Once I find a sewing pattern that fits me well, I milk it for all it’s worth: I’ll hack the sleeve piece to make it short, or omit it altogether for a summer tank; I’ll add length to make it a shift dress, or even draft a skirt to make it a bodice-seamed dress…I will find every possible way to get another garment out of a good pattern!
So it wasn’t hard for me to see the pattern-hacking possibilities of Workroom Social’s first sewing pattern Drape 1001. And with summer coming soon, I thought I would show you how I turned our easy-to-wear blouse into a breezy sleeveless shift dress, modeled here by Jennifer in Workroom Social’s own Ombre Stripe rayon from the Miramar Collection!
Simply omitting the sleeve might seem like an easy way to make a blouse pattern do double-duty as a tank top. (And many sewing patterns for garments with sleeves do include a sleeveless version without any reshaping). But in some cases an armhole that was drafted to fit a sleeve won’t necessarily be a good shape for a sleeveless top.
If you simply skip the sleeve and finish the armhole, you may end up with an armhole that hangs too low or too far away from your body, exposing your bra (or worse!). Or, at the other end of your armhole, you may end with a strap that’s too wide and hangs too far out over your shoulder. Of course, all of these things are personal preferences (you might like a lower armhole, or a super wide strap! No judgement here!). As always, we encourage you to play and learn as you sew!
Things you need to adapt Drape 1001 to a sleeveless blouse
- Printed pattern
- Clear plastic ruler
- French curve
- A pencil
Table of Contents
#1. Mark and reshape front armhole
#2. Mark and reshape back armhole
#3. Check shape and add seam allowances
#4. Follow workbook for first 8 steps
#5. Sew side seams
#6. Cut bias strip
#7. Pin bias strip to armhole and stitch
#8. Trim and understitch bias facing
#9. Turn bias facing to inside and stitch
#10. Give yourself a high five!
- 1. Trace the FRONT BLOUSE (1) pattern piece in your correct size. Then, using a clear plastic ruler (my favorite tool ever!), mark your 1/2” (1.3 cm) seam allowances along the armhole and shoulder edges.
- 2. To mark your new armhole, measure 5/8” (1.5 cm) in from original armhole at shoulder edge. Mark that point and square out 1/2″ (1.3 cm) from the shoulder seam, as pictured.
- 3. Using a French curve, blend the armhole to the new shoulder point. If you don’t have a French curve, you can use a ruler for this step; turn the ruler as you draw your curved line, trying to make it as smooth as possible. Take your time with this step if you have never used a French curve before. Turn the curve until you a nice, smooth new armhole shape. (Please note, our illustrations are not an exact replica of how your pattern should look. So if your curve is somewhat different, don’t worry! Also, we encourage you to play around with your shape until you get the one that’s right for you!
- 1. Trace the YOKE BACK (2) and BACK BLOUSE (3) pattern pieces in your correct size. Again, using a clear plastic ruler, mark your 1/2” (1.3 cm) seam allowances along the armhole, shoulder edge AND the lower/upper edges on both pattern pieces.
- 2. Match up the seamlines on the back yoke and back blouse pattern pieces and pin or tape securely.
- 3. Mark your new armhole by measuring 5/8” (1.5 cm) in from original armhole at shoulder edge on the back yoke pattern piece. Mark that point and square out from the shoulder seam, as pictured.
- 4. Using a French curve, blend the armhole to the new shoulder point across both pattern pieces.
- 1. Match up the shoulder seams on the back yoke and the front pattern pieces. Pin or tape. Look at the armhole curve and shoulder: are the shoulders the same length? If not, split the difference and mark the new shoulder point. Is the armhole curve smooth through the shoulder? If not, use your French curve to smooth it out.
- 2. Now that you have your new armhole shaped properly, add back your seam allowances. We finished our sleeveless top’s armhole with ⅜”(1cm) seam allowances.
Now that you have your adjusted paper pattern pieces, you can go ahead and sew your sleeveless top! We finish our version with narrow bias facings, similar to the method we use to finish the neck edge of Drape 1001.
The construction method for a sleeveless Drape 1001 remains the same through from steps 1 to 8: staystitch necklines; finish the front neck with bias binding; sew pleat in back blouse; sew yokes to front blouse; sew yokes to back blouse.
- 1. Sew front to back at sides using French seams as described in the workbook for Drape 1001.
- 2. Hem the side opening and lower edge as described in the workbook.
For each armhole, cut a 1 ¾” (4.5 cm) wide strip of your self (or contrast!) fabric along the bias (at a 45-degree angle to the selvedge) at least 20” (50 cm) in length. (We will trim any excess length later, so err on the side of cutting your strip too long.)
- 1. On the outside, pin the bias strip to the armhole edge of your top, aligning raw edges. Turn in the starting end at your side seam, as pictured. Stretch the bias strip slightly as you pin in place. When you get around to the side seam, lap the remaining end of your bias strip 1/2” (1.3 cm) over the turned-in end. Trim bias strip to fit.
- 2. Stitch armhole edge in a 3/8” (1 cm) seam, stretching bias facing slightly as you sew.
Please note: For our version, we turned the bias armhole facings to the outside instead, to add visual interest. You could also choose a contrast fabric, or even use the wrong side of your main fashion fabric for a subtle contrast look!
- 1. Trim seam allowance to a scant 1/4” (6 mm). Make clips to the stitching line every 3/4” (2 cm) or so.
- 2. Press the seam allowance toward the bias facing. Understitch the bias facing by stitching 1/8″ (3 mm) from the seam through all layers.
Turn the bias facing to inside, turning in 1/4″ (6 mm) on the raw edge. Stitch close to the fold to secure bias facing in place.
So that’s how I hacked Workroom Social’s new Drape 1001 sewing pattern into a sleeveless version for summer! Check back next week to see how I added length to make Drape 1001 dress-length.
If you make a sleeveless version of Drape 1001, we would love to see it! Post on Instagram and hashtag it #sewdrape.
Drape 1001, a flowy sophisticated blouse, is available now. The fabric you see here is available in limited quantities in Workroom Social’s online store now.