Tiered Boxy Top Sewing Tutorial

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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], 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!