DIY top with waist tucks and bell sleeves


Greetings from the sultry streets of Portland. The temperature rarely rises above ninety degrees here in the rose city, but this week has been extraordinary. Two days have topped out at 100+ and more hot days are ahead. Weather like this drives me to my basement sewing room where the air is cool. And, as luck would have it, a beautiful piece of silk waited for me there!


This top was inspired by the runway fashions this Spring that featured Bell sleeves. I can’t seem to get enough of the look (see my other makes here and here), and I can tell as I wear this new top, I’m probably not done with this look even now. Because the bell sleeves have lots of volume, I decided to pair them with a more defined waist to balance out the bigness of the sleeves.  The fabric is from my stash, a lightweight silk that fells like nothing when you wear it. I found it at Mill End Store last Spring and have been waiting for inspiration to strike. The print is bold, so I knew a simple design would be my preference.


I modified a much loved pattern, Butterick 5890.

This pattern has loads of personality, with waist tucks and collar variations that are easy and fun to modify. I decided to draft new sleeves that would satisfy my bell sleeve obsession. I also made a long tie belt, that can be wrapped twice to give the waist more definition. The waist tucks are nice enough as they are though, so sometimes, I’ll  just wear the top without the belt.


I used view C, but modified the pattern as follows:

-I cut the front bodice on the fold.

-I lengthened the sleeve by five inches.

-I added a bell to the sleeve by cutting a rectangluar shaped piece, 8″ by 20″. I gathered one long edge of this piece, then stitched the 8″ ends together before attaching it to the sleeve to create the bell.

-I added a long wrap belt, 70″ by 4″ .


All in all, I’m happy with this new top. In part, it gets a thumbs up because it was comfortable today, even in the heat. And, it Did Not Wrinkle! Also, I should say, I’m pretty sure my bell sleeve obsession isn’t over yet. I’ve already started to imagine a longer sleeve version for fall, and am toying with the idea of adding a sleeve band detail too. We’ll see how that idea evolves :).

Move over Linen! Silk is my new favorite ‘hot’ weather fabric. What’s yours?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!




16 thoughts on “DIY top with waist tucks and bell sleeves

  1. This is a great top! I love the shape, the fabric, and especially those sleeves. Silk has been my favourite summer fabric for years now, specifically cdc or silk twill that I leave unlined and wear loose. So cool and easy maintenance!

  2. I love the addition of the bell sleeves. You are truly the Queen of the Bell! This style just suits you so well. I’ve been surprised by silk this year. I’ve been living in a pair of lightweight wool/silk/cotton blend shorts, and they have truly not been remotely hot even in the CO “dry” heat of 90+ days under an unrelenting sun. But linen is my go to fabric in summer. You gotta love breathable fabrics.

    1. Thanks! Wool, silk, cotton blend…what a fabulous fabric for shorts! Lucky you! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like that around here. If I do I will definitely snatch it up! Sounds lovely…

      1. I picked it up at Elliott Berman a couple years ago when they had their anniversary sale. It’s the nicest wool I’ve ever sewn…you know the kind with the pretty selvages.

  3. Love it! I like how you get creative with designs. And you really know what looks good on you! The bell sleeves are such a great detail that you have used so successfully. They add a lot of pizazz. I have a lot of vintage patterns from the 60s that have similar sleeves. Now I just have to get moving on a project!

    1. Thanks! I’ll bet your vintage patterns have some great options! I’m always envious of vintage pattern stashes, such a treasure trove of great stuff! I’m going to have to start collecting them myself!

Leave a Reply