The easiest top you'll ever sew!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links. For more info, see my disclosure policy.

Awhile back I wrote a blog post about the Mexican Huipil that I scored at a thrift store. It’s still one of my favorite tops, though now that I know how much hand embroidery and care probably went into making it, I wear and wash it a bit less often, in the hopes it will last longer!

I’ve been wanting to copy the shape of this top for awhile and since I had a piece of rayon that was only about a yard, I thought it was a good time to try it.

Now I can truly say, this is the easiest top ever!! Anyone can draft a rectangle and that’s seriously all it is. A rectangle with a neckline. The back and front are the same.

Let me show you my finished top first and then I’ll show you how I did it and how easy it is, so you can try it too.

How to make a rectangle top. Super easy, anyone can do it! || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

The cool thing about this being the same on the front and back is that you can get creative about the hemline and the trim, if you decide to add some. I had a small length of lace leftover from this (my most-worn garment this summer!) So it was enough to trim the front hem, but not the back. But it turned out to be a cool design feature! I can reverse the top and do a front tuck so that lace is in the back. I can’t decide which way I like it better.

How to make a rectangle top. So easy anyone can do it! || PIn, Cut, Sew Studio

Ok, here’s how you can draft a rectangle top for yourself. This isn’t so much of a full tutorial with step by step photos, but I think it’s enough info. And it’s just super easy, I think anyone could figure this out!

To cut the right size rectangle, you need to decide how long you want it. Mine is 27” in length (that includes 1” for seam allowance and hem. For the width, take your hip measurement and add 1”. Divide that number by four. My hips measure 39”, so after adding an inch and then dividing by 4, my rectangle’s width is 10”. Here’s my finished rectangle, for a visual.

How to draft a rectangle top. So easy, anyone can do it!

Ok, next draft your neckline. Measure 3” from the center front and 7” down from the top. Simply create a curve using the above photo as a guide.

You can see I have two notches on the side seam of my rectangle, one is 8.5” from the top and the other is 5” up from the bottom. When you sew your side seams, sew in between the notches, then narrow hem the sleeves and the slits. The slits help the top fit over your widest part (your hips) without making the top really wide everywhere else, so I wouldn’t leave them off unless you’re very narrow in the hips.

So here are the steps in order:

  1. Sew your shoulder seams.

  2. Stay stitch the neckline to prevent stretching.

  3. Finish the neckline with your preferred method. I made a bias binding and turned it to the inside and stitched.

  4. Sew your side seams between notches and press open.

  5. Narrow hem your arm holes and side slit openings.

  6. Hem the top and add trim if you want.

Done! If you have questions, I’d be happy to help further!

I’m a little baffled about why this basic rectangle top fits so well, when everything else seems to needs darts and adjustments up the wazoo for it to fit me right. But I guess I won’t question it ;)

I’d be thrilled if you pinned this graphic to come back to for later and for others to share too!

How to draft and sew a rectangle top. So easy, anyone can do it! || PIn, Cut, Sew Studio
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Sewing around the world: Huipil

This post my contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

A few months ago I spotted a top at my thrift store and knew I'd buy it before even trying it on. Luckily it fit beautifully! It was just too pretty to pass up and right away I knew there was a story behind this garment. I could infer that it was handmade and that it was clearly Mexican or South American. It's made from a black rayon, there is no tag of any kind, the front and back are the same size and shape and the embroidery was definitely done after the garment was made. 

Mexican Huipil. Sewing around the world

I've worn it often since I bought it and get comments on it every single time! Fast forward a few months and I spotted a blog post by Fabrickated talking about a traditional Mexican garment called a Huipil as part of her "Dress like Frida" series (she has such a fun blog, you should spend some time reading the series and her other content. Plus there is lots of Frida and huipil eye candy!) Thanks to her post, my thrifted shirt mystery is solved and I have had some fun researching this tradition this week so I can share it with you here. 

If you have time, I truly enjoyed this BBC video Fabrickated linked to, highlighting a modern day huipil artist. If you're short on time, start at the 15 minute mark where she starts the embroidery process, it's fascinating. It's almost more like crochet, it appears? 

As for making a huipil, the basic shape is so easy! Basically, it's a rectangle with a neck hole, sewn together at the sides leaving space for your arm holes (mine actually does have shoulder seams, but not all do).  It makes me smile because I have witnessed many children learning to sew doll clothes and making it up as they go, and the huipil style is usually what they come up with intuitively! 

While the main pattern may be simple, the embroidery and embellishment certainly is not. This is a skill that we can all appreciate and admire as textile artists, knowing how many hours go into each of these beautiful traditional garments. (The following image does not belong to me, but unfortunately was uncredited on Pinterest. Don't pin from google images, people!)

Mexican Huipil

You can see some of Frida's clothing and examples, plus an interesting take on her role as a fashion icon in this Forbes article. My daughter Natalie recently listened to the Who Was... audiobook about Frida Kahlo and enjoyed it. Her actual life has quite a bit of adult content, so this version is not for kids, but the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class did an excellent series on Frida if you're interested in that. 

And just for fun, here are some Frida-inspired fabrics! This first one is called Esperanza and you can find it in person or online at Joann stores in a couple of colorways. 

Esperanza fabric by Alexander Henry

And of course Spoonflower has plenty of good ones (people are SO CREATIVE!) including this adorable doll panel: 

By NicolePorter on Spoonflower

By NicolePorter on Spoonflower

I also like this one:

By andrea_lauren on Spoonflower

By andrea_lauren on Spoonflower

And this panel! So cute! 

By feralartist on Spoonflower

By feralartist on Spoonflower

Interestingly, my parents, who lived in Mongolia for several years have gifted me some Kazakh embroidery over the years and the technique is surprisingly similar. I have some pillow shams from India and those are very similar too! The world really is all linked together, no? 

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