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The August heat has given us the perfect opportunity to share our idea for making the Gathered Back Top sleeveless - using a technique already in the pattern. This same hack can be used to make Katelyn's Dress, Top and Tunic and many other sleeved patterns sleeveless as well.

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This simple, pull-over top, features a a flattering horizontal gathered seam in the back. The curved neckline is finished with a bias facing, which gives a beautiful, professional finish to your garment. We will use this technique to transform this pattern to a sleeveless garment.

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The bias facing technique is so simple, yet makes a professional finish.

Garments with sleeves have the shoulder seam sit on the edge of your shoulder, however sleeveless garments are meant to sit on top of your shoulder. To accomplish this first cut 3/8” off around the edge of your armhole. Now measure your armhole circumference and add 1 inch. Cut 2 bias strips 2 ¼” wide by this measurement. When you have your strip, press it lengthwise WST. Then use a steam iron to steam the strip into a curve that matches the curve of your opening. When the strip is steamed into shape, open the edges and place the short ends RST. Sew with a 1/2" seam. Pin your loop to the opening, on the RS of the garment, starting at the underarm seam, matching the raw edges. Pin along the opening. When you have the binding pinned to the garment, stitch around the opening with the normal seam allowance listed in your pattern, then clip around the curve. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4"

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Press the bias binding to the WS of the garment. Again, using a steam iron will help you shape the bias to the curve. Then, pin along the opening. When you are finished pinning, top-stitch along the opening with a 1/4" seam allowance, then press.

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This bias facing technique can be used to create a professional finish to any garment. The Gathered Back Top & Tunic is a perfect style for this sleeveless hack! Try it for yourself!

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Click here to watch our video demonstrating this technique!

Leave a comment

Sheila Honeycutt on

Thank you for this! As I head into menopause, I find that I wear sleeveless shirts year-round, and the gathered back tunic is my favorite. Now I’m contemplating whether or not to remove some sleeves!

Indygo Junction on

Hi Judy,

Your idea for using the shift dress sleeve on this pattern sounds amazing! We would love to see pictures of it!

Indygo Junction on

Hi Leta,

There are a couple factors going into this. The sample in the image is a size medium, while the mannequin it is on is a small sized manequin. Also this mannequin does not have shoulders which makes this top extend past the edge of the mannequin. The sleeve on a garment usually sits right on the edge of your shoulder so that the sleeve is able to give you the most range of movement possible. When you are making a sleeveless garment, it does not need to sit on the edge of your shoulder to allow for sleeve movement.

Judy Lackey on

This is one of my favorite shirts to make. Just last month I used the sleeve idea from the Shift dress on this shirt. It turned out great. So it’s more of a rolled up cap sleeve. Going to make this sleeve version too. So happy with your patterns they actually fit without adjustments

Leta on

I don’t understand “Garments with sleeves have the shoulder seam sit on the edge of your shoulder, however sleeveless garments are meant to sit on top of your shoulder.” The instructions say to cut off 3/8 inch but the picture looks like the shoulder seam is slightly extended compared off the shoulder compared to the sleeve version.

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