The Dahlia Top {Toptoberfest}

Toptoberfest! It's the most wonderful time of the year!

In case you haven't heard, Toptoberfest is a fantastic celebration of handmade tops, hosted by Tricia of Leafy Treetop Spot. (You may recognize her from Housewife MacGyver.)

I am so pleased to be participating in Toptoberfest this year with Tricia -- if you're stopping by from Leafy Treetop Spot, welcome! Let's get right down to business and introduce...


The Dahlia Top is a reverse-applique design using two knit fabrics, both old tshirts in this case. That might sound (or look) complicated, but it's really more a matter of patience and time than talent. Trust me -- there's not a particular abundance of patience around my house (especially that's left over for crafts... I figure my children need my patience more than my other creations ;), but there is definitely more patience than artistic or sewing talent. :)

This top was inspired by this top on Etsy. I am a big fan of buying and supporting handmade, but I knew that I could put together a similar top in colors that I really loved for a tiny fraction of the cost. Of the three tops I've made, two of them were free, using only old tshirts that I wasn't wearing anymore. You can't beat free!

The tutorial and template are below -- and you can use the template for so much more than just a top! The same flower would look great on a skirt or a bag or anyplace else that you can think to put it, with any type of fabric -- or even paint! I've provided the template in several different sizes, or you can resize it to fit your projects needs. 


The Dahlia Top

You need:
one flattering t-shirt  -- because you don't want to put in the time to reverse-applique a shirt that won't make you feel fantastic every time you wear it. :) I am fortunate enough to live right down the street from the ModBod outlet, so I used one of their cap sleeve shirts for the shirt pictured above. For the other shirts I made, I used old men's shirts that I had altered -- chopping the sleeves and making a scoop neck, plus taking in the sides to fit the flattering criteria mentioned above. :) Or, you could follow Tricia's tutorial for making your own cap sleeve shirt.

medium piece of knit (or other fabric) just larger than you want the applique(s) to be -- I used old and clearance t-shirts, but any knit will work. A woven fabric would probably work, too, although the final product, obviously, won't be as stretchy.

interfacing or stabilizer -- I tried both a thin fusible interfacing and a wash-out stabilizer, and both worked great. The interfacing is nice because it is fusible, so you can use fewer pins, but the stabilizer leaves you with just the two layers of knit once it's washed out. The important part is that you use something to keep the knit from stretching and puckering as you sew.

scissors with a sharp tip for snipping -- sharper is always better.

sewing supplies -- needle and embroidery floss if you prefer hand stitching, or sewing machine with ballpoint needle (for knits) if you prefer machine stitching

dahlia template -- printed in the size(s) that you want



And then you'll...
Decide where you want the applique -- along the neckline, sleeve, hip hem, etc --  and what size.

Trace the template on to your interfacing/stabilizer. If you are only using part of the template design, such as along the neckline like I did or along another edge somewhere, you can trace just the part you'll be using.
  • Be sure to trace it on the wrong side of the interfacing -- or is it the right side...? Be sure to trace it on the side of the interfacing that doesn't have the sticky dots. :)

Layer and secure the shirt, the knit piece, and the interfacing/stabilizer at the desired applique position.
  • If you are using interfacing, iron it on the wrong side of your knit piece and place the knit-interfacing piece on the inside of the shirt, with the interfacing closest to your skin. 
  • If you are using wash-out stabilizer, you can include it wherever in the sandwich that you'd like -- inside, outside, or in the middle. (I like it on the outside so that I can see where I am sewing in relation to the neckline.) Wherever you put it, pin the three layers together securely.

Sew along the lines of the traced template, making sure that all ends are backstitched or knotted to secure them. 
  • If you are using only part of the template design, such as along the neckline like I did or along another edge somewhere, be sure that each petal section is stitched "closed." You'll likely have to add and/or alter petals to fit the a curve, or sew a straight line along the hem to close off each edge petal.
  • You might notice that you can sort of see where I backstitched on my shirt... you can make that less visible by either using a matching thread in your machine or by pulling the outside thread through to the inside and tying a knot (like this site explains in "The First Step" section). 

Trim excess interior fabric (and interfacing) and threads. If you used stabilizer, wash it out per the manufacturer's directions.


Using your super sharp scissors and your most careful cutting skills, snip out the center of each petal section from the exterior fabric (the shirt) ONLY, leaving 1/8 inch or so around your stitched lines. This will expose the interior fabric. And will probably not look awesome until you are finished cutting. Don't give up... persevere and the result will blow your mind:

Enjoy! If you have questions or make one of your own, please let me know!

4 comments:

Gwen @ Gwenny Penny said...

Very cute, Lorene. I'm impressed with your sewing skills :) Great job!

Debra said...

Oh man I love this! You are awesomeness as usual!

Tricia said...

Love it. Thanks so much for helping out with top-toberfest. You're the best.

Nick and Keira said...

That's so cool, you did a fantastic job!

If only I knew what a ballpoint needle was, interfacing, etc... I'm just hopeless when it comes to this! Maybe one day I'll learn! :)

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