Sew Your Own Custom Back-Wrap Top

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Ready to get your sew on? If you liked the back-wrap top I shared last week, then check it— I’m back with detailed instructions! I hope you won’t be too intimidated to give it a go. If you’re worried about making darts, you can start out with a knit fabric instead of something woven. And you don’t have to make it reversible, but then it would only be half the fun. Point is: You make the rules! If you do make your own, though, just do me one little favor. Link it up, babies!

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step One: Find a shirt that fits closely (but doesn’t stretch) to your figure. Transfer its shape to a piece of kraft paper by poking holes along its border with straight pins. You may also chose to trace the shirt with a fabric pen.

Step Two: Trace the pinhole outline with a pen, cropping the shirt at its natural waist. It’s better to crop it longer than you may eventually want it and you can trim it down later. Add a 1/2″ border to the outline for hem allowance. Then Cut out the piece of paper.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Three: Trace the pattern from step two, and indent the outline of the 1/2″ hem allowance. Find the middle of the piece between the armpits.

Step Four: Draw a curved line from the inside, top of the shoulders to the waist, just about 3-4″ from the bottom. Make sure the line you draw intersects the middle point you marked in step three. Cut out the paper along the curve, flip the paper up-side-down and trace it to create the other side of the back.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Five: I got a little creative with the neckline by making a ’50s style v-shape. I also created extension pieces for each of the back wrap pieces, each measuring 19″ in length. I decided on their length by having a friend hold ribbon pieces at my waist, tying them comfortably at the front of my waist, and trimming the excess ribbon. Each piece measured 19″ long.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Six: Pin the pattern pieces onto your both layers of coordinating fabric and cut out each piece. Make sure as you stack the coordinating fabric that the right sides are facing each other or away from each other. I laid out my pattern pieces on the bias (diagonally) so the fabric would stretch a bit against my curves. I was able to get the back wrap pieces and their extensions all in one piece, instead of cutting out the extensions separately and connecting them.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Seven: Begin the process of making bust darts by finding the middle part of the front piece. Then measure out 4″ from the middle point on each side. This is the measurement I used to make my darts after holding the fabric to my body and judging where they should go.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Eight: Measure 1.25″ out from the points you just marked in step seven. This will be the width of your darts.

Step Nine: Place a dot in between the two dots from step eight, then measure up 5″. Connect the dots to create the lines for the darts.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Ten: Create darts using a similar technique on the sides of the front piece. Again, I measured my darts according to my own body, but if you are similar to me, you may want to measure 5″ down from the armpit hole for the top line of the dart. Then go down 1.25″ for the bottom line of the dart. The point of the dart was positioned 1″ above the point of the bottom darts, as shown in the above image. Connect the top, middle, and bottom lines of the dart to the point.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Eleven: Iron the darts so that the crease is right at the middle line of each dart. Then stitch along the outside lines of the darts. Then Iron them flat.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Twelve: Begin assembling the top by placing the back wrap pieces face-to-face onto the front piece. Pin along the shoulders and sides and stitch together, 1/2″ from the edge. Then iron the hems flat to prevent bulk when assembling the entire pieces in the next step. You may be able to see that I also sewed darts into the back wrap pieces for an extra fitted design, but it’s really not necessary due to the wrap style.

When you are finished connecting the pieces, make sure it fits you properly. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to make the proper adjustments before continuing.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Thirteen: After you’ve completed steps 1-12 with a coordinating fabric (make sure the patterns don’t show through each fabric), fit the pieces together carefully, face-to-face. At this point you are checking to make sure the armpits and shoulders match up. This is why you need to cut both fabrics at the same time and stitch precisely 1/2″ from the edge of the fabric. If they don’t match up at this point, you will need to rip out the hem and correct the fit of one of the pieces.

Pin together the pieces along the neckline, reaching all the way to the ends of the wrap extension pieces. Then stitch 1/2″ from the edge.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Fourteen: Cut little slits along the neckline and other curved areas where you have stitched. This will prevent puckering after you flip the piece right-side out.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Fifteen: Now pin along the bottom edge of the two pieces and stitch them together everywhere except along the front. This open part is where you will flip the piece right-side-out in the next step.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Sixteen: Now you can flip the top right-side-out through that opening you left in the previous step. Use a capped pen to help you with the pointy ends of the wrap extension pieces. Now iron along the hems to flatten it out. Flip under the open section of the front and iron along with the rest of the bottom hem.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Seventeen: Pin along the opening of the front, where you just ironed, and then stitch it closed, very closely to the edge of both layers of fabric.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Eighteen: Cut little slits long the armholes to prevent puckering after finishing them.

Make your own sewing pattern for a custom wrap top. Step by step photos of sewing process included!

Step Nineteen: Fold under the fabric along the armholes, ironing as you go along. Work one fabric side at a time.

Step Twenty: After each fabric side has been folding under at the armpit holes, each fabric side’s edge matching up, pin the two faces together and then stitch very closely along the edge.

I hope to get a lot of wear out of this top through the Summer— with high waisted shorts, skirt, and even over top of dresses. Yep, it’s a suitor!

15 Responses

  1. Stacia says:

    Thanks for the actual step by step instructions! This is one of the first online sewing tutorials for garment making that I actually feel like I could conquer!

  2. That shape is so fabulous on you — well done!

  3. Rachael says:

    this looks not too difficult, but man, i’ve been feeling pretty lazy with sewing lately… amazing top though!

  4. AmyS says:

    I love this shirt. It’d be flattering to all shapes & sizes! I’d love to make a few. It’s a flattering summer staple.
    Thank you for the tutorial.
    I’ve been wanting to ask all my favorite bloggers who sew what sewing machine they would recommend?
    I used to sew all the time back when my son was little,&was a new housewife. I gained satisfaction knowing I’d saved money on drapes, bedding, pilows, etc. Plus, it was just so fun!
    I had to go back to work due to financial reasons; many years &many moves have passed. I have no clue where my sewing machine went( weird, seems a hard thing to lose, but we moved extensively overseas). My old sewing machine was a yard-sale buy, &I can’t remember it’s make.
    I truly want to get back in to sewing again, it used to calm me,& make me feel I’d added beauty to our home.
    If you don’t mind, what sewing machine do you use? I know this is rather public,& if you don’t want to endorse one brand, I can understand. I ask you because I admire & trust you. You put out amazing projects, how can I not trust your opinion?=^_^*=
    If you feel uncomfortable in a public forum, could you please email me? I would be so grateful!
    Thank you!
    And thank you for your tutorial. I wish I could make it ASAP! All the research on sewing machines is just hurting my head! They’re ever so much more complicated than they were 15 yrs ago. Technology’s great, but ackk! I don’t know what’s essential or not!

    • Mandi says:

      Hi Amy! I grew up using my mom’s sewing machine, then my grandma gave me one of her old (1950s) machines, but when I lost some of its pieces in a move, I just went back to using my mom’s machine until she found me this one at a garage sale. It was $50, and I’ve had it repaired once, because I didn’t maintain it very well. I learned my lesson! Anyway, you don’t need a fancy machine at all. Just something that will sew for ya. Check Craigslist if you don’t want to buy one new.

      • AmyS says:

        Thank you for your response! Your response brought up the memory of my grand mother. She always kept her *all* of her things so well. I remembered an afternoon sewing with her,&her telling me, “If you take care of your sewing machine,& treat it the way grandpa keeps our cars, you’ll never need to buy but one.” My grandparents built their both the homes they lived in in their married life, everything on at regular maintainance schedule,& never bought on credit.
        Thanks for your advice, I thought I needed something special, but even more so, thanks for the memory you sparked for me. Grandma’s no longer with us,&Grandpa’s ailing, but still living in their “dream home” they lovingly planned & built together. They kept such a lovely home (last time I visited, Grandpa was installing a new base cabinet & sink, much to his children’s worry abt him living alone,&doing all the manual labor on his own to update their home). While not poor (although having been raised poor, “The Great Generation”,& coming from a hard-hit area) they knew the value of sweat equity, as we’d now call it, saving up for what you want/need,& maintaing what you have VS. Mass consumerism, made their possessions more meaningful. Their possesions never owned them.
        I wish I had my grandmother’s sewing machine, I’m certain it would be in tip-top condition,& I’m eqully certain Grandpa made sure it had all the bells & whistles as she loved making quilts& wking w/ leather. (Or do those attachments come standard? I know I’d be wanting to make quilts & wk w/the leather too.)

  5. AmyS says:

    P.S. you’re the first I’m asking. It seems you’re more down-to-earth & wouldn’t steer me towards a sewing machine which would be out of the average homemaker’s price range. Some of the prices I’ve seen in my research, YIKES! I don’t mind paying for quality , but is it necessary to pay $1,500+ for a good sewing machine? I’m embarrased I have no idea what a good sewing machine should cost in 2014.

  6. Well done Mandy! :)

  7. Susan M. says:

    This is awesome and girl, you look amazing!!!

  8. Taylor says:

    New goal this summer: get good at sewing because I WANT THIS SHIRT!

    xoxo
    Taylor

  9. Lisa R says:

    oh my gosh, impressive! It’s beautiful and YOU look amazing!! I’m nearly 39 weeks pregnant and I hope to look as good as you after my baby is here!

  10. Emily Joseph says:

    Great tutorial! You made this look very do-able. I can’t wait to try it out. I’m new to the blogging community but have been very impressed with your site- so inspiring :)

  11. allie says:

    LOVE IT!!!!

  12. Zoe says:

    Positively fabulous!

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