In today's article, I'd like to show you a new pattern I've been working on for the last three weeks. It is a pattern for a ladies' top with lining, for which I have written detailed sewing instructions, which you can find below. We'll look at how to sew women's tops with lining in a simplified way - using bias tape. I will also show you how to sew in a zipper and make decorative piping/brush fringe trim.
You can explore this pattern for women’s top here:
This pattern is designed for medium woven fabrics such as needlecord. I bought my needlecord at Dumlatek.cz, here: Needlecord - Bright yellow You can also use light denim, suit fabrics, shirt fabrics, etc.
- Separating zipper (35 cm / 14” long)
- Iron hook & eye fastening (2x)
- One-sided fusible interfacing
- Bias tape
You can make bias tapes yourself or buy ready-made ones, more information here:
Primary fabric pieces:
- 2x back piece (lengthwise)
- 1x front piece (lengthwise, cut on the fold)
- 1x peplum ruffle (bias)
Lining fabric pieces:
- 2x back piece (lengthwise or bias)
- 1x front piece (lengthwise or bias, cut on the fold)
- 1x peplum ruffle (bias)
I decided to make my peplum ruffle from two pieces so that the needlecord wales meet in the middle. I folded the original pattern piece in half...
...and drew a new centerline along the fold.
Then I laid translucent paper over the original piece and traced around the right half of it.
I also traced the lines marking the seam allowances and added a seam allowance to the new edge of the piece.
I also traced the grainline and transferred it to the widest point of the piece to make it easy to work with.
This is what my new pattern piece looks like. I'll need to cut it out of the fabric twice.
If you ever create a new pattern piece in this way, be sure to label it properly so you always know what you're looking at. You can be sure that without it you won't remember what piece it is and what pattern it belongs to. :)
You also need to mark the front center line on the piece. I usually use the abbreviation “CF” (center front).
And the same goes for the back part of the piece (“CB” = center back).
Don't forget to transfer all the other marks from the original piece as well, they will come in handy later.
If you want to use your own fringe trim, then this is the perfect time to prepare it. You can learn more about that in this article: How to make fringe trims
Always check the correct position of the pieces during the pattern layout phase. The distance of both ends of the grainline from the selvage must be the same. This is especially important if you use striped or otherwise regularly patterned fabrics.
I recommend that you cut the upper part of the centerline of the back piece according to the curve indicated on the pattern piece. Most of us don't have exactly straight backs these days and if you cut the pieces with a straight centerline, the top may stick out at the neckline, but it's up to you. If you feel your back is nice and straight, then you can cut the back with a straight center line...
Transfer all the necessary marks and shapes from the pattern to the fabric. You can use a tracing wheel or thread tracing.
If you don't know how to transfer marks and lines to fabric, I recommend reading this article: Thread tracing
For bust and waist darts, I recommend marking the top of the dart with a perpendicular mark.
You may be alarmed that the tracing wheel leaves marks on the right side of the fabric. If you have some really "fluffy" fabric, then I recommend avoiding the tracing wheel and using thread tracing only. For most fabrics, however, you can easily remove these traces with an iron.
(The photo below shows the face of my pieces.)
Wet the right side of the fabric (I use a regular spray bottle from the garden store). Let the fabric soak up the moisture for a while (3–5 minutes)...
...and then simply iron it. This is what it looks like, no sign of the tracing wheel.
My tip: Speaking of ironing... If you have fabric that might stretch out, or you're struggling a bit with the bobbin thread tension (and you're in danger of your pieces rippling when you sew in the zipper), reinforce the center edges of both back pieces with strips of fusible interfacing.
Mark the center lines on the pieces you cut on the fold - simply make small notches where the fabric was folded. This will make it easier for you to connect other pieces to these pieces and everything will be symmetrical and aligned correctly.
My tip: Usually the garment itself is sewn first and then the lining. This is because fitting tests are carried out during the sewing process and minor adjustments are made. After the adjustments have been recorded, the lining pieces are then cut according to the modified pattern.
However, I highly recommend sewing a test piece. When sewing a test piece, you should perform all the fitting tests and make necessary adjustments so you can then start sewing the final piece and not worry about these things anymore. In such cases, I recommend starting with lining. When you are working with a new pattern you can mess up a lot of things and lining fabrics are usually not that expensive and can be easily replaced. However, if you get something wrong when working with the primary fabric, you may not be able to use it anymore. That's why I prefer to sew the lining first. That way I can remind myself of the whole process and make sure I'm doing all the steps correctly and in the right order. I’m then quicker and more confident when working with the primary fabric, and I also already have my fingers "warmed up", which leads to better results.
There are two possible sewing methods when sewing a classic lining for very close-fitting garments. Lining fabrics are usually very tightly woven, which makes them very strong and inelastic.
However, because we do not want to feel like we are wearing a straitjacket, the lining is usually pleated a bit to ensure some freedom of movement and level of comfort.
But the first option is to cut the lining pieces on the bias, which will make them at least a little elastic.
Then there's the second method I'm going to show you today. Cut the lining pieces in the same way as the primary fabric pieces - back and front pieces are cut the classic way (lengthwise, along the warp) and the ruffle piece is cut diagonally (on the bias).
Transfer all important marks to your lining pieces.
Carefully baste the darts.
Fold the darts in the correct direction (waist darts towards the side seams and bust darts downwards) and fix them in this position - sew through the bases of all darts, approx 3-5 mm (1/8") from the cutting edge (i.e. in the seam allowance area). Do not pull out the temporary stitches in the darts yet. Iron all darts thoroughly.
You can learn more about darts and seam allowances here: How to sew a women’s shirt
Let's work on the darts first. Sew all four darts and press each of them towards the nearest side seam.
Work the darts on the front and back pieces in the same way.
Let’s sew the shoulder seams. Place the back piece on the front piece (face side to face side)...
...and sew both shoulder seams. When ironing the shoulder seams, we again have two options. As the seam allowances on the garment itself should be ironed towards the back, the seam allowances on the lining should be ironed towards the front so that there are not too many layers of fabric on top of each other on one side of the seam.
The other option, the more traditional one, is to simply press the seam allowances open on both the lining and the outer layer of the garment.
Follow the same procedure as for the lining. Sew and iron all darts. I recommend using a tailor's ham and pressing cloth.
For more on ironing, see the aforementioned article on sewing women's shirts: How to sew a women’s shirt
When you've finished the bodice, you can move on to sewing the zipper.
How to sew a zipper to a garment with lining
I made a video on how to sew a zipper into a garment with a lining, which you can watch here:
Further minor preparations
We have sewn the zipper and now we need to prepare the bodice before hemming with a bias tape. By this, I mean basting the lining and primary fabric pieces together to form a single unit.
Begin at the neckline by aligning the centers of the pieces. There should be marks that tell you exactly where the centers of the pieces are. Then align both shoulder seams. Pay attention to the correct position of the seam allowances - they should be pressed open or ironed in opposite directions (towards the back for primary fabric pieces, forwards for lining pieces).
Fold the small allowances for freedom of movement at the top of the zipper into small pleats. Pin the lining from the shoulder seams towards the zipper and then fold the extra part of it back on itself.
In the picture below, the shoulder seams are superimposed, with both sets of seam allowances pressed open.
Baste the neckline in this position. Don't rely on pins only - now we will hem the neckline and they wouldn’t hold the fabric tightly enough.
Baste both armscyes in the same way.
Watch the following video to see how to use bias tape correctly. I've seen many ways to sew hems and one thing I know for sure, if you put in the work and don't sew sloppily, it pays off.
(Don't forget to turn on captions.)
In the video, you will also see how to use bias tape to hem the armholes.
If you have only temporarily stitched the darts on the lining, then now is the time to pull out the stitching thread. It would be difficult to do later. The picture below is a close-up of the darts after pulling out the stitches. The darts are just folded and not sewn.
Now baste the bottom of the bodice. If you have cut and sewn accurately, the bottom edges of both layers of fabric should be nicely aligned.
Piping / Brush fringe trim
Now you have the option to sew a decorative piping/brush fringe trim directly into the waist seam. This is a purely decorative thing, if you don't like it you can simply skip this step altogether.
If you want to make your brush fringe trim, check out this article: How to make fringe trims
Whether you sewed the fringe trim or not, now it's time to sew the ruffle.
My peplum ruffle was in two pieces, so I had to join them first. So I did that and pressed the seam allowances open.
Pin the ruffle to the waistline of the bodice - primary fabric - face side to face side. The marks on the ruffle will help you position it correctly.
The seam on my ruffle (if you have a one-piece peplum ruffle, then you should have a marker here)...
...aligned with the center of the front piece.
Side seam marks...
...aligned with the side seams.
The ends of the ruffle at the back of the bodice should overlap by approx. 1 cm / 0.4” so that there is no gap. The place where the edge of the back part of the bodice should be is marked with a cross in the paper pattern.
Just to clarify, when you're done, the ruffle should overlap like this:
I recommend basting the pinned ruffle, then you can just simply sew it to the bodice. I recommend positioning the ruffle so that you can see the inside of the bodice when sewing, this way you can see where you sewed the fringe trim to the lining - sew exactly along this seam.
This is what it should look like from the face side:
Now turn the top inside out and pin the lining ruffle to the waistline.
Sew the lining ruffle to the bodice. I recommend that you position the top so that you can see the seam that connects the primary fabric ruffle to the bodice - sew exactly along this seam.
If you are worried about sewing in the seam, you can sew 1 mm / 0.04" next to the original seam.
Before moving on to the next step, carefully align the two ruffles and check that the bottom edges are the same length all around. Also, check that the sides of the ruffle are symmetrical - so that one side is not higher than the other. Correct any irregularities.
Now let's take one last look at the waistline. Fold both ruffles towards the bodice to have free access to the seam allowances of all layers at the waistline.
Note: This is just a little note for those who are surprised that I use temporary stitches a lot... The waistline now has four layers of fabric (five, if you added fringe trim to the top) and the side seams have even more layers thanks to seam allowances and darts. Pins can’t hold that many layers of fabric exactly where they should which greatly reduces the accuracy of the sewing. But because I cut the pieces accurately at the beginning and did a lot of temporary stitching while sewing, now I don't have to adjust the ruffle or anything else...
Clip all seam allowances at the waistline to release the tension - cut every centimeter (0.4") or so.
Now lay out the top in front of you exactly as in the photo below. The lining peplum ruffle is facing up at the top and the top ruffle is also facing up at the bottom.
Now fold the ruffle that was peeking out at the bottom (primary fabric) over the bodice up to the edge of the lining ruffle. This creates a pancake of sorts, the filling of which is the bodice.
Pin the bottom edge of the ruffle (be careful not to accidentally pin the bodice)...
...and one of its two sides.
Pin the other side as well, but leave a gap of about 15 cm / 6" near the bodice.
Except for the gap, sew the entire edge of the ruffle and notch the seam allowances (cut them into triangles, you can use pinking shears to do this).
Cut the corners of the seam allowances (being careful not to cut the seam).
Pull the entire top out of the ruffle through the gap you left on one side.
Close the gap by hand.
When you close the gap, you can continue stitching - attach the lining so that it doesn't peak out under the ruffle.
If you're a detail-oriented person like me, you can also attach the lining ruffle to the lining of the bodice. In addition to hiding the seams, you will also "lift" the lining ruffle by a little so that it won’t peek out when you wear the top.
Iron hook & eye fastening
Be sure to sew the fastening to the neckline so that the hem ends are close together. I recommend sewing the “eye” first.
Then bring the two ends of the neckline hem as close together as possible so that there is not a big gap between them (this would make the fastening useless), insert the hook into the eye, and sew it to the hem in this position.
This is what it should look like from the face side:
I also recommend sewing the fastening on the peplum ruffle - below the end of the zipper.
And that's it for today!
You can explore this pattern for women’s top here:
Don't forget to share your joy with others!
Do you like this article? If so, share it with your friends and tell me about it in the comments section below. I will be glad for any feedback! ♥
PS: Did you know that there are other FREE PATTERNS available on my blog?