End of Summer Crop Top

Pattern: bodice of Simplicity's Special Occasion Dresses #4070
Fabric: 1/2 yard Windsor poplin
Cost: $4

Remember my recent dress? Well I had mentioned I made a partial muslin of it, which ended up fitting pretty well. I tucked the muslin away, and this past weekend before heading out to a BBQ party I decided to finish it off into a crop top and try it out. I've always been a bit curious about this trend, and since I had one mostly sewn up I decided I had nothing to lose.

In contrast to the crop tops we all knew and loved in the late '90s/early '00s (when I was 14 and thought nothing of showing some extra skin), the nice part about this recent trend is that you don't really need to show much skin. Paired with a high-waisted skirt or pants, you could keep completely covered or expose just an inch or two of midriff.

Because I sewed it up so quickly, though, this particular crop top is a bit of a hack job. While the part I did for the muslin process is sewn precisely, the finishing was done in a mad rush (see slight puckering around armholes, mismatched notions, etc.). This reminded me of when I first started sewing and treated everything as a rush job because I. just. wanted. it. done. now. That, and I don't think I knew of or appreciated more advanced techniques for making something better. So I started making a list of the techniques I've learned that, when actually used, make my garment that much better:

  • Clipping seam allowances. I used to think that a lot of the "wonky bits" of my sewing were from not feeding the fabric through the machine in a straight enough line. But really there are so many other ways to improve the look of a garment. Seams will lie much flatter if you clip or trim certain seams, like the princess seams on this bodice. I like By Hand London's tutorial
  • The iron is my friend. I finally just got a pressing ham, and man does that help! Here I used a sleeve ham to get in and press the shoulder seam flat. And of course generally pressing seams open, etc. always helps!
  • Lining the zipper up properly. I used to sew so that the top of the zipper tape lined up with the finished neckline. But this meant that the zipper, which stops 5/8" before the end of the zipper tape, didn't zip as far up.  When I discovered that the extra bit is meant to be folded under when you hem the neckline, my zippers started looking a lot more professional.
  • Finishing my seams. I didn't even know you were supposed to do this when I first started sewing! And while I know a few great sewists who don't always follow this rule, I find it helps a garment last longer and look better after multiple washings.
  • Paying attention to seam allowances. I often improvise when I'm sewing. Use bias tape with a 1/4" seam line instead of folding under 1/2," etc. For this top, I didn't trim off extra fabric as I rushed to bind the armholes, and they ended up feeling too tight. when I went back later and redid them, they felt much better!
  • Slowing down. And of course, you're much more likely to think of these things and many others if you take your time. Slowing down isn't even a sewing technique, but it was one of my biggest follies. The seam allowance of an adjacent seam would end up pressed the wrong way when I rushed the fabric through my machine, or I wouldn't bother to stop and unpick mistakes. Taking breaks and thinking through each step of the construction is my biggest lesson learned.

For this top, it was fun just to experiment with a new style, and finished is better than perfect. But it did drive home the difference between a quality garment and a fun experiment. What was your biggest aha! moment in sewing? 


  1. Love this top, and your list of techniques! I recently did an inventory of what I've made in the past year or so, and the ones I wear most often are the ones that I've taken my time with and finished well. Even if I love the fabric or style of something, I won't wear it as much if the seams aren't finished properly, or I obviously rushed through the garment. So, that reflection was definitely my 'ah-ha' moment!

    1. I think that must be the trick! Now to adhere to it...

  2. I love this outfit! It suits you perfectly!

  3. Great outfit! Looks breezy and comfy - love it on you!

    1. I'm finding that wovens aren't as comfy, maybe next time I'll do a knit crop top!


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