The latest release in my range of free sewing patterns and tutorials – the Summer Drape Top.
Designed for softly draping knit fabrics, this blouse is easy to make, flattering, cool and strappy, with tummy covering draping and a rounded hemline in the front. And I’ve made it with wide enough straps that you should be able to wear a bra with only minimal straps peaking through at the back. Or don’t wear a bra and let it all hang out this summer!
The Summer Drape Top comes in a one-size fits most design. The pattern is free to download and can be made from less than one yard of fabric. Great for a beach cover up too, over a bikini top.
This is a long post including lots of photos, all about how to print and piece your digital pattern, cut your fabric and a full step by step photo tutorial on how to stitch your top.
Where to get your free sewing pattern for the Summer Drape Top
Constructing your PDF pattern.
(Note – these instructions are written assuming you are fairly new to sewing and give plenty of detail. If you have used digital patterns before, or have sewn similar garments, do skip on through and sorry its so long! If you are new to sewing, take your time, and do leave a comment if you have any questions.)
First time you’ve used a digital pattern? Don’t worry, I’ll show you what to do. Load your printer with regular printer paper, open the PDF file and print. Do not select any of the fancy printing options such as center, scale, fit to page etc. You just want to print it out straight as it is.
If you are worried about printing out at the right size, then just print page 3 first, because this one includes a test box to measure. The box is drawn at 5cm square, so print this one page, measure the box and if it’s 5cm you are good to go. If not, then you might need to check your print settings to see what settings might need to be changed before printing again.
Once you have all 12 pieces, keep them in order. Then set them out from left to right, 4 pieces across in a row and then another 4 underneath and the last 4 on the bottom row. This is how the pieces will be assembled. Each piece comes with a border which overlaps the next piece of paper, so you should cut off or fold over the top and the right hand side on each piece lining up your cut or fold with the guideline on the printout.
Then note where the letters of the alphabet fall on each sheet. Letter A matches with letter A, letter B matches with B and so on. Overlap your pieces, matching up the letters and matching up the pattern lines and stick in place with tape. It should look very much like this–>
Once you have your jigsaw completed you can read and note any instructions and directions, and then cut out your pattern pieces. You will have two large pieces and 3 smaller pieces.
Where there are ‘notches’ cut around the black triangles (it doesn’t have to be super accurate) so that they point out from the pattern pieces. This will help you match up your pieces correctly later on. Now your pattern is ready, let’s cut some fabric.
Cutting your fabric
- The front and the back of the top are cut ‘on the fold’. This means the pattern piece is only for half of the design. You fold your fabric along the grain, just folding over enough to accommodate the size of your pattern piece. Then place the edge of the pattern piece on the fold of the fabric and hold it in place there. You can use proper pattern weights, pins, or even tins of tuna like mine.
- Before you cut ANYTHING, make sure that you have enough fabric for all of the pattern pieces. So fold in the other side of the fabric and place the other large piece on the fold. The 3 strap pieces all need to be cut twice, so while you have the fabric folded place these too and make sure you have enough fabric to cut all the pieces you need.
- There will probably be enough fabric space left over that you have enough to re-cut the 3 strap pieces if you make a mistake.
- Once everything is laid out, cut out your five pattern pieces. Where you get to the black triangle ‘notches’, cut a little triangle of fabric sticking out, so you can match the correct pieces later on. No need to be super accurate with the notches.
Making up the Summer Drape Top
- To get the best results with knit fabrics, use a stretch needle. This has a ball end and will slide through the fabric without piercing it, to give the best finish on knit and stretch fabrics.
- The seam allowances on this pattern are small, and allow for a serger to be used or an overcasting foot on a regular sewing machine. The overcasting foot will sew the seam and finish the edges at the same time and give a professional looking finish to your inside seams.
- If you are using a regular sewing machine and a regular sewing foot, use a small zig-zag stitch for knit fabrics and use a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
- Take the two main pieces and place one on top of the other with the right sides of your fabric facing each other. Line up one side seam on the front with the corresponding side seam on the back, keeping the raw edges and the tops and bottom edges even and then pin them into place.
- Stitch the side seam being careful to keep edges matched, and make sure the hem and arm curve are matched.
- Repeat for the other side seam to make a tube of fabric. Note that the front piece is much wider than the back because of the extra gathering.
- Now turn a small amount of fabric (suggest about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch) to the inside along the entire length of the armhole curve. Pin and stitch.
- If you want to, you can do the same with the entire bottom hemline, but most knit fabrics don’t fray and often look better and have a better drape if left unfinished. This is up to you.
- The front and the back neckline edges need to be gathered. So set your machine to its longest stitch length, leave good long thread tails and sew a running stitch close to the edge of the fabric. Do each side of the V separately, front and back.
- You can draw up the gathers by pulling on the underneath (bobbin) thread and moving the gathers along as you go. We will do this accurately later. Set these main pieces aside for now.
- Time to construct the neckline. Lay out your fabric pieces and note the notches. Each strap is made up of three pieces, the front neckline, shoulder strap and back neckline and the notches will help you match up the correct ends.
- Pin together, right sides facing, and stitch with a narrow hem. When you get to the point of the V, lift your presser foot and pivot your fabric so you can carry on sewing in a straight line. Make the point of the V sharp rather than rounded.
- Repeat until you have two identical straps each made of 3 pieces.
- Fold each strap in half length-ways, right sides together. The center section is the only section to be sewn. Use a narrow hem and stitch the raw edges of the middle section together, with right sides facing, to make a tube. Then turn each tube the right side out.
- Now match the center back and center front seams, right sides together. Stitch the two parts together, pivoting at the V, to make a complete circle.
- Turn the strap the right way, wrong sides together and press with an iron, carefully matching raw edges.
- Now it’s time to attach the neckline to the body. Let’s start with the back because it has less gathering Find the center back point of the neckline and the center V of the back main piece and pin them together, right sides facing. Now match the edge of the main piece with the point where the neckline turns, and the edges are unfinished.
- The gathers need to be pulled and adjusted to match the length of the neckline piece. Be careful not to stretch the fabric. When the gathered side matches the length of the neckline, pin in place keeping all 3 raw edges even, and repeat on the opposite side.
- When pinned, it will look something like this.
- Stitch by serging, overcasting or using a wide zig-zag stitch to hold all the layers in place. Stitch with the gathered side face up so that you can adjust the gathers as you go and make sure they are lying flatly as they go under the presser foot.
- Repeat this procedure for the front neckline. You will need to gather up the fabric more at the front than you did for the back.
- Check your seams, trim any loose threads and you are finished.
- If you find the top a little loose, you can always take in the side seams, either the whole length or just the top third, by sewing a wider seam and then cutting off the excess.
I really hope you enjoy this free sewing pattern for the Summer Drape Top. If free patterns are your thing, to check out the free patterns page above, and join us on the Pinterest Group Board where we all share our favorite free sewing patterns. And do check out my other tutorials too.
If you make a top from this pattern, I’d love to see it and hear how you got on. Do leave a comment or drop me an email. Especially if you would like your top featured on the site..