Boxy Crop Top with Kimono Gussets

I’m so short of tops to wear to work at the moment – you know the situation, when you have clothes but nothing seems to look right together.  Lately I’ve been feeling the need for more cropped tops to co-ordinate with high waisted bottoms, and when Carolyn recently posted a similar styled top she made for Cassie, I decided I better stop thinking and start doing!


I cut this top out of a remnant – for one who likes a challenge this can be one of the most satisfying things! Especially when said remnant cost $2 for “under a metre + scrap” haha!


Being a geometric-anything fan I kind of liked this viscose print so snapped it up – at that price why wouldn’t you?


I’ve always wanted to make a kimono sleeve gusset like the one in this totally unnecessary cocktail dress from way back. I’ve never actually drafted one before for ready-to-wear because they’re not very production friendly, but the other night I put my head down and made this top as a result. I love the neat fit and the sharp angle the gusset gives to the underarm:


The top itself is pretty basic – boxy with a french dart at the front, and an invisible zip at the CB neck. The zip I had was longer than necessary so I chopped it off and bound the cut edge with self-fabric:


I’m very happy with how the gussets turned out. Because you have to clip into the corner, I was a bit worried about them fraying in the wash – especially in viscose!


The gusset panel extends the length of the sleeve, with a triangular inset into the side seam


The inside view probably demonstrates the ‘house’ shape better, although upside down:


To stop fraying I fused each corner to be clipped with a scrap of fusing. This was fused to the area around the apex before clipping and sewing:


Once the gusset was sewn, I stitched along the raw edges of the clipped area, attaching the two seam allowances together to give extra reinforcement:


After stitching, I gave each corner of the gusset a stress test by pulling on it – I would rather the seam gave way now, than one day while wearing it! Luckily all corners held together, and are actually quite strong thanks to the fusetape.


I cut the top slightly longer than I wanted to allow for some future shrinkage (hi viscose…). I actually like the current length with my jeans, but with a midi skirt that I’d quite like to wear it with, it needs another inch off. Proportions are a funny thing!

(That obviously means I need another one – right?!)

What’s your go-to style to make from a remnant? And have you ever attempted kimono sleeve gussets? When I sewed the Totally Unnecessary Cocktail Dress I wrote a tutorial which could be helpful if you are planning on sewing them anytime soon, although I sewed this top using a simpler method (without organza squares).


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Designer, Patternmaker, Blogger Of All Things Sewing. Follow as I share projects, patterns, and my favourite tricks of the trade.

24 thoughts on “Boxy Crop Top with Kimono Gussets

  1. I love kimono sleeve gussets! I’ve never actually sewn one but have always liked the look. I like the way they lend a crispness to the underarm which kind of offsets the rounded look of the kimono shoulder.


  2. Fantastic tutorials. Thanks for including so many details – you make a complicated process look doable! I love the top and could do with a few myself, so a kimono sleeve gusset is now on the sewing agenda.


  3. I have never ever seen gussets in the underarm of sleeves never mind sewn then! I love them actually and you’re right they do give a nice shape to the sleeve – so neat to the arm but comfortable for movement as well. What a unique idea! I love your top too – that cropped length comes in so handy for some things as you say. I made one with the Grainline Scout Tee (adding french darts in the front and fish eyes in the back and a curved hem) last year and wear it all the time! I like it with skirts and pants. Looking at yours I’m thinking I too need more of those!


    1. They are kind of a vintage detail, and you’ll see them in a lot of vintage designs and their rip-offs.Because they are fiddly to sew they are not often used in ready-to-wear. Your own top sounds nice – you can never have too many tops!


  4. Oh lovely you make me want to sew kimono gussets again!

    I did it once on Gertie’s wiggle dress. It came out ok, it’s a black dress with white interfacing which sadly isn’t hidden! Oops!


  5. Beautiful top. I absolutely agree about the trouble with proportions — there’s no “right” length, it all comes out in the pairings.

    Thanks so much for showing that clipped and reinforced corner. That kind of detail is priceless as you’re struggling through a pattern and fabric dilemma (with rayon especially!).


  6. That gusset really takes that fold you usually get on kimono sleeves. Gorgeous. I’ve not sewn one since we learned them at FIT, and all of f us students were rather perplexed as to when we’d use it. Now I see a great use for it. Thanks for the info.


  7. What a great idea to use a gusset! And, so beautifully executed. I always thought of sleeve gussets as an element of “vintage fashion”, but your top is such a perfect use of them. Thank you for all the details about how to correctly sew the gusset. You are the best!


  8. Lovely and the gusset is so clever. As you know I’ve been on a cropped boxy spree myself and proportions are absolutely key – I’ve worked out my perfect cropped length for high waisted vs mid rise vs normal rise – and being 1-2cm out makes such a difference in the look.


  9. Your new little boxy tops looks very fresh and smart.

    I have always avoided kimono sleeved tops as I didn’t like the fit of the sleeves, but now with your wonderful tutorial I need to rethink this as I am another one in desperate need of work tops.


  10. What a gorgeous top!!! I absolutely love it. And gusset is such a clever idea. The fabric is stunning. I also love it when I can cut my whole project out of remnants of a fabric. IT definitely makes me feel like a sewing ninja!


  11. Must go back to the original tutorial – love your top and the price must make you smile. I’m about to embark on a factory run of new tops for work as I’m also in short supply.


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