Fitting the Songbird Skirt and Tank Top

Songbird Skirt and Tank Top sewing pattern

Isn’t it nice to have projects with really simple fitting? While I do love a good fitting challenge, sometimes simplicity is refreshing. The Songbird Set fits that description! 

With an elastic waist and lots of gathering (seriously, I do mean lots of gathering), the Songbird Skirt is very simple to fit.

Use your hip measurement to determine your size, and then compare it to the Finished Measurements chart to be sure that you’ll have your preferred amount of ease, and the length that you want. You’ll be able to customize the waist circumference when you insert the elastic, so you most likely do not need to blend sizes.

If your waist measurement is larger than your hip (actually a larger measurement in inches or cm, not larger in size choice), then use your waist measurement to determine your size. 

If you want to add or remove length, divide your desired amount by three, and make the change to all three tiers to maintain their relative proportions. BUT if you need to shorten the skirt by more than 3”, don’t remove more than 1” from the Top Tier. Overshortening the Top Tier will make the pocket a bit of a beast to sew. 

The Songbird Tank Top is similarly simple to fit!

In our photos, Meg is 5’3″ with a 35″ bust, 28″ waist, and 37″ hips. She wears a size 4 top (shortened by 3/4″) and size 6 skirt. Ashley is 5’10” with a 49.5″ bust, 45″ waist, and 57″ hips. She wears a size 28 top and skirt. Meredith is 5’4″ with a 34″ bust,  27″ waist, and 35″ hips. She wears a size 2 top and a size 4 skirt.

Since it’s sewn with a nice stretchy knit, you have a fair bit of leeway in your size choice, and you can easily blend sizes if your bust and waist fall into different sizes. The strap length can be changed while you’re sewing, so that’s an extra area where the fit can be customized. If you prefer a more snug fit, like Meg and Meredith’s tank tops, you may want to size down. If you prefer a little more ease, like me (but still some negative ease through the bust) choose your usual size. You can see the difference in preferences in these photos.

Songbird Skirt and Tank Top sewing pattern
one size down
true to size
Songbird Crop Top sewing pattern
one size down

The one adjustment that we talk about for tops is the dressmaker’s cup size (and remember, this isn’t your bra cup size!). Depending on your cup size, you might choose to do a modified FBA to the shelf bra. If you have an E cup or greater, then you might choose to also modify the crop/tank layer, but we found in testing that adding length to the shelf bra only was a sufficient FBA! It adds front length where the bust is fullest, and blends in a smooth line towards the back. 

Here’s how your pattern pieces would look if you added length to the front for an FBA:

It’s a lot less fancy and mathematical than we do for an FBA on wovens!

Since we have vertical stretch and horizontal stretch, there’s just less need to be quite so precise. Kinda nice! A few of our testers added length to their shelf bras and then removed some of it, because the vertical stretch of their fabric was more generous than they realized.

It would be worth making a muslin of just the shelf bra, if you have the fabric for it, to make sure that you have the length that you need for the shelf bra elastic to sit comfortably under your bust. 

Add the length straight across between the bust apexes (that you can estimate by holding the pattern piece to your body), then blend in a smooth line to the original edge on the back… joining the side seams and blending over the seam makes this easier! It’s okay if the new line crosses the side seam!

Here’s how your pattern pieces would look if you do a modified FBA that adds circumference as well as length:

The cut line goes from the middle of the strap across the apex. On the Crop and the Tank, you can make the cut line vertical below the apex, and then on all of the pieces, curve the side seam to make sure the underbust doesn’t get too big. You’ll gain a little more coverage in the high bust, and a bit more circumference around the full bust.

Thanks to the fabric, this should do the trick! 

One last thing that you might need to troubleshoot is the elastic application that gathers the center front of the top.

If the elastic is too heavy (use clear elastic, not knitted or woven elastic!), it won’t gather nicely or spring back as it should. The gathers might cause a little bubble at the top of the elastic, right by the V of the neckline.

Or, if the elastic somehow got longer than the 2.5” (6.4 cm) it should measure between the notches (and it’s okay, things happen, and this is fixable!), remove and re-sew the elastic in place, pulling it more firmly to make it shorter. If the distance between the notches on the finished elastic is 2.5” (6.4 cm) apart, then it’s just a fit tweak that you’re making to suit your unique curves. No big deal! You can re-sew the elastic in place, making the distance between the notches shorter. 

Responses

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  1. Any tips for a SBA for the shelf bra? Would that also be accomplished by changing length? What would the pattern pieces look like for that adjustment?

    1. Great question, Chelsea! Because the high bust is not really a consideration with such a strappy top, you’ll be able to use your full bust and waist measurements to choose a size – no SBA needed! You can see above how Meredith chose to size down for a slightly more fitted top, and that’s an option if you want a closer fit. Because there are no shaping devices (no darts or gathers that relate to cup size) and the bust shaping relies on the fabric’s stretch, it’s just that simple. Do feel free to send us an email if you need a bit more detail, and happy sewing!

  2. My 15-year-old daughter and I are excited to sew up this skirt, View A for me in a dark blue linen, and in a beautiful cornflower blue cotton with all the ribbons and lace for her (View B).

    We just saw that you added a sewalong for the tank. Will you be doing a sewalong for the skirt as well? We have traced our pattern pieces and are about to cut our fabric, but maybe we should wait and sew it along with you if that’s happening soon!

    1. Hello! We don’t have a sew along for the skirt planned at the moment. Your skirt plans sound wonderful! Do send us an email if you have questions. We’re happy to help!