Sewing post – new running top

I finished the top that I was working on last weekend! Now for a brief tutorial and some pics…

I based this top off my earlier halter design here but decided to buy some powermesh fabric instead of adapting an old t-shirt to make it a bit cooler for hot summer days. Considering how hot I got on my run in 50-degree weather this morning in a lightweight long-sleeve I may actually be busting this top out for some summer races, even in the relatively cool mountain air!

My first task was converting the plain white mesh that I bought into something with a bit more *pop*. I used watered-down acrylic paint, a painting sponge, and some painter’s tape to create a geometric-inspired pattern in rust and umber. Because the fabric is so stretchy I had to tape it to a stiff piece of cardboard to keep the fabric from shifting too much during painting and had to take special care to keep my taped areas from becoming distorted due to stretching.

Once I had painted a double-layered 30 by 20 section (so two 30 by 20s overlain, with the longer dimension in the slightly less stretchy direction) I let it dry and then moved on to cutting out the pieces.
I based the general pattern on a Nike singlet but reduced the waist curve/hip flare and added a bit of length so that the top would hit further down on my hips.

Getting rid of the flared shape let me eliminate the two side seams used in the Nike top and instead just have a single seam up the back. The armpit cut is about the same, but just continues straight horizontal across the back rather than turning into a racer back style. I used the Nike top as a template for the chest as well, but wanted a higher neck.
Rather than using powermesh for the entire top, I decided to create the top 5″ of the chest and neck, as well as the shoulder/back straps from some leftover grey jersey knit from a previous project. This meant a bit of extra cutting and sewing but provided some nice contrast. 


I first sewed the two layers together and then sewed up the back seam, creating a tube with a bit of a flap where the extra chest fabric was. I then sewed the jersey chest-piece on.

 This let me see how the top fit around my torso. That looked fine, so I created some seam binding out of grey jersey to go around the back/armpit area on the powermesh. This meant cutting a thin (1″) strip of the same length as the top  ‘back + armpit’ seam, folding one side under about 1/8″, and sewing that ‘finished’ side to the outer part of the garment while sewing the raw edge on the other side of the strip to the inner side of the garment. Lots of pins for that bit! 

I then turned the edges under on the jersey knit chest portion to give a finished look to those seams, adding some decorative straight stitching around the edges. This part required the most improvising as the fabric needed to be turned under a certain amount to get the sides of the chest fabric to lay flat against the sides of my chest. 

Finally, I created and sewed on the straps. I did two 1″ straps over the shoulders connecting to a 1 1/4″ strap going up the back. The lengths were about 8″ and 6″, respectively, with a bit extra for the overlap where they were sewn together and to the garment body. 


I created the straps by cutting strips of fabric such that the strips were in the non-stretchy direction. Don’t want them stretching out! I then folded the edges over about 1/4″ on the thin straps and 1/2″ on the thick one and sewed them under to give the final widths listed above and create a finished appearance. 

back side of straps


I sewed the shoulder and back straps together, sewed the shoulder straps to the front of the garment, and then sewed the back strap onto the center back. This let me adjust the length a bit before sewing the back down.


  Last, I snipped all the loose thread ends and then happily danced around dreaming of warm summer runs 🙂

Here’s the top in action!   

works well with my grey & orange zipper oiselle shorts 🙂


messed up the strap angles a bit where the shoulder & back connect – looks bunchy :-/


about to hurdle my camera


ready for a relay handoff 😛


all set for some trail runs in the summer heat!



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