Learning to sew - quick and easy shell top

New Look K6217

I saw this peach skin chiffon whilst window shopping on Backstitch and had to have it! I loved the warm coral colour and parrot design, and knew I could make something that was holiday worthy out of it. Being new to working with sheers I wanted as few seams as possible, and altered New Look K6217 into a really simple top!

New skills

  • Hacking a pattern
  • Sewing with chiffon

Backstitch are usually pretty quick with their delivery times so that gave me a few days to get myself ready by finding a pattern and finding a way to sew with chiffon on my very basic machine - I have read that it is notoriously hard.

Being an avid reader and continual hoarder of 'things that might come in useful' I had this New Look pattern K6217 that had come free with Sew magazine. It looked fairly simple but the only thing I wasn't too sure about doing was the fastening at the back. The pattern had two separate pieces for the back, joined with a seam finished with a button. This was more sewing than I had in mind for a fabric I wasn't sure about, and it also required bias binding for the neckline. So I came up with my first hack.

*Cue much fiddling about with the tissue pattern, pinning pieces together and on me to make sure my idea worked.*

I changed the two back pieces into one. I had a chiffon top that I wore to death last summer, and this just slipped over my head, so I used it as inspiration for hacking this pattern. It was very simple really (and probably against sewing guidelines from professionals). I placed the pattern piece against the fold line, and overlapped the seam allowance for the centre back so it was hanging off the fabric. This made one piece to cut that was the same size as the two joined pieces.

In the days prior to my fabric's arrival I set about collecting the rest of the supplies I would need. The bias binding I chose for the top was a white satin. This was to add to the holiday feel and keep some of the more luxurious look of the chiffon. I also invested in some sharp needles to help with sewing the fabric and stop it being chewed up. This seemed to be the most consistent piece of advice for success with sheers. (Both also sourced from Backstitch, with a free delivery code from Tilly and the Buttons - 'Tilly')

I then followed the rest of the instructions, became frustrated with applying the bias binding, but ended up with a pretty quickly fashioned top that is perfect for summer evenings. I was helped a lot by a bias binding tutorial on the Little Tailoress Sewing Blog, and by having the sharper needles. The hack turned out to leave a wide neckline that makes it easy to get the top on or off. If you have any easy patterns that I can use for the rest of this fabric please leave a comment below.



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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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