Sew Paradise

Summer top sewing pattern roundup

Favorite FREE summer top sewing patterns for woven fabrics

This roundup showcases the Sew News / Sew Daily Antero Shell, the FREE Solee Top by Natalie Ebaugh and the FREE Greenbush Top by Ann Siegle.

Summer top sewing is always a joy – these three patterns are super simple to sew (two are measured rectangles!) and take very little time. I made all four of these in ONE day of sewing, and not even a whole day, a decent morning or afternoon sewing sesh and you’ll have a wardrobe of new tops.

All the fabrics shown here are from my LFS, Seams Fabric in East Lansing.

The Antero Shell is part of a Capsule Studio pattern from Sew News. In this same pattern, there’s a woven fabric tank top, a knit fabric wrap skirt with asymmetrical hem, a pair of loose fitting elastic waist pants, a collarless unlined blazer/jacket with clever in seam zippered pockets, and a tote bag.

The Solee Top is a free top with Instagram instructions from blogger Natalie Ebaugh.

The Greenbush Top, also FREE, is designed by me, here.

I chose cotton, linen or rayon fabrics for all three. All three would work in each of these fabrics. Rayon, obviously, is very drapey, cotton has more body (less drape.) Linen is somewhere in between (once you’ve washed it several times.)

The Antero Shell is a v-neck, cut-on-cap sleeve cropped (but not too short) boxy tee that has a fully faced neckline and hemmed sleeves. This top is boxy and slightly cropped – perfect over high waist pants – I have worn these with the Luna Jogger pant by Made by Rae, the Pietra Pant by Closet Core and the Perfect Pant by Christine Jonson. Of course they look great over the Shivano pant in the pattern from Sew News too!

The Solee Top is a free measure-and-cut sewing pattern that is just like the one your mom sewed for you in 1980. I remember a similar top that I wore that I’m sure my mom (or grandma) sewed for me one summer. This top screams summer, and I’m wearing it with wide leg batiked rayon pants. If you need to dress this up for a zoom work call, just toss on a cardi, a button up shirt, or a jacket over the top.

This is an easy sew – you use the width of a yard of fabric for both the top and the straps. Two lengths of elastic – one for above bust and one for the waist, and you’re done. This yarn dyed print linen fabric is fun – and I have a coral solid linen to make joggers out of to coordinate (later.)

The Greenbush Top, designed by me, is also a measure-cut-sew top that you can make from a yard of fabric. The neck and hem openings are easy to sew with good finishing techniques, and the sleeves can be any length you like. A drapey fabric is best for this loose top, and rayon, lightweight cotton lawn, double gauze, silk or even jersey fabrics work great. You can wear this solo in the summer and over a slim fitting turtleneck or tee in the winter, too. I bought the floral rayon in January in a fit of desperation to see flowers. I just let it sit on my sewing table so I could pet it for a while!

Sew Paradise

Sew Multiple Pants at Once

Build your me made capsule wardrobe FAST by sewing multiple pants at once.

I’m sewing the Pietra Pants by Closet Core Patterns

It’s no secret, we love efficiency. And today, when you’re waiting days to buy something on line, you might be better off (for you AND the planet) to sew multiples of garments.

I’m embarking on a plan to sew 5 shorts/pants from one pattern. I’m calling this my #fivepantschallenge. My LFS is doing a MeMade May with the Pietra Pants from Closet Core Patterns and I’ve made these before (twice so far, with alterations). They asked me to sew a pair of shorts as a sample for the store so other customers can see what they look like sewn up. So, I purchased not only my own fabric for a pair of cropped slim leg, but also for the wide, full-length leg, and for shorts for the sample. Plus, I’m diving into stash to sew my own pair of shorts too.

  1. You can save a ton of time by batch sewing. I am going to choose a neutral thread for all of the pants (except topstitching, where I will swap thread and match) so I can sew all the pockets, all the front panels, all the side seams, etc. at a time. It’s not that much more time to do one seam than it is to do four of the exact same one, and you can then group pressing and other tasks together for efficiency
  2. You can add multiple garments to your wardrobe, that look different. The Pietra comes in four varieties: slim leg cropped, wide leg cropped, wide leg full length and shorts. Each of these in a variety of fabric colors would look very different in your wardrobe.
  3. You can sew faster than you can order online and wait. Especially with today’s pandemic no-dressing-room shopping.
  4. Your fabric choices are higher quality. Almost all garment fabric sold at your local fabric shop is higher quality than inexpensive RTW garments (unless you buy from discount fabric locations, like warehouses.)

My fabric choices are from stash and from my Local Fabric Shop, Seams Fabric in East Lansing, MI

Pietra Pants - Pietra shorts, Pietra skinny pants, Pietra wide pants, Pietra cropped pants

Pietra pants (slim, cropped) in a blue crossweave linen that is almost chambray-like in it’s look.

Pietra shorts in the blue crossweave linen (shop sample, size 10, no alterations to fit)

Pietra pants – wide leg, full length in green crossweave linen/rayon in a soft spring green (to coordinate with a big statement scarf I own)

Pietra shorts in coral print seersucker – from my stash!

Pietra shorts in hand-dyed Kona cotton

Progress Updates:

As I work on these shorts and pants, I’ll share some tips.

I first applied interfacing to all the front waistband panels and the top of the pockets in one batch session. If you’re going to burn your fingers pressing interfacing, best do it all at once, right? I then worked on the fronts of each of these pants or shorts in succession.

I applied the pocket to the side front of each short or pant leg. I then applied the center front panels to each short or pant leg, I serged the center front seams after straight stitching them together, and then I sewed the front crotch seams and clean finished those with the serger. This is the most complicated step of the whole pants, because once you have the front panel and pocket panel done, you’re just sewing the backs to the fronts and finishing waist and hem!

While doing this step (took about 2 hours for 4 pairs of pants or shorts), I listened to a read of a journal of a woman (Emily Holder) who lived with her physician/naturalist husband at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, 90 miles west of Key West Florida right as the Civil War was starting. It’s a fascinating listen.

During the process, I realized one of the stash fabrics I’d selected was going to be too thin to wear as shorts, so I stopped construction, went to my stash, found a light yellow twill remnant and will continue on again with this new fabric, catching up to the same spot as the others before continuing on. Light lemon will work well with some upcoming additions to my summer wardrobe too.

I finished the pant front and backs and started assembling. In my tracing and alterations, I noted that I ended up with a 1/2″ longer sideseam on the back than front (I altered the front but tapered to 0″ at the sideseam so I need to check my tracing on this, it should not have happened this way.) So I made an adjustment at the sideseam waist on all three of these, and marked the same on my tracing for the next pair.

I always pin things up to see how they line up so these pants are pinned sideseam and inseam, ready for sewing the sideseam, and then the inseam.

I vary the construction from sewing the inseam AFTER the waistband (just personal preference, and I’ve now made this pattern seven times.) You can choose to just sew the waistband and then the inner leg seams before hemming.

For the final top stitching, you’ll have:

The back waistband

The front panel tack stitching to keep the facing down

The hems

Each of these will be sewn sequentially when you’re making multiple pairs of pants at once, so you’ll swap thread three times (unless your topstitching thread works for all of yours.)

In short, this was a worthwhile project in which I got a lot of well-fitting pants to wear. I got out of my previous rut of jeans-tee-blazer-sweater that I wore for years, and I have a TNT pattern that I’ll make for all season wear. In the winter, these will be made in baby wale corduroy, and twill.

Sew Paradise

Sewing a casual work from home wardrobe

What do you sew for a casual work from home wardrobe when you want to be stylish and put together? Choose to sew basic garments in nice fabrics, build on what you already have, create cohesive trios of patterns and pattern mix like a pro!

Sew (nice) basic garments:

You don’t need an evening gown. You probably only needed one once per year (or a few times) prior to the pandemic, but you don’t need one now. You need basics that you did not buy from an inexpensive store that won’t last the season.

Tops: choose knit or woven tops that have good fit and style – a basic tee that is well-fitting in a nice knit print or solid will work for you every day. A woven tee in lightweight fabrics is layerable both summer and winter.

Five Top Sewing Patterns for a Post Pandemic Wardrobe:

A basic woven tee:
Scout Tee by Grainline Studio
Plain and Simple Slouchy Tee Blouse by HotPatterns

A basic knit tee:
Shirt Tail Tee by HotPatterns (offers both a color block and a plain version)

The Three Tees by Christine Jonson Patterns – a cut on cap sleeve/dolman long sleeve tee with turtleneck, tunic and dress options. The line drawing makes this look really voluminous but there is plenty of shaping on this tee and you can go down a size if you want a slim fit or up a size for a cropped, roomy tee.

Pants: pandemic is all about elastic waist pants, but you don’t have to slink around in gray sweatpants either. Choose drapey woven fabrics and a jogger pattern or elastic waist pant pattern designed for them and create nice-looking but still pajama-comfy clothes

Five Pants Sewing Patterns for a Post Pandemic Wardrobe:
Luna Pants by Made by Rae
Pietra Pants by Closet Core
Emerson Pants by True/Bias
Tailored Trackpants by HotPatterns

Five Skirt Sewing Patterns for a Post Pandemic Wardrobe:

Taper and Pencil Skirts; Christine Jonson Patterns. No buttons, no elastic, just comfy stretch fabric on these shapely and flattering skirts.

Gypsum Skirt – a full elastic waist skirt with unique side pockets

Shirt tail curved hem midi skirt in knit or woven fabric: pattern hack of a skirt that I already have, instructions here.

Add a third layer:

Adding a third layer is a key way to make your casual clothes look like they were an intentional outfit, not grabbed from your floor in the morning. For warm climates, this might be only jewelry, for cooler ones, try a cardigan, soft knit blazer or vest.

Five Third Layer Cardigan, Knit Jacket or Vest Patterns:
Gatsby Cardi and Gilet by HotPatterns. You just have to get this for the fact the vest is called a gilet in British English!
Moto Jacket by Christine Jonson Patterns – knit moto jacket feels like a cardi, looks a little badass, can’t go wrong!

Sew Paradise

Sew a French Girl-Inspired Wardrobe

Sew your own French Girl-inspired spring wardrobe using popular sewing patterns

The French seem to have a certain je ne sais quoi in their dressing. It’s at once both effortless and put together.

I’ve put together six sewing patterns that are easy to sew that embody the French Girl casual wardrobe: a duster/trench coat, a classic Mariniére or Breton tee, a raglan turtlenenck, a pair of wide leg denim or linen pants and a pair of slim cropped pants. I mixed them with a bright basic cardigan and two scarves, naturellement. I’ve had the cardi and scarves forever (also probably a very French thing – buy good, keep forever.)

Toaster Sweater (Sew House Seven) in black velour rib with the Pietra Pants (Closet Case Patterns) is my first one. The Pietra is available in a slim cropped leg, a wide leg AND a shorts pattern – so it’s really a trio of pants that I think a lot of French women would wear.

The Cambria Duster (Friday Pattern Company) in a midweight linen is a great trench-inspired lightweight coat for summer. I mixed in the Mr. & Mrs. HP Breton Tee (Hot Patterns), in a heavyweight sweater knit stripe (OOP but alternatives abound.) The wide leg midweight denim (designed for heavy linen) pants are the Ann Normandy Pants (Ann Normandy Patterns). These have a unique gusset on the outer lower leg, and flat felled seams throughout. The fuscia sweater is from my closet (Landsend, cotton, cable knit) from forever ago. I sewed the Toaster Sweater three times, the second shown here is in navy ponte.

The HotPatterns Weekender Breton tee is currently unavailable from their website, but you can find this from other retailers who have print copies of it to purchase. The tee features a classic bateau neck, dropped shoulder with 3/4 sleeves. There are other patterns similar – the classic Breton has a dropped shoulder, a graceful bateau neckline and usually 3/4 sleeves, so look for those options. Of course, you have to make it in stripes. Blue and white or red and white is the traditional French fisherman shirt color.

Pattern tips: when sewing stripes, use a basting stitch FIRST (a hand-basting stitch) to hold the stripes together before stitching. The duster and pants are sewn from woven fabrics – medium to heavy linens are perfect for these garments. The tops are perfect for knit fabrics with a little stretch – go with cozy comfortable fabrics in the early spring when it’s still cool out, and lighten up the fabrics as you sew more for summer.

My inspiration (from Pinterest)

I selected these for temperatures between about 45 – 65 degrees Farenheit – so perfect for most mid-latitude spring weather. If it’s cooler out, add a thicker pashmina style scarf and layer a turtleneck under the cardi, if it’s warmer, wear the Breton in a lighter weight knit on it’s own with the cropped Pietra pants (or shorts!) and strappy flat sandals.

You can wear these with classic navy sneakers, a flat sandal, a ballet flat or even short booties if it’s really chilly out. Just imagine what your Inner French Girl would wear as she strolls to her favorite boulangerie.

Et voila! A classic French Girl capsule wardrobe you can make yourself.

Fabrics / patterns mainly from Seams Fabric in East Lansing (and online) except for the striped knit (online, a long time ago, source I don’t remember!)

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Spring Break Road Trip Capsule Wardrobe

Sew a spring break road trip capsule wardrobe for the mid-Atlantic coast

  • Luna Pants – woven jogger pants by Made by Rae
  • Toaster Sweater – turtleneck by Sew House Seven
  • Unfolding Jacket – woven oversized jacket by Wiksten
  • Miracle Pants – cropped or full length flare stretch knit pants by HotPatterns
  • Shirt Tail Tee – cut-on cap sleeve tee by HotPatterns
  • Mr. & Mrs. HP Breton tee – classic French Breton/Marinéire 3/4 sleeve tee shirt in striped fabric
  • Slit Skirt – front slit skirt in doubleknit by Christine Jonson Patterns
  • Emerson Shorts by True/Bias
  • Fleece ruana with ruffled edges
  • La Mégeve sweater with pockets from Naughty Bobbin Patterns

I mixed these with some pieces from my closet: a cotton cable sweater, skinny jeans, rain jacket, fleece jacket.

I’ll note that this is the Spring Break that didn’t happen! But I did sew a spring break roadtrip capsule wardrobe. And then my teen got COVID from a schoolmate after being back in school just 3 weeks.

So I decided I’d wear my spring break outfits anyway, because our rescheduled trip for June will be decidedly more summery (and will need different clothing for sure.)

We are driving from a cold Michigan to a warm(er) southern coastal Virginia for this trip, and I sewed for long drives and variable weather conditions, beach walks, bike rides and kayak trips.

Our first day is driving from Michigan to the Appalachians, Charleston, WV. I selected a Toaster Sweater by Sew House Seven in navy ponte from my LFS Seams Fabric in East Lansing, and a pair of Miracle Pants by HotPatterns in denim-look stretch knit.

The Toaster Sweater is part of a trio of Toasters I sewed. I like the Toaster for it’s all-serger construction, funnelneck turtleneck and cropped high hip fit. This ponte is warm and almost scuba-like in it’s structure, so the funnelneck stands up well on it’s own. In softer fabrics, the neckline drapes a bit more.

These Miracle Pants are key for a road trip. These are 100% stretch denim-look knit fabric (close to a ponte weight but not double knit), fitted at the high hip and waist, shaped gently to a flare at the ankle. They are either cropped flares or full length, I opted for full length. The waistband is hidden elastic “hollywood” style. I made my usual size in Hot Patterns (12) but I tapered in a lot at the waist to almost an 8 (as I sometimes do) on both sideseams and the center back. I traced off my Levi jeans pockets and added patch pockets to the back, otherwise this style doesn’t have pockets. They are comfortable for sitting in the car for hours!

I topped this with a ruffled edge Polartec ruana (patterns abound across the internet, but I used the Christine Jonson Travel Trio Three ruana and curved the edges) in teal, a socially-acceptable car blankie! I can wear this open like a cardigan, belted, or with one tail tossed over a shoulder. The fleece “grips” itself so for shoulder-tossing, it stays in place pretty well, and looks very chic. If you’re belting this, use a stretch elastic belt for extreme comfort and style.

This outfit would have been day 1 and day 2 of up to 8 hours of driving, so being comfortable is key!

Day 2: Driving, broken up by a bike ride, a tour of outdoor Monticello and the University of Virginia for architecture.

The Toaster Sweater and Luna Pants (woven joggers) are my next cozy outfit, worn with a cream puffy down vest from LandsEnd (not shown). This is the perfect hours-long car drive outfit – not too warm, definitely comfortable. The Luna Joggers I sewed are here. I created a short sew along/how to videos of my experience altering and sewing these.

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Cambria Duster

Pattern review for the Cambria Duster by Friday Pattern Company by Ann Siegle of Sew Paradise

I picked up the Cambria Duster and some camel windowpane linen fabric to make a chic duster / trench style coat with a dramatic collar last spring. But I sewed it in the fall and it promptly got cold, so I haven’t had much chance to wear it.

I always make a muslin, in this case, from some friend-gifted fabric, a few scraps of navy cotton and a textured chambray colored poly/cotton. The first one was a fit success except for sleeve length, so I added length to the sleeves for my windowpane linen.

I’ve included helpful tips below.

Bias binding tips:
If you’re finishing this with bound edges, bind them as per the instructions (largely bound before sewing the seams) If you’re serging them, just have at it! It’s an easy sew. The pattern has instructions for what to bind in what order, so just follow those. Consider using your own bias or straight binding. But use purchased if that’s a big help. No judgement here!

The sleeves should be measured before you cut – they’re long so they roll up, but not super long for people with long arms like me (see the blue one, and then the camel one).

Be careful of bathrobe-like colors! Anything in a pastel color probably would not be good. Stick to classics like cream, camel, navy, charcoal gray or go with muted neutrals like sage, fog, slate, pear. Or go deep with teal, aubergine, harvest red. My LFS owner says this is a ‘socially acceptable bathrobe’ and I’m all there for that with some wide leg linen pants and a cozy sweater under it, but if you walk around your neighborhood and a college student says “I like your robe, er, coat” you know it’s probably bathrobe-like. I said thanks. Its a pandemic and she was wearing flannel pajama pants when she gave me the compliment as I walked my dog by her house. I figured robe was a compliment.

Sew lined pockets EVERY TIME
Seriously. Lined pockets, wonderful. I lined mine in Ankara print cotton. It’s vastly easier to sew around curves and turn right side out, than it is to press and hem around them. Plus, they’re fun!

Make three of them!
I am going to make a lightweight boiled wool version in cream, for a beautiful fall/early spring coat, inspired by Meghan Markle’s coat here. There were, at one count, 3,000 people waiting for that coat and 1 zillion knockoffs since then. Sew your own!

I always make three of anything, see my reasoning here.

Use this to finish off your capsule wardrobe:
I build capsule wardrobes one or two garments at a time. Pieces in this capsule include my camel cord Pietra skinny pants, and black and navy Toaster sweaters. I will also wear this with my cotton voile and silk noil Scout tees and my mint sueded tencel rayon Luna Jogger pants.

Having a third piece, particularly a coat/duster, is a great way to finish off an outfit, and you could wear this two or three seasons (depending on your climate and fabric choices.)

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Luna Pants Sew Along

Luna woven jogger pants sewing pattern by Made by Rae Sew Along by Ann Siegle

I’ll be sewing the Luna pants pattern by Made by Rae (no affilliation, yada, yada) this month. It’s the Pattern of the Month (March 2021) for my Local Fabric Shop (LFS) Seams Fabric in East Lansing. NAYY there too, except proprietor Jessy is a friend of mine.

This first video I will share the Sew Along, fabric choices, elastic choices, some basic pattern modifications, why I trace patterns on tissue paper (if they are print patterns), why I sew a pattern a minimum of 3 times, the other fabrics I have to build a “capsule” wardrobe to go with these and more!

Luna pants sew along with Ann Siegle of Sew Paradise

In this next video, I cut out the pattern and tell you why grainline is SO crucial so your pantlegs don’t end up twisting around on your ankle.

Stay tuned for additional videos on construction steps, and the final reveal videos!

Make a muslin!

Seriously. Just do it. Make it from old thrifted sheets, from actual muslin, from ugly fabric people have given you. I always take that box of random fabric friends have – it’s made many a muslin for me, for free, in the future! I cut out a size L in these, but between cutting it out in a slippery poly (not the best choice!), and re-reading the measurements, I need a little more room in the mid hip, so I ended up cutting an XL. I may have to taper to a L below the hip – there’s a lot of volume in these pants – but coupled with a slightly-too-snug-to-be-joggers fit on the L and the fact that I need a front rise adjustment, the muslin, or test garment, is the way to go before cutting into the special fabric.

I’m sharing my process for muslins and adjustments. I have a short front rise but I have booty, so I usually need to trim out the rise a little bit and sometimes add to the center back seam. I never adjust sideseams, so both of these are tapered to 0″ adjustments at the sideseams.

When I first tried this pant on, the waist was pretty high up in front. Even with a 5/8″ Seam Allowance (SA) for the facing for the elastic channel, this would be too high for me. So I pinched out an inch in the center front rise for this. I will also add a center back rise adjustment OUT (I have barely enough at the center back small of my back, although along my back hip there is plenty). This is a slash and spread adjustment to the tissue, tapering to 0″ at the sideseam.

I also looked at the hem, folding up the recommended hem allowance for the elastic and a larger, deeper one. I tied these with elastic pieces to test out. Depending on the way the actual pants fit, I will either go with the existing length, or a shorter one. Note, I am 5’3″ and these pants are the same length for all sizes – so if you are tall, add length to your tracing, you’ll need it.

Below the knee, you can see there’s some volume here, (I pinch out about 4″ – 2″ in my hand x 2 sides), and depending on the look we’re going for – I may narrow the pants to a smaller size below the upper thigh. You CAN see this volume is designed into the pant in the last pic (from Made by Rae.) So I am opting to not adjust this yet.

A tip, I keep a shoelace in my elastic bag of elastics to try on pants. I am, just for seeing how this comes together, sewing the facing/channel for elastic and testing it out. Why not? With a long basting stitch on my machine, I can test out my adjustments for using much wider elastic at the waist FIRST, before I cut my fashion fabric.

And as I’ve said before, I make things in threes so investing some time into pattern adjustments like this is no big deal. I intend to make two in solid colors and two in prints so this pattern will get some wear.

Final muslin adjustments, ready to cut the fashion fabric!

This video shows how to transfer the muslin adjustments to tissue.

During construction (following the illustrated Luna instructions), I used a lot of pins and clips. This fabric is heavy and a little slippery, but the result is worth it – feels like heavy sueded silk, super nice, not at all see through. Going up a size gave me the right slouch and drape, and also impunity for future washing and drying (I did prewash and dry in the dryer on medium before cutting.)

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One Yard FREE Kimono Poncho Top Sewing Pattern: The Greenbush Top

This tee is a rectanglar top that can be worn as a bateau neck tee or a poncho (depending on how you finish the top). The Greenbush Top is a quick no-pattern one-yard poncho kimono rectangular top sewing pattern is designed by Ann Siegle. A version of this blog post, authored by Ann Siegle appears here on the Christine Jonson Patterns blog.


This graceful square kimono-style sleeve top uses a selvedge-to-selvedge piece of soft woven fabric like rayon, silk, silky poly, georgette, cotton voile or knit fabrics like rayon jersey, silk jersey or bamboo jersey.  It’s super easy to make and it’s easy for beginners. It goes really well with high waist pants and skirts. Slim fitting tops like cami, tees and turtlenecks can be worn under it for more warmth. A 45″ to 50″ width fabric is ideal for this top – wider than that, you may have to hem your sleeves when you’re done, to whatever length you like.

To sew this, you’ll need to take a few measurements first!

1)    Hip circumference – this is the widest part of your hip/bum

2)    Desired top length – the version shown in the example is high hip, at the hip bones, but you can go as low as mid-hip if you want more of a shirt length if you’re not wearing high-waisted pants or skirts. Add 1.5″ to this measurement.

3)    Desired neckline opening (from 12” to 14”  – the example is 12”.

Once you have your measurements, you’ll want to add 2” to 4” to the hip measurement (hip plus ease) and divide by two (so if your hips measure 40” you’ll add 2” to 4” – 42-44” and divide by 2, or 21-22” to get the measurement for the hip opening at the bottom. If you’re unsure, go with the larger of the two ease measurements (4”) as you can always take away the width at the hem opening, but you cannot add it back!

Cut your fabric length (see above) from selvedge to selvedge with 3/4” seam allowances both top and bottom. The selvedge is the finished edge that the fabric comes with from the manufacturer. It will not ravel. If your desired top length is 17” hemmed and finished (example, high hip on Ann), you’ll cut 18.5” high x two panels x the entire width of the fabric, or just ever so slightly OVER one yard of fabric! So each panel is 18.5” high x the width of the fabric in our example here.

Mark the center front of your fabric panels. Divide your neck width x 2 and mark that on either side of the CF, so if you’re using 12” wide, mark 6” on either side of center front (CF).

Do the same for the hem opening, marking on either side of the CF, or 10.5” or 11” on either side of the CF mark for the hem, depending on your hip + ease measurement. Yours will be different.

If you want to finish the long edges of your top now, edge serge these so they don’t ravel. You can also finish them in the next step with a double flat felled seam.

Placing fabric right sides together, using a ¾” Seam Allowance (SA), seam from the sleeve hem edges to your first mark on the top edge, creating the shoulder and over arm seam. Backstitch for security at the neck opening.

Skip over the neck opening and backstitch at your next neckline edge marking and stitch to the sleeve hem. Press this seam open. Fold the SA under on each side of the top seams and press. Topstitch. This creates a finished flat-felled looking seam on the shoulders AND finishes the neckline at the same time! If you serged, you can simply press the seam and neckline open and topstitch on each side of the seam or neck opening, no need to turn it under.

If you’re making a poncho, hem all the way around your top now, you’re done!

If you’re making a top, continue on:

Repeat the same step for the bottom hem as you used on your neckline, using your hem opening markings. Your top will have one wide opening for the hips and one narrower opening for your head.

Turn the top right side out and press the rectangle flat.

Mark 6” up from your hem where the hem openings begin and stitch, a vertical seam, backstitching at the top of the 6” marking for security. This creates your “sideseam”.

Hem your sleeves to your desired length.

Slip the top on and enjoy!

If you’re wearing these with high waisted pants (my recommendations listed below), your  top will come down over the top of the pants, no need to wear anything under your top. But if you feel more comfortable, a cami can be worn under it.

Kimono Poncho Top Sewing Pattern FREE

Click on this image to enlarge it.

Favorite high-waist pants sewing patterns that go well with the free kimono poncho top

For knit fabrics:

Christine Jonson Perfect Pant (skinny, flare or wide leg versions)

Christine Jonson Cuff Pant

Tummy Tamer Trousers by HotPatterns

Miracle Pants by HotPatterns (for stretch wovens as well as knit)

For woven fabrics:

Pietra Pants by Closet Core

Emerson Trousers *high waist view by True/Bias

Rose Pants by Made by Rae

You can also wear these with jogger pants, jeans and skirts too! Just adjust the length of the top before you cut to be sure you have the right waist coverage you prefer.

That’s it!  A stylish, easy to sew, beginner-friendly rectangle kimono poncho top.

Variations: Make it into a rectangular poncho

If you omit the seams under the arms and at the side seams, you can wear this as a rectangular poncho over any other top. The arm / sleeve seam and the sideseam makes it a top instead of a poncho.

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Sewing Pattern Review – Toaster Sweater Sew House Seven

I make things in threes, and I’ve sewn three Toaster Sweaters by Sew House Seven and will probably make three (or a dozen) more! This comfortable, slightly cropped banded hem and sleeve sweater is a fun, EASY sew even for beginners.

I bought the fabric (a ribbed velour) from my Local Fabric Shop. My LFS owner is a self professed lover of woven fabrics (but not knits) and as she handed me the pattern and directed me to the black ribbed velour, she said “if you’re brave enough, try this fabric”. Bravery not needed – I knew looking at the pattern and the velour that this would be a super easy sew, and it was.

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Sew it three times

Sew each pattern three times for maximum enjoyment and use out of your sewing patterns.

I’ve begun a new sewing approach that I got from one of the Sew News editors: sew it three times!

Why sew it three times? You’ve invested the time and energy to sew a pattern, you should get the most out of it that you can. Of course, you can make it MORE than that, but making it at LEAST three times ensures that you get the most value out of each pattern. It also forces you to use your pattern stash (we’ll tackle that later!)

Why make sewing patterns three times?

  • You’ll get your best fit with your first to second test and then you’ll have the second two that really fit well
  • You’ll get a chance to sew it “right out of the envelope” as the designer intended, with the recommended fabrics, but also….
  • You’ll get the chance to experiment with a different fabric or views available in the pattern
  • You’ll have the chance to make design or fit alterations that could catapult this into TNT (tried n’ true) pattern status, where you know you can expect consistent, well-fitting results. You’ll shorten the time between “I need this in my wardrobe” and the time that it’s IN your wardrobe.

You’ll make 27 garments in your #MakeNine for the year!

I have (and you do too) a lot of sewing patterns we’ve never sewn. While great for supporting independent sewing pattern designers, these never-sewn garments are opportunities to express your creativity. Further if you don’t like the pattern or it didn’t work for you – wouldn’t it be better to pass it onto someone else?

I have a whole collection of patterns I’ve never sewed, and that’s too bad – for those patterns and for me. Focusing my efforts on fewer patterns that I know I can successfully make (and make them work for my body and my wardrobe) are key. Those that I know I won’t ever make again, these should go.

Some years ago, a friend with a huge pattern stash she inherited from her late mom offered boxes of patterns to me. But I’d already inherited a stash of vintage patterns from both my mom (and friends.) I’ve committed to selecting at least two vintage patterns from my own stash and then deciding whether to keep any of the others that I have in my stash for anything other than just framing and decorating my sewing space with them.  

Some are ‘vintage’ but they’re back in style. My collection of Vogue Elements from the early 1990s is not only timeless but some of the more trendy 1990s styles are very much back in fashion.  I’ve sewn other things like ponchos from the 1970s or even pajamas and nightshirts from the early 1980s.

OK, you’re convinced, you’re going to sew each pattern three times. That’s great for basics like tee shirts and joggers, but what about other patterns?

Unless it’s an evening gown, many patterns can be made more than once to serve more than one purpose. For instance, make a tee shirt dress into a couple of dresses and a nightgown! Or sew a pair of pants into hiking pants or loungewear just with a change of fabric and the addition or omission of pockets. A button up shirt pattern becomes a jacket, or a pajama top just by switching fabrics and sizes.

Most patterns have at least two or three views, sewing all gives you slightly different patterns to weave into your wardrobe. Or they can be sewn in three wildly different fabrics for distinct looks.  If you live in a climate that changes with the seasons, sew with fabric for each season.

What patterns are you going to make three times? Select at least one pattern right now that you’re going to commit to sewing three (or more) times this year.

My three Toaster Sweaters from Sew House Seven. The green on the left was the “muslin” the two on the right in navy and black were my second after I adjusted the pattern for me.