Bubble Top Tutorial

Summer is right around the corner, so I wanted to share a tutorial of one of my favorite tops: The Bubble Top! Once you get your measurements down, it’s a fairly simple top to sew up. You can add lots of nifty accessories to make it your own or it can easily be adapted into a skirt¬† or dress (if you’re feeling adventurous).

We’ll be drafting this one from scratch, so grab your pencil, paper, a good ruler, and your trusty calculator (Ha! Ha! Just when you thought school was out!).¬† There’s not a lot of math involved¬† here, so don’t worry! I’ll do my best keep your brain from cramping up :).


Lightweight fabrics like cotton and linens work well. Knits and even satins are great too. I used a green seersucker fabric for the first top and vintage cotton from café curtains that I found at an antique store for the second. Just make sure that the fabrics are  lightweight. Heavy ones weigh the garment down.


My girl’s are a size 10 slim. I used approximately 1 and 1/4 yards of fabric for each top. If your little one is under a size 10, then a yard of fabric is¬† a good place to start.


Here’s a diagram of the measurements you’ll need for the Outer Top and Lining Top . I use¬† a 1/2″ SA (seam allowance) for the garment. I’ve included several pictures and diagrams in this tutorial. If the photos are too small, click on the picture to open it up in a separate window and click “CTRL+” (in Windows) to enlarge:

Cut out 2 lining tops and 2 outer top. I prefer to mark my measurements directly to¬† the fabric using tailor’s chalk or something similar, but you can also create a paper pattern so you can make the top again without having to remeasure. For the Outer Top, I measure each piece on the fold:

Once your pieces are measured and cut out, sew the lining top pieces together (right sides facing) and sew the outer top pieces together (right sides facing). Iron seams open.

Next, turn outer top right side out and sew 2 rows of gathering stitches along the bottom (widest part). Gently pull on the top 2 strings to begin gathering. Place lining top (still inside out) over outer top (right side out). Continue gathering outer top until it matches width of lining top. Try to make your gathers as even as possible. Pin gathered edge of outer top to straight edge of lining top. Sew. Trim.Peel  the lining top off of the outer top. You should have two right sides connected. Your garment will look like this:

Next, push inner top into outer top. To keep the tops from twisting before pinning, I push the lining in to  where the seams of both tops connect, I grab the outer ends, hold the top upside down and shake lightly, then I lay flat and press out any wrinkles with my hand.

Finally, reaching through the top of the outer top, grab the lining and gently pull up to the top of the garment matching edges. Before pinning, hold inner and outer top edges together and give one more light shake, lay flat and  pin edges together.  Sew.

 Your sewn garment should now look like this (*The yellow that you see at the bottom of my top is not part of the lining top. My outer top fabric was too short when I measured, so I added 3 inches of lining fabric to lengthen it before sewing. You should see your outer top fabric when you look at the bottom of your top):


I measure my band and straps after I’ve completed the bodice just in case I’ve made any measurement adjustments during sewing. Cut out 2 rectangles for your band and two for each strap. Measure your band and straps as follows:

And, now, for the elastic. (Just a bit more math. I promise!). Your bodice will be too big at this point. We are adding elastic to the back of the top only, so we’ll¬† figure out what size elastic we need to make the top nice and snug. Take the full measurement of the top of your finished bodice (lay flat and measure, then multiply by 2). Subtract your child’s full upper chest measurement. This will give you the amount of extra fabric you have. Next, take 1/2 of the top measurement for your finished garment and subtract the number that you just got for the extra fabric. This will give you your elastic size. Add your (SA x 2) and your ready to go (whew! I know). Here’s an example using my daughter’s measurements.

Band: Take your two band pieces, and with right sides facing, sew one side of the short ends of your band together. Press your seam open. With the wrong side of the band facing up, create a 1/2 “fold and iron flat:

Take the top of the band and fold over and in half lengthwise. Press to crease (not shown). Unfold. Match opposite ends of band together  (right sides facing) and sew closed. Press seam open.

Place band over garment (wrong side out). Match side seams of band with garment.¬† The 1/2″ fold should be at the bottom. Pin unfolded end of band to top of bodice. Sew pieces together.

Turn band up and press toward  seam allowance being careful not to iron out the center crease of band.

Stitch band to seam allowance. Flip garment inside out.¬†¬† Fold the band toward the inside of the garment at the band’s crease line. Mark side seams (of band) with pins. The front of your garment seams may not match the inner seams of our garment. Placing pins at the side seams of the band will help with the placement of your elastic. Working with the back of your garment only, pin and stitch band¬† to garment about 1/4″ from edge of band.¬† *Do not stitch the edge of the band to the front of the top just yet. Also, make sure your under thread matches the front of your garment.¬† Now, take your elastic and feed it through this back casing. Once the back end of the elastic gets to the side seam with about 1/2″ of the elastic outside of the seam, stitch elastic in place through the band’s side seam. Continue feeding the front of the elastic through to the other seam. When you’ve pulled the elastic out about 1/2″ past the bands’ side seam, sew in place along the seam line.

Pin the remaining part of your band to the front of your garment and stitch in place.


Take the straps that you’ve measured and cut out. Fold them in half lengthwise (right sides facing). Sew closed lengthwise and trim. You should have 2 tubes. Turn the tubes right side out. Press flat with seam down the center. The seamed side will be the underside of your strap.

Attach the straps to your top. I hand sewed mine from the inside of the garment through the first layer of the band only so that the threading would not show through the front, but you can attach them anyway you like.

Some options: Cris-cross your straps in the back.  Add buttons and button holes to the front for easy access. Or,  add a flower or special bow to make it unique.  You can find my tutorial for the Easy Peasy Fabric Flower shown in the above pictures here.


Thanks for inviting me over for a visit. Let’s do it again sometime!

Keep doin’ what you love!




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *