Gathered Back Top: Zipper Tutorial

A couple of months ago while attending the annual Spring Quilt Market I got a sneak peak at all of the amazing new patterns coming out from Indygo Junction. One that particularly caught my eye was the Gathered Back Top and Tunic Pattern. I love the simple design with the fun element of the gathering across the center back.

Indygo Junction Gathered Back Top Pattern

I was able to get my hands on one of these new patterns as soon as they were ready (Thank you Betsy, blogger at Indygo Junction!) and immediately got planning my own version. After reading through the directions and taking a look at the pattern pieces I knew just what I wanted to do- add a zipper to the back. This pattern has kind of an ingenious construction, with the unique back pieces and center back seam. This makes it perfect for adding a fun, accent zipper- no additional cutting required.

Gathered Back Top in Double Gauze with Zipper Accent

Gathered Back Top in Double Gauze with Zipper Accent

For my fabric I chose this beautiful double gauze from Cotton & Steel. I love the color combination and the irregular stripes- although this does present quite a challenge when attempting to match up the pieces.

First, I cut out both of my back pieces, taking care to make them as symmetrical as I could. Double gauze can ravel quite a bit so I made sure and finished the center seam edges with my serger- this seam will be pressed open so finish the edges now rather than later. If you don’t have a serger, a large zig-zag stitch with work great.

Finished Edges on Top Back Pieces

Finished Edges on Top Back Pieces

I also pressed the seam allowances in place, WST, on both sides of the top portion at the center back. With the help of one of my favorite tools, Clover’s Hot Hemmer, I was able to get that 5/8″ seam pressed in a snap- both accurately and without burning my fingers.

Pressing Center Back Seam Allowance

Pressing Center Back Seam Allowance

Next, I took my lace accent zipper and got ready to add it along the freshly pressed seam allowance. At first I had a hard time trying to match up the edge of the zipper with the folded edge of the fabric and actually catch all the layers when stitching. Rather than fight it, I unfolded the pressed seam allowance and used the fold as a guide for my zipper placement. This made attaching the zipper halves to each side much easier.

Attaching the Zipper

Attaching the Zipper

Once the zipper was attached I just folded the seam allowance back out of the way and pressed well. Just a couple of other notes- I put the top of the zipper right up to the neckline. For the bottom, I stopped it about an inch or so from the bottom of the fabric- above the horizontal cut. Don’t forget to stitch the seam allowance together below the zipper. I also back stitched across the bottom of the zipper just for extra security.

Once your zipper is in place you can continue on with the pattern directions for creating the back gather and stitching the assembled back to the front. Below is what my completed top back looked like complete with accent zipper.

Right and Wrong Sides of the Finished Back

Right and Wrong Sides of the Finished Back

After assembling the body of my top I tried it on for fit. The front was gaping a bit at the neckline so I created a little tuck/pleat right at the center front. It actually created a nice detail while also helping my fit. Once I was satisfied with the neckline I attached the facing bias as directed in the pattern. At the center back opening (at the zipper) I just folded the end of the bias in to finish it off but still leave the zipper opening functional.

Attaching the Neckline bias facing and finishing the edge at the zipper.

Attaching the Neckline facing and finishing the edge at the zipper.

I finished the top as directed in the pattern and love how it turned out. The double gauze gives it a bit more structure than other fabrics would. Paired with my Jamie Jeans this is the perfect summer top for here in the Pacific Northwest.

My Finished Gathered Back Top

My Finished Gathered Back Top

I’d like to try it again in a drapey fabric like a rayon challis for a different look. That in a tunic length paired with leggings would be amazing! I also really want to try this top in a knit, but I will save that for another blog post… Check out some of our amazing summer fabrics, perfect for the gathered back top, in our shop HERE.

This pattern was a lot of fun to make and can be completed in a couple of evenings. The lovely ladies at Indygo Junction have been a pleasure to work with and I would highly encourage you to check out their other beautiful garment and accessory patterns! They are always coming out with fresh looks for seamstresses of all levels.

Last but not least… Indygo Junction sent me an extra copy of the Gathered Back Top and Tunic Pattern. Leave a comment on this post- tell us what you are sewing up this summer. We will randomly select a winner Monday, July 27th. (Update: 7/28/15. Congratulations goes to Karen Smith, our winner for this Giveaway)


Note: Indygo Junction provided us with two free copies of the Gathered Back Top and Tunic Pattern, one to sew with and one to giveaway. All of the ideas and comments in this post are our own and were not influenced in any way. This was not a sponsored post- it is something we put together for our readers and anyone else interested.


  • Love the shirt…..and the zipper!

  • Such a cute shirt and great looking zipper. That fabric has been catching my eye lately!

  • When I first saw it I wanted to make one the gauze sounds good for summer. Never thought of other fabric than cotton. Thanks Joan

  • What a cute top! Your version is very inspirational. While most of my sewing up to this point has been quilts, I may just have to muster up some courage to try and sew clothing. Thanks for the tutorial!

    • Congratulations Karen! You are our winner of the Gathered Back Top & Tunic pattern from Indygo Junction. Just send us your info and we will get it on its way to you. I’ll send you a separate email as well. Happy Sewing! ~Michelle

  • Leslie McMillen

    Really cute top. I have some double gauze in the stash that this would be perfect fore.

  • Love the fit of this top.

  • I am sewing a messenger bag for my niece’s birthday. I also have a few BTS wardrobe pieces for my kiddos to sew.

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