Sew Your Own Shibori Boho Top
Updated: Feb 9
Sewing simple oversized summer tops has never been easier. With so many free patterns and tutorials available online, there are countless options that are perfect fits and styles for everyone. This blog is about using the oversized top pattern of your choice with a very unique boho style fabric that will create a beautiful one-of-a-kind piece to add to your summer wardrobe that works well for jeans or a dressy casual look.
The Shibori Abstract fabric collection features prints based on my original silk and cotton textiles created with the Japanese Shape Resist Dyeing method. While taking a textile course at UCLA, I was introduced to shibori—the Japanese art of shaped resist dyeing. This method of shaping cloth and securing it before dyeing opened up a whole new way of giving fabrics a three-dimensional form by folding, crumpling, stitching, plucking, twisting, binding, and knotting. Chance, accident, and the unexpected are the elements that give life to the shibori process, giving the end product some of its most appealing characteristics. These are reflected in the lovely irregularities that comprise the Shibori Abstract prints.
The fabric type I chose is Spoonflower’s Poly Crepe de Chine, because it is perfect for a light summer top with a flowing look that complements any body type.
What is most exciting about using the Shibori Abstract fabrics for this boho style top is
this—you can order two yards with the contrasting colors of your choice side by side that blend seamlessly to create the unique duo hue effect that makes these tops so beautifully distinctive! And this is done using Spoonflower’s Fill-A-Project Infinity Scarf Template. To create and order your Shibori Abstract fabric, follow these easy steps:
1) On the Shibori Abstract Collection page, click Fill a yard of fabric with this collection at the top of the page.
2) Select the 2 Yards (up to 4 designs) template.
3) Scroll down and select Poly Crepe de Chine for your fabric (or whatever fabric you choose).
4) Scroll down and click the Design Your Project.
5) Follow the directions for filling in the template with two contrasting designs, one set on the left, and another with the same design combination on the right.
6) VOILÀ! Your two yards of fabric with the two contrasting designs/colors is ready to be added to your cart for check out. This will give you a 56” wide by 72” long piece of fabric with half of each color, perfect for your Shibori Abstract boho top.
NOTE: even though the design image shows a space in between the two contrasting prints, each will blend seamlessly into the other on the actual fabric (Figures 1A & 1B).
The tops pictured here are sewn with these color combinations:
Top A: Shibori Abstract – Magenta Swirls and Shibori Abstract Gray on Black
Top B: Shibori Abstract Aqua on Orange and Shibori Abstract Orange on Aqua
Top C: Shibori Abstract Aqua on Tan and Shibori Abstract on Teal
Top C Top B
Other suggested combinations are:
* Shibori Abstract Gray on White and Shibori Abstract Gray on Black
* Shibori Abstract Raspberry on Yellow and Shibori Abstract on Raspberry
* Shibori Abstract Gray on Lime and Shibori Abstract Gray on Black
Additionally, if you prefer not to bother with all this, and want to sew a top with a single Shibori Abstract design, it is easy to order two yards of any of these prints from the Shibori Abstract fabric collection.
For my boho top pattern, I had an oversized summer top that I had purchased a while back that was very comfortable and in a style I really liked with drop shoulder sleeves and a small opening in the back fastened by one button. So I simply traced one half of the top on pattern tracing paper. Only one piece was needed, because the front was placed on the fold and the back was cut as two separate pieces. I preferred to finish my neckline with a facing, so I traced the pattern top neckline to draw this piece. And that was it—just two pattern pieces! With these, I created three different versions of this top, each with a different type sleeve.
Sewguide.com features an excellent tutorial on how to Sew an Easy Top for Everyday Wear that includes simple instructions on how to make your own oversized drop shoulder top pattern with just one front section and one back section, and how to finish the cap sleeves and neckline with binding. Since you are creating your own custom pattern, widening the neckline and extending the drop shoulder sleeve are easy options.
The Drop Shoulder Top pattern, though shown for linen fabric, works well with the light, flowing Poly Crepe de Chine, and omitting the sleeve panels creates the shorter capped sleeve style. Also, the neckline is wider and eliminates the need for a back opening with a button closure.
The Frances Shirt also features a wide neckline along with loose, gathered sleeves that can easily be adjusted for a more snug fit.
So use the oversized top pattern of your choice, whether an online version, or a purchased commercial pattern, or a traced pattern using your favorite oversized top. Whatever you decide, do sew a muslin prototype first to customize your fit. I definitely did, and then made the proper adjustments to my paper pattern before using it for cutting the Shibori Abstract fabric sections.
Shibori Boho Top Sewing Instructions
If you have traced your own pattern from a top, as I did, allow for ½” seams when you cut your pieces. If you are using a free or purchased pattern, read the directions to see if the seam allowances are included. On your sewing machine, use a fine needle for woven fabrics, and adjust the bobbin tension for fine fabrics (on my Pfaff, I loosened the tension).
Note: If you want to make the top with cuffed sleeves, Top C, extend the end of the shoulder sleeve 3½”.
1. First you must decide on your center front design. I like the vertical rows of the larger circles in the front, so this is where I carefully folded my fabric so the designs were even on both sides, and placed the pattern on this fold for the front section (Figure 2).
2. Next, you have to decide where the horizontal break between the two colors will fall on your top. I like mine just below the bust line. Mark this point on your pattern at both ends before cutting, so you can match the back sections to the front section evenly at the sides (Figure 3). Cut out your top front. (Note: the Poly Crepe de Chine fabric does not shed very easily, so cutting with pinking shears will give you a nice seam finish.)
3. For the two back sections, again, you have to decide on your design. I went with the larger circles on both sides. To assure that both back sections match up with each other and with the front section at the sides, it is best to cut out each one separately. Carefully place the pattern on one fabric section, matching the marks on the horizontal break, and cut one back piece. Then, carefully place the pattern on a matching fabric section and cut the second back piece.
Note: To have contrasting colors for the front and back sections, as in Top C, place the pattern on a fabric section with the opposite color pattern that was used to cut the front piece, being careful to match the horizontal break between the two colors (Figures 4 and 5).
Figure 4 - Top Front
Figure 5 - Top Back
4. For the neckline facings, matching up the circle designs is not necessary, just cut the pieces from the same color fabric as the upper top section. Place the facing pattern on a grainline fold and cut one front facing. Next, cut two of the facing pattern for the two back facings. Remember to add your seam allowances if these are not included in your pattern.
Note: Before sewing the top together, you can finish your side and shoulder seams if you wish, but the poly crepe de chine fabric does not shed very easily, so seam finishing is not absolutely necessary.
5. For this simple drop shoulder top, sew the shoulder seams first, and press. Next, sew the side seams, clip curves, and press. Then, sew the back seam up to 5” from the neckline (Figure 5).
Note #1: If you want the top with the slit sleeves, Top B, sew the shoulder seams 5” from the neckline, leaving the rest of the shoulder seam open.
Note #2: If you are using a pattern with a wide neckline and no back enclosure, you simply sew the back and front sections together at the shoulder and side seams.
Steps 6 and 7 are for inserting the neckline facing. There are other options for finishing a top neckline, including bias facing or binding. If you choose one of these, proceed down to Step #8.
6. Sew the sides of the front facing and two back facings together. Press seams open. Stay stitch facing around top neckline to prevent stretching. To hem facing bottom, press under ¼”, and stitch in place. Press stitched hem under ¼”, and stitch in place for the finished hem (Figure 6).
7. Attach the facing to the top neckline, right sides together, matching shoulder seams. Stitch, trim seam and clip curves. Press seam away from neckline to facing. Understitch facing to pressed seam.
8. To finish the back opening and facing seams, press under the raw edges ¼”, and stitch. Press stitched seam under ¼”, and stitch in place for the finished seam. Press facing to inside.
9. Sew a 3/8” shank style button on the top corner of one back neckline seam. Whether you want this on the right or left side is a personal preference. Sew a button loop on the opposite side (Figures 7 and 8). I prefer to sew thread button loops, but there are other options as you will find (with instructions) on Sewguide.com.
10. Ahhh—the sleeve variations!
Top A: For regular sleeves, press bottom sleeve seam under ¼” and stitch. Press stitched hem under ½”, and stitch in place for the finished hem (Figure 9).
Top B: For slit sleeves, press raw shoulder seam and bottom sleeve seam under ¼” and stitch. Press stitched shoulder seam under ¼” and stitch in place. Press stitched sleeve hem under ½”, and stitch in place to finish (Figure 10).
Top C: For cuffed sleeves, press bottom seam under ¼” and stitch. Fold stitched seam 3” on wrong side of sleeve (Figure 11). Press, and tack to inside shoulder and side seams. If you are topstitching, topstitch the pressed sleeve bottom. Fold the sleeve bottom back over the sleeve on the outside to form a 1½” to 2” cuff. On inside, tack to shoulder and side seams, and to front and back centers (Figures 12 and 13).
Figure 12 Figure 13
11. For the bottom hem, press under the raw edges ¼”, and stitch. Press stitched hem under ¾”, and stitch in place for the finished hem.
12. To me, this Shibori Abstract top begs for decorative topstitching! This adds the crème de la crème touch to the neckline, sleeves, and bottom hem. To make topstitching the fine poly crepe de chine a bit easier, I hemmed the above seams with a straight stitch first, about ¼” to 1/3” from the pressed seam edges. Then I topstitched with a decorative stitch over the straight stitches with a contrasting thread color.
Again, this duo colored Shibori Abstract fabric lends itself to several types of drop shoulder summer top patterns. And with most of these it is very easy to widen or tighten the neckline, experiment with a variety of sleeve types, and shorten the length for a crop top or have it longer down to the hips. I had so much fun creating the three different styles you see here with my same pattern!
Top A - Front Top A - Back
Top B - Front Top B - Back
Top C - Front Top C - Back
So off you go to select your own Shibori Abstract fabric colors and...