Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Gathered Dolman Sleeve Top Tutorial

     I've mentioned before that I absolutely love draping on clothing. One easy way to achieve the effect of draping, without having to mess with tons of extra fabric, is to use gathers. I've done it here on the front panel of this shirt, just along the shoulder seams. 

      This is a very simple top to make, and here is how you can make your own. I used a yard of very lightweight sweater type fabric, that had some fun sparkle to it. (I told you I planned to contribute to the Fall sparkle trend in full force! sparkles!) Fabric comes off the bolt, already folded in half. I cut a piece the length I wanted for the top (29 inches). Then I cut along the fold to create two separate panels of fabric to work with. 

       Now, you need to plug in your own measurements, following this guide. Measure the widest part of your torso, usually the bust, and use that for the width.  (If your fabric is not very stretchy do not subtract the half inch from "A".)
A = width/4 - .5"
B = A + 3.5"
C = A + 2"
      You need to cut out the front of your shirt like this. It may look kind of complicated with all the numbers, but it's really not. Just measure it all out, and then connect the dots!

         The back of the shirt is the same, with the exception of the widths. The top is more narrow than the top of the front.

      Ok, so if you are still's time to sew it together! Gather the the front shoulder to match the width of the back shoulder.  I like to keep the gather right by the neck, and not so much on the sleeve.

     Sew the shoulder seams together. There will be a slight difference of shape under the arm. Just line up the fabric as you sew down the side seam. The extra width helps the fabric "drape".

      Lastly, you just need to hem the whole thing. 

     Super simple, huh! 

      This top is available at AJ's Boutique and my Etsy shop in all sizes. If you run into any questions making it, holler at me and I'll try to help! If you pop in next week, I'm going to show you how to make (or you can modify a pattern) a gathered set-in sleeve. 
       So just as a side note, do all three year olds loose their basic motor skills at this age??...mine has fallen down the stairs twice today and seems on a mission to destroy herself lately. If we can keep all teeth and appendages intact for the next year it will be a miracle!

2 Corinthians 9:7   Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 


  1. Wow - a great quickie top! I shall be giving it a try. Oh and I'm guessing your daughter has had a little growing spurt maybe? Little peeps grow so quick that their brains can't format a new body map quickly enough and so they fall over becuase in their head, their legs aren't that long, feet aren't that big etc etc!

  2. great easy wear top -oh how I wish I had time to sew one before leaving for the beach - hmmmmmmmmmmm sleep is over rated, right ;op
    Awesome job!
    Suzanne (

  3. Such a cute top!! It looks so easy to make following your directions. One little snag bigger arms. How would one go about altering this top or any of your tops really to accommodate this? I am also petite with a short waist! Thank you for any help!!

    1. Amy,
      It would be quite simple to alter the arms. Just measure your arm and add the amount needed to the width of the arm hole. You would probably need to shorten the shirt to fit your torso as well. You would just plug your numbers into the spots where mine are, and it should work no problem! I hope that helps a tad!

  4. Thank you so much!! I'll try it out soon and let you know how it goes!

  5. So simple, elegant and beautiful, thank so much for sharing.. will be making this soon

  6. I made this today, it came out great! Thanks for the wonderful instruction. You can check it out here: Your mixed pattern top is next on my list!

  7. Simple and beautiful. Thank you for the tutorial.
    Elke from Germany.

  8. I am thinking of using this as the top for a maternity dress with a maxi skirt. My fabric is not stretchy. I was wondering do you think it would work? I may not even attach the top to the skirt so I could easily nurse once baby is here. Thanks for your input!

  9. thanks so much!!! i really love your stuffs!!!!

  10. Great tutorial! I've been looking everywhere for something like this. Silly question, if my hips are large than bust measurement(6 inches) would I use the hip measurement and would that make the top too large? That is the problem I have with most clothing. Thanks!

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  12. Love this shirt! I just made it but I used 35" for the length and used a medium stretchy sweater fabric in ivory and shimmery gold, so it can be worn with leggings or as a dress:D thanks for the great tutorial!