There are just now the first signs of summer coming here in Santiago after a long cold winter, so I was thinking about some warm weather designs this week. Here's a pattern that will be great for all our friends here and in Australia and New Zealand where summer is coming too or for the tropics where it is always warm. For our readers in the northern hemisphere, there's still time to enjoy a few warm days in autumn or make it for next summer.
It's a sexy halter top that can also be a dress if you'd like to extend it. Designed for knit fabrics, this top crosses over at the front and the little keyhole at the front gives an interesting look while still actually being modest with full high coverage.
The design is double thickness at the top front and back to give extra support if you need it, or for modesty if it turns chilly! It can be worn with a strapless bra, or a halter neck bra if you use one of those clips to keep the straps closer together in front.
You can also choose to change the design for a cross-over and then tie behind the neck halter style if you prefer by extending the straps.
Where to get your free t-shirt pattern
As usual, to make downloading easy and reliable, the pattern is hosted in our account over at Payhip. You can download the pattern for free, with no sign up or accounts necessary although you do need to provide an email address. If you like the design and want to help support our site, you can also pay a small amount when you download the pattern. As always, we greatly appreciate your kind support.
The pattern comes in small, medium, and large as standard but is easily increased up or down in size as needed.
Constructing your PDF pattern.
First time you’ve used a digital pattern? Don’t worry, I’ll show you what to do. We've used downloadable patterns on the site before, so just drop on over to the Easy Summer Dress for full instructions on how to print and assemble the pattern.
The pages are numbered 1-14. Start at the top left with page 1, and continue with 4 on each row until you get to 13 and 14 on the bottom left. The 5cm test square is on page 13 so print this one first and check the size to confirm your printer settings.
It should look like this when made up –>
What Size Do I Need?
The top is made from a stretchy knit fabric and is intended to skim the body and be fairly fitted. The size I made for myself I am calling the Medium, and I used a very soft cotton jersey from Girl Charlee. My measurements are bust 36, Waist 32. It wasn't at all tight around the bust so I could have gone down a size for a snugger fit and more support.
The amount of stretch in the fabric will alter the fit and feel of the top/dress so use this table as a guide only. If you have very stretchy fabric and need some support, consider going down a size, or at least making a test piece first.
Resizing. To make your own alterations to the pattern, take a look at the way the existing sizes increase and decrease and follow this same example to increase or decrease another size if you need to. Always test the fit using the paper pattern pieces, or an inexpensive test fabric before cutting your expensive fabric for your top or dress.
Adjustments to length. If you want to make the top into a dress, simply add some length to the front and back pieces at the bottom. You decide if you want the dress figure-hugging, or widen the skirt from the waist outwards for a looser fit.
Large or small bust. The crossover sections are fixed length. If you have a small bust, you might consider making the length shorter by an inch, for a fuller than average bust, you may wish to extend the length an inch. Again, it depends on the amount of stretch in your fabric.
Tie straps option. Instead of having the fixed length strap, you could narrow and extend the straps and make it into a tie halter if you prefer. This would certainly help you get the best fit and more support for the bust. In this case, I suggest extending the straps by 18 inches and narrowing them for easier tying.
Cutting your fabric
The lower front and the upper back are designed to be cut on the fold of the fabric.
- To cut on the fold – fold your fabric along the grainline, 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.
- Other pieces are cut from doubled fabric to cut 2 opposites. The cross-over pieces need to be cut 4 times, 2 for each side so make sure you cut opposites.
- Take note of the stretch of the fabric and make sure your pattern pieces are lined up the right way. The maximum stretch should go across and around your body not top to bottom.
- Before you cut ANYTHING, make sure that you have enough fabric for all of the pattern pieces.
- Once everything is laid out, cut out your pattern pieces.
If you need further directions for cutting out your fabric, follow the directions for the Summer Drape Top.
Step By Step Construction
Equipment and materials:
- Sewing machine and thread, sewing basics such as scissors
Optional but useful
Follow through these step by step instructions and enjoy!
Stitches for knits – if your machine has a stretch stitch (looks like a lightning bolt), you can use this one, otherwise, I suggest a long narrow zig-zag stitch which will allow your knit seams to stretch without breaking the threads. Test out various stitches on scraps of your fabric before sewing. For best results, use a needle designed for knit fabrics.
- Take two upper front pieces and with right sides facing, sew the short center back seam that goes behind the neck.
- Repeat for the other two pieces. Press the seams open.
- Lie one front piece on top of the other with right sides facing. Pin along the two long edges. Take note of the notches on one of the long edges and stop stitching at this point on each end.
- Trim the seams down in size, then turn the tubes the right way out. Press.
- Lie the long piece flat. Pick up one end and give it a complete 360-degree turn so you have two twists in the center.
- Lie back flat and match up the small central area underneath the notches.
- Pin these two edges right sides together on either side of the central seam. Stitch both to the center, finishing at the previous line of stitching. Press.
- Fold the center back piece along the fold line with WRONG sides together. Pin the bottom and sides, or loosely baste in place close to the edge.
- Place the doubled over back piece on top of the bust piece with the right sides together. Match the fold line on the back with the seam line on the bust piece. Pin the back to the front ONLY through one layer of front fabric.
- Open up the other piece of fabric from the bust pieces, bring it over and in front and line up with the seam you have already pinned. One at a time, remove the pins and line up the 4th layer of fabric, pinning the through all 4 layers. It's going to look a bit strange – like this –>
- Sew through all 4 layers. Trim the seams, turn the right side out and press.
- You can now try on the top part of the top and check for fit. Adjust where necessary then resume.
- With right sides together, pin then sew the center back seam for the lower part of the top.
- Place the lower front on top of the back, right sides together, matching side seams. Pin, sew, and then trim the seams.
- With the lower part inside out, place the top pieces inside with the right sides together. Match up the center front and center back and the two side seams. Match up raw edges, pin and then sew through all layers.
- Trim the seams and press.
- Time to try on your top/dress and check you are happy with the fit and see if you want to adjust the final length. Hem the bottom using your favorite method for knits. I like to stabilize the bottom hemline with fusible stay tape, then stitch with a twin stretch needle.
I think this unusual twist front top would look great in a print too.
I’d love to hear your feedback on this free t-shirt pattern and tutorial, and see your photos and links to your finished t-shirts or dresses – please leave a comment below, or drop me an email using the link at the top of the page.