Simple Sleeveless Top Series

Adding in pin tucks tutorial

Blog / 22 May 2015

For week four of my Me Made May Simple Sleeveless Top Challenge I’m going to show you another design detail that can be added to this ultimate basic pattern – pin tucks!

This is one of my favourite variations! It’s so delicate and can make a really basic simple pattern look much more professional.

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You can catch the first posts about bust adjustments, altering the neckline and adding a yoke section (just click on the highlighted text). If you still need a copy of the basic pattern you can order a signed copy of the book online or on Amazon.

Once you have a basic top or toile that fits, then it’s time to add in cool things like these pin tucks!

I’m going to show you two ways that you can stitch in the pin tucks and I recommend considering your fabric choice with each of them.

You can either choose

  • to stitch the pin tuck part of the way down the top
  • to continue stitching the tucks right to the bottom hem line

Stopping your stitching part of the way down gives a different look and it will mean that there is extra fullness in the lower part of the bodice. This isn’t a problem – just a thing to consider. It means its better to do this type of tuck with finer fabric like rayon, viscose or lightweight polyester or very fine lawn – basically fabric that really hangs and drapes on its own. If you use more structured fabric that holds its shape more, it might feel quite tent like at the bottom.

If you are stitching right to the bottom hemline, then fabrics that hold their shape more – such as cotton lawn or poplin, or even medium weight fabric is totally fine as the stitching will hold the fabric flat.

Altering the pattern piece to add in tucks

What you will need

Whether you are going to stitch part way down the tucks or the whole way, the following steps will be the same.

First of all decide how many tucks you want – I’m going to have 8 all together in mine. As the pattern is cut on the fold, I’ll have to add 4 to my pattern piece.

I want my tucks to be 1/2 inch apart so for my first tuck I’m going to draw a parallel line 1/4 inch from the centre fold line.

I’m using inches to measure it out as that’s what my ruler is in and it makes it easier to get the lines parallel. You can choose to have them further apart if you want but closer together might get too tricky. Just practise on some scrap fabric if you are not sure how it will look.

Continue to draw a further 3 lines each 1/2 inch apart.

Now cut along each of these lines so that your front bodice is in 5 sections.


With some pattern paper underneath, tape the big bodice section of the pattern onto the paper. I wanted each tuck to be really narrow so I taped all of my strips down 3/8 inch apart. You can make the distance whatever you like - just bear in mind the tucks will appear half the size.

Next just round out the neckline back into a smooth curve again. I've shaded in the tuck sections with purple pen just so they are easier to see.

Sewing the Tucks in Place

When you cut the fabric out, cut little snips in the edge of the fabric to indicate where the tuck lines are. Each tuck will have two snips at the neckline edge and two and the hemline edge (even if you are only stitching part of the way down).

Once the fabric is cut out, stay stitch the neckline as normal. Don't sew the dart yet - get the tucks in place first.

Press the centre crease in the garment - this will help to get the first tuck even.

Starting at the tuck closest to the centre (you can do left or right first - it doesn't matter), fold the bodice, wrong sides together and match up the little snips for the first tuck that you made at the neckline and hemline. Press the a crease in the fabric.

Pin in place and sew just a few mm from the fold. If you are only stitching part of the way down then just stop once you reach wherever you want to stop and do a few reverse stitches to secure the threads.

I stopped 9 inches from the neckline edge but you could alter this if you wanted. If you still want it to be fitted over the bust, just make sure you stitch lower than the level of the dart.

Press the tuck out to the side.

Continue the process for the rest of the tucks. Match up the notches at the top and bottom and before you stitch press a crease in the fabric making sure it is an even distance from the last tuck.

Press them towards the side seams –so you’ll have 4 going to the left and 4 going to the right.

Continue the rest of the construction of the top in the same way as per the instructions in the book, making sure the tucks stay pressed in the right direction when you sew on the bias binding at the neckline.

I made bias binding in the the same fabric as I think it looks a bit neater and doesn't distract from the feature of the pin tucks.

I'd love to see what you make if you give it a go!