Introduction: Silky Top Pattern With Upcycled Fabric

About: Knitter, Textile creator, Designer, Teacher. Passionate about recycling and upcycling.

This is a personal project I created using waste fabrics.

For this you will need:

  • Sharp scissors
  • Pinking shears (zigzag scissors)
  • Thread of your choice (I used polyester thread as I was sewing a polyester fabric)
  • Fabric
  • A flat surface to cut on
  • A sewing machine (you could hand sew this but it might take a while...)
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Pins! lots of them!
  • Patience

I wanted this project to combine some basic sewing techniques as well as being able to be creative with the choices I was making. In this project I did:

  • pattern cutting
  • making my own bias binding
  • upcycling fabrics
  • innovative, on the spot design changes

Step 1: Paper Pattern

Many years ago, I coveted a top that my sister owned, so I decided to make a pattern from it.

I used newspaper at the time.

Here you can see the Front, Back and both combined with a piece of fabric joining the shoulders.

Step 2: Fabric Choices and Cutting

For the top, I decided to use some squares of waste fabric samples. These silky pieces were donated to me by a friend.

  1. I did not have enough fabric for both the front and back, so I chose two contrasting patterns in the same material.
  2. The flowery pattern at the front.
  3. I started with the piece of fabric folded in two, but then I decided to leave a strip of fabric on the left side of a few inches wide, to save for the belt (as seen in Image 1)
  4. The animal pale print was used at the back.

Step 3: Sewing the Top Together

This step is quite straightforward.

  1. Place the front and back fabric pieces on top of each other.
  2. Pin them all the way along the side seams.
  3. Sew the seams together using a straight running stitch
  4. Now you can open up the the garment to see how it looks.
  5. To finish this part off, I sewed along the edges of the top.

I used pins, thread, the sewing machine and scissors at this stage

Step 4: Attaching the Straps to the Back

After sewing along the edges of the top at the front and the back, next, I needed to attach the straps to the back.

  1. I cut piece of a contrasting fabric for the straps
  2. I did this by laying down the fabric over the news paper pattern
  3. Then I only cut out the sections that I needed
  4. I sewed these onto the back section of the top

*Note* I on purposely didn't attach the sleeves to the front as I wanted to finish the edges of the garment first, that would then be hidden by the design at the front.

Step 5: Edging With Bias Binding

Originally I finished the edges of the top by doubling the edge over and sewing a long with a running stitch (see Image 1)... But i decided this looked terrible! So I unpicked everything and decided to make some bias binding to finish all the edges.

  1. Using the same material as I did for the straps, I created the binding
    • Using pins, an iron and an ironing board, I used a similar technique from this video Bias Binding by Abbie Sanderson
  2. Once the binding was created, I pinned to all around the edges of the garment

  3. I selected a straight stitch on my sewing machine and sewed very close to the inner edge of the binding.

You can see from the images above, I used the bias binding on

  • the whole of both arm holes, so from the shoulder right round to the underarm
  • I used it on the front and back
  • I also used it on the base hem line of the top at both the front and back.

Step 6: Attach the Straps to the Front

I changed a few things on my design as I went.

The original top had a simple curved neckline, but i wanted a softer look.

  1. I hemmed the front panel straight along at the top
  2. Then I folded that inwards with just over an inch in depth.
  3. I pinned the straps to the inside of the front at either side
  4. I sewed the straps into the front piece, but only on the inside
  5. This created an edge to the front of the top with no seams

Step 7: Finished Top!

Here you can see 4 images showing details of the finished top I made.

You could use these techniques for any garment of your own

  • Using waste or unwanted fabric
    • for the main pieces
    • for binding edges
  • Recreating a top or a garment you own
  • Upcycling another garment or replacing a section
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