Scrap fabric creations | Easy summer top to sew now

Casual, Chic, and Quick to sew

Sew this stylish top and be ready for your next outing with time to spare. The top in question is one of my scrap fabric creations. It uses 2 rectangles, 5 stitches, a bit of hemming and you’re good to go. Featuring a boat neckline, one short kimono type sleeve and a blouson effect at the hip. The left shoulder is gathered to create an asymmetrical silhouette. Plus, the elasticized blouson provides comfort and a perfect fit. Who knows, it might end up trading places with your favourite Tee for good. 

piecing fabric for length

A friend gifted me more than 4 yards of this vibrant rayon print a while back. After completing a couple projects, I had a few pieces left. Two  measured roughly 20” X 20” and another strip around 6” X 60” wide. When I decided to make the top, I knew the larger remnants were not long enough for what I wanted to do. So, I sectioned the 6” X 60” scrap and stitched it to the bottom of the two 20” X 20” pieces. But after joining them, the seam fell across the body about 2 1/2” below the waistline. I didn’t like the way it looked; so, I thought the easiest way to fix that would be to turn it into a blouson. The resulting design is not the initial plan but I feel it turned out better.

 

Elasticized Blouson

For comfort and a perfect fit

 

Suggested fabrics for top

Easy is addictive though; I’ve made more than a few variations since. If you have remnants or large pieces of leftover fabrics, it’s a good time to look through them.  If not, you’ll need about 1 yard material at 54” - 60” wide. I prefer buying fabrics that are wider in widths. That way, yardage is the same for a range of sizes. Lightweight cotton, rayon, synthetics and poly/cotton blends are all suitable.

about Making different types of blousons

A blouson type garment is designed with a fabric overhang that forms a puff in the area it’s placed; think puff sleeves. 

To create a blouson, you can choose a number of techniques. As this blouse uses elastic, let’s look at it first.

Elasticized blousons

  1. (a) An easy way to create a blouson is to mark and fold the fabric on the wrong side -in the area you want the overhang. Then, stitch a seam/pocket deep enough to hold the width of the elastic. The seam becomes a tunnel through the elastic is threaded. Add an extra 1/4” to the casing width for ease of insertion and to ensure elastic lies flat. To use this method, add casing width to bodice length before cutting.

    (b) Cut a separate piece of fabric wide enough to accommodate the the width plus ease and stitch it to the marked area on the wrong side of the garment. For (a), (b) and (c), leave a small gap open for threading the elastic through.

    (c) For items that are joined and have seam allowances, in the area of the blouson, stitch the seams shut and insert elastic in the pocket/tunnel formed. Use a safety pin to thread elastic through pockets in (a), (b) and (c).

    (d) Cut elastic to required length; mark the area of the garment you’ll like to place it; stretch it across the fabric evenly and stitch it in place. In this method, elastic will be exposed on the wrong side.

    Decide which of the above techniques you are using before cutting fabric. I used (c); folded the seam upward and stitched it down.

  2. Drawstring blousons

    Drawstrings for blousons can be made using the same process as (c) above. The facings can be applied on the inside or outside, around  the entire width of the garment. Or sometimes, a gap is left between both ends of the facing, where the tails of the drawstring will hang.

  3. Lined blousons

    If the garment is lined, cut the lining shorter than the outer fabric and attach layers at the bottom.

  4. Yoked blousons

    Insert a yoke between the upper an lower  sections of garment.

 

Asymmetrical Style

Left shoulder is gathered with a fabric tab

 

What you will need

Materials

7/8 to 1 yard fabric 60” wide

For scraps and remnants: At least 6” wider than hips; length needs to be about 4 1/2” longer than finished top for seam allowances and elastic casing if using.

Thread

Pins - straight and safety

1/2” to 1” elastic - enough to go around hips

Dressmaker’s pencil

Scissors

Seam ripper

Tape measure, straight edge, ruler or yardstick

Sewing machine

Iron and ironing board or flat padded surface

Press cloth

 

Top Construction Diagram

5 stitches, 3 hems and elastic application

Remember the full length of back and front panels must include:

Seam allowance at neckline/shoulders

Hip to shoulder length

Blouson allowance - about 1 1/2”

Elastic casing allowance, if using

Hemline allowance

 

Measuring body

Measure neckline width - To determine the width of the neckline, hold one end of a tape about midway at one shoulder and measure across front neckline to the same point on other shoulder. Allow tape fall loosely about 1” down.

Measure armhole depth - Hold a tape around armhole, in a loose circle, at the tip of shoulder. Allow it to fall downward from armpit, to a point you feel will give you the most comfortable fit.

Measure hip to shoulder - Place one end of tape at mid shoulder and measure down to hip level - around the fullest part of your tummy. Use this measurement to mark elastic placement on wrong side of top.

Use measurements to mark guidelines on wrong side of fabric panels.

 

Alternative measurements method

The above method offers a fit that will be more tailored to your body. But you can skip the body measurements and opt for the alternative below.

 

Measuring From a Shirt

A Tee or polo shirt is perfect for this.

 

Alternative measuring method

Neckline - Lay a shirt or top on a flat surface; a Tee or polo shirt is perfect. Locate the mid point of both shoulder seams and mark or pin. Measure across the front from shoulder to shoulder; allowing the tape to line up with curve at front neckline. Use in place of measure neckline width instructions above. Transfer measurements to fabric and mark with a snip or notch.

Armhole - Using the same shirt, measure down from the tip of the shoulder to the underarm where the side seam and sleeve connect. Use a top that fits well but not fitted like a leotard. Use that measurement plus 5/8” seam allowance in place of the measure armhole depth instructions above.

Hip to shoulder - Mark the middle of one shoulder seam with a safety pin. Slip on the shirt; stand in front of a mirror and decide where you want your blouson to be. Use another pin to mark the location on the same side down from the pin on the shoulder. Remove shirt, measure from pin to pin and use in place of measure hip to shoulder above.

Note: 1 1/2” must be added to obtained measurement to create a blouson. Also, ensure casing width is included in total length before cutting.

Record measurements; mark accordingly on wrong side of fabric.

 

Stitch Shoulders and Side Seams

With right sides together, align front and back panels. Pin along the neckline/shoulders and side seams/sleeves near the edges - stitch.

 

helpful construction notes

Use 5/8” seam allowances at side seams; it is also the edge of the sleeve.

Increase seam allowance at neckline to 1” or more; this allows for a fold over finish that works as a facing and doesn’t require hemming.

If you’re using scraps and remnants, as I did, that might not be possible. In such case, use whatever seam allowance the fabric permits and hem the neckline as you would the sleeves.

Anything narrower than an inch will not lie flat; you’ll need to stitch it down.

 

Seam Finishes

In some instances, it easier to finish seams before constructing garments. That is especially so when dealing with narrow seam allowances barely wider than the presser foot of the sewing machine.

At right: A through D show some ways to help make the inside of your garment neat. Always do a fabric swatch test first.

A. Pinked - Using pinking shears to finish seams is quick and easy. It works best on fabrics that are not prone to fraying.

B. Stitched and pinked - For fabrics likely to fray, sew a straight stitch, along the edge of seam allowances about 1/” in.

C. Machine zigzag Sew a zigzag stitch along edges of seam allowances.

D. Turn under press and stitch a 1/4” fold along the edges of seam allowances. Best for fabrics that are light to medium weight.

E. Overlocked/serged - If you have a serger/overlock machine, you can finish seams on a variety of fabrics weights ranging from light to heavy.

 

Sleeve Hemming

The size of your seam allowance can determine how you choose to hem your sleeves. In the examples at left, I’ve used single fold, turn under hemming and double fold hemming. Use any of the methods to hem the bottom edge of your top.

A - Shoulder and side seam finished with overlock stitching.

B - Finished seam at shoulder and sleeve edge.

C - Sleeve/armhole pressed and turned under ; best for narrow seams.

D - Pressed, turned under and stitched - wrong side.

E - Seam allowance extends past the width of overlocked edge to be turned under.

F - Trim corners to reduce bulk in seams; it helps seams to lie flat.

G - Double fold and pin if you must; some synthetics only respond to pins and basting.

H - Double fold turned under - finished, wrong side.

I - Double fold turned under - finished, right side.

 
Above:  Scrap fabric creations; top is made with remnants and scraps from a previous project.

Above: Scrap fabric creations; top is made with remnants and scraps from a previous project.

 

Finish neckline

If you used a 1” plus seam allowance at the neckline, trim the shoulder seam allowance to correspond with the side seams, making a curve toward the wider neckline folds. For narrower seams, use the same method as hemming the sleeves. (Ensure neckline circumference is wide enough to pull over your head).

 
 

Make a loop/tab and gather shoulder

To keep the gathers at the shoulder in place: Cut a rectangle of fabric; I used 3 1/2” x 2 1/2”.

Lengthwise, with right sides together, fold the rectangle in half and stitch a ½” seam along length; leave short ends open.

Trim seams, turn right side out and press or finger press depending on fabric type.

 
 

Gather the shoulder

Gather the centre of the shoulder seam with your fingers and wrap the loop around it - wrong side up. Adjust gathers and use pins to hold it in place. Stitch, trim and turn loop over - right side out.

Centre loop over shoulder seam; arrange gathers and hand-tack in place on wrong side.

Apply elastic

Cut a piece of elastic to a length that fits comfortably around your hips and apply according to your chosen method. Turn over and press.

That’s it; you’ve finished your top. Congratulations! I hope you mix and match it with your other favourite pieces and enjoy wearing it to the max. Stay tuned; other season appropriate variations are on the way.

Thank you for sharing your time; take care and be well.

Until the next time, if the Lord will, see you next then.