With Spring well on it’s way here in Melbourne, it’s time to start thinking about Emma’s summer wardrobe. This Swing Top that I’ll be showing you how to make today, is one of my quick ‘go to’ refashion designs when Emma needs something a little nicer than a t-shirt to wear. It’s really so easy to make, and the flowing, breezy design is lovely to wear in warm weather. Keep the length short to make a top, or go longer and you have a dress.
I found this original shirt in an op-shop and bought it because I loved the tea cup print and feel of the fabric (it’s silk), but the garment design was awful and boxy so it was perfect for refashioning. This refashion isn’t limited to kids clothes, you could also use the same technique to modify a blouse for yourself.
How to choose a garment for this project:
Style – Shirt or blouse with button down front and collar
Fabric – Light weight flowing fabric with a soft drape like silk (or polyester), crepe, georgette or even light cotton voile.
Sizing – Smaller sizes are best as the collar will be smaller and look in proportion with the child.
Garment features to keep
Collar and button placket
– Suitable shirt or blouse
– A top or t-shirt that still fits your child to use as a cutting guide
– Bias tape (commercially bought is fine)
– Sewing machine
– General sewing supplies (thread, pins, iron etc…)
Note: Sewing with slippery fabrics for the first time can be tricky but is not so hard once you get the hang of it. I always recommend using a new/sharp sewing needle, pinning pieces to prevent too much movement, and going slowly.
Yellow dotted line = Cut
Red dotted line = Sew
1. Fold shirt in half and place child’s top over as a guide lining up neckline and shoulder seams. Take note of the width of the shoulders and size of armholes, you will use this as a guide as to where to cut. Cut as indicated by yellow dotted line. As you can see I’ve cut it flaring out with a longer curved hem. Make sure to include seam allowance of about 1/2″ (1cm) and 1″ (2cm) to bottom hem. The armholes will be bound by bias tape so no seam allowance is required.
Note: When deciding length (for cutting) make sure you leave enough clearance around buttons on button band to add hem. Don’t cut right over button hole.
2. Add binding to arm holes. It’s easiest if you lay the shirt flat like this.
To bind armholes
2a. Open up the binding and on the wrong side of garment line up the edge of binding (outside of binding down) and sew along the creased line of the binding.
2b. To finish, fold the binding over the raw edge and sew close to edge. No need to worry about catching the back.
Notes on binding: For best results use a thread colour to match binding, I’ve used a neon thread for clarity. Wider binding will be easier to sew if you are inexperienced, but any width you have on hand is suitable.
3. Sew side seams with garment inside out (right sides of fabric facing). Straight stitch is fine, but I also recommend going over the raw seam edges with a zig zag stitch to stop fabric from fraying.
4.Hem the garment by folding over the bottom edge twice. This is called a double turn hem. It’s easier if you fold over about 1/4″ (0.5cm) and press, then fold over again, as before and press. Pin if required and stitch. This gives a very tidy finish with no raw edges showing.
I think you’ll agree, this top looks more difficult to make than it really is. There is no way I’d make this style of garment from scratch, just thinking about getting the collar inserted right and sewing all those button holes brings me out in a rash. But if there is anything I can do well, it’s finding a short cut.
I hope you give this a try. It’s a fast way to whip up some pretty summer blouses for your little girls and would look great on tweens and teenagers too.
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