Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

An unseasonal make


This poor top has remained unfinished and unloved in my stash for many months. I was just about to put in an extra effort to finish this top during August, before a long weekend. But the weather forecast suggested that it wouldn’t be worn, so I put it off. In fact, since I haven’t been anywhere hot this year and it hasn’t been especially hot in the UK this year, sadly I don’t think I would have worn it anyway. Anyway, it’s now December and I need to diminish my stash before it takes over the living room, so with just the spaghetti straps and the hem to add, this was easy to finish.

The fabric is a cotton lawn that I picked up in Fashion Fabrics. The bright and cheerful hot-air balloon fabric really caught my eye. I decided to use a pattern (Gathered Tube Top 03/2012 #125) from the Burda magazine I’d bought in Italy. Actually, it isn’t much of a pattern, more of a set of instructions, since the top is constructed from just two rectangles of fabric!

Air-balloon top

The technique used for shirring here is a little different from that which I’ve used before. Previously I’ve always hand-wound a bobbin with shirring elastic and therefore added the elastic as the lower thread when machine-stitching. The Burda technique suggests laying the elastic in a straight line on the wrong-side and zig-zagging over it. To be honest both techniques work well. Although, there is the added advantage with the Burda technique that you can adjust your top by pulling more or less on the shirring elastic to tighten or loosen it.

Close-up of shirred detail

I felt a little wary about wearing a strapless top, so decided to add some spaghetti straps, which are just turned tubes of the same fabric. I think that this top is most likely to be used to go to the beach. It slips on and off easily and would be a good cover-up for going into a cafe or a shop.

Now I just need to dream up a beach holiday for next year, unless we have an unexpected heatwave in March!


Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

9 thoughts on “An unseasonal make

  1. This is such a cute summery top! Would be good for winter layering to brighten up a winter day! 🙂 I haven’t tried shirring anything yet, yours looks very neat

    • Yes, would work well in the ridiculously hot office where I work! Need to wear about 5 other layers on top for outside though! Shirring is quite easy and I think this technique works best for this sort of top, where it matters how straight your lines are. The shirring can be “tightened” up afterwards.

  2. Pingback: Up, up and away | The Monthly Stitch

  3. Very nice! I always used the zig zag way. I didn’t know that there was another! 🙂

    • I came across the other technique first. It was used on the first season of the Great British Sewing Bee. The idea is to hand-wind a bobbin with shirring elastic so it is used as the bottom thread. It does make my sewing machine make rather peculiar noises, so providing you can ignore that it works fine.

  4. Pingback: Italian Sewing Magazines – Part 1 | Steely Seamstress

  5. Pingback: Sewing The Seventies: 1978 | Steely Seamstress

  6. Pingback: Me Made May 2018: Week 3 – Silhouettes | Steely Seamstress

  7. Pingback: Me-made-May: Week 4 – Review | Steely Seamstress

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s