Hello. On a recent shopping trip with my mum she bought herself a top. A pretty simple kimono sleeve woven tshirt. It was a lovely linen with a soft, big flowery pattern.

I took one look at it and said ‘I’m sure I could make that!’

When we got back I grabbed a couple of pieces of A4 paper (I didn’t think to ask my mum if she had wrapping paper… I’ll bet she’s got mountains of it!) and I traced out the front and back neckline to the sleeve and under arm. Then I measured from centre front to the hem and from centre back to the hem, noting down the measurements.

When I got home, I reassembled the sheets of paper and traced out both front and back pieces. I also marked in pockets and created a facing by marking a line 4cm from the neckline and tracing off front and back.

What was really nice about the original top was the way it hung, but before paying out for some expensive linen or lawn, I opted for this old duvet cover. It’s threadbare in parts and ripe for conversion. A Donna Karan duvet cover, no less!

It was pretty quick to come together… certainly quicker than a shirt! I sewed the pockets to the front first, then joined the shoulder seams. I sewed the short edges of the facings together, pressed the seams open and finished the outside edge on the overlocker.

With the facing pinned then sewn onto the neckline, I snipped into the curves and pressed the seams and the facing up away from the neckline. Then I understitched it by sewing the seam allowance to the facing close to the seam edge. (If you didn’t know, this helps to stop the facing showing from the right side)

Then, with it all pressed and pinned in place I stitched the facing down at 4cm from the neckline. This was purely decorative as the understitching should keep the facing turned to the inside by itself. I just liked the look of it.

I hemmed the sleeves by turning them 2cm then tucking the raw ends in to make a 1cm fold, which I stitched down close to the edge. Then I sewed up the side seams.

All that was left was the hem. I’d drafted it a little higher at the front than the back with a gentle curve that bisects the seam…

… and so I thought it was high time I finally got the better of the bias tape maker I bought ages ago! I only tried it once before and didn’t get on with it. Now, I’m thinking my fabric was probably too thick and not cut accurately enough. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again!

I cut out a square of fabric…

Then cut it diagonally. Lay the two triangles over each other (extend the corner by the amount of your seam allowance) and sew them together.

My bias tape maker said 18mm so I measured 4cm strips along the diagonal. Join the ends by offsetting the edge by one 4cm-strip (align the markings at the seam allowance, not the edge of the strip) then you’ve got a tube.

Cut along the line all the way to the end and, presto! A great big strip of bias tape.

So then I just had to wrangle it through the tape maker: I poked the end in, shoved it down with a pin, then dug around the other end to hook it through. This actually worked, and with the help of a light spray of starch, I ended up with a nice bit of folded bias tape!

That went much more smoothly than last time! I’d have made a short video of it in action, but I’m too ashamed of the state of my ironing board cover to let you see it!

So I opened out one edge and proudly pinned it all around the hem.

The rest was plain sailing. I stitched it on and pressed away from the top first, then fully over to the inside. Finishing up with a topstitch close to the edge of the tape.

Annoyingly, I didn’t take enough photos before I parcelled it up and posted it down to Mum – but it’s not like I’m never going to see this top again! I don’t know when (or if) I’ll get a picture of her in it (she’s camera-shy) but it fits and she likes it! So this prototype will hopefully be the first of many!

Happy Sewing!

Notes to self;

  • I’m really happy with the binding around the hem and will definitely try that on the hem of my shirts.
  • I’ve had difficulty knowing what to sew for my Mum in the past, hopefully that’s changed now.
  • Make a new ironing board cover!