Tutorial: Modified Pillowcase / Strappy Swing Top

September 27, 2016

Tie Back Swing Top

This is another easy breezy summertime sewing project. Here's a strappy-swing top that's really just a simple pillowcase top (sans-pillowcase) with a few modifications.

This top was made sort of free-style, but I've attempted to write down the steps for you here. I was inspired by the Majorque blouse for kids that I spotted here and the Pillowcase Dress Tutorial. I really liked the back-tie feature instead of your regular spaghetti straps.

Tie Back Swing Top
Pillowcase Top Front View

You need: 
  • Some thin fabric with good drape. I used a crepe chiffon. Check the Pillowcase Dress Tutorial for how much fabric you need. I started with two 30" width  x 22" long rectangles of chiffon. I didn't want a dress so I made it shorter. For more fullness add extra width!
  • 1 strip of the same fabric 1 3/4" wide x 18" long (for the back of the top)
  • 1 strip of the same fabric 1/3/4" wide x 60" long (for the straps). If you don't have a long enough piece, you can sew a few shorter ones together. 
Tie Back Swing Top
Pillowcase Top Back View


1) Give a slight angle to the sides of the dress: Mark 2" from the top of each piece, and cut a line straight down to the bottom of the rectangle. 

2) Fold all your pieces in half and cut arm holes. See step 2 in the Pillowcase Dress Tutorial. I made the curve a little wider: 4" from side, and 6" from the top. 

3) Sew up the sides of the dress. If you are using a woven, like crepe, French seams work really well here. 

4) Finish the arm holes. See steps 4-6 in the Pillowcase Dress Tutorial. If you are using a woven, fold the arm hole down one more time, and stitch it down to hide the raw edge. 

5) Fold the top of the front and back, and create a casing for your straps. See steps 7-8. 

6) Sew your spaghetti straps. This is the EASIEST way to make a spaghetti strap. I used a shoelace as a guide and didn't sew it down the end, because the long strap is much longer than the shoelace. Every time I got near the end of the shoelace, I pulled it through to continue using it as a guide.

7) When you're done creating your tubes do stitch another lie close tot he first for extra strength, and then turn both straps inside out with a safety pin. 

Easy peasy? Pretty much everything has been almost the same until now, right? Here we tackle the back. 

8) Take your shorter strap and fold it over at one end to make a 2" loop. Stitch it to secure it.

9) Thread the non-loopy end through the back casing. 

10) Stitch down the loop end, so that 1" is sticking out, and the raw edges are inside the casing.
11) Gather the fabric as much as you want, and make a 2" loop at the other end of your short strap. You might have to cut away any excess tube. It really depends on how wide you want the gathered section to be.
12) Pull the unsecured loop halfway into the casing, so that 1" of the loop is sticking out and stitch it down to secure it. 

13) Thread the longer strap through the front casing, and through the back loops. Tie into a bow to secure. You can knot the ends of the long strap to prevent unraveling. You might want to trim them down if they're too long. I liked the long dangling ends, so I left them.

The photo here is how the back should look when it's done: 
Tie Back Swing Top

14) Hem the bottom of your top. If it's too long, now's your chance to shorten it. you can finish it the same way you did your arm holes. 

15) Optional Tip: If you don't want the front straps to slip around, you can also stitch the front strap down at the ends of the casing. This way the neckline will always remain the same length. 

Current Mood: Satisfied. 

I used up most of the fabric leftover from the Saltspring Dress for this top. If you look carefully you can see the front piece is actually two halves sewn together, because I didn't quite have enough fabric to make a square. 

You Might Also Like