Surplice tops for every day of the week

In yesterday’s post, you saw my wrap tops sewn from Butterick B6285, and continuing in my miniseries, now you’ll get to see my surplice tops!

I’m really excited about these, if you haven’t figured that out yet! And no joking on the post title, I could totally have one of these for every day of the week. And it’s fully my intention to sew up an army of them. Let the rainbow of surplice tops commence!

bluesurplice1(See the stealth cat in the window?)

This first version I did was in a lovely light blue jersey… I recall it was a “tri-blend” but don’t know what else was in it, since it was in my stash a good while! The color is perfect, although the fabric doesn’t have very good recovery/memory, so it bagged out a bit even just trying it on as I went during sewing. But still very, very wearable.


This is, in fact, what I most wanted out of this pattern, once I started thinking about it: I didn’t want it to wrap around with ties. I actually wanted it to tuck in. Easier for me to wear and fills a gigantic gap in my wardrobe: comfy and stylish knit tops!


You’ll get the nitty gritty in Thursday’s tutorial on how to make this transformation yourself, but this being my first version, this one was used to kind of iron things out. So in this one, because I didn’t add enough width to the gathered side of the fronts and the way I’d initially altered the back was a bit wide on me below the waist, the side seams pull towards the front. Not such a big deal since I would only wear this tucked in, but I came closer to working this out on my second version. I’m not ablogogising here, and I’m quite proud of this pattern hack and this top, but feel it’s only fair to point out that issue since I’ll be doing a tutorial after all. πŸ˜‰

Pulling seam or not, you can see below how this is constructed, with me wearing it over pants… instead of the gathered fronts being sewn into the ties and wrapping around your body, they just are sewn into the side seams! And the front is obviously longer, too. 4″ longer than the pattern. So the front elegantly sweeps down your side. (Obviously it does that on the other side too, it’s just inside so you can’t see.)


As I mentioned yesterday, I’d found the lower sleeves of the wrap top a bit constricting, so I added about 1/2″ of ease to each sleeve, and then lengthened the sleeve by about an inch, just because (which I did on my yellow wrap top too). I think this gives it a nice three quarter length.


But wait, can we pause on my skirt a sec? I KNOW. Isn’t that fabric amazing?? It’s just a simple gathered skirt I constructed from a retired Robert Kaufman “Nature Studies” fabric panel I found on Etsy. I’m obsessed with all things alpine and knew I needed to get at least one alpine print into my winter sewing! The design was way too long since it was along the cross grain (meaning 44″ tall!) and very minimal on the top sky area, so I had to get creative and cut off some of the bottom grassy area for the waistband. I’m lucky I pulled this off at all because I initially misunderstood the pattern direction from the description so what arrived was only enough to do half a skirt. Thankfully the seller had more!


outfit details

surplice top – made by me, modified from Butterick B6285
skirt – made by me
root beer Bakelite bangles – misc.
blue resin bangles – made by me
earrings – Luxulite
shoes – BAIT Footwear Idas

I love border prints and am trying to find more, but I also really love these prints that repeat a giant scene like this, I wish I knew what to call them so they’d be easier to find. I’s like searching for a needle in a haystack!


Argh I almost can’t stand how much I love that print! Swoon! I’ll see if I can work it into an outfit post while it’s still winter. One of my current cardigan projects would be a perfect match for the foliage if I can finish it up in time. πŸ˜‰

Right right, but we’re here for the tops aren’t we. Blue was version #1, and I wanted to work on the side seam area, which I got closer to nailing down in version #2, which was in a black polka dot. I bought this fabric ages ago from Girl Charlee (actually I think both came from there) and frankly it’s not that great–it feels kind of stiff and if you stretch it, you can see the black is printed on the white and looks a bit odd. I’d kept it around ages but with no plans, so this was a great time to bust it out. Sort of like wearable muslin #2.

But a pretty awesome looking wearable muslin #2, if I do say so!



Other than extending the gathered front a bit to try and account for the side seams pulling forward on my blue one (which helped but I’m still tweaking it for the future), I didn’t make any other changes compared to my blue one. The sleeves are still 1″ longer than the original wrap top and 1/2″ total wider towards the elbow so they’re more comfortable. Both are changes I’ll just carry forward on future versions unless I want short sleeves, of course.


Love those cut-onΒ  sleeves! I really like that the way this pattern is shaped (and just converted slightly to this style). It’s still a pretty trim bodice, which isn’t always the case with cut-on sleeves. It can be a delicate line to walk with cut-on style sleeves: narrow enough so it doesn’t make the bodice overly wide and baggy, not too deep to kind of go into really big batwing or dolman sleeve territory, but not too shallow as to be uncomfortable under your arms. This pattern hits just the right balance, to me.



And I have to say I really like the polka dots mixing with another printβ€”the lovely prancing ponies on my Pinup Girl Clothing skirt, in this case! I tend to favor novelty prints with solids, so in my skewed closet I almost think of this as a solid, to wear with novelty prints. Yeah, I think I just called polka dots a solid! πŸ˜‰


outfit details

surplice top – made by me, modified from Butterick B6285
skirt – Pinup Girl Clothing
shoes – Swedish Hasbeens
vintage confetti lucite earrings – Christmas gift
brooch – Luxulite

So now you can see what it looks like, taking a wrap top pattern like Butterick B6285 and turning it into a surplice top. It really only took a few changes, and yes, I’m still fine tuning, but aren’t we always if we sew regularly? I’m thrilled with the results, and Thursday I’ll share with you how I did it. Not up for pattern hacking and rather have it come with a pattern as-is? You could get a similar look (minus the cut-on sleeves) with New Look 6150, with the bodice from View B but the sleeves from one of the other views.

And don’t forget, tomorrow I’ll first show you how to lengthen the body on the original wrap top pattern! Which will also serve as a building block for Thursday’s tutorial for these surplice tops, too, so be sure to stay tuned if you’re interested in today’s pattern modification!

Filed: Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

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Golly, 22 Comments!

  • I adore them! AND, WOW, THAT SKIRT!!!! I always crack up when I see those nature prints that are realistic of wolves/bears/deer etc. from Hancock fabrics, but now I’m thinking they’re the perfect fall/winter muted tones, like a neutral! Of course, none of them are full landscape like yours—which is KILLER! I did make a Simplicity 2444 with some muted brown/blue horse fabric (so, yeah, stampeding horses across my chest) and my piano students get a big kick out of it.


    • Thank on both the tops and the skirt! I totally know what you mean about those nature prints, and I’ve been looking at them with a different view this winter. πŸ˜‰ I’m all for stampeding horses across on a dress, lol!


  • LOVE the pattern alteration! Going to joanns on Thursday (when the pattern is on sale at my local shop) to grab it for myself! I wasn’t sure that I needed it, but now I’m pretty sure I do! though I’ll have to wait a bit to sew one up for myself till after this baby arrives in June! But the nice thing is, it looks like it might just be breastfeeding-friendly! which means I’ll be making a million of them! Thank you again for sharing your alteration! Can’t wait to try it out for myself!


  • Your outfits are so wonderful. You look so much like a 1950s lady, perfection.


  • I think I’ll join you in making one of these for every day of the week! Pure wardrobe-building perfection. I can hardly wait for your tutorials on this surplice hack. LOVE.

    P.S. Polka dots are definitely a solid, in my book. πŸ˜‰


  • This is so exciting! I can’t wait to see the tutorials!

    I have a question. Well, first, a comment. I am pretty busty – 32F/G – and so usually avoid wrap tops like the plague. I was super inspired by the photos of Gertie in this top, though, because the neckline is fairly high and doesn’t require a cami in order to contain my girls. I made this top the week the pattern came out, and it was way too short-waisted – so excited for tomorrow – but the neckline was EXACTLY as I had hoped. So perfect for a busty gal!

    So, the question. If you cut out the wrap-around aspect and make it a tuck-in top, does it compromise the neckline at all? I like this version so much!


    • I love the neckline too, and that you can wear it over or under the bust depending on what coverage you want/need. The surplice top hack shouldn’t change that at all for you, all the changes are below or at the level of the waist, adding more length and then a bit more width at the gathered side, so that it can still wrap around to the side seam even when the bodice is long enough to tuck in. You may need to fuss with it once or twice or use giant seam allowances and baste a bunch until you nail it, but you should be really happy with the neckline of it too! πŸ™‚


  • That top is fabulous in both fabrics! It really does look like an easy or flattering top – I think the style would look great with any kind of high waisted bottom. And that first skirt is so lovely, and I can’t believe how beautiful the print is.


    • Thanks, Jessica! I tend to wear prints more with high-wasted pants but there’s lots of lovely jersey prints lately so I may need to try one sometime. πŸ™‚


  • I really love the look of the polka-dot top… but that might be because I have a small polka-dot obsession πŸ˜‰
    I’m definitely lengthening and widening the sleeve next time, in addition to the bodice. Depending on how much fabric that uses, I might end up with the surplice top instead πŸ˜€ nicely done!
    Oh and that skirt with the scene-panel is really cool!


    • I was annoyed that I couldn’t get the top under 1 yard because of the way it’s constructed, but it definitely uses WAY less yardage as a surplice top! πŸ˜‰


  • Cool Tops, inspires me to try the pattern soon πŸ™‚ You look awesome!


  • Your entire outfit is fabulous!

    I love the modification because it doesn’t add bulk around the waist. It reminds me of a Donna Karan blouse II had once. I loved that blouse so much. It was a sad day when I had to let it go.

    I’ll definitely be looking out for your tutorial tomorrow.


  • Brava!!


  • Holly Molly, I love this top, and now I don’t know which version I like most. You’re really inspiring, Tasha!


  • SaraKatherine April 27, 2016 at 1:32pm

    You are absolutely stunning! In the photos of your first outfit, you look just like my grandmother did in her wedding photos!


  • Love this hack! The polka dot one is SO cute!


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