Monday, July 5, 2010

July Fourth (or anytime) Top

This is really one of my go to's to make for gifts or if Genevieve's wardrobe needs a little pick me up because it is SOOOOO easy and takes so little fabric (a requirement for c'est moi since I don't live within a half a million miles of a normal fabric store).
What you need:
Thread (matching color to your fabric preferred but not required)
Two Buttons
1/2 yard fun fabric
1/4 yard corresponding fabric or a solid you think looks stellar
Some patriotic music to sew to
Some paper to draw the pattern, if you think you are going to make this more than once, or feel more comfortable cutting fabric with a guide

Alright, once you have everything gathered we are going to use our paper first. Okay don't laugh at my drawing-- to hard. I make no claims to be an artist and love sewing because it is so much more forgiving. Roughly (key word) Draw a yoke shape on the paper.
When I cut this out what I will do is fold the paper down the middle and only follow one side so that when I open it up it will be even :) Sneak peaky. This will be on the back of the dress and come up over the shoulders so it needs to be a little longer. Make sure to make it wide as you will be sewing and turning it inside out. Now make a second yolk with stubbier tails. This will be the front and does not need to go up too high. You will need two of each of these, or four pieces total:
Now we are going to do the main part. Take a paper and fold it in half. Keep in mind you will be gathering the top straight portion of the dress to fit into the yokes you just made to give the top some volume. Draw an arch from the top to the side, for the arm hole. The length depends on how long you want the tunic to be. I wanted mine fairly short since Abby uses crawling as her main mode of transportation. All of this is very rough and easy to adjust once you get sewing. (See what I said about forgiving, eh).
Now grab your fabric and make sure you have enough :
Pin your top pattern on and cut out two. Placing right sides together sew up the two sides. I was to lazy to drag out the surger so I ended up just going back over it with a zig zag stitch.
Now finish up the arm holes by making a little hem. (Sorry I didn't snap a pic of this step) Now that everything is nice and connected, shirr the tops of the dress making sure to leave a long tail to allow you to make adjustments.
(Yes I shirred mine before I connected them, very naughty, much easier to do it the other way) Now for the neck portion. Place the two yokes (am I using the right word? that seems weird but I swear thats what they are called.... hmmm please feel free to correct me I don't want to sound ridiculous, I need my street cred and using the wrong terms is just lame) anyway place them right sides together. Now start sewing at the top right corner. Come down to the bottom of the U and back and forth. Cut your thread. Leave an opening across the bottom of the yoke. Place your foot at the bottom left and continue to sew all the way around until you are back where you have started.
Do this to both sets and you will have your front and back. Now go a ahead and flip them right sides out. At this point I like to press them making the necessary folds at the bottom this makes attaching it sooo much easier.
Now go a head and place the top gathered portion of the tunic up into one of the little pockets you made. (Both sides are the same so it only matters what side you want to be front, you know, if there is a cuter part of the pattern you want mainly seen or what have you ) Pin it at the corners
Once again starting at the top right, top stitch all the way around the yolk, making sure not to sew over your pins.
(I have totally done that before and it sounds horrible, and then you have to replace your needle, which takes time us sewing mommies don't usually have). Now go a head and hem up the bottom how ever largely you would like. Whoo hoo you are sooo close! It should look something like this:
Okay now for the buttons. If you are Miss Super seamstress and know how to make a button hole with your nifty button hole maker you can skip this part. My button hole attachment disappeared days after I got my sewing machine, and I have never replaced it so I just do it the old fashioned way. I take my seem ripper and after measuring my button a little, rip a tiny hole where I want the button to fit through.
I then hand stitch (I know archaic right, yet oddly gratifying) a loop stitch all the way around the hole to reinforce it. I make sure my button will fit through and then attach it. I am in dire need of some buttons. My mother in law gave me a ton of fantastic vintage buttons and these were the last set of matching ones. It was serendipitous because I think they look kind of militarily patriotic. Once your buttons are connected that is it! There is nothing to do but try it on and drag your poor unsuspecting daughter out in the yard for a photo shoot!
Or wait am I the only crazy person who does that :) She doesn't look too upset by it though. I think it is because she loves her shoes, they were mine and my mom saved them for my daughter, how AWESOME is that!
Of course you could add pockets, ruffles ric rac, what ever. I just wanted something a little plain for this holiday. Have fun and as always I LOVE to see any you make! I also have a Fourth of July Boys shirt I want to upload if the internet would stop going in and out... hopefully I can get that up because come on there is a HUGE void when it comes to sewing for boys :) If I don't get back on have a FABULOUS fourth, enjoy some fireworks for me!


  1. this is sooo cute ! Love the bodice! Just finished the b'day dress for my DD with a round bodice! But this is also a great one!

    Love Miranda

  2. Kelly,
    I made this but it ended up being a little bigger. I have an almost 12 month old. I had trouble sizing it correctly. It is super cute though. I am going to try it again. Do you have any suggestions. I am pretty much making everything that you have posted. I absolutely love your blog and your tutorials. I have given myself a 20 day sewing challenge. My plan is to make one new thing that I have never made. I am new to sewing and have a lot to learn. I love your willingness to try things without patterns. I made something last night without one and it turned out well . Thanks for the push. Anyway...can't wait to see what you are going to work up next.


  3. Just found your blog from over at the mommyhood... I'm so glad to have found it! Thanks for the wonderful story and all the fun tutorials!


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