I thought it would be fun to share with you how I made my Zoe top (from SimpleSew Patterns) 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.

 For my version, I wanted 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:

STEP1: 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.   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 

 STEP4: Pin your paper pattern on the fabric and cut your fabric piece. 

Now you are ready to start making your top/dress. 

STEP5: 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 . 

 STEP6: Pin the other side and repeat. 

STEP7: Press seams toward the side seams.

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. 

STEP8: 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. 

Basically, 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. 

STEP9: 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. 

If 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. 

Now that you finished the front panel you can continue with the rest of the construction as per your instructions that come in the pattern envelope. 

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

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