Tutorial–How to Add a Centre Panel to Your Zoe Dress/Top

zoeI thought it would be fun to share with you how I made my Zoe top special by adding a central panel in the centre front seam in contrasting fabric. You can use this to add a panel in your Zoe top/dress in the back/front. It all depends on what you fancy.

I got my pattern from the first issue of Sew Now magazine that was launched in October 2016. If you can no longer purchase the magazine you can buy the pattern from Simple Sew PatternsThe Zoe dress and top. I used fabric I already had in my stash (navy linen and yellow cotton), which I purchased from Abakhan.Zoe1 - fabrics and envelopeI wanted for my top to add a bit of colour into my centre from the seam. And coordinate it with my sleeve cuffs and the facings To make this top I used the pattern and about 1m of main fabric and some scrap fabric for the sleeve cuffs, central panel and facings. (You don’t need to do the same, it was just a personal preference for me). Basically, you need enough scrap fabric to make the central panel. I suggest you use a similar weight fabric for your panel as your main fabric.

To make the panel you will need tools as in the following picture:Zoe2 - toolsSTEP1: Start by measuring your centre front seam. Mine was about 21” (53.5cm). This is because I decided to lengthen the top by 2” (5cm). STEP2: Decide how wide you want to make your central panel.Zoe3 - measure centre front seam Remember you need to include your seam allowances on each side which are 1.5cm. To that, I added 0.5 cm so my piece will be 4cm wide and 53.5 cm long.

The next steps you can do directly on your scrap fabric or you can make yourself a paper pattern. When working on the scrap fabric also remember to work on the straight of grain.

STEP3: Draw a rectangle with your measurements. For me, this was 4cm x 53.5 cm. Cut that in paper or draw it on your fabric.Zoe4 - paper patternZoe5 - fabric pattern STEP4: Pin your paper pattern on the fabric and cut your fabric piece. Zoe6 - paper on fabricNow you are ready to start making your top/dress. Zoe7 - pieces to start constructionSTEP5: Before pin, the band to the centre of the front pieces, right sides together, mark the centre of the piece by folding the stripe of fabric lengthwise. Stitch it in place, using a 1cm seam allowance .Zoe8 - stiching the centre seam STEP6: Pin the other side and repeat. Zoe9 - pinning other sideSTEP7: Press seams toward the side seams.Zoe10 - centre panel in I prefer to finish my seams once they are sewn up. So if you want to finish the raw edges now is the time. You can use an overlocker, zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine. Or just leave them as they are. Zoe11 - finished seamsSTEP8: Mark on the seam allowance of your main fabric (1.5cm) a line of 5cm. This will be the line you will stitch through both layers. Zoe12 - mark centre seamBasically, you are making a pleat on the centre front. Just try to make sure the fabric of the scrap fabric is out the way, so you do not catch it in the seam. Match the mark you made on the inserted piece with the centre of the seam you just made, this will create a little pleat. Zoe13 - center panel finishedSTEP9: Press the pleat in place. To make it a bit crisper, I prefer to add some topstitching on the fold. However, you do not need to do this if you do not want to. Zoe14 - topstitching  pleatIf you fancy using see-through fabric, I suggest you add a couple of stitches to keep the newly inserted fabric in place in your bust area so you do not show to much skin. Zoe15 - front panel detailNow that you finished the front panel you can continue with the rest of the construction as per your instructions.

Hope you get some inspiration by this to think about making your Zoe top even more interesting or to use us your scraps of fabric what you could not let go of.

Please share your Zoe dresses or tops. I would love to see your versions, even if you do not change your pattern.


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