One of the perks of our backyard are the great fruit trees we inherited. Apricot, Cherry, Apple, and Pear. My kids love snacking on the fresh fruit (so do the dogs) It is our favorite time of year right now, pear picking time! So awhile back I made a top when I was playing around with shirring, remember how I just got over the fear of shirring? Well, I made a top, and then it sat for while until I finally got around to taking pictures of it. I figured what better time than for a little pear picking in the backyard?
The plaid screams fall to me which is just around the corner (even though our days are still in the 90’s I know cooler weather is coming) The neck was a little larger than I had intended, but it still looks cute, all nice and ruffled.
While this could totally be a dress, my non-dress girl likes to wear pants, which makes it a cute tunic that she will get lots of wear out of as she grows a bit. So if you would like to make one yourself you will see how easy it is.
You need to very simple “pattern pieces” The top is kind of like a peasant top, only its easier, no crazy measuring. So Abbey’s chest measurement is 20 inches, so I cut out two rectangles that are 20 inches wide. (this did make for a pretty wide neck if I did it again I would have made it 15 inches wide)Then for length I made my rectangle 22 inches long, which was a guess but it was perfect, so for the bodice I had two rectangles that were 20 inches X 22 inches. (folded width wise in the picture) Then for the sleeve I cut two rectangles that were 14 X 8 inches (folded width wise in the picture)
Then with all 4 rectangles folded width wise I stacked them all on top of each other so that the raw edge of the fold were lined up. Then to cut the arm curve, I measured from abbey’s shoulder to her underarm, then I added an inch for ease, and seam allowance and hemming. That is how low I cut down on the left side then I just cut a curve simply eyeballing it. As long as it looks like the picture you should be good to go. The top is VERY forgiving for any imperfections.
Then with right sides together sew the sleeves to the bodice. (this will be done 4 times)
Then with right sides together (front and back matched up) Sew from the sleeve to the armpit and then down the side, sew both sides. You will have a really large looking top. Next fold the top edge under twice and sew in place to “hem” the top.
Now we will move on to the shirring. Super easy, even if you are nervous, or have never done it, seriously… it is easy, and not nearly as scary as I once thought. You can buy elastic thread anywhere you can buy sewing supplies. Then you have to wrap the thread around the bobbin by hand, which is a little annoying, but honestly it goes quick and its easy. You don’t want to pull the thread tight as you wind but you don’t want it too loose. Just wind it gently around the bobbin until the bobbin is full.
Then thread the top thread as per normal and thread it in the color you want to sew in. Then drop the bobbin of elastic thread in place and pull the elastic thread up from the bottom as you would with any thread. If you are like me and it is your first time you may be surprised at how it works like a normal bobbin already. I know I know in my crazy mind I somehow was sure it would just not work for me, but it did.
Now we will start sewing. You want to sew on the right side of the garment so the elastic thread will be on the inside. I started my first line about an inch and a half from the top. Sew one line all the way around the top. You won’t notice a tight gather but you will see that it is a little stretchy and it is sewing just like normal. (crazy right? My mind was blown and my world was opened, it was just too easy) Now for the next few lines I just use my sewing foot as my guide and follow along the first line. As you continue sewing lines the gather will get tighter, so as you sew you will want to stretch the fabric so it lays flat. (the left picture shows the normal, and the right shows it stretched as I sew) The more lines and the closer you sew them together the tighter the gather will be.
I did about 4 rows around the neck and then another 5 rows a little closer together at the high waist. With the plaid I followed the lines in the plaid to make sure my first line was straight across the bodice, if you don’t have lines then you can use a fabric marker to draw a straight line to follow as your guide to get started. Then I hemmed the sleeves and the bottom of the top.
*Tip to get the elastic to ruffle up a little tighter give it a light steam from the iron, you will see it shrink up right before your eyes.
I made a little ribbon belt like I did for this dress, and that was just to add a little pop at the waist, but the elastic brings the waist in without the help of the belt. So loose neck and all I love the top, and so does Abbey who quickly top me it was her new favorite, even if it does lack in pink or purple, her two favorite colors at the moment.