Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Crossover Wrap Top Tutorial

I decided to make this top for a friend who is due with her second baby any day now, and it just happens to be her birthday (today!  As I write this!  **I didn't finish the post in one day!  So now her birthday was yesterday!).  So I thought that a good birthday/birthing day gift would be a cute top that she could wear post-pregnancy that would allow easy access for nursing without being ONLY a nursing top.

No crazy flaps or slits, just a wide crossover vee that will pull open without stretching out.

I've been getting more confident with knits and my serger, and I thought a comfy knit top would be just the thing.  I bought the chevron cotton blend jersey from www.girlcharlee.com--so much more affordable than buying knits that are not even as cute or soft from JoAnn.  I really like the cotton blend jersey.  Silky soft, thin but not seethrough--good stuff.  I bought a cotton (not blend) jersey from them too that I am excited to make something out of, but not this particular top, because the wrap style definitely benefits from a fabric that has a soft drape.  

I used a fitted t-shirt of mine to make the pattern, and I got some tips on making a wrap shirt from this tutorial, but I wanted more of a faux-wrap--I didn't want to be dealing with ties that could get pulled out or anything.  I used almost exactly a yard and a half of wide fabric (54") to make this shirt, which is probably a small/medium.

I also decided to make a slightly longer fit than a traditional tee, and a little looser too, to accomodate post-baby belly.  But I put a band at the bottom (and cuffs at the ends of the sleeves) so that it looks purposefully relaxed instead of just baggy/too big.  I think it's something that will be GREAT for nursing/post-baby but also something that will be just a nice comfy casual top for any time.  I was so happy with the way it turned out that I was a little sad to give it away...but then I remembered I could just make another one for myself!

Mine was made from a really soft baby-knit, so I should have made it smaller because it's SOOOO stretchy that it's already bagging out a bit. But comfy.  This was more of that $1.50/yard fabric of questionable content from Walmart.

For how to make the pattern from a shirt that fits you well, check out this link for making a knit wrap top.  This is where you will start.  You will need to trace around your shirt template to create a pattern piece for the back of the shirt (cut on the fold) and the front of the shirt, NOT on the fold.  In the full wrap tutorial I linked to, you create the shape by following the point of the v-neck on the original shirt down to the bottom corner of the top.  But for this faux-wrap, instead of cutting the line from the vee all the way to the bottom corner of the shirt, you will curve the line over to about 3 inches below the armpit.

My pattern paper wasn't long enough, so I wrote "add 2 inches" to the bottom of my pattern :)

I ended up making my shoulder strap a little narrower than the original shirt to help soften the curve, since I would be adding a fairly wide binding strip to the neckline.  The side of your "wrap" will be sewn into the side seam, so it can't come undone.  To make your top a little longer, like mine, make your pattern pieces the same length as your t-shirt, because you will be adding a band to the bottom that ends up being about 2.5" long.

Main pattern pieces; you will also need a binding strip, waistband, and two cuffs.

There a few things I did differently than the tutorial (besides the aforementioned difference in the shape of the front pattern piece)

1.  I made the front pattern piece the same length as the original shirt I was using as a model, then added a band at the bottom that ends up adding about 2.5 inches of length as well as cinching the bottom in (since mine doesn't have the tie).

2.  I cut my sleeves wider then added a band to the bottom.  Just a style thing for me; I thought a slightly gathered loose sleeve would look cool.  Plus, I made 3/4 sleeves because I love not having to push up my sleeves for hand-washing or dishwashing.  This top would also be cute with short sleeves or flutter sleeves!

3.  I made my two front panels the same width as the front of my original shirt that I used to draft the pattern, but because of the wide vee created by the wrap, it ends up being wider than the original. That worked for me because I wanted that loose middle pulled in by a bottom band, but if you want a more fitted shape you'll need to compensate by making your front panels narrower, by at least an inch I would say.

Okay.  I will attempt to turn this into a tutorial now, instead of just a collection of tips.  Unfortunately I didn't photograph the steps when I made the first top (the chevron print one)--some of this stuff would have shown up a lot better on that fabric!  Hopefully you'll be able to see what I'm talking about on the white fabric.

Your main pattern pieces:

1 back (cut on fold)
2 front (make sure they are facing opposite directions--they should each have one shoulder)
1 neckline binding strip (I just cut one the entire width of the fabric, which was 54", but ended up with 6-8 inches left over.  If your fabric is really stretchy you will need even less.  Should be about 3" wide depending on how wide you want the binding to be.)
2 sleeve cuffs (5.5" tall, cut on the fold just slightly smaller than the width of the bottom of your sleeve.  I measured around my arm to see how wide I wanted it to be.)
1 waistband (again 5.5" tall, cut on the fold slightly smaller than the bottom of your shirt)

Start by pinning the bodice pieces at the shoulder (right sides together) and sewing.  Once they are attached, lay out your three bodice pieces, right side UP.

You are going to attach the neckline binding strip next.  My shirt was 52" around the neck opening (starting from where the angled neckline meets the side seam on one side, going around the neckline, and ending on the other side seam).  I cut my binding strip (doesn't have to be on the bias since the knit is stretchy), folded it in half lengthwise (right side OUT) and gave it a quick press, and serged the raw edges just for prettiness and to hold it together.

Then, with my bodice pieces right side up, I lined the serged (or raw) edges of my binding strip up with the raw edges of the neckline. Stretching the binding strip gently as I went, I pinned all along the neckline.

Oh, I should mention that on the white top, I didn't have enough width to cut straight across the fabric for my binding strip so mine had a seam.  I lined it up with the shoulder seam but you could put it right in the middle too.

I did my side seams next, but if you like to attach your sleeves while they are still open you can do that now (that's the way she does it in the tutorial I linked to above).  If you're going to attach your sleeves later like I did, here's how to do the side seams:

Choose which of your front panels will be on top in the finished shirt and line it up on the back piece (right sides together).

Don't pin anything yet, just make sure that your armhole and side seams are lined up.  If the bottom doesn't match exactly that's ok.  Next, pull down the other side and line it up as well.  Once both panels are lined up, sew down the side seams, from armpit to the bottom of the shirt.  I serged so that it would look nice but this part doesn't need to stretch so a straight stitch would be fine.

I didn't cut all of my pieces out at the same time--I waited until my bodice was assembled before cutting out my waistband.  As I mentioned before, it's 5.5" tall, and I just folded the fabric in half and cut so that it was slightly smaller than the opening at the bottom of my shirt.  Then with right sides together on the band, I sewed the short ends together to make it into a circle.

Then fold the circle in half, lengthwise,so that you have one folded finished edge on the bottom of the circle and two raw edges on the top.  Use 4 pins to mark the sides and the middle evenly, then attach your band to the shirt.  Shirt needs to be right-side out, then slip your band over the bottom of it so that the raw edges are lined up.  I put the seam on my band right in the middle at the back of the shirt.  Line up the side seams of the shirt with the pins you used to mark the sides of the band and stretch the band evenly around the bottom of the shirt.

You can sew the band on with a zig-zag stitch for stretch or use a serger.

Next I made my sleeves.  I sewed the seam on the sleeve, then cut out my cuffs.  On the white shirt, my cuffs were only 4" tall; on the chevron print they were 5.5".  I cut them on the fold so that they would be snug around my arm just below the elbow (where my sleeve ends).  Then I stretched them gently and attached to the bottom of the sleeve using a zig-zag stitch, just like with the waistband at the bottom of the shirt.

When your sleeves are assembled, turn your top wrong-side out.  Then slip the right-side out sleeve into the armhole, lining up the raw edges and the seam of the sleeve with the side seam of the shirt, and sew into place.  I just used a straight stitch on my sewing machine for this.

See the right-side-out sleeve poking out of the wrong-side-out neckline?
Once you trim your threads, you're done!  Oh wait--I guess you should attach the other sleeve first.  But then you're done!

I made this image for the top of the post at first, then decided I couldn't use this ridiculous photo of myself, even if it does show the top better than the other pics:


Oh!  And I had just enough left from my chevron print to make this baby hat (printable pattern from zaaberry here).  I'm dying from the cute a little.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing - I love this style of top, but find that actual purchased patterns end up needing so much altering that they're not worth it. I can't wait to give this a try!

  2. Cute! Thanks for the tutorial!


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