Have you ever found yourself inspired by childrens’ clothing?
I’ve been on a bit a spree lately sewing these sleeveless shoulder frill tops for my daughter. This particular one is Ottobre 3-2017-2. Ottobre must love the little shoulder frills too because there’s a variant of the same style in every size range in this issue.
After the 3rd one, I could stand the cuteness no longer. I had to make my own version!
In addition to the frill on the shoulder, there’s a back yoke with pleats/gathers. To be honest, I didn’t look at the specific directions. On the rayon challis version I used gathers. The turquoise blue floral rayon has pleats, and I used a mix of pleats and gathers in the beach print.
Everything about this top is built for efficient sewing. There’s no double layer on the yoke to finish the inside and the lack of a collar make for an ultra fast sew. The directions want you to do a narrow hem on the frills, but I chose the even easier serger rolled hem. Don’t say I didn’t tell you you’ll want to make a million of these.
Self bias vs. packaged binding
The front placket has 4 buttons and the armholes and neck are finished with bias strips. This is one thing I love about Ottobre patterns. Bias cut straight from the fabric you’re working with is so much nicer than packaged bias binding. It always matches and there’s no hand change between the binding and the fashion fabric. For sensitive baby skin this is a plus, and visually it’s a clean finish.
I did do a double layer yoke on the rayon challis. It really needs the extra support because of it’s light weight and slippery hand. Also, even though I love the fabric, rayon challis just might not be the best choice for an active toddler. The heavy duty laundry treatment that kids’ clothes require are not coinciding with the more delicate cool water and ironing needs of the rayon. I have some stains to attend to on this top at the moment!
Turquoise blue rayon?
This fabric is from my San Francisco fabric haul (from Fabric Outlet), and I will be ordering more. I’m crossing my fingers that there’s still more at the store. I’ve already used mine for a dress that I pattern tested for Designer Stitch this last week.
This fabric is a dream for kids and adults. It doesn’t wrinkle (perhaps it’s a rayon/poly blend?), it has a beautiful drape, and it has enough weight to not require a lining. The pleats were a little slippery, but I could easily finish the insides with my serger. The bias was fiddly to deal with on the arms as it wanted to roll all over the place. Hand basting kept things neat and it made for faster sewing. Also, the edges of the frills look wonderfully crisp with the serger rolled hem.
Beachy print rayon
This beachy print is one of the remnants I found at Fabrix. They had tons of fabric meant for board shorts, and I’m pretty sure that’s what this is. It has that kind of stiff finish that board shorts have. The base is definitely cotton. By far, this fabric was the easiest to sew of the lot. It pressed well and I didn’t have to pin or baste the bias at the armholes.
I love the combination of the bright orange and pink leaves with the blue stripes. After this one, I dropped everything to make my own version.
Shoulder frill pattern hack
This is hardly a hack it’s so simple. I started with DG Patterns’ Olvie Top as my base because it’s what I had on my table. Any woven sleeveless tank would work for this.
- Measure 3″ from the shoulder seam along the armscye on the front and the back and make a mark.
- Cut two 3″x9″ rectangles on the bias for the shoulder frills. It’s important that they are on the bias because they will make for a frill that drapes better.
- Mark the center of each frill. Finish the short edges and one of the long edges with a serger rolled hem or a narrow hem.
- Run a basting stitch along the edges of the frills and pull the bobbin threads to gather. Here’s 5 fail-proof ways to gather fabric.
- Match the frill center to the shoulder seam. Distribute the gathers so that the ends stop at the marks you made in step one.
- Put right sides together and stitch the edge of the frill to the armhole.
- Finish each armhole with bias tape. The frill will be sandwiched between the bias tape and the right side of the top.
There you go. Super easy. I will say that I closed up the back darts and made a back yoke as well as adding some fulness in back pleats. It’s not necessary, but it makes it a little bit more like my daughter’s top.
I made mine from leftover fabric I salvaged from a really nice 100% cotton shower curtain. I bought it a few years ago to make an apron. It caught my eye because it’s one of my purples and it had a beautiful hand that’s way nicer than any shower curtain has the business of being.
DG Patterns’ Olvie Top
I have the sleeved version of this top on my table right now, and really, it needs to have the sleeve. 100% of sleeveless armholes need to be adjusted for me for proper side coverage. In my petite state, I’m extra short between my shoulder and base of my armscye. I usually don’t have a problem once a sleeve is popped into the armscye, but sleeveless styles are chief among my fitting nemeses.
To fix this one, I’m going to have to open up the side seams and make a vertical dart basically that takes the bulk out at the armhole and tapers to nothing where the bust dart is. This will narrow the overall circumference, but there’s more than enough since this is a loose fitting style.
Back neck closure
There’s a center back seam on the pattern, but there’s no directions for a zipper. The neck is very close fitting, so you really need to have some sort of back closure. I ripped my muslin in the neck at CF in the process of getting it over my big noggin. An invisible zipper would work well, or you could fold back the seam allowances to finish them at the top 4″ or so and add a loop and button. I chose to add an exposed zipper with one of the zippers I found in San Francisco.
Here’s for some more subtle versions of Mommy and Me,
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.