pleated top tutorial by made it on monday

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I have talked about Jill from Made it on Monday several times before, but I just cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have her as a Sewing for ME! guest. Jill is the MEsewing guru- tops, skirts, dresses, ruffles, zippers, buttons, she does it all. Her skill with a sewing machine is just amazing- I had a hard time narrowing to a few favorite projects for y’all (which, of course, means, you’ll just have to spend the day perusing her archives).  This softly layered shell, the polka dot ruffled top, this ruffled collar top, this polka dot tunic, this knit striped skirt– I could go on and on.
Of course, the best part of this little intro is the fact that Jill is here today to share a Sewing for ME tutorial-
I’m so excited to be here today! I’ve loved and followed kojodesigns and Sewing In No Man’s Land for so long and have so often been inspired by their work!
Items for myself make up the bulk of what my sewing machine produces. I love clothes and having variety in my wardrobe, but I just don’t like the price tags of everything I fall in love with in stores. Because of that, my favorite creative challenge is to find a piece I love and knock it off in a way that works for me.
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This top with a pleated neck line and loose middle (a must these days since I’m pregnant with my second baby and stuck between normal clothes and maternity wear) was inspired by this top at a boutique in Utah. I fell in love with its simplicity and cuteness through a Facebook picture.
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I used a linen-like material that I found at Joanne’s and I like the way the pleats at the neckline subtly hide in the print. With so many shirts with gathers these days, it’s fun to see pleats.
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Another thing I loved about the inspiration piece was the exposed zipper. While I can get this top on and off without needing the zipper, I think it’s fun to add a little interest to the back.
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And the bottom of the shirt is trimmed with a six inch band of black fabric. The print material is normal shirt length, so the band takes it to almost a tunic.
Want to make one for yourself? I bought a yard and a half of the print, half a yard of the black material, a zipper and a pack of bias tape. My shirt would me a small/medium, so just get additional fabric if you’re needing a larger size. I think this top could be very flattering for many different body types.
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I used a loose fitting shirt as my pattern, and when cutting the front piece, I set the shirt a few inches in from the fold, that way the front would initially start out much wider than I would need in a typical top.
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I used the back of the shirt as a pattern for the back, this time not adding any extra material. As you can see in the picture, the front piece is much wider than the back. At this point I also cut my black fabric into a long six inch strip, and then cut two pieces—one the width of the front of the shirt, the other the width of the back.
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Sewing right sides together, attach the solid color strips to the front and back pieces and press the seams.
The next step is pleating the neckline of the front. If you haven’t done pleats before, don’t be intimidated! They’re easy! I started by 1) finding the middle of the neckline. 2) Then measured a half inch over from that and 3) pinned to mark the spot. 4) Measured a half inch from that and pinned again. 5) Folded the fabric so one pin was on top of the other (it was just less than a quarter inch overlap) and removed the two marking pins and pinned the fold which makes it your pleat. 6) Measure a half inch from the edge of the pleat to mark the first pin of the next pleat and repeat.
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I originally did six pleats on either side of the center line, but later the neckline gapped a bit, so I just added an extra pleat on each side. After pinning, I made sure the fold continued down for a few inches and pressed to help hold things in place.
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I then sewed down each pleat (make sure you get all the layers at once) a few inches. The outside pleats had the shortest line of stitching and the middle ones the longest. I used black thread because I liked the way it contrasted on the white better than how white would contrast with the black print.
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The next step was adding the exposed zipper. Most exposed zippers you see these days have the whole thing sewn directly on the outside of a garment. I liked how my inspiration piece still had a finished affect, while showing a lot of the zipper. I found the center of the back piece, and cut a slit the length of the teeth part of the zipper (not of the entire length of the fabric around it).
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Then at the bottom of the slit, and cut two tiny snips angling away from the slit.
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I folded the sides of the slit under about a quarter inch and the little point at the bottom under as well. Then I slide the zipper under the slit and pinned it in place.
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Using my zipper foot I sewed it in place. This is what the wrong side looks like. It really was simple to do!
The last steps of finishing off the top were to assemble the shirt—sewing right sides together at the shoulders and side seams. I then trimmed the neckline and arm holes out with the black bias tape. I like the structure it adds, as well as not having to worry about making sure I finishing everything off perfectly. I used a rolled hem foot to hem the black band, but you could just do a basic double fold hem. I just didn’t want to deal with pressing and pinning.
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I’m really happy with the way it turned out. I like it worn just straight as is…
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But also think belting it adds some shape and dresses it up a bit. I just tied a wide grosgrain ribbon around my waist for this look.
Thank you so much, Kirstin and Jordan, for having me! And if any of you make this, let me know. I’d love to see your creation!
When you have a minute, be sure to go peruse Jill’s style files at Made it on Monday! And go say hi at Sewing in No Man’s Land for Sewing for ME goodness as well!

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