Monday, August 20, 2012

Free Sewing Pattern: Dolman Sleeve Top



The line drawing, if you can even call it that, it's so sketchy.
Here it is, as promised: my dolman-sleeved knit top! As I mentioned before, this is part of my Remaking and Replacing the RTW series; I'm slowly going through my ready-to-wear wardrobe and trying to replace some of the most well-loved (read: falling apart, pilling, and stretched out beyond recognition) pieces with me-made versions. This top was meant to improve on a cheap orange top that I bought a couple years ago from a random Asian boutique (like Forever 21, except that I'm a size large since all the clothes are meant for tiny petite Asian girls) near my house in San Francisco.
My pattern for this top was easy to draw up; I just needed to take a few measurements and figure out how much longer I wanted the sleeves and torso. Sewing it up is easy too -- if the knit is behaving I can be done, from cutting to final wearable garment, in about 1.5 hours.

Since drawing up the pattern, I've already made three incarnations of this top, and I wear them constantly! This style is so versatile, just a little girly while still providing the range of motion and comfort and layerability that I need here in the city. I like that it's blousy enough to accommodate a cami underneath, but fitted enough that it's not too bulky under a coat. And I've made it in three different types of material, just so I can be sure it works for sweatshirt material, tissue-like knits with very little stretch/recovery, and extra-stretchy, stable knit with some spandex content. Final verdict: it works for all of them!
Aqua version in some mystery blend sweatshirt material from a discount fabric store in Oakland Chinatown, $2. Warm and vaguely sporty, but less sloppy/boring/I've-given-up-looking than a real sweatshirt.
One of those ultra-flimsy, thin cotton knits with relatively little stretch/recovery, in a cute purple/fuschia floral. Check out how real the neckband finishing looks! The dolman sleeve isn't very obvious when my arm is down, but it provides for some lovely air circulation when it's warm outside, as it was when I took these pictures in the East Bay.
Probably my favorite version, and also my last version, in a very busy blue/tan floral print knit with some spandex content, as it is very stretchy (but also very stable). From up close, the flowers look a lot like the meeples from Carcassonne.

Once I drew up my pattern and realized how easy it is, I decided I should try my hand at grading my pattern for different sizes. Thankfully, Casey of Elegant Musings just did a series on pattern grading. I looked up the size charts of several RTW companies just to get an idea of their measurements for XS-XL, then cut and expanded and redrew my pattern piece. Yes, that's right, pattern piece, singular. I hate it when printable patterns take dozens and dozens of pages to print, not to mention taping all the pages together...so I made mine fit on just eight pages, although you'll still need to follow the directions for cutting rectangles to finish the neckline, sleeves, and hem. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I should let you all know that I've only tested the small size; sew any of the other sizes at your own risk! I mean, I'm pretty sure they should work, with maybe some small adjustments for your particular body type, but hey, it's a free pattern, what do you expect? ;) Anyway, if you sew this up, please drop me an email or comment to let me know! I'd love to see how this works out for you, and if there are any issues that I can fix.

[ETA: As it turns out, apparently my arms are ultra-spindly, as several people have said that the arm bands needed to be widened significantly. Okay, point taken, I need to work out more before I draft more patterns based on my own measurements! ;) Also, apparently the neckline can be a little wide -- even a tiny bit of stretching out might make it unwearable. I always knew I had wide shoulders (it's one of the things I can reliably count on my grandmother to comment on), and the pattern is meant to just barely cover my bra straps, so it's totally understandable that this might be too much for some/most people. So take note, it might be a good idea to cut the neckline smaller and then enlarge it later if necessary. If you've had the misfortune of already cutting it too wide, might I suggest a center pleat to bring it in?]

Instructions (with a color picture tutorial, no less!)

Pattern (hand-drawn, since I don't know how to do this on computer, in XS-XL)

If you saw the colorblocking of the inspiration top, you'll obviously realize that I didn't bother with that in my remakes. I didn't have any solid-colored knits to work with, but if you want to try it, just cut the pattern piece into three separate parts, as shown below, and just add seam allowances before you cut and sew your fashion fabric.

On my inspiration top, the sleeve and hem bands, neckband, and upper right quadrant were all orange,
and the other sleeve was white and the bottom left section was gray.

I'm not going to write up my usual summary, since I've already listed the fabrics and time and skills required either in the picture captions above or in the instructions. And my final thoughts are that this pattern is quickly becoming my favorite, and that several people who are not my husband have already commented on the cuteness of this top, which I think is a positive sign. I think this is a good start to R&RtRTW, unwieldy abbreviation notwithstanding!

Showing my excitement with a jumping picture, inspired by all of Leah's.

42 comments:

  1. OH my, thank you so much for this pattern. I have some thick knitted, spandex-y fabric from my recent thrift-shopping session, and I think this dolman is going to make a great cool weather top.

    Will have to give it a go, and spread the Cation love on my blog.

    Juanita

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  2. Ooooo-eeee this looks like the perfect project to ease me back into sewing after a break! Thank you! I'll give it a go this weekend :)

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  3. Boatneck! And sweatshirting! I think I've just found the pattern for a sweatshirting material lingering in my stash... Thank you!

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  4. This is so cute and I love your project of re fashioning the RTW wardrobe by making your own pattern! And then sharing also! thats amazing! :D Hoping to buy some jersey today so may try this out! :D

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  5. What cool looking tops and how generous of you to make a pattern available.Thanks.

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  6. ace - thanks for this. i will add to my list!

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  7. This is so cute! I hope I can find some time soon to try it out. Thanks so much for making the pattern for us!

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing the top/pattern! I've added it to my list of patterns to try when the kids are back in school this fall.:)

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  9. Meeep! (excited noise)
    Thank you for sharing.

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  10. Very cute tops! I'm not sure which one I like best - they all look great!

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  11. This is so awesome, and you are so generous to share this with us! I can't wait to make this for fall, it's so on. And your jump shots put mine to shame...

    strugglesewsastraightseam.wordpress.com

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  12. I totally admire you for committing to make the move from RTW - you definitely have the skills to do it! Bravo! You inspire me to gain enough skills to do the same ^__^

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  13. I love sewing basic tops that will get worn over and over! This one looks comfy and cute!

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  14. This looks awesome, thank you! I'm always looking for super quick top patterns, and it doesn't get much better than one pattern piece!
    I'm glad to see you bought that fabric - maybe if I had noticed the Meeple flowers I would have bought some too!

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  15. I've been on the hunt for the *perfect* sweatshirt pattern for a while now, and this might just be the answer to my pattern-prayers! You are forever awesome!

    mydearlizzie.blogspot.com

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  16. Adorable, I have several rtw versions of this top, I would love to be able to make it myself! Thanks for making a free pattern, it looks great on you!

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  17. Thank you for this pattern. I'm looking forward to making it.

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  18. Love that the pattern pages have cats as the page connectors!

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  19. I made the top! Great pattern, it worked out really well! It's by far the best dolman sleeve top pattern I've made (that includes a free Burda pattern and a not free McCall's pattern), and Walnut in the test square somehow made me hate printing and taping patterns together way less than usual :) Awesome job!
    Check out my top here: http://notimetosew.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/t-shirt-of-the-month-cation-dolman-top/

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  20. Oh! This is so cool! I love that you tested it on the different jerseys to test it out... :)

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  21. I made a top with your pattern :-) I am still quite a novice and it worked out. Thank you thank you for this pattern and the instructions.

    http://gigglesinthesun.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/dolman-sleeve-top.html

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  22. So so cute! I love it in all the different versions. Thank you for sharing! Can't wait to try it. :)

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  23. Just made one of these. Planning more... Great pattern! Did a review on Pattern Review.

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  24. Love this!! working on my second top! I'm also going to make a longer version to wear with leggings and boots. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  25. Rosemary in Portland.....November 1, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    I just love all your tops!! And I was just surfing around trying to find a dolman-sleeve sewing pattern...Thank you very much

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  26. I think I may need to hit Oakland's Chinatown for fabric.

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  27. I missed something. How do I get the pattern?

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    1. You can click on the links in the post to get to the site to download the pattern and instructions.

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  28. I can't wait to try your sassy pattern! I love that the "moderate" dolman can be layered. Is the printed top the longer sleeve version? So cute and perfect for layering here in SoCal!

    Thanks for sharing,
    Kathleen

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    1. The pattern is for the short-sleeved (above the elbow) version, just to save on printing paper. If you want to make it three-quarter sleeved, just extend the sleeve lines out by about six inches. To get it to be long-sleeved, extend it by about ten inches. You'll probably need to reduce the amount of tapering a little, too.

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  29. what a fun pattern! thanks for sharing your style. I made a backless version for my bestie, posted here: http://superstarbecca.blogspot.com/2012/12/tis-wee-gift-factry.html

    woo woo!

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  30. Its a great idea. Thanks for sharing the pattern. I have downloaded but not yet tried. Ruthie

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  31. Hi! I'm very excited to try this design, but I'm confused - I just printed and taped your pattern, but the paper pieces will not produce the same fabric pieces that are shown in your instructions. The pattern does not have sleeves. Are we supposed to draw these in and cut according to the length we prefer? I think I missed something. Sorry & thank you!

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  32. Thank you very much. I was looking for this design and found your blog after a google search. How fortunate for me!

    Thanks again!

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  33. Oops - wow, please disregard the question I just posted - I totally just printed the wrong pattern. No wonder I was so confused!

    Off to make the right shirt this time!

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  34. Just wanted to pop back in to tell you that I used your pattern to make my "Luxurious Lounge" top! Thanks so much for sharing!

    If you'd like to see it made it green velour, have a look:
    http://madebytrisha.blogspot.com/2013/01/luxurious-lounge-top-cation-dolman-top.html

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  35. I like how this style is slim fitted and not billowy. I'll give it a go.

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  36. Love your top, very cute! I did not even realize that I liked Dolman sleeve tops until I made one in a knit a few weeks ago. I just associated them with tacky 80's. But, now I really like the geometrical design and the way they fit. Thanks for the pattern, I'm going to try this one, as well. :)

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  37. I have to tell you that I have used your pattern and have made 5 tops out of various prints and colors and I LOVE this pattern!!!! Thank you soooo much :)

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  38. Great pattern. My daughter will love it!

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Thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts! I appreciate reading them and I try to reply to most, if not all, comments, especially when they are questions. I ask that you keep your comments polite, and if you're a spammer, don't bother because your comment will just be deleted! Also, if you're commenting on a post that's more than two weeks old, it will be moderated.