Alessa’s Tutorial

27 Jun

A while back I caught sight of a gorgeous top made by Alessa at Farbenfreude from a skirt. I love refashioning clothes (often a lot easier than making them from scratch) so I asked Alessa whether she might be able to create a tutorial on how to set about turning a skirt into this kind of babydoll top. Hurrah – she accepted the challenge, and below is the tutorial.


p.s. Can’t recommend Alessa’s blog enough!


Hi everybody, I’m Alessa from Farbenfreude! Mona asked me for a tutorial on the babydoll top I refashioned from a skirt last year, and I am very happy to oblige.

I started out with a tea-length skirt. Because of the box pleats and the elastic waist, once I had unpicked all the seams, I ended up with two rather big, square pieces of fabric. One I saved for a skirt I have yet to make, the other I used for this babydoll top.

You could also start out with a new piece of fabric that is at least as wide as your hip measurement + at least 4in of ease and the length that’s between your upper bust and where you want the top to end, or a straight or A-line skirt that has some ease when you pull it up over your bust and still has some ease in the hips. The fabric should be rather lightweight, though, since we’re doing some shirring in the back.

Now for the cutting out. I don’t quite remember if I used another top as a pattern. You certainly could, if you already have a babydoll top that fits you. Remember to add about an inch of ease for shirring. You can also just start with your bust, waist and hip measurements. My fabric was a slightly stretchy knit, so I cut it on measurement, with the shirring just adding some negative ease. If your fabric isn’t stretchy, make sure to add enough ease that you can still get it on and off. šŸ™‚

Because I had a limited amount of fabric, the top as I first cut it didn’t have enough ease/sweep in the hips to look good. Basting the side seams and trying it on is a good way to find that out. I used the remnants I had, to cut out two little triangle shaped godets, and added those into the side seams from the hips down. With the print I used, you can’t even see it if you don’t look very closely.

The next part is to use your fabric scraps (or some contrast fabric) to make a ribbon for the halter neck. I had never done that before, so I just cut a fabric strip roughly four times as wide as I wanted the finished ribbon to be, folded in the seam allowances, folded once in half to enclose them, and edge-stitched down the length of fabric. I have since learned that usually you fold the strip right sides together, stitch down one short end and the length, trim the seam allowances and turn it with a device for turning ribbons or a knitting needle. However, my version works, too. šŸ™‚

In the next step, we’re going to attach the ribbon to the bodice. First, we’re doing some gathering stitches right down the middle of the bodice part. Depending on your preference, you can just do a couple of inches or go all the way down to the line under your bust. Since I didn’t knew how to do gathering stitches last year, I actually just did one row of shirring here, and then stitched the shirred gathers in place with normal thread. Afterwards, you fold the ribbon in half lengthwise (it should be long enough so you can tie it behind your neck) and stitch it in place on top of your gathering. Here’s a little sketch and how my finished top looks like:

Now we’re almost finished, except for the shirring and hemming. As you can see on the finished top, I used the bottom border and hem of the skirt as the bodice part, so I didn’t have to hem my neckline. If you can’t or don’t want to use the hem, it’s a good idea to finish it before you start shirring, as shown in Gertie’s shirring tutorial.

I didn’t shirr the whole back panel, just about a little more than half of it. It’s smart to mark a line down each side where you want your shirring to start and end, because the lengths get confusing once the first lines of elastic are in. Shirring is actually a ridiculously easy technique. Your pretty much just wind elastic thread on your bobbin, stretching it a little. Use normal thread for your top thread, then the only thing to remember is to sew with the right side on top! Since the elastic is going to be your bobbin thread, you don’t want it to show.

My rows of shirring don’t look very regular, but it’s actually not too bad from the right side…

If the gathers aren’t tight enough for your taste, a bit of steam from your iron should tighten them up a bit more.

And that’s it! I hope you liked my tutorial! If you happen to make your own babydoll top from it, I’d be delighted if you dropped me a link here or over at my blog. Thanks for reading and have a great day, and another thanks to Mona for having me!


One Response to “Alessa’s Tutorial”

  1. Irina July 15, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    This top is so nice!! I haven’t made any clothes for myself -maybe it is time to try. Thanks for the tutorial!

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