Hot! The “Sailor Sweetheart” Top


The Facts: Sailor Sweetheart Tee from

Fabric: Medium-light rayon jersey with a whiff of lycra, .8m (~3/4 yd)

Pattern: I used my basic Blank Canvas Tee, which is fitted to my shape and preferences, then hacked it up to make this top.  The one on Plasticland features an underbust seam and over the bust seams- like princess lines.  I made mine shorter than theirs, as a personal preference, but otherwise faithfully followed along with the design.

Notions: Thread, strips of fusible woven interfacing, six 7/8″ buttons, satin lingerie elastic for trim.  It’s like nice bra straps.

Time to Complete:  Around 6-7 hours- documenting the process in painstaking detail for my blog REALLY slowed down progress.

First Worn: January 22, to the New Year celebrations in Brisbane’s Chinatown.

Wear Again: Yes!  I think for my lifestyle and manner of dressing, this is a great balance between “handy black knit top” and “quirky fun top.”   I can pair this with many, many garments in my wardrobe.  The cut-on sleeves allow for lovely air circulation under my arms, which greatly lengthens the life of my knit tops.

Total Price: $11.20 for the fabric, another $4 for three yards of elastic, and $4.50 for buttons.  $19.70 all together.

When I saw the challenge was “make this look” I panicked a little bit.  I don’t really know what’s in stores, and I don’t use a lot of the “big 4” type patterns- they never fit without a long list of alterations and it’s a better use of my time to just draft what I want.  When I found the Sailor Sweetheart top on Plasticland, I fell in love!  I knew I could use my favorite basic t-shirt pattern to draft this, and I could show others how to, as well!

The “hack” is like learning to draft, so if you’ve ever wanted to play with altering a pattern for design changes (rather than fit) and you like this design, my hack of the Sweetheart Sailor top is a great place to start.  I recommend first muslining the basic tee pattern to be sure you like the length and width.  Then go for it!  Of course, you can also use your own tnt tee pattern.

I wasn’t sure what to use as trim, but I settled on the elastic because it’s a little hefty, it stretches, and it has a nice satiny stripe.  Ribbon or bias tape might have done the trick, too.  I was terrified the elastic would be a pain to sew, I even basted some of the elastic and carefully stabilized the area underneath, but I discovered all I needed to do was pin it on and stitch.  Easy!  I faced the neckline and carefully stitched it down to keep it from shifting and flapping around.  I hate that.  All in all, I’m more pleased with the way this turned out than anything I’ve made in a long, long time.  Thanks for the little “push,” Sew Weekly!



Stephanie mothers, writes, and teaches sewing in Brisbane, Australia. She blogs about sewing, drafting, vintage style and sustainability at 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World.


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  1. I love it! Sailor style is so cute.

  2. Really adorable!

    And thank you for all the tips on how you made it. I’m about to tackle your T-shirt pattern and was feeling pretty scared as I suck at knits. Finishing them is particularly tricky, so I’m relieved to here that you just faced this.

    Using lingerie elastic for the stripes is a stroke of genius.

  3. That’s adorable! I can’t wait to visit your blog and see exactly how you did it. Thanks for sharing with everyone. I learn so much from all of you!

  4. Wow, that’s a fantastic Make This Look! Great job, especially with having to draft the pattern!

  5. Thanks, everyone! :) The draft isn’t difficult or tricky, it’s just doing it. I guess it would take about 40 minutes or so, but its tough for me to judge how others may work… I’ll be posting construction information on this top later this week.

  6. Love it! Off to your blog now for info on how to make one myself.

  7. Hello Sailor, I love this and I want one!

  8. Love the shirt and the details. I’ve wanted to add a tee like this to my wardrobe. Wow, the directions on thorough on your blog, I can see why it added time but thank you for sharing.

  9. Ah fantastic, anything sailory is good in my book!

  10. Absoloutely love this! It looks so chic.

  11. This is epic! Everyone needs more sailor attire in their lives :D

  12. So cute!! I’m definitely going to keep something like this in mind for summer – I’m such a sucker for nautical!

  13. Looks awesome! Nautical is the best!

  14. It looks so lovely! I’ve been drooling over that top for AGES, and it’s wonderful to see your fabulous version. Well done!!

  15. I LOVE your top – I need one of those in my wardrobe! I think I need to come to your sewing classes – where in Brisbane are you?

  16. I’ve just been over at your blog – question answered!

  17. Fantastic! Like you said, cute but really functional for real like. So it’s simply elastic topstitched?

    • Yes- though I tested several ways of stitching it to the shirt on scraps before I “went for it.” Different fabrics and elastics may handle differently than mine did. (I used a really nice firm elastic- I think it must be intended for bra straps, that’s what it feels like. And a light-medium rayon lycra knit… And Shhh! I used a regular non-stretch stitch set on 3.0 stitch length.)

  18. Totally Adorable!!!!

  19. Aesthetically pleasing and functional as well – and an excellent tutorial. Fantastic top.

  20. Oh, wow, I love this. And thank you for posting such detailed directions, too. If only my machine could do knits, I would be working on one of these right now.

  21. Love it! And I’m so glad you’re a generous and not a secretive dressmaker.