As always, the transition from spring to summer has caught me unawares! Over the past couple of weeks the weather here in New York has turned from damp and chilly to hot and sweaty, and I’m suddenly realizing that my poor daughter has nothing to wear!
And so I turned desperately to my sewing machine and whipped up the quickest, simplest summer top I could think of, this breezy Gathered Summer Top. Once I got it on her, I had to do a double take. This easy-as-pie shirt is actually cute. Really cute. So cute I went back to my machine and made more!
These Gathered Summer Tops are extra special in Liberty of London’s lightweight and silky soft Tana Lawn Classics. And with over 30 gorgeous, new prints recently added to the collection, choosing is more fun (and more difficult!) than ever. I chose the new and unbelievably pretty Navy John for one of my tops (and couldn’t resist an old favorite, Mabelle Turquoise, for the other).
The elastic casing and adjustable straps make these tanks easy to fit and even easier to sew. You can finish a whole shirt in under an hour, from the first cut to the last stitch. And to make sure I’m prepared for next year, I’ve sized the pattern from 1 to 10 years. Sneaky summer won’t catch me off guard again! -Corinne
To make one Gathered Top for size 1 (2, 3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10), you will need...
- ½ (½, ½, ¾, ¾, ¾, ¾) yard of Liberty of London’s Tana Lawn Classics or Seasonals. I used the Classics, Mabelle Turquoise (pictured above, top) and Navy John (bottom).
- 1 yard of 3/8-inch Braided Elastic in white
- A spool of Gutermann’s Cotton Thread in color 1040.
- Merchant and Mills’ Bodkin and Threader or a safety pin
- Clover’s 18 mm Bias Tape Maker
Prewash all materials before starting.
For the sake of clarity our instructional photos use Robert Kaufman's Architextures in Tangerine Hatches, a fabric with a clear right and wrong side (instead of the Tana Lawn).
Note: When cutting simple rectangular shapes for patterns such as this, straight, clean cuts are key. The best way to make these cuts is with a rotary cutter and a non-slip quilting ruler on a self-healing cutting mat. If you have limited experience using a rotary cutter, I recommend visiting our Rotary Cutting Tutorial.
Cut two 20 x 12 (21 x 13, 21 ½ x 14 ½, 23 x 16, 24 x 17 ½, 24 ½ x 19, 26 x20 ½)-inch rectangles from the Liberty of London fabric. These are the Body Pieces.
Cut one 1 5/8-inch strip from selvage to selvage. This is the Strap piece.
Cut a 22 (23, 23 ½, 24 ½, 26, 26 ½, 28)-inch length of the elastic.
Prepare the Straps
Following the manufacturer’s instructions, use the 18mm bias tape maker to create single fold tape from the Strap piece. Fold in half lengthwise, encasing the raw edges, and press.
Sew the long open side closed with an edgestitch.
Trims the ends and cut the strip into four equal-length pieces. Set aside.
Piece the Body
With wrong sides facing, stack the two Body pieces on top of each other. Pin along the two short sides.
Sew along the two pinned sides with a ¼-inch seam allowance.
Turn the garment so that the right sides are now facing and press flat along the seams. Sew along the short sides again with a ½-inch seam allowance.
Press the seams to one side and sew down with an edgestitch.
Hem the Bottom Edge
Fold the bottom raw edge of the garment up ¼ inch towards the wrong side and press. Fold the same edge up ¾ inch towards the wrong side, press and pin. Sew the hem down with an edgestitch.
Hem the Top Edge and Attach the Straps
Fold the top raw edge of the garment down ¾ inch towards the wrong side and press. Fold the same edge down 1 1/8 inch towards the wrong side and press.
Lay the garment out flat with the wrong side facing out. Measure 4 ½ (5, 5 ½, 6, 6 ½, 7, 7 ½) inches in along the top edge from one side seam (not the edge stitch). Pin one strap to this spot, aligning one of its ends with the bottom edge of the hem.
Pin the second strap in the same way 4 ½ (5, 5 ½, 6, 6 ½, 7, 7 ½) inches from the other seam.
Flip the piece over and repeat with the remaining two straps.
Sew the top hem down with an edgestitch, leaving a 1-inch gap near one of the side seams. Backstitch over the straps when you reach them.
Sew a second seam ½ inch down from the top edge (and approximately ½ inch up from the previous seam) all the way around the garment. Again, backstitch over the straps when you reach them.
Thread one end of the elastic onto the bodkin (or safety pin).
Push the bodkin into the 1-inch gap. Pull the elastic through the channel, making sure not to pull the other end inside.
When you have pulled the bodkin all the way through to the other end of the channel, overlap the two ends by ½ inch. Sew the two ends together lengthwise with a zigzag stitch.
Tuck the elastic into the hem and close the gap with an edgestitch.
Turn the top right side out. Distribute the gathers evenly across the top edge of the garment by pushing the fabric along the elastic.
Tie the shoulder straps at the desired length and trim the ends as needed.
If you find that the garment's fit needs adjusting, either push the gathers toward the center of the front and back of the garment to bring the straps in and enlarge the underarms; or spread the gathers out if you'd like the straps set wider and a snugger fit under the arms.