Pattern Review

Zippy little tops

While the rest of the bloggy world was busy oohing and aahing over the new Pattern Anthology collection (which is seriously awesome, BTW, and I plan to join the oohing and aahing after I get a couple made up), and the Perfect Pattern Parcel (again, awesome, and I have one waiting to be blogged!), a new little pattern from See Kate Sew kind of flew under the radar.

(Though Kate just did a sew along for this top, so if you want some hand-holding, check it out!).

Creative Counselor: Zippy Top
The Zippy Top

The Zippy Top, released a few weeks ago, is a very simple little cap-sleeved woven top.  It is available in full or cropped length and only takes 1 to 1.5 yards of woven fabric.  For the full-length top, if you are using a non-directional print (i.e. you can cut it on the cross grain without messing up your print), you could probably just eek out the front and back pieces on a single yard of 44″ wide fabric.  1 yard of 60″ wide fabric is enough even cut on the grain.

(Bullet-point review at the end of this post).

Creative Counselor: Zippy Top
Easy, simple, fast.

This top was perfect for me when it was released.  I really wanted to sit down and sew but just I just wanted to finish something.  I was feeling incredibly unmotivated to wrestle with pleats, buttons, darts, or fitting issues.  I wanted a simple little top that I could make in easy, stash-busting fabrics, and have some instant gratification.

The Zippy Top was my perfect answer!

Creative Counselor: Zippy Top
Zippy #2

This top is very simple, construction is fast, and it’s perfect for using up smaller cuts of woven fabric like voile, seersucker, chambray or even quilting cotton (so long as your quilting cotton isn’t too crisp).

Creative Counselor: Zippy Top
Back View

My first Zippy Top is made from a cut of Japanese cotton by Yuwa that has been in my stash for close to 2 years.  It’s one of the first fabrics that I bought after I starting sewing my own clothes.  I only had 1.5 yards, so it wasn’t enough for a dress or a skirt, and I was having a hard time finding a top pattern that I liked with the very modern print of the fabric.  But it’s amazingly soft and silky (as Japanese cotton tends to be) and it was a shame to leave it languishing in the stash.  It made a perfect Zippy Top!

Creative Counselor: Zippy Top
Yuwa Japanese cotton — sorry I don’t know the line!

I actually made my Zippy Tops without the exposed zipper called for in the pattern.  I didn’t have the right color of zipper for my first top, so I started just sewing it up until the zipper insertion.  I tried slipping over my head without the zipper and discovered that I didn’t actually need the zipper to get it on or off, or really for any functional purpose!  It’s a nice design feature, and I probably will make one or two with a zipper, but it was completely unnecessary for me from a functionality standpoint.

So I left it out.  Eliminating the zipper makes these tops even more zippy — I sewed these up in about 45 minutes flat, and I am not a particularly fast sewer!

The shape of the tops is a little boxy.  There are no darts for bust or waist shaping, and no separate sleeve piece.  This all contributes to make them very fast, and I don’t particularly mind a slightly boxier shape so long as my fabric has enough drape.  In a stiffer material, this top would look terrible — it would literally look like I was wearing a sack.  But in a fabric with sufficient drape, the natural curves of my body give it enough shape that I really like it for a simple spring/summer top.

Creative Counselor: Zippy Top
Zippy Top — easy to style for work or weekend.

This Yuwa cotton is about as crisp as I would want a fabric for this top.  Any crisper or firmer (like most quilting cottons, unfortunately), and I think the fabric would be too stiff.  This cotton drapes nicely, though, and I think it just works.

The second Zippy Top I made is again from stash fabric — this time a hot pink Swiss dot chambray from Michael Levine (available here).  I’m slightly obsessed with chambray, and this cut has been hanging out in my stash since last summer, again because I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with it.  I originally bought it with N in mind, but since she typically refuses to wear anything I make for her, I decided this lovely fabric would be much more appreciated in my own closet!

This chambray is lightweight and has a nice drape.  It will be a great summer top!  Again, I omitted the zipper since I didn’t need it, and wanted to sew this up fast.  This time I lowered the front neckline just a touch for no reason other than I like my necklines a little lower than the pattern as drafted.  And rather than using the facings included in the pattern, I made bias tape to enclose the neckline seams.

These tops are perfect for me to wear to the office.  They’re really versatile and can go with just about anything, and are great layered under a cardigan or blazer.  They’re also great stash busters and I have a pile of at least 3 more fabrics in mind for more Zippy Tops — that is, when I get a day to sit down and sew them!

Creative Counselor: Zippy Top
Works great under a blazer — I get complimented on this top all the time!

Pattern: Zippy Top by See Kate Sew

Size: M

Fit:  Good.  It fits well across the shoulders, there is enough room for my bust, and I like the length.  The general fit on this woven top is loose and a little boxy, but I really don’t mind that.  If you like tops that are very fitted, this isn’t the top for you.

Fabric:  The gray is a Yuwu cotton purchased from a local fabric shop (that sadly is no longer in business) almost two years ago.  The pink is Swiss dot chambray from Michael Levine.

Modifications: Omitted the zipper on both tops since I didn’t need it for any functional purpose.  I do plan to make one with the zipper, though, and I have plans for a couple of other modifications for this top.  Also, the patterns instructs you to turn the sleeves and hem under 1/4″ twice and then topstitch down.  I just really hate having to press those tiny little turns, so I saved myself the hassle.  Instead of turning under 1/4″ twice, I serged the sleeve openings and hem, pressed them up 1/2″ and topstitched down.  Much easier!  On the pink top, I omitted the included facings in favor of self-made bias tape.

Pattern Format:  PDF pattern.  Not the best physical pattern I’ve ever worked with, but also far from the worst.  I think Kate’s patterns are really good for beginners because they contain a lot of hand-holding.  I don’t need all that hand-holding, so sometimes I get irrationally annoyed by having to flip through 6 pages to get to the pattern instructions (which I mostly ignored anyway).


  • Super-quick sew.  This is a very satisfying project if you just want something you can crank out or if you’re short on time.
  • Good stash-busting project for smaller cuts.
  • Good wardrobe builder.  This top is kind of a blank slate.  It would be great for office-appropriate tops in a nice drapey silk or rayon, but is also equally appropriate to wear with jeans.  It would even work in a knit.
  • Zipper is a nice design feature, but not really necessary for function.


  • The 1/4″ hems are kind of a pain if you don’t have a rolled hem foot (like me).
  • The shape of the top is pretty boxy.  I don’t mind that, but I know many people like more shape to their tops.
  • The instructions for the exposed zipper do not encase the zipper between the back bodice and back facing.  I will probably modify this when I make a zipper top because I don’t see why the zipper wouldn’t be enclosed in a top like this.  I think it would look and feel much more polished.

Overall grade:  B. This is a quick, satisfying sew, and exactly what I needed right now.  It will be a great spring wardrobe builder.  The shape is very simple, though, I don’t particularly care for some of the techniques included in the pattern, and the shape won’t appeal to those who like their tops more fitted.

** And in case anyone is wondering, I didn’t get squat for writing this review.  I bought and paid for my pattern very late one night (or early one morning) when I was up feeding Baby J at 3 am, and I paid for all of my fabric.  If I hated the pattern, I’d tell you, but I don’t!

0 thoughts on “Zippy little tops

    1. Thank you! This top seems very much like the Scout Tee to me, without the hassle of having to set in sleeves 🙂 And you’re right — some days just call for a woven top!

  1. I just made a dress for my daughter that had 3 pattern pieces and about 50 pages of instructions. I don’t print them out, obviously, but it took forever to find the information I needed! I need to make myself the one page cheat sheet of how to sew it – it’ll go a lot faster once I don’t have to do all that reading.

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one! Anymore, I often ignore the instructions altogether unless there’s a step I’m confused on or I need to know whether something is a dart or a pleat. It’s nice to finally have enough of an understanding of garment construction to wing it most of the time 🙂

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