Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Eloise Top - Free Pattern and Tutorial

This top is a loose fitting summery A-line top with a few fun features including front pleats, keyhole back opening and high-low hem. 

Disclaimer: I am not a pattern designer, I'm a mum who likes sewing and who does some drafting here and there for personal use. So please, please, please don't try my first little pattern out using your OOP super expensive fabric. If you try it with cheaper fabric and love it (I hope so!!) then go nuts with whatever fabric you like :)

This top is one of those ideas that came to me just as I was about to go to sleep and then I lay there thinking up all the different variations I could make with it. I really wanted a basic summery top with lots of room for adding changes.
I will start off explaining one option and then hopefully pop back and link up more posts with ways of varying the top using the same pattern pieces. If I get all clever or decide to pay someone to grade it for me so it has other sizes, then I'll pop back and update that too (or if any of my designer friends want to make it into a real pattern?? that would be great too).  So we will start with the high-low hem option with keyhole back closure. 
It was drafted to fit Eloise who is wearing size 3 in store bought and home sewn clothing. She is approximately 98cm (approx 3ft 2.5") tall and her chest is approx 53cm (21"). It has a loose fit across the chest so it may fit a slightly bigger child but you might want a deeper keyhole at the back to get it on or to wait for the full button up back option


- 0.5m of fabric (outer) and approx 0.25m lining fabric (I designed this for woven fabric)
- general sewing supplies (sewingmachine, threads, pins, fabric marking pens)
- a button (or if you want, pop over to my polymer clay button post and make up your own)
- a small piece of hat elastic


1. Make your pattern pieces. 

Click HERE to download PDF of pattern pieces. They are hand drawn as I lack the technology to make them on the computer. 
Print them out "actual size" not fit to page or with any scaling. There are 8 pages. The first three go together to make the front piece and then next three go together to make the back piece. The front lining and back lining are on separate pages. There is a 2.5cm (1") test square which should measure spot on when it is printed out correctly.

2. Cut your fabric.

You should end up with one front piece, two back pieces (mirror images of each other), one front lining piece and two back lining pieces (mirror images).

3. Transfer markings

The front pleats need to be marked. I do it by poking a pin through the pattern piece at the top and bottom to make a tiny hole, and then drawing a dot with my fabric marker at those points. I don't draw the whole line. I just mark the top and bottom, but feel free to do it however works for you. Mark the little star at the top of the back (elastic loop marking). The other mark is on the back piece. It marks where sewing starts and finishes when sewing the neckline. 

4. Finish edges. 

The following edges should be finished with your preferred finishing technique. I use my overlocker but you can use a zigzag stitch or overcasting stitch on your sewing machine if you like. 
 - centre back seams of outer pieces and lining
 - side seams of outer fabric and lining
 - lower edge of bodice lining (or if you prefer you can create a narrow hem after completing the side and back seams)

5.  Sew the pleats

Each of the pleat lines becomes a fold line to make the adorable front pleats. Start with the one furthest away from the centre. Fold the line by grabbing the top and bottom (where you marked) and folding, the rest of the line then folds by default. Give it a good iron to make a sharp fold. Then take it to your machine and start sewing. Sew 6mm (1/4") from the fold line. Sew from the neck line until you are level with the bottom mark. [This stitching will be visible on the front of the finished top so it is a good idea to choose a thread you are happy to see on it (so either a matching thread or a pretty contrast).]

Once the first line is stitched iron it away from the centre and fold the next one and iron it and repeat the process until all of your pleats are sewn.

I find now is a good time to stop and look at how pretty it is going to look and congratulate yourself with a little sip of your favourite beverage (I'm a bit of a diet coke addict and can't function without a cold one beside me).

** I am a bit lazy, I don't iron then sew then iron then sew. I just iron all of the pleats, then sew all of the pleats, then iron them all down. You can obviously do this too if you prefer. I think there is a little more risk of it ending up looking messy, but who am I to tell you how to sew ;)**

Now if you are allergic to pleats... you could chose to gather this part instead...but try the pleats, they are easy and very, very cute!

The rest is very much like any bodice construction you have ever done so, if you are confident ignore the rest of my ramblings and construct it your own way.

6. Sew the shoulder seams.

Place with right sides facing (make sure the back seam is in the middle), pin and sew using a 1cm (3/8" seam allowance). Repeat for the lining fabric. Iron the seams open.

7. Loop closure. 

Pin a little loop of hat elastic into the seam at the point marked with a star. Stitch it in place.

8. Neckline and armscyes.

Place your outer pieces on your table with right side facing up. Then align the lining pieces right side facing down on top as shown. Pin them together at the arm openings and around the neckline stopping at the centre back mark.

Sew these seams with a 1cm (3/8" seam allowance). Once sewn, clip all of the curves. I use pinking shears to do this really quickly but if you don't have any you can just clip them as you normally do. Then turn the whole thing to be out the right way and iron the seams flat.

This is another moment to stop and admire your handiwork (and have some more of your drink). Feel free to run over to your significant other and say "look at this cute top I'm making!!" But in my experience your diet coke will be more enthusiastic about it than he/she will be ;)

9. Side seams. 

Line up the lining pieces with right sides facing and the outer fabric pieces with right sides facing. Make sure the middle seam is neatly aligned and then the rest should be too. Pin this and sew it with a 1cm (3/8") seam allowance. Press this seam open and repeat on the other side. 

10. Back seam.

To sew the back seam, pin the outer fabric with right sides facing, right up to the point of the neck line stitching, then sew with a 1cm (3/8") seam allowance. Then line up the lining fabric with right sides facing and sew up to the point of the neck line stitching. Iron these seams open.

Once this is sewn, it is a good idea to tack down the lining. You can do this by hand or machine stitch a few stitches in the ditch of  the side seam. It will stop your lining moving around.

Nearly finished now...

11. Top stitching (optional).

If you are a fan of topstitching now would be a good time to topstitch around the neckline and keyhole and even the armscyes. 

** I didn't do this because I prefer the look without the topstitching but this is up to your personal preference**

12. Hem.

I like a narrow hem line despite the risk of burning my fingerprints off. For this, fold over 6mm (1/4") then about 6mm (1/4") again press and sew. If you prefer to keep your finger prints intact you may chose to hem using bias tape. 

13. Button.

Last but not least, attach your button at the star marking on the side without the elastic loop. 

And... finish your beverage while patting yourself on the back and then try it on your little miss. Then PLEASE take some pics and either share them on our facebook page or tag me in your pic or link up your own blog post in the comments here so I can see.

Visit this post for a few pics of my miss E and some of my best sewing friends little misses in their Eloise Pleated Tops. Huge thanks to them for risking their time and fabric on my first little pattern and for their valuable feedback!

Some of the other options I have done/planned are:
- shirred hem
- bias finishing for armscyes/neck opening in place of lining
- closed back with loop and button closure
- fully opening back with buttons/buttonholes 
- and more :)

If you love it or hate it or have troubles with it please feel free to comment here or message me on facebook. As I said I'm not a designer so there may be errors and I'm happy to hear about them and change what I can. I cannot guarantee I will respond straight away, as I have a job and three little kidlets to keep me hopping all day everyday but I will try to respond. 

Thanks for popping by. Feel free to tell your sewing friends about this pattern if you like it, and direct them here to grab their own copy :)

Kerry xx


  1. Just found this pattern! My daughter is on the big side for it but is very narrow. Might give it a try with some added length!

  2. Just found this pattern! My daughter is on the big side for it but is very narrow. Might give it a try with some added length!