Wednesday, 26 November 2014

How to make a shrug or bolero top

In December Colchester is playing host to a Narnia themed party night that promises to be most enchanting. As with many themes nights there is a lose dress code of "Narnia character  or white". I decided to help out with this tutorial for a regal white queen shrug project which could be adapted for many other uses. This shrug was first taught to me by my fashion tutor Julie Stammers when I studied at adult community collage. She has very graciously allowed me to replicate it here for you all (she's lovely, trust me)

The initial shrug requires between half a metre and a metre of fabric depending on how long you want it and how big a collar you would like.

All you need are some 
Fleece would work very well with this shrug.

Step one
 Draw out the pattern.

I know this is an odd little pattern, the shrug is actually one single pattern piece.

As the diagram says the long rectangle in the middle is the measurement of wrist to wrist across the back with the arms fully extended plus 30 cm for ease. The bulbous bit in the middle is from armpit to armpit plus 20 cm for ease.  How high is the bulbous (or from this point on the back and collar) of the pattern? That's entirely up to you. In college we used a  far shorter back and collar, but I want this to have a regal quality so I went VERY large. Once you see how the shrug is sewn together you will understand how to alter the back and collar for different styles. 

Step two 

Cut out your fabric using the pattern and sew up the sleeves.

Right sides together fold the pattern piece in half along the length, Pin the sleeves section together and sew, stopping about 5 cm before the back/collar section. Pull the shrug right side out and check it out :)

Our beautiful model Jane showing off the new shrug.

Now hopefully you can see how the height of the collar and back effect the garment. This shrug covers the entire back and then has a large collar. If you have used a fabric that is fray proof and looks nice on both sides the behold you have a shrug! If your fabric looks nice on both sides but frays you could just hem the back and collar or bias bind them along with the cuffs. A warm snugly shrug made of fleece would be lovely by this point.

However the joy of this garment is you can adapt it and bend it to your evil will. I want a  shrug that's lined in white satin lining and even a little pipping. 
Lining and outer pinned together on the back and collar.

Step Three
 Cut out the lining and sew the arms up of the lining just as we did with the outer layer.
RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER pin the lining and outer together around the back and collar.

If your using piping with a flange just sandwich it between the outer and lining and sew together using a zipper foot.

Some people stress about where the lining joins the outer around the sleeves. Just take your time, pin everything in place and you'll see where you need to sew.

Pull the garment right side out through the sleeves. 

Pull the shrug into shape and hem the sleeves inner and outer together and you have a simply stunning regale shrug
Suitable for  any white or snow queen.


The back and collar are easily adjusted. They don't have to be the same size so you could have a larger section UNDER the arms to form a long back and then less above the arms to form a smaller collar.

We HIGHLY recommend making a mock up first in a cheaper fabric such as lining or muslin first. Different people tend to need different amounts of  ease etc. 

This shrug is so quick and easy to make you could use different fabrics for different parties as well as day to day wear.


  1. I think this is a brilliant make as it looks very straightforward and do-able for those without a sewing machine. I have just shared this with my craft group, but I also think this might be a great Fabric8 workshop. (On a saturday or sunday so I could come too). btw, will be looking on your online shop for dark blackish maroon fur fabric for this purpose :-)

  2. wow really amazing collection of Shrugs Thanks for sharing us