Bees for a Summer Tie Neck Top

This top seemed to take forever to complete, but now that it’s done I’m so happy with the result!

For the past few weeks, I haven’t felt much like sewing. One of our cat family members passed away and that impacted me more than I expected. Add to that a couple of completely unsuccessful attempts making a big tote bag and I found myself binge watching The Crown instead of sewing. The fog is beginning to lift and I’m feeling like myself again. Which means that the sewing room is again a productive place!

Gabby Print Polyester from Fabricland, Calgary, Canada

This project started with fabric that I picked up when we were in Calgary for Mother’s Day weekend. What sold me was the print … bees. That made me think of sewing bees!  When I picked up the fabric I envisioned a sleeveless top with a bow.

All I know about the fabric is that it is a “Gabby Print” and it’s 100% polyester. I paid $Cdn 14/m so a total of $Cdn 28 (about $22 US) for the top.

The right pattern was already in my stash, but I didn’t realize it until I looked back at my previous blog posts. I have made Vogue 9204 twice; one in a really wonderful cotton jersey (and it’s been worn a hundred times), and a second time in a shiny poly something from JoAnne (gone in the last wardrobe cull). I like this pattern for the streamlined shape and the tie.

The first version of Vogue 9204 in stretch cotton

The only problem with the Vogue pattern is that the sleeves are a bit dull.  I dug through my pattern stash and found McCalls 7053 and its interesting sleeve treatment. 


Although the McCalls sleeve treatment was added to a dropped shoulder, I couldn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t fit only the set-in sleeve on the Vogue pattern. The gathered sleeve bottom adds some flourish without being fussy.

Since I was going to add the lower sleeve, I cut the sleeve pattern at the short sleeve length. Then I measured the two pattern segments (upper and lower sleeves) and altered the width of the lower sleeve to match the bottom edge of the upper sleeve. I aligned the two pieces and added notches. The lower sleeve was gathered and cuffed (that took plenty of time on this fly-away fabric), then attached to the upper sleeve. All sleeve edges were finished with the overlocker. The cuff width remains as drafted on the McCall pattern and it’s very comfortably loose.


One I corralled the fabric with plenty of pins it was easy to work with but to ensure there weren’t any tears or pulls, I used a fresh Microtek sharp needle. Normally I’d just grab a used needle but I’m trying to develop better habits! The sides were finished with French seams and on the sleeves and shoulders, I used the overlocker.

If you read my last post (see the MixIt Top post) you’ll know that I struggled with setting in the sleeves, and the designer Linda Lee sent me some info. I used her tips for this top. Most who sew already know these tips so maybe I should have listened more closely in grade 7 Home Ec classes?

  • Removed about 1/2″ from the top third of the sleeve head to remove most poofy-ness
  • Stitched a single row of gathering stitches right ON the stitching line
  • Stitched where I was supposed to (5/8″ in this case). If I ever find tracing paper that works, I’ll start drawing in the stitching line.
  • Lightly steamed the sleeve heads to shape

The neckband is stitched like a collar which means the inside of the collar is pressed under 5/8″ and then slipstitched. The fabric would not hold a crease so I used Wonder Tape to keep the seam allowance up and out of the way. I’ll remember this trick for the future because it sure made the inside collar easier to finish.

You know you’re in the sewing zone when you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about how best to hem a top. In a discussion about seam finishes on Pattern Review someone mentioned the Encyclopedia of Machine Sewing Techniques by Nancy Bednar and I was ready to hit BUY on Amazon until I realized it looked familiar. Yes, it was already on my bookshelf – unread of course! I discovered that the book is well illustrated and it showed clearly how to use the narrow hem foot so I gave it a go and had a very good result!


The result is that I’m really proud of myself for successfully combining two patterns! I know it’s just a sleeve mash-up, however, it’s another step in my sewing skills.

This is a new favourite … it feels a bit dressy for work, but not fussy and the bees keep it from being too serious!

11 thoughts on “Bees for a Summer Tie Neck Top

  1. Hi Janine,

    I am so sorry to hear of your recent trauma and sadness, hugs from me.

    Love your bee fabric. You have made a lovely job of your new top and your sleeve adaption looks fantastic. It really adds a touch of chic to your blouse. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So sew cute! Great idea to mash up the sleeves…I am going to steal that idea for a sweater knit top. It is a lovely take on that fabric. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Linda! I shop mostly at Fabricland off of McLeod Trail in SE Calgary. It’s very large. There is also a Fabricland in the NW, in Northland Village. Both stores have a great variety of notions. It’s tough to find notions in stores in the States so I tend to load up!

      When I want a little splurge I shop at a small boutique called “Olga’s Fabric Lane” in SW Calgary off of Bow Trail. It’s in a little strip mall. They specialise in bridal fabric however they also have a small selection of beautiful garment fabrics. I’ve just finished a dress in a knit I purchased there last summer, and at the same time I picked up black fabric for trousers and it feels like really good quality RTW fabric.

      Someone told me that L’oiseau Fabrics is based in Calgary and the shop is opened for limited hours. I have not shopped there yet, but it’s absolutely on the list for the next visit.

      If you’re on Instagram, there’s an account called @sewyyc and she may be able to give you more suggestions. Hope this helps! Please let me know what you discover so I can add new places to my list for next time.


      Liked by 1 person

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