How to Make an Empire Waist Tube Top

Empire Waist Tube Top-Front
Empire Waist Tube Top-Back

Double-layered, crinkled cotton gauze tube top with 0.25" (6 mm) elastic above the bust and at the empire waist. The circumference of the finished bodice is 4-5" (10-13 cm) larger than the bust measurement and the circumference of the finished midriff is 6-7" (15-18 cm) larger than the hip measurement. The finished midriff is 13.5" (34 cm) long and hits below the hip.

Materials

  • Lightweight woven fabric, like cotton gauze or voile (You could also try silk or jersey knit)
  • 0.25" (6 mm) elastic for bust and waistband
  • Safety pin to thread elastic

Instructions

Measuring and Cutting

  • Bodice: Cut 2 rectangles from your fabric as shown in Diagram 1.
  • Note: If you are lining the top, cut an additional 2 rectangles from the same fabric or from a lining fabric if more appropriate.

  • Midriff: Cut 2 rectangles from your fabric as shown in Diagram 1. To determine midriff length, measure from your empire waistline down to your desired hemline, and add 1.5" (38 mm) for seam allowances.
    For example, I cut the midriff 15" (38 cm) long, which resulted in a finished midriff length of 13.5" (34 cm).

    Note: If you are lining the top, cut an additional 2 rectangles from the same fabric or from a lining fabric if more appropriate.

  • Diagram 1

    Diagram 1

Sewing the Bodice

  1. With right sides together, sew the side seams of the bodice.
  2. Note: If you are lining the top, sew the side seams of the bodice lining also. Place the lining inside the bodice and pin the layers together with wrong sides facing and side seams aligned. For the remaining instructions, treat the lined bodice as a single layer.

  3. Line up the side seams of the bodice so that the bodice is folded at center front (CF) and center back (CB). See Diagram 2. Pin all layers together. Mark the side seam 1" (25 mm) down from the top edge of the bodice. Mark CB 1.5" (38 mm) down from the top edge of the bodice. Using Diagram 2 as a guide, draw a smooth curved line connecting the top edge of the bodice at CF, the mark at the side seam, and the mark at CB. Cut through all layers along the curved line.
  4. Diagram 2

    Diagram 2
  5. Create a tunnel for elastic at the top of the bodice by folding the top (curved) edge 0.375" (10 mm) to the wrong side twice. See Diagram 3. Sew along the lower edge of the tunnel, leaving an opening to insert the elastic.
  6. Diagram 3

    Diagram 3

Sewing the Midriff

  1. With right sides together, sew the side seams of the midriff.
  2. Note: If you are lining the top, sew the side seams of the midriff lining also. Place the lining inside the midriff and pin the layers together with wrong sides facing and side seams aligned. Treat the lined midriff as a single layer until you are ready to hem the midriff.

  3. Sew a gathering stitch (i.e., a long, straight stitch with the tension loosened) 0.75" (19 mm) from the top edge of the midriff, starting and stopping at each side seam and leaving long thread ends. Pull the thread ends to gather the midriff to the width of the bodice, distributing the excess width evenly across the front and back of the midriff.

Sewing the Empire Waistband

  1. Pin the top edge of the midriff to the bottom edge of the bodice, with right sides together and side seams aligned. With the midriff on top, sew the top edge of the midriff to the bottom edge of the bodice leaving a 1" (25 mm) seam allowance. Press both seam allowances towards the bodice.
  2. Create a waistband tunnel by sewing the seam allowances to the bodice 0.375" (10 mm) above the waist seamline, as shown in Diagram 4. Leave an opening to insert the waistband elastic.
  3. Diagram 4

    Diagram 4

Finishing Up

  1. Elastic at the Bust: Thread elastic through the tunnel above the bust with a safety pin and adjust to desired tightness. Cut elastic, making sure to include an additional 1" (25 mm) of length for seam allowances. Overlap the elastic edges by 0.5" (13 mm) and sew them together to secure. Slip the elastic back inside the tunnel and sew the tunnel closed.
  2. Elastic at the Empire Waist: Thread elastic through the waistband tunnel with a safety pin and adjust to desired tightness. Cut elastic, making sure to include an additional 1" (25 mm) of length for seam allowances. Overlap the elastic edges by 0.5" (13 mm) and sew them together to secure. Slip the elastic back inside the tunnel and sew the tunnel closed.
  3. Hem the midriff (optional for jersey knits) by folding the hem edge 0.25" (6 mm) to the wrong side twice. See Diagram 5. Sew along the upper edge of the hem.
  4. Note: If you are lining the top, separately hem the midriff lining about 1" (25 mm) shorter than the midriff.

    Diagram 5

    Diagram 5

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