The Super Easy Two-strip Top
July 7, 2013
I absolutely love kimonos. Looking at how those lovely garments are made, you see that they're constructed with the simplest of shapes -- cut almost entirely from rectangles. That simplicity inspired me to come up with a simple top that also uses basic rectangle shapes.
This top goes together in a jiffy -- about an hour. All you need is two rectangular strips of fabric -- knits with a good bit of stretch. You can contrast them for a colorblocked effect, mix patterns, or use the same fabric for both pieces.
To start, measure the length from your shoulder to the point you like your shirt hems to sit. Double that number and then add a couple of inches. This is the length you'll need to cut your two strips. Don't have a cut of fabric that long? No problem! You can seam two pieces together at the midpoint of your strip -- that seam will sit on your shoulder.
For the width of your strips, measure around the widest point of your torso, and divide that number by 4. I like a 1/4-inch seam allowance for knits, so I add 1/2 to my number to get the width of the strips.
Cut your 2 strips using the length and width measurements you got above.
This top will have a V-shape opening at both the front and back. To figure out the depth of your V, place the center point of the length of one of your strips (or your shoulder seam, if you pieced two strips together) at where your shoulder seams normally sit, and then mark your fabric with a safety pin or marking implement where you think you want your V-neck to sit.
I normally just do a mirror V on the back of my tops -- there's no real front or back. But if you think you want a higher neckline for the back of your shirt, mark that using the same methos you used for the front. Then, stitch your two pieces of fabric together along the center seam, leaving an opening between your two marks -- that's your neck opening.
Once the two sides are joined at the center seam, drape the top on you or your dressform, and pin out the sides to determine where you want your arm openings to be. I do this with the top inside out.
Once you have this marked, stitch up the sides and try the garment on for fit. You may find you want to add taper at the sides of your top, shorten the length, or adjust the neck or arm openings, so this is the time to do it.
Once your alterations have been made, finish the neck and arm openings and hem if you like, but you can skip this step if you prefer an unstructured look.
Because of the simplicity of this project, it's a good confidence-builder for new stitchers. The key is in selecting two knits that work well together (unless you're using the same fabric for both sides); you want them to be the same weight and have similar strecth so the shirt drapes evenly. I really love using rayon blends for tops because they usually drape so nicely and are super soft.
Here's an example of the shoulder seam created by piecing a strip together:
If you decide to use two different solid colors for your shirt, you'll probably want to use thread that matches each side.
There are so many fun jersey fabrics to choose from -- and in an afternoon, you can have a whole new wardrobe of tops!
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