Make, Jane, make!: DIY Hallowe'en: The Fit for a Queen Top


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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

DIY Hallowe'en: The Fit for a Queen Top

I can't believe I finished the kids' costumes early enough this year to make something for myself. It helped that my costume took less than two hours to put together (including drafting!) and I was able to put it together along with DH's crown (the only thing he would consent to wearing) on the morning before our planned pumpkin patch outing. Actually this post took longer to write than the costume construction... although that's partly because we ran out of 8.5 x 11 paper for me to draw the template on [palm-forehead].

I'm going to include a tutorial and my pattern with a few notes:

  • I am about 5'7" and usually a size 10 for dresses and a size L for shirts at Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic.
  • I am wearing a white, v-neck shirt underneath.
  • I used crushed velvet (very stretchy), so I basically cut and sized without any darts or other things that you may need if you choose a fabric with no stretch to it.
  • I didn't put a huge bell bottom on my sleeves for convenience' sake, but if this top had been for an adult masquerade party (i.e. no squirmy babes in arms) then I would definitely have made the sleeves more elaborate.
  • Another modification that would also have worked for the sleeves would be to have fitted forearms/cuffs and a big puffed shoulder/upper arm.
So without further ado....


The Fit for a Queen Top Tutorial

(1) Find a top that fits you well and use it to make a pattern. Fold your shirt in half vertically and trace the back and sleeves as best as you can. Cut them out on the fold of your fabric (making sure that the stretch of your fabric runs width-wise on all your pieces). When the back and sleeve pieces are unfolded they should look like this:

From left: the back, sleeve and two front pieces.

To make the front pieces, we're going to cut a section out of the middle to allow for a ruched front panel and also make a square neckline. I actually drafted a second template for this but you could simply cut another back piece out and, leaving it folded in half, make the modifications in the photo below (easier to explain in a picture than in words):

If you are modifying a second shirt-back piece then you should end up with some pieces that look like the first image. If you are cutting templates out, you can see the front-template superimposed on the back-template in the following picture:

Cut two of the shirt-front (they should be mirror images).

None of that drafting made any sense to you? Heck, it barely makes sense to me as I proof-read it. Post me comment/question and I'll try to clarify. Or use my template if you're close enough to my size. (Note: please make sure the pdf prints at 100% and it is not scaled to fit)

(2) On a contrasting fabric/colour, cut a long rectangle that is 11" x 30". It can be less wide for a less busty fit or wider for a larger chest. It should also be at least 50% longer than the front panel of your shirt, but you could definitely double the initial length if you wanted a front with even more ruching. For instance on my shirt, the length from the square neckline to the hem of the shirt was 20" + 10" (for gathering) = 30" total.

(3) Baste a line of gathering stitches along both long edges (i.e. use your longest length on a straight stitch and sew about 3/4 inch in from each side). Starting on one side, pull on one of the threads to gather the fabric up until it is about the same length as your shirt front. Repeat on the other side. Try to position the bulk of the ruffles on your bust... better to have the extra bulk where it counts, instead of over my no-longer-flat belly!

(4) Pin the ruched front onto both front panels, right sides facing, and sew into place using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Remove the basting stitches.

(5) Attach the front to the back at the shoulders, right sides facing, with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. This was the only seam in the whole top that I overcast for additional stability. Since this is a costume and I don't intend to wash and wear it too often, I didn't overcast/serge the other seams for simplicity's sake.

(6) Open out your top and, with the right sides facing, ease the sleeve into the shoulder by pinning/hand basting. Sew into place using a 3/8-inch seam allowance. Repeat for the other sleeve.

(7) Almost there: with the right sides together, sew both side and sleeve seams up with a 3/8-inch seam allowance.

(8) I did a simple (cop-out :) narrow hem on the neckline by turning under a 1/4-inch and sewing it down as I went along. Although I think this would also look great with piping or other decorative tape on the neckline.

(9) Hem the sleeves and bottom and you're done!

~^*^~^*^~^*^~ The Fit for a Queen Top ~^*^~^*^~^*~^*^~

Comments? Questions? Something not working? Post a comment and I'll try my best to help.

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