I’m just going to dedicate this first blog post to my dear friend Emma who’s really the reason I’m crafting so much again this year, and this design is really hers. She came up with it when she saw this top in an old issue of Life Magazine. It perfectly shows how easy this top is to make! As she said “It’s just a rectangle!”…
(photo from here)
Ok, let’s show you HOW TO * Craft It Yourself *…
You’re going to need:
- 4-5 hours of leisure time
- 1-2m (ca. 40-80in) of fabric of your choice
- depends on how long you want the top, for a crop top you’ll only need 1m (ca. 40in)
- ca 30x40cm (ca. 12x16in) of fabric to reinforce the neckline
- bias binding (colour of choice)
- a bit of ribbon (colour of choice)
- measurement for the width
- measurement for the length
- measurement for length between the bottom hem and neckline at the front (x)
- for a crop top like mine measure when sitting down from the belly button up to where you want your neckline to start
- an iron (I can hear your sigh, I know pressing isn’t the most fun but it won’t look as good if you don’t)
Here is the basic pattern for it:
There are a couple of basic things that are good to know before starting to sew this top:
- It’s really easy, I mean it. The instructions might look long but that’s just because I’m trying to really tell you everything you need to know.
- The measurements you take are pretty much the measurements it’s going to have. Sounds weird but there is hardly any seam allowance to consider because of the bias binding. And whatever seam allowance is needed is offset with the bow (it’ll all make sense later).
- If you choose fabric with a pattern that goes in a certain direction you will have to cut 2 pieces (one for the front, one for the back) and sew them together so that the back piece isn’t upside down.
HOW TO MAKE THE WRAP TOP
- Measure the width – this will be the width of the top across the shoulders from one end to the other. You can make it however wide you want but longer sleeves make it less flexible around the arms. The width I chose for mine was 74 cm (ca. 29in), this gave me a medium-length sleeve. Everyone has different width shoulders so just sort of go for a measurement that will work for you.
- Measure the length – measure from the top of your shoulder to whichever length you want your top to be. For my corp top I measured until my belly button (belly button!). Mine was 45cm (ca. 18in).
- If you’re using plain fabric or some with a geometric print just double that and you have the length you need to cut the fabric at.
- If you’re using a fabric that needs splitting into front and back pieces, just cut 2 pieces at [width] by [length], then join them at the shoulder seam right side facing, press the seam towards the back with the iron and turn over.
- Cut out the neck – fold the fabric into quarters so that you find the middle point. Draw a quarter circle from the middle point at your desired radius and cut along the line. It helps if you put a couple of pins along the line. When you unfold the fabric you should have a circle (it’s magic!). The neck in my final garment is 24cm (ca. 9.5in) in diameter. I actually decreased this to 22cm (ca. 8.5in) in my next top but it really depends how wide you want your neck. I reckon if you want any wider than 26cm (ca. 10in) you might want to cut more of an oval shape than a circle, otherwise you’ll end up exposing yourself a little bit (but you know, you might want to do that in which case, go for it!).
- Cut the neckline detail – if you’d like to add the neckline detail then mark the last measurement (x) on your fabric and cut a straight line along the fold down the front piece of the fabric. It doesn’t matter if you mark this on the right or wrong side, it’s going to be hidden later on. Make sure you don’t cut on the back too (I nearly did that with my first one because I had the fabric folded in half). This neckline detail can be pressed down later on (as in this version), or kept up (as in the original photo from Life Magazine). If you keep it up you can also add all manners of little brooches, buttons, pins… the possibilities are endless!
- Cut fabric for the neckline – cut a piece of your second choice of fabric to cover the area around the neckline. This will help to reinforce the neckline and will be the bit of detail that shows when you press the front down. I recommend having about 5cm (ca. 2.5in) of a ‘seam allowance’ around the neckline. Just cut a rectangle to cover the area, it doesn’t need to match the circle shape (it’s really hard to describe the circle neckline with the bit down the front that’s going to be the neckline detail… What I mean is – you need enough fabric to cover this shape O> comfortably because you will turn it inside out when sewn together and do a top stitch over it).
- Pin the little rectangle to the big rectangle right sides facing covering the O> shape. Seems odd but it’ll make sense in the next steps. Cut out the O> shape in the second fabric after pinning so that both match now.
- Start sewing – this is the fun bit! Sew the two pieces together with a 3-5mm (ca. 0.1-0.2in) seam allowance. Basically as close as you feel comfortable. I started at the back just in case I screwed something up at the beginning. Sew all the way around making sure that at the bottom point of the O> shape you get as close as you can to the seam. This will make it easier when you turn the fabric.
- Turn the fabric so that the wrong sides are facing making sure that the points of the neckline detail are nice and crisp, then press the neckline with the iron. I know it’s annoying because you just want to get on with it but this will make it look like something more than a fancy tea towel, yay!
- Topstitch along the neckline again as close as you dare. When you get to the bottom of the neckline detail try and sew a V shape with the same seam allowance to secure it well.
- Bias binding – pin your bias binding snuggly along the long sides of the rectangle so that it goes just a tad over the edges at either end. That’s just so you can hide the ends more easily later. Sew your bias binding.
- Attach the ribbon – sew a piece of ribbon to the bottom of the front of the rectangle on either side. This just needs to be long enough to reach around you and be tied at the back. Make a seam by turning the fabric over twice, as if you’d make your own bias binding. This will turn the ribbon so if you want the shiny side at the front make sure you lay the shiny side face down before turning. You can’t really see the ribbon when you wear it but I’m a perfectionist to. Pin and sew along the seam in the middle.
- Attach the bow – this is the last bit – we’re nearly there! You have two options here, I used the 1st one for this top but believe me, it’s nerve-racking and annoying which is why I used the 2nd option in my 2nd top (post to follow).
Option 1 (requires patience):
- Make a tube – cut a piece of fabric of at least 1.6m (ca. 63in) by 8-15cm (ca. 3-6in). The latter really depends on your preference. Would you like a small or a big bow? Adjust the width of your fabric as you like. I made mine 8cm (ca. 3in) wide which is one of the reasons it was so painstaking to complete this step.
- Fold the fabric length-wise so that it’s right side facing, pin and sew along the edge with a 5mm (ca. 0.2in) seam allowance.
- Turn inside out -.- (everyone who’s ever sewn will understand this smiley). Basically DON’T use this option unless you’re making quite a wide bow. It takes ages and you just wanna rip the tube to shreds. Use something pointy to help you ease the tube through itself.
- Once you’ve turned it, fold over both edges and sew together.
- Then lay the tube onto the back seam matching the middle points of both pieces. It doesn’t really matter how much overlap there is, just make sure it’s enough to comfortably sew the two together. (This is where you can make up for lost seam allowance if you had to join a front and back piece.) Sew the two together 🙂 And:
- \\ YOU’RE DONE, CONGRATS! // (*fireworks and trumpets going off* – at least in your head…)
Option 2 (requires pressing*):
- Create a big version of bias binding – cut a piece of fabric of at least 1.6m (ca. 63in) by [3 times as wide as you want your bow to be].
- Fold the fabric length-wise so that it’s wrong side facing and press it. This helps with keeping the shape.
- Fold either side in length-wise (to about the halfway point of width – does that make sense??), creating what looks like massive bias binding. Press and pin as you go along.
- With this option you sew the ‘bias binding’ straight onto the back in one step. Line up the middle points of both pieces and take out the pins that match the bottom hem of the back piece. The ‘bias binding’ should stay nice an dflat if you really pressed it 😉
- Feed the bottom hem of the back into the ‘bias binding’ making sure that the middle points stay matching. It doesn’t matter how far you insert it but if you want to be 100% sure that it’s level insert the hem all the way. I personally do it about half way because I feel like I’m covering so much pretty fabric otherwise… Pin the pieces together.
- Sew from one end of the ‘bias binding’ to the other with a seam allowance you’re comfortable with making sure that you trap the bottom hem along the way. (This is where you can make up for lost seam allowance if you had to join a front and back piece.)
- Fold over both ends of the bow and sew together. And:
- \\ YOU’RE DONE, CONGRATS! // (*fireworks and trumpets going off* – at least in your head…)
Jeez, this has become so much longer than I expected… but it was totally worth it.
I’d love to see some of your creations if you get around to making one of your own. Please feel free to alter the pattern and be creative with it. One of my own alternatives is coming up here next.
Let me know how you’re getting on!
If it’s all a bit tricky after all (despite me telling you it’s easy – I’m sorry I don’t want to make you feel bad!) you can have a look at this lovely website by my friend Janice who offers a Wrap Top workshop once in a while. Just go to her classes and see if one is coming up.
[*almost as bad as patience]