Bess Top in Ikat

So if you’ve been following along the blog recently you know that I’m trying to sew more for myself, but since I’m nursing, anything I make has to be nursing-friendly.  I’ve got a few different styles going on, but honestly, my uniform has been button up shirts with a nursing tank or camisole underneath.  My absolute favorite shirt right now is a Converse One Star top that I got from Target and it has a placket with snaps in the front that extends below the bust for easy opening.  It’s not meant to be a nursing top, but it’s perfect for it.  AND it’s really cute (sorry, I couldn’t find a picture or link).  Then I realized that it closely resembles the Bess Top!

So when Rachael of Imagine Gnats and creator of the Bess Top pattern asked if I would be part of her pattern tour, I was psyched to have the opportunity to recreate my favorite store bought shirt!


So the main alteration I made to the pattern is adding a placket to the front.  I used this great Continuous Placket Tutorial by Melly Sews.  Otherwise, I sewed up the pattern as directed.


My favorite feature of this pattern is the super unique way the sleeves come together.  The back piece of the shirt wraps around to the front to create sleeves instead of attaching them as separate pieces.  SO CREATIVE.  I love how you can use two contrasting fabrics, or just one, depending on what look you want.  If you use two different fabrics like I did, you only need a little bit for the front, so you can use something special you’ve been hoarding, like this woven ikat fabric.


Ok, I have more to share about the pattern, but can we stop to talk about this fabric for a minute!?  I bought this ikat from Michael Levine back in June when I was in LA for the Fabric Shopping Weekend and I’ve been saving it for something special because it’s reeeally gorgeous.  Ikat fabric is made up of threads that have been dyed before it’s handwoven.  Bindings that resist dye are applied to the threads before they are dyed with one or multiple colors (kind of like tie-dying, except tie-dying is done after the fibers are woven into fabric and this method dyes the thread first before being woven).  The bindings are then removed and the threads are woven creating really unique and intricate designs.  The fabric has a looser weave which gives it nice drape, but it also means that raw edges fray very easily.  Michael Levine has a lot of other gorgeous ikat fabrics in their online store, if you’re interested!

*Edited to add – I forgot to mention that the fabric that I used for the back is a black shot cotton I picked up from Stonemountain and Daughter.  It’s got a similar feel and weight compared to the ikat – I really like them paired together.*


Where were we? . . . Oh, right!  The pattern!  It comes in women’s sizes 2-20 and in three lengths, top, tunic or dress.  There are two necklines to choose from and a hi-low hemline.  I appreciate how the top fits loosely over my mid-section – it’s meant to flatter a range of body types.  The neckline, sleeves and hem are finished with knit, which is something I’ve never done before, but really liked!  It’s like finishing with bias, but I feel like it’s a bit lighter in weight and softer too.

The trickiest part of the construction is attaching the yoke and sleeve.  I can’t help but feel like one of the markings is a little off, but I followed the pattern and fiddled with it and it turned out ok.  I might play with it a little more the next time I make this top.  And yes, I do think I’ll make another.


Here are a couple of awkward selfie chest shots for you.  I wanted to show what the placket looks like open, and OH SNAP!  Yes, I used snaps instead of buttons.  I wouldn’t have though of it, but that shirt I love so much has snaps and it’s so genius.  When the baby is hungry, I can pop my shirt open with one hand in one second.  And snapping it back up is a cinch too.  Oh, how I appreciate anything that can be done with one hand instead of two!  I only wish I had used black snaps instead of silver, but this is what I had.


And here it is styled differently.  90s-ikat-denim love anyone!??

The Bess Top pattern can be purchased here.  And be sure to check out all the other stops on the Imagine Gnats pattern tour showcasing all of Rachael’s patterns!

*Edited to ALSO add that Rachael is offering 20% off all of her patterns through the end of January with the code “januarytour” so if you’re thinking about buying the pattern, be sure to buy it now with the discount!*

Inder Loves Folk Art / mon petit lyons / Sew Delicious
la inglesita / Miss Matatabi / Rae Gun Ramblings
Welcome to the Mouse House / Casa Crafty
Make it Handmade / Made with Moxie / Buzzmills
girl like the sea / just me jay / Play Crafts
Sew Well Maide / Sew Charleston / Mingo and Grace
Caila Made / Sewbon / do Guincho / call ajaire
Alison Glass / a.Amelia Handmade / Bored & Crafty
you & mie / Stitched Together / things for boys
fake it while you make it / Sanae Ishida
Behind the Hedgerow / I Seam Stressed / Charming Doodle
The Crafty Kitty / Siestas & Sewing / Figgy’s

Have a great weekend, everyone!

*This pattern was generously given to me for this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.*


32 thoughts on “Bess Top in Ikat

  1. perhaps i should revisit those markings *adds to list* but hell, this is fabulous!!! i’ve been watching that ikat and wondering… 😉 thanks so much for sewing along!

  2. this is gorgeous – I love the sleeves and contrasting fabric. I was planning to make something similar to this with some of the wax I brought back from Africa, and I was going to wing a design! I am ordering this pattern this evening!

  3. You said, Oh snap! lol. This looks adorable on you and i love the ikat. When I was nursing I would wear a tshirt under a strapless dress or top that was elastic. That way you can pull down the strapless and pull up the tshirt to get a boob out and not be completely naked.But I hear you. I was so excited to stop nursing just so I could wear normal clothes again and not think about whether or not I could whip a boob out.

  4. I LOVE this!!! Also, the addition of the snaps was genius… when baby is hungry, baby is hungry. i may need to finally make one of these and I think I might have to follow in your snap footsteps;).

    • Haha – I think nursing moms will understand this well 🙂 You should definitely make one for yourself! Or add the snap placket to any top pattern you have!

  5. Great thinking, mama! The ikat is great, and I totally feel the target snap shirt nursing top love. My two faves right now are the snap flannels I got recently there and am already wearing holes into. Baby’s hungry, snaaaaaap, flop, boob is out. Lol. So great!

    • Hahaha – yes, it’s great. Have you thought about making yourself some Archer shirts? I’m considering it, but then I realize I can pick up a button up shirt at the store for less than $20 and I think that sounds easier 😛

  6. Thanks for the ikat info. I have never seen traditional woven ikat before! I had no idea that it was available by the yard in fabric shops. And, I love the way you combined it with the black. It is economical and really shows off the pattern in the fabric.

  7. Lovely top! Thanks for the link to the placket tutorial. I have been adding a zip (usually invisible) to the centre front of every top and dress I make for myself – and after three years, I am sick of the sight of zips on my clothes. The placket is a great idea for a different look!

    • I’ve been thinking about adding an invisible zipper to a few tops as well! Good to know that it works well, but yes, it is nice to have a few different styles too 🙂 Thanks!

  8. Looove the ikat. And this top…love those snaps and arranging it to be nursing friendly. I felt like I wore the same 3 shirts while I was nursing. The one handed thing is so very spot on!

  9. This is such a cute top. I’ve seen other versions before but must not have noticed the wrap-around-from-the-back-sleeve thing… Very interesting! Really looks great on you. Happy nursing!

  10. Pingback: january pattern tour wrap-up - imagine gnats

  11. Pingback: love at first sight… | grt*escp

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