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!

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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!

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

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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:

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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:

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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!

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

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

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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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I'm a designer/patternmaker who loves to share my sewing knowledge with others! Follow me as I sew my personal projects, sharing my favourite tricks of the trade along the way.

23 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.

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  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.

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  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!

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    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!

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  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!

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  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!).

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  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.

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  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!

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  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.

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  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.

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  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!

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  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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