Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Softly Layered Shell {Tutorial}

top it off logo

As I explained in this post, I’ve set a goal for myself to sew or make a new top or accessory each week in the year of 2012. I’m giving myself permission to miss a week here or there, but wouldn’t it be cool if I really followed through on this and ended up with 40 new shirts/jackets/cardigans/vests/belts/necklaces/headbands/clips… anything that tops a look off by the end of the year?

2012-01-12 038

This top was a lot of fun to make because it only took an hour, and I didn’t have to spend time fixing it or revising my original plan.

2012-01-12 020

I bought this fabric quite a while ago on the clearance rack at Joann’s. It was during one of those 50% off already red-tagged sales. It is a soft, silky, thin, and I don’t think I’d be going too far if I called it luxurious, jersey knit fabric. I couldn’t resist it at only $2 a yard. I bought what was left on the bolt, which was about a yard and a half.

2012-01-12 041

I originally planned on making it long sleeved so I could wear it under a pretty, gray, flowy vest I bought after Christmas. But I couldn’t settle on any sleeves that I liked the idea of, and ended up making it double layered so it wouldn’t be too thin to actually keep some body heat in, and just didn’t have enough fabric for sleeves at that point.

2012-01-12 039

I like how the two angled layers gather a bit under the cardigan. Want to make one yourself?

2012-01-11 006

I started by laying out a shirt I like the fit of on my material, center folds lining up. I cut the neckline a little bit lower than my pattern shirt. I cut two of the front and two of the back in order to make it thicker and double layered.

2012-01-11 007

Then, using one of my front pieces as a guide…

2012-01-11 008

I cut around the piece and then cut it on a curve from about and inch and a half under the arm of one side to the middle of the shoulder on the other side.

2012-01-11 009

I then repeated that with another one, this time going about 5 inches below to the edge of the shoulder on the opposite side (so it was the same length as the original front shoulder).

2012-01-11 011

I felt like keeping it simple and just ran my raw edges that would stay exposed through my serger. I like the somewhat lacy affect the serging stitches gave. If you don’t have a serger, I would suggest using a rolled hem, or maybe just leaving it raw. I’m afraid a zig zag stitch just wouldn’t have the same affect.

2012-01-11 014

I then lined up/stacked all my layers. Starting with the inner front, then the outer front, the longer accent layer and then the shorter accent layer, all right sides up. I topped those with the outer back and then the inner back pieces, both right sides down. I carefully lined them up at the shoulders and then serged them all together. If you are using a regular sewing machine, I’d suggest checking out this tutorial on sewing with knits so you don’t end up frustrated, or ripping your stitches as you put your shirt on someday down the road.

At this point I stopped taking pictures because I really wanted to finish in less than an hour (for those of you who have never made a tutorial before, the time it takes to photograph along the way can seriously lengthen a project sometimes). I sewed the side seams together, again being careful to make sure everything lined up. I liked the way the serged edges looked on the layers, so I thought I’d mimic that with the neckline, hemline and arms, plus that was WAY faster than pinning and hemming. In the end, that ended up being one of my favorite features of the top. And then it was done!

2012-01-12 003

I love the way it turned out and it was so comfortable to wear today! Plus I had a lot of fun playing with one of my Christmas presents from Nolan—a wireless remote for my camera!

In case you were wondering where the pieces of my outfit are from:
Cardigan: Target . Jeans: Free Culture. Boots: Maurices. Boot Socks: made by me from a shirt. Necklace: The Bird’s Papaya.

Thanks for stopping by!

I like to party at…


  1. That is so beautiful! I love it! The whole outfit is cute, while we're at it :-) Great job!

  2. You are going to have such an amazing wardrobe by the end of the year! You are certainly off to a great start.

  3. This is so casually pretty! Love it!

  4. That is adorable and I would totally buy it if I saw it at the store.

  5. Gorgeous! Everything you make is amazing. I am featuring this at

  6. Makes me reallywant that serger already! Cute!

  7. Very cute! Great job! I love that you are making something every Monday!
    Cheers to you! Happy New Year!

  8. Good luck with your goal! Your shirt looks great. Visiting from Tatertots and Jello.

  9. that looks really cute. going to check out how easy it is.

  10. Gorgeous! Makes me want to improve my sewing skills.

    Thanks for sharing

    1. I love it! I became a new follower, I'm excited to see what you create every week. I think I need to look into getting a serger!

  11. you are one talented seamstress! thanks for the shoutout too. you rock that necklace!! funny, bc i have a post coming up where i am wearing one of your headbands :)

  12. That is gorgeous! And you make it look easy. Maybe one day I will get up the nerve to try something like this. Becca :-)

  13. son inspiring! serious yum going on here.

    visiting via TTJ and would love to have you stop by kate spade/vintage jewelry giveaway:



  14. I love the way you put that skirt together. The good news is... it works for lots of different body types. And the top is one of the most adorable ideas I've seen in quite a while.


I appreciate comments so much! I'll do my best to reply to you here in the comments section, especially if there is a question so future readers can see the answer.