chalk.

Mark center point at fold with pins or chalk.

2. Open out to a single layer. You should have the center point of the fabric marked.

Fabric Center Point Mark

Fabric Center Point Mark

Find the center point of one cut edge length and mark. Using a yardstick, chalk a line from the marked center point of the fabric, straight down to the marked middle point of the cut edge (not selvage edge) of the fabric. This will be a cutting line for the front opening of the tunic.

Use a yard stick or other long straight edge to draw a straight line from the centerpoint of the fabric to the centerpoint of one of the edges.

Use a yard stick or other long straight edge to draw a straight line from the centerpoint of the fabric to the centerpoint of one of the edges.

3. At the middle point of the fabric where this cutting line starts, use the French curve and chalk to mark the left side of the neckline by following around the curved ruler. Flip the ruler over and do the same on the right side of the neckline. For both sides, draw the curve toward the bottom to tie back in to the original straight line that you first drew. Your chalk marks should resemble a keyhole, with a line straight up the middle!

To make this step more clear, please watch the following video:

4. Cut along the “keyhole” line.  This will become your front neck opening.

5. Serge or zig-zag stitch around this neckline to keep it from stretching out of shape while working with it.

6. At this point, drape the garment around your neck as you now have a neckline opening. The fabric I used for this particular wrap was 60 inches wide. Many others I have made started with fabrics that were 45 inches in width, which, for me, is a great sleeve length.

Since the 60-inch wide fabric made my sleeve too long, I cut it off from the selvage edge. This worked well because this fabric’s selvage edge was not usable, so I would have had to do a sleeve finish anyway. Sometimes you have fabric that has a nice, inconspicuous selvage. In that case, no sleeve hem is needed–that is, if you like the sleeve length.

The selvage edge of my fabric was not usable, so I would have cut it off and hemmed the edge even if it had been a length I could have used.

Sometimes selvage edges are nice enough to use for your sleeve edge finish if the length is good; sometimes not.

If you determine that you need to cut the sleeve edges, decide what length you like and add 1/2 inch.  Hem these sleeve edges by following the instructions in step seven for the tunic hem.

7. You now need to finish the front opening edge and hem the front and back. Press up the raw (or serged) edges 1/4 inch all the way around the garment. Press it up once again the same amount and secure with a pin. (For a neat look, miter the corners.) Stitch.

Hem the garment fronts and backs. Also hem the sleeve if you determine the need.

Hem the garment fronts and backs. Also hem the sleeve if you determine the need.

8. Pin fringe trim (or other trim) across the bottom of the back section and the two front sections, turning under (or in) the raw edge of trim. Stitch though all layers.  You can use two straight stitches about a 1/4″ apart at the top of the trim, or you can use a zig zag stitch.

9. To create armholes in your tunic, lay it on flat surface with right sides out and wrong sides together. Line up the front and the back. Measure down from shoulder 10 inches and mark with a horizontal pin.  This forms the opening for your armhole. Starting at the bottom of the 10-inch opening, draw a 6-inch line with chalk or a fabric marker, 1/2 inch from fabric edge.

Lay the tunic on a flat surface to mark the side seam closure.

Lay the tunic on a flat surface to mark the side seam closure.

To create the sleeve and side seam, mark a line 6 inches long beginning 10 inches from the shoulder fold.

To create the sleeve and side seam, mark a line 6 inches long beginning 10 inches from the shoulder fold.

10. To create the sleeve and side seam, pin together on this line and stitch, wrong sides together, backstitching at the beginning and end of the line.

Put it on and enjoy!

Be sure to send us photos of your tunic!

Learning to Sew – Travel Pillowcase #2

This travel-sized pillowcase has an overlapping back opening to insert the pillow

This travel-sized pillowcase has an overlapping back opening to insert the pillow

Gather Your Tools and Supplies

If you made the pillowcase from the last article, I hope you enjoyed the process while learning how to sew!  This pillowcase is the same size, and takes the same sized pillow insert.  But where the first one had a traditional side opening, this version has an overlapping back opening to insert the pillow.

For this project, you will need: 1/2 yard of cotton fabric, at least 44″ wide, thread to match, and a pillow insert.  You will also need paper or pattern transfer fabric to make your pattern.  Alternately, you can draw the dimensions directly onto the fabric.  For either of these options, you will need a marker or fabric marker, and a straight edge.

You will also need the following sewing tools:  sewing pins, dressmaking shears, pinking shears, a hem gauge, and a seam ripper for those inevitable mistakes.  Small snips or scissors are also handy for cutting threads and other small jobs.

Gather your supplies before you begin

Gather your supplies before you begin

Create Your Pattern and Cut the Fabric

To create the pattern, draw two rectangles onto thin paper or pattern transfer fabric. This special fabric should be located in the interfacing section of your nearest Hancock’s or other fabric store.  (If they don’t have it, a thin inexpensive interfacing would also work.)  One rectangle should be 12″ x 13″ (the pillowcase back), and the other 8.5″ x 13″ (the pillowcase front).  The front is placed on the fold of the fabric on one of the 13″ sides.  The back is placed straight on the grain of the fabric.  (See Learning to Sew – Fabric for details about grainline and straightening fabric)  Draw a horizontal line on the pillowcase back pattern piece parallel with the 13″ side of the rectangle.  Refer to the photo below for all pattern markings.

Mark rectangles as shown here to create a pattern for your pillowcase

Mark rectangles as shown here to create a pattern for your pillowcase

After you have pre-washed and dried your fabric, and straightened at least one end, lay it out flat on the cutting surface.  Lay the pattern pieces out on your fabric as shown below.  Make sure the straight-of-grain arrow on the pillowcase back is parallel to the selvage by measuring the distance between them.  Place the pillowcase front on  the fold where the arrows indicate.  Pin the pattern on the fabric; cut out with dressmaker shears.

Then move the tape measure to the other end of the arrow to make sure the arrow is the same distance at each end

Then move the tape measure to the other end of the arrow to make sure the arrow is the same distance at each end

Measure the distance between one end of the straight-of-grain arrow and the selvage

Measure the distance between one end of the straight-of-grain arrow and the selvage

Pin the pattern pieces on your fabric; cut out carefully with dressmaker shears

Pin the pattern pieces on your fabric; cut out carefully with dressmaker shears

An alternate method of cutting out the pieces of this pillowcase is to draw the rectangles directly onto the fabric.  Use a fabric marker and a straight edge to draw the measurements, taking your time to make sure of your accuracy.  Be sure to draw the 8.5″ by 13″ rectangle on the fold, as shown in the photo below.  Remember, cutting mistakes cannot be corrected like sewing mistakes can.  Place  pins just inside the marked lines to keep the fabric layers from shifting while you cut.  Cut with dressmaker shears.

If you wish, draw the squares directly onto the prepared fabric rather than making a pattern

If you wish, draw the squares directly onto the prepared fabric rather than making a pattern

If you have access to a rotary cutter and mat, you can use these handy tools to cut the pieces of the pillowcase out.  These tools make quick work of straight line cutting, and are very popular with quilters.  If you decide to use a rotary cutter, be sure to practice on some scraps to get the hang of keeping the cutter straight and the straight edge still.

Rotary cutters are very popular with quilters; because you are cutting straight lines, the rotary cutter can be used here as well.

Rotary cutters are very popular with quilters; because you are cutting straight lines, the rotary cutter can be used here as well.

Assemble Your Pillowcase

Now you are ready to assemble your pillowcase.  Remove pins and pattern from the fabric.

To finish the edges of the back opening, turn one 13″ side of the back 1/2″ toward the wrong side, using a hem gauge for accuracy; press.  Turn again, using the last turn as a guide.  My second turn measured 5/8″ in this sample.  Press this turn, then pin for sewing.  Repeat for second back piece.  Sew along the folded edge, taking care to keep your seam as straight as possible.  Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitch line to secure the stitches.  Go easy on the foot pedal; this isn’t Nascar!

Turn and press twice; sew along turned edge.  This creates a polished finish for the back opening.

Turn and press twice; sew along turned edge. This creates a polished finish for the back opening.

Unfold the pillowcase front and lay it flat with the right side up.  With right sides together, place one of the backs along the left edge of the front, with the finished edge toward the middle.  Place the other back on the right side, using the same procedure.  The finished edges will overlap about 4.5″.

Place the first back piece as shown, with right sides together and the finished edge toward the middle

Place the first back piece as shown, with right sides together and the finished edge toward the middle

Place the second piece as shown here; pin all around the outside for sewing.

Place the second piece as shown here; pin all around the outside for sewing.

Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew all around the outside of the pillowcase. Start on one of the sides, and not on a corner. When you get to a corner you will need to pivot. To do this, stop your stitch when you are 1/2″ away from the corner. Use your hem gauge to be sure of where you should stop. With the needle still down in the fabric, lift the presser foot lever. Turn the fabric for stitching the next side, checking again to be sure you are at 1/2″ for the next seam. Repeat this process at each corner, and stitch until you reach the point where you started. Back stitch here to secure the stitches.  See the short video below for a visual of pivoting.

With pinking shears, trim the outside of the pillowcase.  Take care to only cut the outside raw edge, leaving most of the seam allowance.  Trim the corners diagonally, but do not cut too close to the stitches in the corner.

Cut just the outside edge with pinking shears to keep the raw edges from raveling

Trim the corners diagonally, being careful not to get too close to the stitching line

Trim the corners diagonally, being careful not to get too close to the stitching line

Turn the pillowcase right side out; press. Insert pillow into the back opening and adjust. Stand back and admire your work!

Insert the pillow into the back

Insert the pillow into the back

The back of the pillowcase should look like this when you get the pillow inserted and adjusted

The back of the pillowcase should look like this when you get the pillow inserted and adjusted

If you make this pillowcase, we would sure love to hear about your experience. We’d also love a photo or two, so we can admire your work as well.

Next time, we will tackle a project using a commercial sewing pattern.  Hope you will join us!

Pattern Drafting – A New Vocabulary

I am an expert at home sewing.  I know the techniques, the tools, the jargon.  I’ve made tailored suits, coats, lined dresses, and many other detailed garments.  BUT I almost always started with a commercial pattern and step-by-step illustrated instructions.  I have made very little without a pattern, and those few items were relatively simple.  I suspect that this is the same for you.  So this new pattern drafting venture will require that we get familiar with some new terms introduced in Chapter One of our textbook, Pattern Making for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong.

Pattern Drafting is the term for what we are in the process of learning.  It is a system of creating patterns from measurements taken from a model or a dress form.  The first process is to create a Basic Pattern Set, which is a set of five fitted patterns that are created without design features.  The pieces in this set are then traced to create a Working Pattern, from which the designers (you and me) create patterns with added design features.  The process of developing designs from this basic pattern set to other working patterns, and then to final patterns for use in creating a test garment is called Flat Patternmaking.

The Basic Pattern Set consists of a bodice front, bodice back, long sleeve, skirt front, and skirt back.  After we learn how to take measurements correctly in Chapter Two, we will be creating our very own basic pattern set from these measurements in Chapter Three.  Once you have your basic pattern set, anything you create from them are your very own designs.  Even when you create something simple from them – like a gathered skirt – it is still an original design by you, the designer!  And we are going to do much more than that.

When working with flat patterns, we will need to know how to True seam lines, to transition smoothly from one angle to the next.  If you have ever made a garment using a multi-sized commercial pattern, and cut a different size pattern line for the waist and the hips, you have already done this blending of seam lines.

Dart lines and notches are some of the ways patternmakers mark working patterns.  Special instructions are also written on the pattern piece that mark the location of fabric features, such as stripes or plaids.

Balance refers to a perfect relationship between all the parts of the pattern.  To Balance a pattern, the designer makes adjustments to improve the fit and hang of the design.  Horizontal Balance Line (HBL) refers to any horizontal line on the dress form.  HBL lines help guide the balancing of patterns.  A Plumb Line is a vertical line that is at right angles with the floor.

Styleline Guides are created on a dress form by Pin Marking or Style Tape Marking, as I did on my dress form in the following photos.

Style lines marked with pins

Style lines marked with pins

Style lines marked with adhesive tape

Style lines marked with adhesive tape

There are also a few production terms that we need to be familiar with.  A First Pattern is the original pattern developed from the basic pattern set for a new design.  Improvements are made to the first pattern, unless a decision is made to drop that particular design.  After patterns are tested by cutting and assembling in muslin, the final and error-free pattern is made.  This is the Production Pattern.  Grader is then used to size the pattern.  Designers use a medium size for developing patterns, then grade up and down to form other sizes.  (This was interesting to learn; I always assumed pattern drafters used those six-foot size zero models that walk those runways…)

*Heads up Be looking for a medium sized female to act as your Fit Model.  And if you don’t have a dress form, you will need one with measurements close to, but not bigger than, your fit model.  Don’t waste your money on those cheap crank-out forms that the fabric stores sell.  Purchase a professional dress form, such as those available from Fabulous Fit.  These come with a padding kit, so that you can make your dress form conform to the actual measurements of your fit model.

Marker is developed from production patterns.  Markers are made by arranging all pattern pieces for the entire production line onto paper, or by computer.  Before this step, the independent designer or the company has already determined how many finished garments will be produced and in what sizes.  The number of layers of fabric that are spread for a marker play a role in this process as well.  Patterns are arranged on the marker paper, or by computer, to minimize waste of fabric.

Cutting patterns from a marker differs quite a bit from what we are used to in regular home sewing.  Fabric is spread in single layers, not folded with selvages together.  Each left and right of a design requires a separate pattern piece.  And when a production house cuts out the pattern, several layers are cut at once using special fabric cutters.

To see the process of spreading fabric for a marker, watch this YouTube video.  To see the process of cutting the fabric from the marker, watch this YouTube video.

This chapter includes information about fabric qualities.  I am assuming that if you are following along with me, you are already a rather advanced sewer, and you know fabric.  If this is not the case,  please refer to my posts on Beginning to Sew topics.

Chapter One concludes with a discussion on cost sheets, pattern charts, and design spec sheets.  All of these are extremely important if you decide to go into production one day.  If that is your goal, please buy this textbook. Or go to design school.  Or both.  For our purposes, we will move on to something that directly involves pattern drafting.  In our next lesson or two, we will learn how to accurately measure our fit model and our dress form.

Do-It-Yourself “Butterfly” Shirt



Make yourself this flattering top! Easy do-it-yourself project!


How about a free pattern for a butterfly shirt?  Some call the look “batwing,” but I prefer butterflies to bats–I’m just that kind of girl.

I came up with this very simple pattern a few weeks back, and I have now used it to make myself four varieties of this flattering, easy-to-wear shirt.  I also made my Mom one, and she says it has become her “go-to” shirt.

So, I thought I would share it with you in case you want to try it.  It’s quick and easy, and I bet if you make one you’ll want to make another.  This pattern is easily adapted to the fit you prefer, since the main fit comes from the tapered side seam, which is the last step.

You will need basic sewing skills to attempt this top.  Although it is a simple pattern, it is not something I would recommend as an introduction to sewing.  (If you live in our area, take our beginning sewing classes for a great skill foundation to build on!)

Take the dimensions shown on the pattern below and use pattern paper to draw a full-size pattern.  Hancock’s or Joann’s should have tissue paper or a substitute. You could really use any paper available that you can pin through.  Don’t attempt to just enlarge the pattern image, because it is not drawn to scale.  Use a ruler to mark the dimensions on your pattern paper as shown.  Seam allowances are included in these dimensions. Draw and cut two pattern pieces–one using the solid neck cutting line for the shirt back, and one using the dotted neck line for the shirt front.

The curved line that  tapers out from under the arms to the bottom of the pattern is a seam that attaches the front to the back with wrong sides together; it forms the side seams and creates the armhole.

Mark your pattern according to the dimensions. This is not drawn to scale.  The lines with arrows show the dimensions of the pattern and are not stitch lines.  They do not need to be transferred onto your pattern.  There is ONE stitch line which needs to be on your pattern, and which forms the side seams and arm hole.  It is shown on the pattern as a 10 1/2″ curved line and 4″ straight line.  Use this plan to draw out two pattern pieces–the shirt front and the shirt back.  The only difference in them is that the front is cut lower (see the broken neckline).  To insure success, be sure to read and follow the step-by-step instructions

You will need 1 5/8 yards of fabric; any width is fine.  (If you want the shirt longer than the dimensions shown, you may need more fabric.  Buy twice the length you want plus three or four inches.) This pattern works best with soft fabrics that have a nice drape, such as rayon or a crinkle cotton or a soft silk.  I have used a thin linen as well.  A somewhat stiffer fabric will work, but the look will be different.  Do not attempt this pattern with heavy fabrics such as denim or chintz.

Pre-wash your fabric.  I serge the cut edges of my fabric, then wash and dry the fabric in the same manner that I plan to wash and dry my finished garment. The only adjustment I make is that I use a scant amount of detergent, since the fabric is not soiled.

It’s always a good idea to make a “muslin” of a new pattern.  Use some inexpensive fabric that has similar weight and drape as you would like for your finished project for your first attempt, and make changes as needed before using a more expensive fabric.  But this is such an easy-fit pattern that you will probably be able to wear your practice shirt proudly.

The finished measurements of this top are: neck opening – 26″; center back length -24″; bust – 43″; waist 43″; hips at bottom of top – 55″.  The bust, waist, and hips are adjustable by moving the side seam in or out.  The neck opening can be enlarged by lowering the front and/or the back.  (A little adjustment goes a long way here!)  The length can be changed by adding or subtracting at the bottom of the pattern, but be sure to redraw the tapered side seam so that the hip measurement is still what you want it to be.  Extend the side of the pattern out if you enlarge the bust, waist, and hips very much, or if you want longer sleeves and wings.

If you know that you will only have to increase/decrease the bust, waist, and/or hip measurements two inches or less, you can do that after you have finished all of the steps of the top except the side seam, which is the last step. (See step #7 in the instructions below.)

_____________________________________

Here are your step-by-step instructions:

1.  After you have used the above dimensions to draw out your two pattern pieces, lay out fabric and place the pattern pieces on the fold at arrows.  Pin, or use weights.  Cut out the two pieces.

This photo shows the layout of the front and back pattern pieces, but it is only a partial view.  Follow the dimensions shown in the previous graphic to create your front and back pattern pieces.  If you want to try using weights instead of pins, buy some inexpensive washers from your local home improvement store. The ones shown here are 2″ in diameter.

2.  Mark the curved seam line on the shirt front.  (You can also mark the shirt back, but it is not necessary.)  I do this by placing a pin through the pattern and fabric at the beginning and end of the line, and three or four places in between.  Then I remove the pattern and use chalk or a disappearing ink fabric marking pen to lightly mark the line with a dot in a few places along the pinned line directly onto the right side of the top. (Hint: Use small head pins and push the head all the way in to the pattern and fabric.  Then lift the paper pattern off carefully.  The pins will stay in place.)

3. With right sides together, serge the front and back together at the shoulder seams, using a 1/2″ seam.  Press seam toward the back.  (If you don’t have a serger, use a straight stitch, trim the seam to 3/8 ” or so, then finish the edges with a wide zig zag stitch to form an overcast seam, allowing the needle to go past the cut edge of your fabric on the right side of the zig zag.  Or, use a French seam for a neat finish.  A French seam works best with thinner fabrics such as Rayon or silk.  Sew the shoulder seam with WRONG sides together, using a 1/4″ seam.  Trim the seam carefully, so that it is a little less than 1/4″.  Press the seam allowance to one side.  Turn right sides together at the shoulder seams; press and pin.  Stitch, using a 1/4″ seam.  Press.  Now the raw edge is enclosed.)

5.  Roll the neck edge into a scant 1/4″ hem by folding the edge twice; pin.  This can be tricky, so take your time.  I use a lot of pins in this step.  You will need to gently pull to manipulate the curved edges into this rolled hem.  Stitch carefully, using a skinny zigzag stitch, which makes it easier to catch the turned fabric. A zigzag stitch will look better than a crooked seam that was supposed to be straight.  Practice the stitch on a piece of scrap fabric to get the width and length you like.  I use a stitch width of 2.5, and a stitch length of 3.5.  Press the seam.  (If you used a stiffer fabric, this step may be very frustrating.  Alternatively, you can use bias tape to finish the edge.  Pin and stitch single fold bias tape to neck edge with right sides together, then fold the tape to the wrong side; press, pin, and topstitch.)

Take your time pinning the neck edge into a scant 1/4″ rolled hem, manipulating the curves and using lots of pins.

Rolled neckline was secured with a narrow zigzag stitch, then pressed.

6.  Finish the sides and bottom of the shirt by turning the raw edge to the wrong side 3/8″; press.  Turn again 3/8″, press again and pin.  Sew the sides first, finishing to the edge with a backstitch.  Then sew the hem of the front and back in the same manner.  I prefer to topstitch with the garment’s right side to the machine, but you can do it either way.  Just take your time so that your topstitched sides and hem are neat and straight.  You can either miter the corners, or just turn and square the edges.  It should not be very bulky on the corners if you are not using a thick fabric. (When I made the shirt pictured at the top, I actually made the bottom hem about 3/4″ deep but I kept the side seams at 3/8″.  It’s up to you and the look you want to achieve.)

Here is a close-up of the corners. I folded the corners rather than mitering, since the fabric I used is a lightweight rayon. These folded corners actually give some weight on the bottom and help the top hang well.

7.  Now that all of your edges are finished, the only thing left to do is the side seam.  This is the seam on the pattern that is a curved line that tapers out from under the arms to the bottom of the shirt.  Lay the top down on a flat surface right sides together, aligning the front to the back at the sides and bottom; pin the front to the back along the seam line that you marked earlier on the front.  Place the pins close together in a line along the seam line.  Then carefully try on the shirt.  Adjust the pins according the the fit you like.  (If you don’t want to pull the top on and off with a bunch of pins in it, you could machine baste the line using the longest stitch your machine will allow.)  When you have made any required adjustments, take the shirt off and make any necessary changes to the marked seam line.  Pin for sewing.  Stitch along the seam line.  Be sure you neatly backstitch at the beginning and the end of this seam to keep it intact. (If you prefer, the side seam can be sewn much lower, creating a larger armhole opening.  However, will need to wear a tank top under your shirt if you do this because the side opening will expose the side of your bra.)

Pin along the marked seam line, placing pins close together.  Then try on to make sure the seam line is where you want it.  Make any adjustments necessary.

Once you have tried on the top with the pinned side seams, and have made any necessary adjustments, then place pens perpendicular to the seam mark for sewing.  Stitch, following your marked line.  Be sure to backstitch well and neatly at the top an bottom of the stitch, as this topstitch is your side seam.

Congratulations!  Now wear it proudly, and enjoy the compliments!  And be sure to send us a picture.

Now that you are familiar with the pattern, you can come up with all kinds of alternatives for variety.  One variation I did was to cut the bottom with a rounded hem (see the blue print shirt below).  When I made this pattern for the first time (pictured at the beginning of this article), I used a fabric that was really pretty on both sides.  So I turned the bottom up to hem on the outside, which made the bottom match the inside of the wings on the side of the top.  I also did one with a “collar” and split sleeves. You could insert elastic in the front and back between the side seams to form and empire waist, which is a very flattering look.  You could use a drawstring to gather the top at the shoulders.  You could use a sheer fabric and wear a tank top under it.  For more ideas, look around your local mall.  Variations of this top are everywhere!

This variation has a rounded hem.

My pretty mama in the top I made her!

This variation has a “collar” formed by cutting the shoulder seam higher and then cutting down the center front and finishing in a narrow tapered hem, reinforced at the bottom of the split.  I covered the reinforcing stitches with buttons.