Inspiration No. 22: A Zero Waste Topper

A Zero Waste Topper for All Seasons

by Kathryn Brenne

Fabric: Italian silvery gray floral motif cloque’ woven

Pattern: Self-Drafted Design

fullsizeoutput_63e5When Linda asked me to design something using a piece of polyester heat embossed cloque’ from a designer who I’ve admired for years, I knew the fabric would be special.  A simple design that let the beauty and texture of the fabric shine was all that was needed. I came up with this design, which gives the illusion of a lot of fabric when in reality I only ordered 50″ (1.375 yards). I draped the design on the bias for a very soft fluid look. The result is a beautiful year round garment that can be worn as a bathing suit cover up or as a topper over slim pants and a turtleneck.fullsizeoutput_63ec

Fabric Tips & Process

I used a heat set embossed textured cloque’ fabric that was lightweight and sheer.  The embossing added some crispness to the fabric.  This design would also work well in a silk organza,  satin face organza, silk/cotton voile or any fabric that is light and crisp, in a solid color, a print or with a surface texture.

The fabric I used was 49″ wide.  The fabric requirement for this project is a square.  Fifty inches of fabric gave me a generous square.

Fit and Details

This design will fit a lot of figure types.  There is minimal waste and no alteration for narrower fabrics.  The garment is cut on the bias and provides a loose, forgiving fit.  The design or square can be made shorter by taking a bit of length off at center back. The garment fastens with narrow rouleau ties.  The edges of the garment drape loosely.  The ties could be adjusted for larger figures with a narrower overlap.

The position of the armholes helps to hold the garment in place. Below is a close up  photo taken on my 1″ grid mat.  You can print out the photo and enlarge it to equal 1″ squares and use this as a template to mark your armholes.  The armholes can be positioned closer or further apart depending on your size. The top of the armhole to the finished edge of the collar measures 10″.



Draping the Design

I have done the work of creating the design and pattern for you to use.  With the photos taken on my grid mat as a reference you should be able to copy my pattern.  I would suggest cutting out a trial garment first to ensure you have the armholes in the correct position.

For those who would like to try their hand at draping, here is how I created the design:

  1. Begin with a square of fabric.  Fold the square diagonally in half and lightly crease.  Open up the square and draw the crease in pencil using a yardstick. Fold the square diagonally again and pin the edges together creating a cone shape.
  2. Drop the cone onto a dress stand aligning the pencil line with the centre back of the stand.  Pull down slightly on the fabric as the actual fabric will be softer and stretch more than muslin. Pin the cone in place along CB. Place a pencil mark across the shoulder blade area of the back for the edge of the armhole.  On my size 10 dress stand the markings were 11″ apart.  Smaller sizes will be closer together while larger sizes will be further apart.p1060687
  3. Cut a straight 9″ vertical opening in the centre of each armhole.  This will allow you try the test garment on.  Using the shoulder as a guide, pin out an armhole shape.  The shape should be egg shaped. When laid on a table, the armholes should angle inward at the shoulder.
  4. Remove the fabric from the stand and use a curved ruler to smooth out the shape of the armhole. Trim out the center leaving a good ⅜” seam allowance. Fold the garment along the pencilled CB line to make sure that both armholes are the same size and in the same position.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  5. Try the garment on.  Fold under and pin the square edges creating a rounded hemline and smooth curved collar. Check the depth and position of the armholes. If you find that they are a bit too far apart as I did, pin a ½” tuck down centre back. If needed, reshape the armholes or add a scrap of fabric in.
  6. Use curved rulers to smooth out the edges of the design. Trim away excess fabric.
  7. Trim away any extra fabric from the armholes leaving the cut edge as the finished edge with no seam allowance. I have included photos on my mat grid to give you an idea of how much I trimmed away. Please note that although the photos show a pencil line, which appears to be a seam allowance the cut edge is actually the finished edge.armhole2armhole3armhole4armhole5

Layout and Cutting

pattern1Lay out the pattern on a square piece of fabric with the front edges aligned along the selvedge and the weft.  I moved my pattern back about ½” to avoid the unattractive selvedge.

P1060714Pin around the armholes. Thread trace around the armholes.  Cut out armholes leaving a generous ¾” seam allowance. Trim excess fabric from the outer edges. Keep excess fabric to make armhole binding and rouleau ties.

Stitching and Finishing the Edges

P1060720I used a quarter inch foot and a straight stitch throat plate with a size 60 Universal needle to sew a ¼” around the outer edge of the garment.  My machine has a built in dual feed but alternatively you could use a walking foot if needed. As you are stitching try not to stretch out the fabric when you come to the sections that are on the bias.


Turn the ¼” edge under and press.  ☀︎A word of caution about pressing this fabric!  The texture of this fabric has been heat set.  Polyester takes and will hold the texture very well, however over pressing will flatten and remove the texture.  When turning the edge under press only the stitched edge and do not move the iron beyond the stitching.

fullsizeoutput_63b7Use a pair of duckbill appliqué scissors to carefully trim the ¼” seam allowance to a scant ⅟16″.

Beginning at the center of the hem on the Back, use a zigzag 2mm Roll and Shell Hemmer to turn the edge.  On my Bernina I used foot #68. Switch back to an all purpose throat plate. I used a stitch width of 2.5mm and a stitch length of 1mm.  The straight stitch that was just done will hold the edge as the foot rolls it under.  Take your time working around the curves.  You do not want to over stretch them.  You may find that some of the curves seem to be too tight with the straight stitching and start to pull.  In this case I stopped and with the fabric still in the foot, I snipped a few of the straight stitches to release the stitching.  I did not back stitch at the beginning or end.  Instead I pulled the threads to the wrong side, knotted them and buried the tails in the roll.

FE8E3IbwSBeaVb2qvaJUXADo not press the finished edge.  Instead, lightly steam it coaxing it into gentle waves.

An alternative option for finishing the edge could be a rolled edge on your serger.  If you do not have a rolled hem foot for your machine, you can try to zig zag over the trimmed raw edge using the same machine settings.  I tried this technique but found the narrow edge difficult to control on this fabric without a rolled hem foot.

Armhole Binding

After cutting out the fabric I used the scraps to create binding for the armhole and rouleau ties.  You will have a few triangular shaped scraps that have one edge on the bias.  Press the fabric out flat to remove the texture.

CloqueCuttingWheelFor the armhole binding, I cut my bias strips ¾” wide.  

Double StringsI found the thin fabric stretched out and narrowed slightly as I fed it through a ¼” bias binding tool.  Although you don’t have many scraps, test a sample first to check the cut width.  Depending on your fabric a width of ½” to ¾” should work.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Beginning at the underarm, open up the binding and pin the fold to the tacked armhole.  Tack in place.  Fold the beginning of the binding up at a 45° angle.  As you come around to the end, overlap the end onto the beginning. Machine stitch. Trim all layers to a scant ¼” seam allowance. Roll the binding to the inside of the garment.  Pin and then baste to hold. Use a slipstitch to sew the edge of the binding to the garment.  Use small, short stitches and pick up a single thread from the garment to prevent the stitching from showing on the right side.

Steam lightly and finger press to finish.

Rouleau Ties

CuttingTieFor the rouleau ties I cut ¾” strips.  I cheated a bit as the strips were slightly off the true bias but they worked out fine. I was able to cut them approximately 15″ long.

Tie2Using the ¼” foot and straight stitch throat plate I folded the strips in half and sewed a wide ⅛” away from the folded edge. Leave long thread tails.  

NeedleThread a bodkin with the thread tails and feed the needle eye first through the folded edge to turn the tie through.  

tiesPin the ends of the ties to the ironing board and steam lightly.  I tied a knot in the one end and sewed the other end to the garment.  Try the garment on to decide where to position the ties.tie

Zero Waste

zerowasteNot only is this a versatile, very wearable garment, it produces almost zero waste! After making the binding and ties, only a small handful of scraps were all that was leftover. 



6 thoughts on “Inspiration No. 22: A Zero Waste Topper

  1. Lynne BEILER

    Marvelous! Beautiful, practical and timeless with a wonderful tutorial to go along. Thank you so much.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s