Sunday, February 7, 2010

Flower Top Tutorial

The inspiration for this top came from this beautiful shirt that Alexis of MadeByLex posted this summer.  I've been wanting to make a version all year and finally felt ready and found some great organic cotton on sale at Joann's that seemed like it would work well--light but still sturdy enough to make the flower.  And with it looking like this outside what better time to make a spring/summer shirt?!
 I started with a yard and a half of fabric and based the shirt on this Spring Ruffle Top from Sew, Mama, Sew!  Using their handy measurement equations I cut out the front and back pieces (on their tutorial they have the measurements for a band that goes around the chest, and then the large pieces--I just combined the two) and the straps.  The large pieces were 22" long, 20" wide at the top and 22" wide at the bottom.  The straps were 5" by 22" (although when I actually attached them I shortened them to about 14").
I then cut the remaining fabric into 4" strips (approximately 52" long) to use for the flower.  I was able to get 6 strips out of the fabric but I only used about 4 and a half.
I folded the strap pieces in half (right sides together) and sewed along the long side, then turned it inside out and pressed (no need to hem the ends since they'll be attached to the body of the shirt).  Next I hemmed the top of the front piece, folding over 1/2", pressing, then folding over 1/2" again.  I attached the straps to the front while topstitching the hem, approximately 5" in from each side (I pinned and repinned until I got them positioned correctly.)  I reinforced the straps by sewing another line just where they connect to the body.

And now for the fun part: the flower!  The first strip I tried to ruffle before attaching but the fabric was so thick when folded in half that I didn't have much luck.  For the rest I just ruffled by hand as I pinned, then sewed in place.  The easiest way to do this was to fold the strips in half (wrong sides together) and then press them.  My fabric was sturdy enough that I didn't need to sew them together and since each layer of flower will cover the previous one I didn't worry about having unfinished edges.  Now you just pin and sew in concentric circles!
You can see in the first picture that when I got to the point where the circle was finished I would just move the fabric inside to the next level and keep going.  I ended up with 8 layers total.  When you get to the end it gets hard for the machine to get through all of the layers but go slowly (I even had to make the needle go down by hand a few times) and stop often to turn the shirt.  Since I didn't want to bother hemming the part that would show on the inside of the flower (but didn't want unfinished edges showing) I just folded the unfinished edge underneath so that it was hidden once the strip was sewn in place.  Here's the finished flower (front and back):
Now you just need to hem the top of the back piece (exactly like you did for the front) and attach the straps.  I did a lot of pinning and repinning here to get the straps right and they ended up being 14" long and a little closer together on the back than the front (so they won't fall off your shoulder).
Next pin, baste, and then sew the sides together (right sides together).  I ended up having gone too wide at the top, as you can see in the picture below, but this was easily fixed at this step.  I did a double line of stitching for the side seams and then pinked the edges (not shown here).
Now just hem the bottom and you're done!  I'm so excited to wear this shirt this spring (hopefully by my birthday it will be warm enough!)  And thanks again to Alexis for letting me post this tutorial...hope you enjoyed it!


  1. I love this! So feminine and flirty...perfect for spring! Now the snow just needs to melt.

  2. wow! this is... like... WOW!
    no words. simply sooo pretty and wonderful in green.