Do you attend fancy Christmas parties that involve dinner, dancing, and drinking adult beverages? Or do you prefer a simpler setting that includes sweatpants, eggnog, snuggling your kiddos and pets, and perhaps a Hallmark Christmas movie (or two)? I used to really enjoy attending the fancy fun parties, because other than a wedding reception, how often do you get to dress up, enjoy a nice dinner and dance the night away? But I also enjoy the simple (and sometimes noisy, chaotic, crazy, and wonderful) days or evenings gathered with family and friends.
Either way, I like to feel comfortable in what I’m wearing. There aren’t any super fancy parties on my schedule this year. Just a couple of gatherings that are sure to include delicious food, conversations with people I love, and the normal fun and silliness that ensues whenever people get together. So I decided to make a fun wrap top, that could also work as a cardigan.
The first step was choosing comfortable fabric. I strongly considered using Phee Fabrics nylon/spandex Tricot. It would be a great choice- it has a pretty drape, excellent recovery, and would give the top a more elegant look. But in the end I went with Rayon Spandex for a softer, more cozy feel. Because of the more substantial 13oz. weight, the drape is beautiful, and even the white isn’t sheer.
The Joanne Faux Wrap Dress & Top by Sinclair Patterns easily became an actual wrap top. I love the fit of my Joanne dresses (blogged here), and knew that I wanted to make a top version. With a little bit of customization, it was easy to make my vision come to life. I wanted the peplum to be a bit longer than designed, so I traced the peplum front and back pieces on my size for width, and followed the lines for the largest size for the length. Since Sinclair Patterns come in Petite, Regular, and Tall, all you may need to do is print the Regular or Tall version of the peplum pieces to get extra length.
A true wrap top needs nice long ties. I cut four pieces at 2-3/4″ high, by the 60″ width of the fabric. I also cut strips of knit interfacing 2-1/4″ high, and ironed them onto the wrong side of two of the tie pieces. After laying an interfaced and a non-interfaced tie piece right sides together, I trimmed one end at an angle. I used the markings on my quilting ruler to get a perfect 30% angle, but you can use whatever angle looks good to you. Then stitch along one long side, along the angled end, and back along the other long side using a 3/8″ seam allowance. (I know the pattern uses a 1/4″ seam allowance, but my sewing machine prefers 3/8″!) 🙂 Turn the tie right sides out and press, and repeat with the second tie. Do you want to know my trick for helping to push the long sides of the tie out in order to press them? A yardstick! It really made it easier to press and not worry that the fabric was still folded inward. An interesting thought occurs to me. If you live where the metric system is the common form of measurement, I suppose it’s not called a yardstick. Is there such a thing as a meter-stick? Go ahead and laugh, I might bother to google it later. Or not.
The basic construction of the top is the same as the pattern tutorial, except the pleats, and the side seams. Sew the shoulder seams together, then sew on the neckband and top stitch. Without overlapping the two front pieces, stitch the front and back bodice together at the sides, starting at the armscye, and stopping 2-1/4″ from the bottom. Stitch the bottom 1/4″ of the seam. Repeat with the other side seam. Cut four pieces of interfacing 2-1/2″ long by 1/4″ wide. Press the interfacing within the seam allowance of the bottom side seams of the bodice on the wrong side of the fabric. This will help stabilize the open slits on the side seams when the seams are pressed open. Press, then top stitch around the slits.
Insert the sleeves, being sure to put the back of the sleeve toward the back of your top. (The pattern piece is clearly marked.) Sew each peplum front and back together at the side seams, and attach the peplum to the bodice, leaving 1/4″ unsewn at either end of the seam. This will allow you to turn the peplum under 1/4″ at the ends for a clean finish. Now for the trickiest part of the top, the pleats. Basically, you need to accordion fold 1″ wide sections, leaving the band at the top free, and leaving an extra 1/4″ at the bottom to fold under. I kind of gently spread the folds a little bit, so that the folded section ends up two inches wide. Baste.
With right sides together, pin just one layer of the tie to the basted bodice pleat. You’ll have to carefully get your presser foot inside the end of the tie to stitch the tie to the bodice. Clip your threads and flip the tie out. Fold the raw edge of the tie under and pin it in place, being sure that it covers the seam line. Then stitch in the ditch to secure the back side of the tie. Repeat with the other tie. Hem your sleeves and the peplum and your top is done!
I love that the long ties allow a bigger bow for an extra bit of drama. I like that since it’s a true wrap, I can throw it on over a dress or top as a cardigan. The extra length in the back gives me a little more coverage and looks great with a slim skirt.
The high low look of the peplum just seems to dress it up a bit. But being made out of soft rayon spandex, it would look just as great worn with some joggers. No matter what I wear it with, it’s super comfortable, and is a great way to wrap up a holiday outfit.
In case you’re wondering, my skirt is the Shenanigans Skort by 5 out of 4 Patterns, made in Supplex. This simple style, that’s just long enough, made in a stretchy, smoothing, moisture-wicking fabric is a comfortable basic for your wardrobe.
Have you wrapped up your holiday outfit?
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