How to Make a Smocked Tube Top

Smocked Tube Top-Front
Smocked Tube Top-Back

Jersey knit tube top smocked at the bust with multiple rows of elastic thread. The circumference of the top (unshirred) is 8-9" (20-23 cm) larger than the bust measurement. The finished top is 21" (53 cm) long, including 4.5" (11 cm) of smocking at the bust, and hits below the hip.


  • Jersey knit or lightweight woven fabric
  • Elastic sewing thread


Measuring and Cutting

    Cut 2 rectangles from your fabric as shown in Diagram 1. For the length, measure from above your bust down to your desired hemline, and add 1.5" (38 mm) for seam allowances. For example, I used a length of 22.5" (57 cm) for a tunic-length top; a regular shirt length would be about 17" (43 cm).

    Diagram 1

    Diagram 1


  1. With right sides together, sew the side seams.
  2. Overcast or zig zag stitch the raw top edge (optional for jersey knits).
  3. Fold and pin the top edge 0.875" (22 mm) to the wrong side.
  4. Replace the thread on your bobbin with elastic sewing thread (you’ll have to hand-wind it on the bobbin). With the right side of the tube top facing up and starting at one of the side seams, sew 0.25" (6 mm) from the top folded edge around the circumference of the tube top, making sure to sew through both layers of fabric. See Diagram 2. When you start and stop the row of smocking, leave long thread ends and don’t backstitch.
  5. Tip: If you haven’t sewn with elastic thread before, practice sewing with it on some scrap fabric first to see how tightly you should wind the elastic thread on the bobbin. Keep in mind that the smocking will get tighter as additional rows are added.


    Diagram 2

    Diagram 2
  6. Start smocking the second row 0.5" (13 mm) below the first row of smocking, making sure to sew through both layers of fabric again.
  7. Continue sewing additional rows of smocking every 0.5" (13 mm). Start with about 10 rows, or about 4.5" (11 cm), of smocking and then try on the tube top to see if you want additional rows.
  8. If you need to adjust the fit after you have completed smocking, you can adjust the elastic thread ends for tightness (it can be difficult to do). After you have the fit right, tie the loose thread ends for each row of smocking.
  9. Hem the top (optional for jersey knits) by folding the hem edge 0.25" (6 mm) to the wrong side twice. See Diagram 3. Sew along the upper edge of the hem.
  10. Diagram 3

    Diagram 3

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