Lace Top & Maxi Skirt

How to sew a lace back crop-top and matching jersey maxi-skirt

 

I’d been admiring all the maxi skirts and crop tops everywhere this summer, but never got around to making one of these delightful little ensembles until now. Unfortunately, it’s the middle of November,  so by the time it’s actually warm enough to wear this out again, the whole crop-top/maxi skirt thing will probably be passe.  Forever a loser, two steps behind.

Solid front with a little tummy time

 

But assuming that this shit’s still cool 6 months from now, you’ll need the following to make the lace back top:

1/2 yard of lightweight jersey

1/2 yard of stretch lace

masking tape

sewing machine

twin needle for your sewing machine (optional, gives you the nicest hems)

serger (optional: gives you a tight, clean, ready-made finish)

So first, you’re gonna need to make yourself a pattern. If you’re scarred by the 80′s and crop tops are just too traumatizing to go back go, you can also use the same techniques to make a lace back t-shirt or tank top. My pattern’s loosely based on an old crop-top that I had in my closet. The easiest way to make knitwear tops is just by tracing things you already have. Maybe it’s cheating, but the shapes are usually so simple that it’s stupid to go buy a pattern, and a waste of energy to make one from scratch.

Trace a ready-made stretch top that fits you well

In the end, you should have two pattern pieces which look kinda like the following. Make sure the shoulder seams are the same length on the back and the front. Make sure the back and front side seams are the same length as each-other too. The top will fit loosely, so these are the only two measurements that you really need to pay attention to.

I’ve heard that it’s sexy if the center front of the shirt is shorter than the back. That upper tummy really got em going last season, eh? And when I’m showing skin elsewhere, I like to keep the neckline high. We ain’t no hoochie mamas here.

Cut the back pattern piece from stretch lace, and the front from light jersey

 

Now that you have your fabric cut, serge the shoulder seams and the side seams. If you don’t have a serger, that’s a bummer, because they’re awesome. Pedal to the metal,  mowing a seam clean shut is damn near thrilling. Only problem with serging is that sometimes your serger will stretch your fabric as you sew. Two solutions: baste the seam with your regular sewing machine before serging, and set the differential feed on your serger  to a higher setting so it thinks that it’s gathering the fabric a little.

If you don’t have a serger, you’re not out of luck though. Just sew the side seams and shoulder seams with a stretch stitch (a zig zag will do if you don’t have a stretch stitch option.) If you find that your fabric is waving or puckering when you use your regular machine, lighten the pressure of your presser foot. This means that you have to guide the fabric through yourself, but it’ll help big time.

Next (serger or not), you’re gonna wanna finish the neckline and the armholes with some homemade binding. The ribbed stuff looks a lil cheap and sporty to use with lace, so you’ll want to cut your strips out of the same soft jersey that you used for the front of the garment. When making a woven garment, you’d cut these strips on the bias, but since you’re using a knit fabric, cut them on the cross-grain, as this will give your strips the most stretch.

**Handy tip for cutting your binding : Buy a roll of 1″ wide masking tape (or 1.5″ depending on how wide you want the finished binding.)  Lay the masking tape along the cross-grain of your fabric. This will stabilize the jersey and help you cut nice straight lines.

Use masking tape to stabilize your fabric when cutting the bias strips, they’ll be straight, neat, and even this way.

 

See how pretty they are?

 

If you have  a serger, watch this awesome video from threads to see how to apply your binding without stretching the neckline and the armholes to shit. I could tell you how to do it myself, but this fine lady’s explanations are just so well done that I couldn’t top her, no matter how hard I tried. http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/3839/video-a-neckline-binding-for-knits

If you don’t have a serger, follow this excellent tutorial from Burda Style http://www.burdastyle.com/techniques/finish-for-jersey-neck-edges-using-twin-needle

**Disclaimer: If this is your first applying binding to a knit neckline, I can assure you that you’ll screw it up. I did. Many times. But don’t despair. Speak to your fabric in gentle, loving tones. Give it words of encouragement. Don’t get angry, for it knows not what it does. If you do happen to make a perfect neckline the first time, it means that you’re a wizard with magic fingers, and I salute you.  The thing is, every knit fabric stretches a different amount, the lace tends to stretch more than the jersey, and the same fabric will stretch in different amounts along various parts of the curve. But even if it looks little janky when you’re done, a good steam pressing or five should force it all flat.

To finish the bottom hem, simply fold the fabric up half an inch and top stitch it down. Using a twin needle will give you the most professional finished edge.

Now, please for the love of sweet baby jebus, do not wear your nasty old bra under this shirt. Like my step mama always says “Nobody’s going to say “Wow, that’s a nice outfit, but you know, your bra straps really make it!”" You did all this work, so go out and get one of those stick-on bras with no back. They’re a lil high maintenance, but you deserve it.

The top is finished, on to the skirt!

To make the skirt you’ll need the following:

1.5 yards of soft jersey

A 1″ or 1.5″ wide elastic

A sewing machine

You’ll make the skirt pattern using your own measurements. It will be made from two identical panels, one in the front and one in the back. The waist band casing will be a part of this primary pattern piece.

 

First, draw a vertical line the distance of your waist to the floor.

At the top of the vertical line, draw in your waist line. This will be the length of your total waist measurement divided by 2

Eight inches down from your waist line, draw in a hip line (your total hip measurement divided by 2)

Connect the edge of the waist to the edge of the hip and continue this diagonal line down to the bottom of your hem. This should give you enough flare so that you can walk and move comfortably in the skirt. Don’t bother adding seam allowances. You want this one to hug your bootie.

To create the waistband casing, add an additional 3″ of length above your waist line. This will be folded over your elastic to create the waist band.

Once you’ve sewn or serged up the sides of your skirt, fold the waistband casing over 1.5″ and top stitch it closed, leaving a small gap where you can insert the elastic.  Then, thread the elastic through the waistband casing, and sew the ends of the elastic togethether. Close the gap you left to sew the elastic through.

To sew the waistband, use the stretch stitch on your machine. If you don’t have a stretch stitch function, use a straight stitch with a long stitch length, and stretch the fabric slightly as you sew. When you’re done sewing, the fabric should pull back to its original shape, but the stitches will be slightly raised and closer together.  This should allow them to stretch enough that they won’t pop when you put the skirt on.

Give your skirt a 1.5″ hem. Like I said, I prefer to top stitch my hems with a twin needle, but do what you gotta do. Just make it work.

Aaaaaaand, you’re done.

Good night, and sweet dreams you precious angels.

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