Learn How to Sew a Versatile Strata Top

11 Materials
2 Hours

Looking to get started sewing your own clothing? This pattern is perfect for you! The Strata Top is so easy to sew and the perfect introduction for a beginner sewist. This top is also super versatile! I pair mine with skirts, over dresses, or with a pair of jeans. This is the most worn item in my capsule wardrobe. With my step-by-step tutorial you’ll be whipping up a stack of shirts in no time. Let’s get started!

Tools and materials

Tools and materials:

  • Strata top instructions (You can grab your copy here)
  • Pressing mats
  • Cans (I use cans as pattern weights to weigh down my pattern pieces)
  • Pressing ham
  • Iron
  • Fabric shears
  • Fabric (Any mid to light weight woven fabric works well with this pattern)
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Clips
  • Painter’s tape

You may be wondering why I have painter’s tape on my materials list for a sewing project. If your fabric has a wrong side that’s difficult to distinguish from the right side, it’s helpful to stick a piece of painter’s tape on one of the sides to help you remember.

Cut Out the Pattern Pieces
Cut Out the Pattern Pieces

I started out by cutting the pattern pieces for the front and the back. Both of them are cut on the fold, which makes it easy to ensure that your pattern pieces are symmetrical.

How to sew a shirt by hand

Next, I cut the neck facing on the bias, which allows it to be a little bit stretchy.

How to sew a shirt from scratch

As you can see, the front pattern piece is not as wide as the back. This is a fun little design element in the Strata Top.

How to sew a short sleeve shirt

I added a few pieces of painter’s tape to mark the right side of my pieces. 

Add stay stitching to the neckline
Add stay stitching to the neckline

Because the neckline of the shirt is cut on the bias, it’s prone to stretching. In order to prevent this, I added stay stitching along the neckline just inside the seam allowance so that it won’t be visible in the finished product. I did this on each side of the front and back pieces from the shoulder down to the center of the pattern piece.

How to make a neckline

Finish the raw edges
Finish the raw edges

There are many options for how to finish the raw edges of your fabric, but it is absolutely vital that you finish the raw edges in some way. This will ensure that your garment lasts. If you don’t finish the edges, your garment will fray and you will lose all of your hard work. If you have a serger and you’re a bit more advanced, then go ahead and serge your edges. If you don’t have a serger, you can use a zigzag stitch along the raw edges or you can do a French seam. I’m going to finish my edges with a zigzag stitch. 

How to sew a women's shirt

I played around a bit with the different options I had with my sewing machine for finishing raw edges. At the end of the day, whatever method works for you is the way to go.

Iron the pattern pieces
Iron the pattern pieces

Once I had finished all of the raw edges, I pressed the pattern pieces. Often, the fabric can get a little stretched out from handling it, so it’s best to press it before you move on to sewing the pieces together. I like to add steam when ironing as it helps relax the fibers and makes them shrink back to their original shape.

Clip the fabric pieces together
Clip the fabric pieces together

Next, I clipped the fabric pieces together with the right sides facing each other. I clipped along the shoulder and side seams.

Sew the front and back pieces together
Sew the front and back pieces together

Once I had clipped it all together, I sewed a regular stitch ⅝ of an inch from the edge of the fabric on the shoulder and side seams. I like to add some extra stitching along the underarm area of the shirt because this is the area of the shirt that generally gets the most wear and tear.

How to sew a tailored shirt

If needed, clip along the curve of the underarm area of the top to relieve some of the tension and allow it to lay flat. 

Press again
Press again

Then I pressed the top again.

DIY shirt pattern

We’re getting there!

Create the neck facing
Create the neck facing

I folded the neck facing in half so that the short sides were on top of each other, and sewed along the edge. 

Iron the facing

Then I lay the neck facing across my pressing ham and pressed the seam open.

Press lengthwise

Next, I folded the entire neck facing lengthwise, making sure that the seam was on the inside, and pressed it.

Sew the neck facing to the top
Sew the neck facing to the top

I lay the neck facing on the neckline of my top, with the seam matching the center back of the shirt. I pinned it together, working my way around the neckline. 

How to sew neck facing

All of the raw edges should be stacked together, and the neck facing should be on top of the right side of the fabric of the top.

How to sew a neckline

Next, I sewed a seam ⅝ of an inch from the edge of the neck opening. I didn’t want too much fabric bulking up the neckline, so I trimmed the seam allowance back to about a quarter of an inch. Then I pressed the remaining seam allowance all the way around the neck opening, allowing the facing to lie properly.


I understitched the neck facing to the remaining seam allowance, creating a clean, crisp edge.

DIY finished shirt neckline

Finally, I folded the neck facing in towards the wrong side of the top, hiding the understitching from the exterior of the garment. I sewed it down and completed the neckline of my top! I gave the neckline a good steam on my pressing ham and I was ready to finish the sleeves and bottom of my top!

Finish the sleeves and bottom hem
Finish the sleeves and bottom hem

I lay the sleeve of my top on my pressing ham and folded the edge of the sleeve a ¼” in all the way around. Then I pressed it.

How to finish a sleeve

I went back and folded it ¼” in once again, hiding the raw edge.

DIY sleeve hem

Then I clipped the ends and sewed the hem. I repeated this process on the other sleeve and on the bottom hem of my top. 

How to sew a shirt

All done! This top is effortless and pairs well with basically anything! Have any questions or comments? Feel free to add one below!

Suggested materials:

  • Pattern  (https://sewliberated.com/products/strata-top-pdf-sewing-pattern)
  • Pressing mats
  • Cans
See all materials

Join the conversation

1 comment
  • Hayley
    on Dec 17, 2020

    Thanks for this tutorial! I am about to make my Strata, but no matter how I move the pattern pieces around I can't get one continuous strip long enough for the neck facing. Would you recommend joining two strips or using a different fabric all together to make the single long strip?

    Looking forward to hearing what you think :)

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