drop-shoulder top tutorial

Yeah, I know I missed my dress-per-week thing.  I haven't finished it - I underestimated the amount of time it would take, and so here we are.  I'm going to try to do a July 4th outfit with it, so hopefully you'll see it then...

Anyway, I felt kinda lousy that I didn't get it done, so in the meantime, here is the very easy tutorial for this shirt I made, which uses just a long skirt or dress:

This tutorial calls for a flared dress or skirt, something at least 35" long, so a maxi dress.  You could use something shorter, but you would have to figure out something else for the sleeves.  Possibly just bind them?

I am also happy to announce that these instructions can be modified in many ways, including to make this top:

This just requires the addition of a pocket, the lower edge of front being straightened, and a drawstring.  It is also made from a knit fabric.  The dress in the first version, which is what I took pics of, is a woven fabric, but you can see that the drape is slightly different - also, you'll be wanting the sleeves of a knit version to be tighter than a woven version, so keep that in mind when deciding on a fabric.

  • Bias binding, for hem and neckline (don't need it for a knit version)
  • A shirt with a curved hem to use as a guide
  • A maxi dress or skirt, with a skirt that has no seams or anything (except side seams) for 35", and at the hem is half your bust plus 8" to 12".  The wider it is, the more pronounced you can make the dropped shoulder.  You can use a dress that is tapered like mine was, but 23" up from hem, it has to be wide enough to sit nicely on your hips, since this is where the hem lies.  For me, the hem was half my bust plus 2".

Cutting Directions:

In this picture, I've drawn where you need to cut.   The whole skirt is folded in half, and what you're looking at is the hem.  The neckline starts 5" from center fold, and comes 2" down.  The shoulder starts at the top of the neck and comes down in a straight line 2" to 3", depending on the angle that the skirt tapers at - you kinda want it to be roughly a 90 degree angle where the shoulder meets the side.

25" from neckline, start cutting hem - use a shirt as a guide to curve the cut upwards. 

Cut the side seam out, as close to the stitching as possible.
Now you have two separate pieces.  
Take the one for the front and cut the neckline so that in goes down another 3".
Put the pieces back together, and fold down center front again.  At the bottom corner of side seams, start to cut a line straight up, parallel to center front.  Stop around 12" from top.

This picture shows where you need to cut, sort of...  What you want is a 10" place where the sleeve goes, and a gentle curve from the straight line.

If you have a very wide dress, or are doing this from fabric, the curve can be deeper, narrowing the body, which will make the dropped shoulder more pronounced.  The striped shirt is like this.  Just make sure the hem is still wide enough to be comfortable.

With the remaining fabric, cut the sleeves - fold the tube in half lengthwise.

Cut like in picture.

Sewing Directions:

 Sew shoulder seams.

 Sew sleeves to shoulders.  You may need to cut some excess off the sleeve.

Sew side seams, all the way from hem, around underarms, through sleeves.

 Sew binding to outside of hem and neck.  Fold under, wrap around raw edges, and sew.

Hope this was easy to understand!


dress 4

Uh, yeah, couple days late, but that's because I wasn't able to photograph it in time.  This top was a gift for my sister, and she was off doing something other than posing for me so yeah, sorry!  But here we are:

This was pretty close to the drawstring cami tutorial, just done sort of freehand.  Now I know that the tutorial should work fine with a woven fabric.

The original lovely girl's Easter dress:

I don't even know where this came from.  It's one of those things that you hope your parents never made you wear, but you can't know for sure because you don't remember... But I don't think me or my two sisters would have stood for such mistreatment anyway.

Okay, I guess it isn't so bad. My sis likes it more now though.  So I guess this was a success!  Yay!


Dress 3 of 27

This one is having problems.  It was really quick and easy and all, but then when I tried it on I found that I had made the underarm sections too shallow - the casing along the top is what did it, it's so wide that it took off too much of the top.  Here it is anyway:

The dress that I used had some very interesting fabric - I think that this is called matchstick pleating.  I really like the idea of the shirt so I will probably fix this, but not today...

Yeah, there it is.


Dress 2 of 27

Haha!  Didn't think I could do it, huh!  Just kidding...  Anyway, here we have a lovely mock tee shirt, made with the skirt of a maxi dress:

It is a mock tee shirt because it's made out of woven fabric.  I do not find it to be in the least constrictive or uncomfortable, and the "method" I used was exactly the same as I would have used for this style if it had been a knit fabric.  However, I would definitely not recommend going and sewing up a bunch of stuff with a woven fabric using patterns designed for knits!  It's the loose-fitting style that makes this work.   I'm sure you know that but for like liability or something...

Yes, I took pics of the process.   We'll see about a tutorial...  I think this would be especially good for a tutorial though because it would work well for any slightly flared skirt of a certain size, i.e., would make a shirt loose-fitting enough to look okay.  I'm thinking a skirt whose measurement across the hem is 1/2 your bust plus 10 inches or something like that, and around 35" to 40" long.  My dress had a skirt that was 40" long and I had some extra to match stripes on the sleeves, so you want too keep stuff like that in mind.

The original dress:

Courtesy of my sissy, who didn't like it for whatever reason.  It didn't fit me, but I'm not much of a dress person anyway.

So, yes, thanks for looking!


ruffle shorts tutorial

Here is a modification tutorial for the shorts that I posted here for my 27 dresses series.  


1.  For this tutorial you need to start with a pants or shorts pattern, preferably one that you've used before, and it should probably be a low-rise fit...I'm sure you could use a higher rise but I didn't so I'm not like absolutely sure it would work the same way.  

2.  For fabric, I would say you need around a yard, I normally would use less for a pair of shorts but I would guess that it depends on the size you make, the width of the fabric, etc, so just use discretion.  You could even follow the instructions to make the pattern and then lay them out to see how much you will need before buying/choosing your fabric.

3.  These shorts are lined.  I'm sure you could make them unlined, but I didn't want topstitching by the ruffles so I knew they had to have facing, so I just went ahead and lined them.  Any lightweight fabric will do.

4.  2" elastic was used for the waistband.  You need whatever length is comfortable on your waist.  You could do a drawstring if you like, or narrower elastic, but keep in mind that if you make the casing smaller you need to make sure that the rest of the shorts has enough fabric to give you the rise you want - more on this in the instructions.

5.  Paper for the pattern

Directions for pattern:

Trace the back onto a large piece of paper.

 On the top corner, extend the waist out a couple of inches.  Because the front and back overlap, this isn't a critical measurement.  

 Draw a nice curve from the point of the line you just drew around to meet with the hem (it can cut off the lower corner, that's fine).  How big or small of a curve you make is up to you.  It's not like I pulled out a compass or anything.

 You want the top to be a right angle, so place something with a right angle lined up with the top and line up the other side of the angle with a ruler that extends to the curve below.

Now about the waist casing - no matter how big of a casing you have, what you do is to the top, add the width of the waistband that comes with the pattern, not including the seam allowance (if your pattern doesn't have one you don't add any), and add the width of the desired casing over that.  The pant piece also comes with SA but just leave that on, because you need extra at the top when you fold over the casing to sew. 

For me, my pattern came with a waistband that was two inches wide when you take off the SA.  I want a two inch waistband, so that makes four inches that I need to add to the top.

Without moving the ruler, remove the right angle, and draw a line along it from the curve at the bottom up to the top, and then continue it up the top for the width determined just before (in my case, four inches)
 This is what it should look like.

 Now draw a right angle across the top.  I used my big envelope again.

 You need to draw a line from the place where the back seam curves up to the line that you made at the top.  they need to meet at a right angle.

What it should look like.

One thing you can do to ensure a good fit is to measure on a comfy pair of pants the length from the top of the waistband to the seam at the crotch along the center back, and compare it to the length here, not including SA or the width of the desired casing (2" for me).

If you need more, you can add it most easily at the bottom like shown.  I didn't add any, this was just drawn on the computer.  I probably could have used it, but my shorts turned out comfy anyway.  This is just to be on the safe side.

 Lay the finished back piece over the front, so that the original top corners lay over each other.  Trace over the outside and top, then slide it over so that it lines up with the center front, and trace that.

 I decided to cut some off of the bottom because the inseam needs to remain the same length.  

To try to make the back and front more even, I shaved some off the curve on the back piece.  As you can see, I'm not using any kind of super exact equations to come up with these.  You just want to make sure the pieces look relatively normal, the front and back sides are somewhat even, and the inseams are the same length, which they are in the pattern so you just have to be careful not to change them.

Cut two of each in fabric and lining, except make the fabric twice the width of your casing shorter (so I made it four inches shorter).  I used the dress for the fabric, and I just barely had enough width for the pieces.  You can use whatever, I guess, just make sure you have enough before you cut into it obviously.

You also need to measure around the outside of the front and back five inches from the top edges (or one inch more than twice the width of your casing).  Multiply that by 1.5.  You have to cut 1 1/2" strips to make this length for the ruffle twice, one for each length. 

Sewing Instructions:

1:  If you have multiple small strips, sew together to make the two long strips.  Press seams open.  At the ends, fold right sides together and sew the end closed.  Trim the top and turn right side out.  Press along the entire length and baste the raw edges together.

2:  Right sides together, sew front to back at inseam for both legs (if your fabric looks the same on the front of it and the back, take care not to make them the same).  Do the same for the lining.

3:  Ruffle the strips so that they fit onto the sides and bottoms of the legs.  I did this by hand.  If you end up making them too short, that's fine, since the front and back overlap and you can just take it from the back and it won't show.

4:  Ease-stitch around the curves of both fabric and lining fronts and backs, and gather just a tiny bit, not so much that it will actually look gathered, but it should form a little bit of a bubble I guess, while the fabric by the stitching is still smooth.  This will prevent the finished shorts from looking stretched out around the curve when it's finished.  I didn't actually do this when I sewed them, but I had to do some fancy steaming when I was done to make it look right and would have saved myself a lot of work.

5:  Pin the ruffle to the shorts five inches from the top edge (or twice the width of your casing plus one inch) and around to the back on the right side.  Baste.  Pin the lining right side down to that, lining up the inseam (the top of the lining won't line up with the top of the fabric, it will be shorter), and sew along the baste line.  Trim and turn.

6:  Right sides together, pin the crotch seam together as shown, and sew, being careful not to catch the lining.  If you're doing a regular casing with elastic, leave an opening at the top back big enough to fit your elastic through plus 5/8".

7:  Pull the lining upwards and do the same as in the last step.

8: Turn right side out by sticking your hand through the tube formed at the crotch and pulling it through.

9:  Lay one back piece face up on your work surface. Lay the corresponding front piece face down over that, and slide over so that there is about an inch and a half from the raw edge on the front (on top) to the raw edge of the back (folded under in the picture).  The exact measurement isn't critical as long as it's the same on both legs.  Make sure it's loose enough to be comfy, though, of course.

10:  Pull the lining out of the way and pin the layers of fabric together.

11:  You're going to start sewing directly over the stitches that hold the facing, ruffle and fabric together.  Backstitch at least a half an inch down from the top edge of the facing, then sew straight up to the top of the fabric, being careful not to catch the facing.

It will look like this on the front:

Do the same for the other leg.

12:  Sew the waistband - I did not do a regular casing, I folded the fabric around the elastic and sewed through both.  I personally think this makes a more professional-looking waistband.  This is the easiest way I have been able to do it:

Sew the elastic together at the ends, then fold in half with that stitched part at one end, and mark the other end with a pin.  The place where this pin is will be pinned to center front later.  Now fold so that that pin is on top of the stitched part, and pin each of the folded ends - these are where it will be pinned to the side seams.  So you have a circle of elastic marked into quarters by three pins and stitching.

Starting at center front, fold 5/8" fabric down over elastic at place where the stitching is on the elastic, then fold over so that the fabric wraps relatively tightly around elastic.  Pin at lower edge.  To the at the center front with the corresponding pin in the elastic; remove the pin when you pin the fabric down, though.  It isn't fun to trap pins inside sewing - I have done it!  Do the same for the two side seams.  Be careful not to twist the elastic.

Working on one section at a time, stretch the section until the fabric is flat, and pin all along the space in between the two pins marking the section.  You could safety-pin one end to something heavy, or have someone hold it, or what I do is hold one end with my toes (clean feet, of course) and pin one-handed, then go over and make sure the fabric wraps nice and tightly afterwards.  Whatever works for you.  The fabric should cover the top edge of the facing on the inside.

You should try it on inside out at this point to make sure you like the rise.  If you want to lower the top, you have to unpin the sections you want to lower, leaving the pins marking the sections for last (mark those again on the elastic).  Then you can re-pin, increasing the 5/8" underneath be the amount you want off the top when you do the place marking the sections.  When you stretch out the sections, it will basically even itself out, just try to make sure everything lies smoothly. I have a slight swayback so I ended up taking some off the front to compensate, even though it's a lot of work to re-pin it and all.

Sew 1/8" to 1/4" in from the lower edge of the elastic, stretching until the fabric is smooth as you go.  If you sew on the outside, you can use the pins as a guide, or sew the width of your elastic minus 1/8" to 1/4" from the top.  I personally just feel the elastic as I go on the outside to make sure I catch it, and don't measure anything.

For a casing
If you are making a drawstring, you need to first make buttonholes at the center front, in the middle of wherever your front casing would be.  The center of the buttonhole should be one and a half times the width of your casing plus 5/8" down from the top, with two one each side of the center front seam.

Fold and press 3/8" (leaves 1/4" for room for stitching) towards the inside all around the top.  Fold and press again the width of your casing plus 1/8" to 1/4".  There is technically only 1/8" there extra, but taking another 1/8" out of the main part of the leg is not going to effect the rise very much.  Pin; if you can pin it in such a way that the pins are on the outside and you could stick your elastic in and try it on, you should, cause now's the time to see if maybe you want the rise a little lower in front or anywhere.  Sew the fabric down close to the edge.  Make it as close as possible.  There is the 1/8" to 1/4" that you folded down extra as room for the stitching.

If this is a casing for elastic, There is that opening at center back to thread the elastic through. Thread it through, leaving the ends out, and sew the ends together.  Pull the sewed-together ends into the casing and stitch over the opening to close it.

If there is a drawstring, just pull it through the buttonholes and tie the knots at the ends.  I stitched a little mock-drawstring to the center front that was a tie thing on the dress that I got the fabric from.