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Tiered Boxy Top Sewing Tutorial

For testers: fill out the feedback form here https://forms.gle/ixbcjr3v327A1CZe8

Hot Pink linen boxy dress with 2 gathered tiers.

This is a FREE but donation strongly encouraged sewing tutorial. It is a zero waste top/tunic/dress comprised of three rectangles. It is entirely customized to your own measurements, so ideally should work for all sizes. Get out your measuring tape and get ready to do some (hopefully fairly simple) arithmetic.

You may not use this pattern for commercial purposes or for profit.

How to get the tutorial

  1. Make a donation ($5+ recommended) to one of the following organizations:
    1. GLITs
    2. Sustainable BK rent relief
  2. Bonus: send the donation receipt to guaigoods [at] gmail.com, subject line “Tiered Boxy Top Donation Receipt”
  3. Just follow the instructions below for the actual tutorial. This is all based on the honor system, but know that if you are white and have the funds but don’t donate, I will silently judge you. 🙂

Required materials and techniques

Recommended fabric: Lightweight gauze or other summery fabric.

Fabric requirements: 1-2 yards for a top, 2.5-4 yards for a dress depending on size

Seam allowance: 3/8″ or unless otherwise noted

Techniques used: flat felled seams, gathers

Step 1: Take measurements

You will need to take the following measurements:

A = (Chest circumference / 2) *1.5

B = (Top of shoulder to where you want the base of the armhole to be * 2) +2″ (5cm)

C = Top of chest to under chest, going over the curve of your chest +2″ (5cm)

D = Top of shoulder to top of chest (this is the neck opening) *2

Step 2: Cut out yoke panels

Cut a rectangle using the following formula:

  • Width: A
  • Height (grainline): B

Cut this piece in half widthwise. These two rectangles will comprise the left and right yoke panels

Step 3: Cut out tiers

Cut 2 rectangles of the following dimensions:

Tier 1:

  • Width: A *1.3 *2 — this means 30% more volume than the yoke. Adjust this volume percentage to your liking.
  • Height: C

Tier 2:

  • Width: (Width of first tier *1.3)
  • Height: Desired length. This will be the lowest tier.

Step 4: Sew yoke

Lay the yoke pieces side by side widthwise.

Mark from both top and bottom edges where you want the neck opening to be.
The edge measurement is: (BD) /2

Right sides together, sew together with 5/8″ seam allowance, skipping the neck opening.

Press seams open. Fold the edges twice and edge stitch to create flat-felled seams. Secure V neck opening with bar tack.

Fold yolk lengthwise, right sides together. Mark 1 inch from both sides of the bottom opening of the yolk. Sew 1 inch up on both sides with 1/2″ seam allowance.

Finish armholes with flat felled seams or desired finishing.

You should now have a yolk with a V-neck and arm holes.

Step 5: Sew tiers together

Change the bobbin to a contrasting color. Baste stitch two parallel lines at one edge of the Tier 2. Pull the bobbin threads to create gathers. Pull and bunch together edge until width matches the Tier 1.

Right sides together, Sew top and bottom tiers. Press seams together and finish.

Bonus: At this point, you may want to add inseam pockets.

Right sides together, sew the tiers widthwise to form a tube. Press seams together and topstitch with the seam allowance pressed down.

Step 6: Attach tiers to yoke

Baste stitch two parallel lines at top edge of the top tier. Pull the bobbin threads to create gathers. Pull and bunch together edge until width matches the yoke.

Flip the tiered skirt portion upside down. Right sides together, position the yoke so that it’s the inside “tube”. The tiers should wrap around the yoke as the outside “tube”.

Pin the top of Tier 1 to right below the V neckline in the center of the yoke.

Pin the sides of Tier to below the armholes on the sides of the yoke.

There should now be a “curved triangle-ish” effect where the centers of the top tier are below the neck and the sides of the tier are below the arm. Pin the remaining edges so that it forms a smooth enough diagonal line from the neck to the arm. I say smooth enough line because it doesn’t matter if it’s perfectly straight — it’s fine as long as it’s more or less symmetrical.

Flip to the other side of the yoke and pin Tier 1 the same way you did for the front.

Sew. Trim the excess fabric of the yoke where it’s hidden with the tiers. Press seams together and finish.

Step 7: Hem

Fold the bottom edge of the bottom tier up 1/4″, then another 1″. Sew, finishing the bottom edge.

And you’re done!

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Clothes! Here’s a tool we use to help shape our wardrobes and fashion purchases.

We use this spreadsheet to track our clothing purchases and our wardrobe visions: http://bit.ly/guaigoods-sheet

Copy it to make your own. There are examples to show you how we use it. The file is comment-only. Please comment if you have questions, or you can reach out on Instagram @guaigoods. We tinker with it often to make it work better for us. Let us know how you use it and maybe we can share ideas. We’d love to hear from you!

Why did we make this?

How often do you think about clothes? How many articles of clothing do you buy each year? How much do you spend on clothes each year? Brooke and I think about clothes a lot. We maintain watch lists on our favorite online shops like eBay, Etsy and Grailed. We visit our favorite fashion blogs and Instagram accounts regularly and post our own outfits to @yokeandbore. We even publish a weekly newsletter under this Guai Goods brand and post sneak peeks on Instagram.

At the start of 2019, we reflected on our clothing consumption over the previous year. We looked through all our shops for purchase histories and records. We struggled to remember every item we bought online and in person. In 2018, I bought about 80 items and Brooke bought about 120. We counted clothes and clothing accessories like hats, scarves, shoes, socks, and such things fashion brands generally sell.

Those numbers shocked us a little. So we decided to shop with more self-awareness in 2019, to set constraints. Since we had counted the volume of purchases in 2018, we decided to use a volume constraint. Let’s set a hard goal that is still achievable, we said to ourselves. And so, at the start of 2019, we agreed to limit ourselves to buy 40 items in the year.

We thought we needed a tool to help. Changing behavior is difficult. Memory is fallible. All those clothes would be tempting us every step of the way. The first version was just the 2019 Purchases tab you see in the screenshot and template. Throughout the year, we added items to the spreadsheet as we bought them, sometimes just after the purchase and sometimes a few weeks after if we forgot. I’m not quite sure why, but we kept returning to the spreadsheet. It felt helpful to see the info in one place.

In October, I added a Vision tab for myself and the Wants/Questions tab. Visions of where you want to go are powerful. A vision helps guide you like a map to a future place you want to be. A good one is maintainable so you can adjust it as you learn new things. As 2020 approached and I got closer to my 40-item limit, I realized I wanted this guidance for my fashion purchases. My vision board started with shoes, because I was in Japan and I had a very hard time saying no to all the second hand shoes that I wanted. Since then, I’ve updated it and added new sections. Brooke started her wardrobe vision, too.

Looking ahead into 2020, we set ourselves new goals, added a new tab for 2020 purchases, and we’re excited to see how they reshape our selves and our wardrobes.

How can this help you?

So, back to those questions I asked you.

How often do you think about clothes? How many articles of clothing do you buy each year? How much do you spend on clothes each year?

Have guesses? If this sort of self-examination interests you, this spreadsheet could help you better answer these questions. You might learn about yourself. You might save money, feel more sure about your purchases, or even feel better about your consumption habits. You can use the chart however you want. Make your own copy. Adjust it to suit your style and goals. If you do, please let us know. We would love to hear about your fashion goals. Message us on Instagram @guaigoods.