Following on from my popular post featuring all the button down shirt and blouse patterns I’ve made over the years, I wanted to do a similar thing with all the different top patterns I’ve made too.
Making tops that you can easily pull on and off over your head are a great project, especially if you are still early on in your dressmaking journey as there are no fiddly zips, button holes or other fastenings to worry about.
There are probably hundreds of different designs out there, with more and more patterns being released all the time, so in no way will this little collection be representative of all the styles that are out there.
Instead with this post, my aim is to help you to interpret the technical drawing that you see in a pattern and get to know how that will transfer to an actual garment. Learning how to do that, along with increasing your understanding of what different types of fabrics actually look like sewn into garments, it should really help you to visualise what the end garment will be like.
To hear me chat through and show you all the different makes, check out my latest Youtube video below.
Once you can visualise what the end garment will be like, it means it’s more likely that you will be pleased with the end result of your sewing efforts and in a way, manage your own expectations of what it will turn out like.
Being pleased with the end result of your dressmaking project will give you a greater sense of satisfaction and achievement in what you have made. You’ll get that sense of pride and excitement to wear what you’ve made and that feeling can get really addictive - in a good way! It will spur you onto the next project and help to guild your confidence that you really can do this!
That awesome feeling of wearing clothes that I’ve made myself, especially when it's a whole outfit, never gets old and I hope to help you get that same feeling too!
It can be useful to see the hobby of sewing and dressmaking as an umbrella term for lots of separate actions and activities that you can control, understand and learn more about to make the whole experience as fun and enjoyable as possible.
It all starts with an idea, maybe a fabric you’ve seen or a style of garment you like, you start planning it out in your head or sketch book and thinking of different ideas. Maybe planning on when you’ll wear it, what the garment will go with, what shoes you might wear, all those things. That’s before there is even a sewing machine in sight!
Then you’ve got the fabric shopping, collecting and stashing, which I feel really is a separate hobby. So much joy can be taken from browsing different fabrics either online or in a lovely fabric shop like mine. Taking in the colours and textures and then thinking of the best use for them - which might even be just sitting in your stash and being admired and stroked every now and again.
Once you have your project planned you’ve got the cutting out and preparation stages. Then finally you can get two bits of fabric together and start sewing them with the machine - yay! Interspersed with ironing/pressing and fitting of course!
So really, after going through all of that, if you can then feel happy and proud of the end result and that it’s what you hoped for - thats the dream.
I hope seeing some top patterns stitched up in different fabrics helps you to understand technical drawings and how different fabrics behave so you can plan the projects of your dreams!
All of the patterns below can be made in a variety of fabrics. I've listed and linked the fabric or similar fabric (see the highlighted blue text) that I've used.
The top features a loose-fitting V-necked bodice with a gently gathered shoulder and back. The slightly puffed sleeve is gathered at the shoulder and can be made as a short sleeve, or a long sleeve with wrist pleats for shaping and an elastic gathered cuff. Choose between two neckline finishes: a sleek topstitched facing or a bias-bound finish, complimented by delicate rouleau button loops at the centre front.
As well as being effortlessly stylish, the Nicks Top ticks the comfort box. The swing tunic with gathered tier (view B) and the elegant blouse (view C) are both fitted on the shoulders whilst having enough ease through the bodice for a breezy fit.
I sized down two sizes for my versions made from viscose fabric which gives a more neater fitted look over the shoulders and back yoke but the gathers in the top of the front bodice still give a looser fit over the bust.
The Ellsworth Blouse is lovely and swingy, as well as super comfortable. With its loose fitting style, you can focus on the neat design details of the half, pop-over button placket, collar and collar stand, cuffs and faced hem with a side slit.
It looks chic in a soft floaty fabric like this viscose I have used for these versions as it drapes and hangs to skim the body. For the black version I made it up as per my body measurements, for the navy and ochre version I sized down two sizes and shortened the front and back by 5cm. If you are sizing down, just watch out for the sleeve width at the cuff as it is generally more fitted.
As the front and back bodice both extend into the sleeve with no seam, it does mean there there is a lot of fabric under the arm and it adds to the looser, relaxed fit. If you were to make it in a more structured fabric I think you would notice this more, but as the viscose is so light weight and floppy it drapes and hangs nicely.
The Sew Liberated Strata Top pattern is the backbone of your handmade wardrobe and a great pattern for beginners. It is simple in its construction – only three pattern pieces – easy to fit, and effortless to wear. The uniquely curved hem adds elegance to this staple piece. Keep things uncomplicated with a version in a slub linen blend, cotton or soft silk.
The version you see in the video linked above was a sample made for one of our window displays and was made using a medium weight cotton fabric. As the sleeve is grown onto the bodice, it makes for a looser fit over the shoulder and under the arm and as there is no bust dart it does hang loose over the bust and into the waist and hips.
Olive is a relaxed silhouette top or dress with v-insert. Pattern features a drop shoulder, multiple sleeve finishes, dress or top variations, and optional breast patch pocket.
The drop shoulder means that the seam of the sleeve sits over the shoulder, not on it like a set in sleeve does. So when made up as a short sleeve, it's just an extension of the front and back bodice, and when the long sleeve is sewn on the seam will sit at the top of your arm.
The v-neck insert will provide some shaping but as there are no bust darts, it generally does sit looser on the body.
The sample we made for the window display was a linen and viscose fabric with a bit of structure which works well to hold the shape of the neckline. I think generally fabrics with a bit more structure will work better, viscose or similar fabrics might be a bit light weight to hold the shaping.
Easy and satisfying to make yet elegant, The Assembly Line Cuff Top is a most loved pattern and almost addictive to make. It has a roomy fit and cap sleeves with wide elastic cuffs.
The smaller size range is straight and features a boat neck and the larger size range is more curved under arm and features a bust dart and a keyhole opening with a button at back.
The sample we made for the window display is using a viscose fabric but I think the pattern can be versatile for any weight of fabric.
The Wilder Gown has a loose and flowy fit with raglan sleeves - so the sleeve seam goes from under the arm into the neckline. There are no darts or shaping but the way the neckline is constructed does pull it up a bit around the shoulder and bust. You create a channel and sew a tie to make the neckline and can either wear it open or tied up. I think the looseness and fullness of this design makes it best for fabrics with drape like the viscose I used for the version I made. I tend to wear the neckline open but this does need to be sewn in place otherwise it slips out.
Cielo Top is an easy, breezy take on a boxy tee with a bust dart that extends into the front sleeve seam. It has a small yoke section at the back shoulder and set in sleeves so does sit nicely over the shoulders but then is boxier and looser fitting into the waist and hips.
You can choose between a facing or bias binding neckline finish. For my version in this Atelier Brunette Viscose fabric I opted for a facing. The viscose fabric makes it quite swishy so I don't really notice the boxiness shape as much as I would if it was made from say a cotton lawn or cotton/linen mix fabric that holds it's shape more.
A hard-working wardrobe essential the Camber Set is a simple, slip-over-the-head dress or t-shirt, with a gentle A-line silhouette and short fitted sleeves for an easy-wear classic. Perfect for the beginner dressmaker.
The sleeves are set in and the back yoke does make it sit more neat and fitted over the shoulders. The bust dart does give some shaping here but overall the fit is loose enough to be able to take the top on/off over the head.
The Ashton Top is the ultimate, classic woven top pattern - a must have in every handmade wardrobe. With a signature A-line, pull over shape, hem facing and bust darts, along with multiple options from a summery cropped sleeveless version to a hip-length with long sleeves version it is an all-season wardrobe staple that is easy to sew and style!
The base tank top bodice can be finished with bias binding or an all in one neck and arm hole facing. Alternatively opt for one of the 4 different sleeve options that come with the included sleeve expansion pack: straight short or long sleeve that can be cuffed to suit your style, a delicate butterfly sleeve or a petal sleeve. This expansion pack also includes an additional shoulder and arm opening for the so you get a great fit in the shoulders.
I've made this top in various fabrics from a viscose to a cotton/linen and a viscose/linen mix. The a-line shape is there and can be held in place more with the faced hemline so depending on how much you want this shape to hold, opt for a more structured fabric. Or to let is float and drape, opt for a viscose.
The Fringe pattern has really lovely design details. Choose from a button up front bodice or a delicate notched neckline - both options pair perfectly with the gathered skirt section of the garment that has a smooth, curved hem line.
Opt for a top length or dress length with in seam pockets, and pick between an elbow sleeve with sleeve tab or shorter cuffed sleeve hem.
The fit of this dress is easily customisable with two cup sizes to choose between and an optional narrow belt or tie for more waist definition. Choose between two fabric length options below to customise the kit contents for what you need. All kits come with both dressmakers A/B and C/D cup size options printed as standard.
Despite there being bust and waist darts (at the front and back of the bodice) the overall fit does feel loose on this garment as the sleeves are grown on and it needs to be loose enough to pull on/off over the head. For more waist fitting you can optionally add a waist tie.
My version is made with a viscose fabric which I think works perfectly for this style, but I have seen some nice versions in cotton lawn too - in that case the gathered section just holds it shape and sticks out more.
The Belcarra is a semi-fitted pullover blouse features a wide neckline finished with bias binding, subtle waist shaping and raglan sleeves with bias cuffs.
The neckline is quite wide on this top and even though it doesn't have darts, it is fairly fitted for a woven top and has quite a bit of waist shaping at the side seam.
This version is made with a cotton lawn but I think it would work in a variety of different fabrics.
The Tanita as a high wide boat neckline finished with bias binding then a very full and loose front and back bodice where the sleeve is an extension of the bodice. It's pulled in with elastic hem and sleeve hem. This version is made with a viscose fabric and I feel like this is the best combination. Anything with more structure might feel a bit puffy and cloud like.
The Friday Pattern Company Donny Shirt is a boxy pull-on top that is designed to be a workhorse in your wardrobe. It is a dartless top with a lapel collar and patch pocket. The Donny is a great everyday top that can be worn with practically anything. Because of its boxy silhouette, the Donny is comfortable but still cool. Pair it with jeans or a skirt, layer it over or under a dress - the sky’s the limit!
I used a light weight cotton dobby fabric with an embroidered border for my version, but I do think this pattern is really versatile for all sorts of fabrics.
Lola is a loose-fitting blouse and dress pattern with a cut-on sleeve and side bust dart. The back features a yoke with an inverted box pleat. The yoke sports the option of a petite ruffle for a little bit of fun!
The silhouette of the dress is slightly A-line, skimming the hips without lots of fullness. The blouse features side splits and a shirt-style rounded hem at the back. For the dress, you can opt for the loose silhouette, or cinch in the waist with the included tie belt. There are two neckline options; a scoop neck, or a boat neck, each with their own sewing instructions. There are also optional in-seam pockets for the dress.
Lola is a low-fuss pattern, with no need for zips or closures! It also includes three different bust sizes so you can get your best fit.This is the perfect pattern for sewing with sheers and lightweight fabrics, with a generously detailed set of extra techniques for an elegant finish.
For my version I used a viscose pique fabric which I think works well with the ruffle.
The Merchant And Mills Florence is a sweet swingy top and dress with a button back detail and soft high low gathers.
The fit is very oversized and wide but with set in sleeves it does sit neat and fitted across the shoulders. Into the bust and waist its very full. The gathers are fairly dense and higher at the back and front. My version is made with a viscose crepe so it hangs and swishes nicely, in a more structured fabric I think it would sit ever fuller.
The Friday Pattern Company Saguaro Set Sewing Pattern is a two piece woven set made up of elastic waistband pants and a pullover top. This is the perfect outfit for road trips through the desert, sunset walks on the beach, or dancing the night away. The pants feature roomy pockets and a waistband with a drawstring. The top has a plunging V neckline that includes an optional tie closure. You can wear the top backwards or forwards. This flowy set is easy to sew and fun to wear with endless options for customisation.
I've made a few versions of this top, with this particular one made from a viscose linen. It is very full and wide into the sleeves so best in a fabric that does have some drape I think. It's quite low in the v shape so you could wear a vest underneath perhaps. I have seen versions where people lengthen it as well that looks nice too.
The Phoenix Blouse is a cute and casual boho style top in with several customisable features.
Choose between a 3/4 length bell sleeve or a flattering, summery sleeveless style. The front yoke panelled section has a central slit opening with subtle gathering at the bottom. There is also delicate gathers in the back bodice panel that fall nicely out of the v-shaped back yoke section.
Optional ties can be inserted either at the neckline or at the waist line to tie at the back and give more definition in this area.
Opt for a cropped waist length, perfect for pairing with high waisted jeans or shorts or a standard shirt length for even more floaty-ness!
The versions I have made are using an embroidered border double gauze so the fullness of the garment is held. With a viscose fabric I think it would drape and not feel as full.
The Merchant & Mills Edie Top Sewing Pattern features balloon sleeves, which are the only detail that it requires to stand out. Less is more. The full sleeves are gathered with a tie which is threaded through a buttonhole, alternatively you can omit this buttonhole and insert elastic instead.
The version we made for the window display was with a double gauze fabric, but depending on how much you wanted the sleeves to hold their shape you could go lighter with more drape or more structure.
The Willow Tank is a versatile and reliable staple for all warm weather seasons. It’s fitted at the shoulders and bust with a dart but then falls into a relaxed a-line fit. I've made lots of versions of this top, with this particular one in a double gauze but it works well in lots of different fabrics. I'd say compared to the Helens Closet Ashton it comes up more fitted but it has less options as the Ashton has the sleeve expansion pack.
The Quilla top has a high and wide boat neckline finished with a facing that extends into the arm holes. The elastic panels at the sides gives a full a-line shape. I used a viscose linen for this version but depending on how much structure and drama you wanted you could make it in a variety of fabric. The neckline tends to hang down a bit on me, so a more structured fabric might help to hold the shape better.
The bias cut Hunter Tank is designed to sit at your natural waist, skimming your curves with the lightest touch, giving you definition where it’s needed, while keeping you cool and comfortable.
Wear it to the beach for a casual look, pair it with a circle skirt for a vintage vibe or wear it with jeans for a modern look — the Hunter Tank is your ultimate summer top, ready to go when you are.
Quick and easy, with beautiful detail and clean drafting for a gorgeous fit, Hunter is a modern nod to classic vintage attire.
For my version I used a cotton lawn and I also lengthened it a bit, which I'm not sure totally works to be honest. I don't think i'd do the same thing again.
The Ariana has princess seams that give a close fitting shape over the bust and with the shirring elastic panel at the back it add comfort to this close fitting style. My version is made with a light weight embroidered cotton that I underlined and lined so that it wasn't see through.
The Ogden Cami is a simple blouse that can either be worn on its own or as a layering piece under blazers and cardigans. It has a soft 'V' neck at both centre front and centre back necklines, and delicate spaghetti straps. The neckline and armholes are finished with a partial lining for a beautiful, high-end finish.
I've made so many versions of this top using mainly viscose and one with double gauze. The double gauze one tends to hold its shape a bit more, I tend to prefer the viscose versions as the hang and drape a bit more in the looser fit over the waist and hips. You can check out my tutorial for how to winder the straps and add on a gathered peplum.
Find out what woven fabrics are best suited for a pair of warmer weather trousers!