The shell top is a classic pattern to sew. From the McCall Pattern Company blog.

If there was such a thing as the Pattern Hall of Fame, the basic shell top would definitely be in it. It packs a lot of style using a small amount of fabric (usually a yard, give or take) and the minimal design details means it sews up fast. The shell can be worn short and boxy, or you can make it longer and belt it or tuck it in. And with or without sleeves, the shell top has been a year-round favorite of fashion designers for years.

I usually make at least two or more shell tops a year. They’re quick to sew and once it starts getting warmer outside I prefer to keep the patterns I make on the easy side. Besides, one of my sewing mantras is “let the fabric do the heavy lifting for you.” Choose a fabric with a bold print or an appealing texture and pair it with a very simple design, like a shell top. With the Butterick B6175 shell top I made here, I used an Oscar de la Renta brocade that’s been marinating in my stash for over five years:

Butterick B6175 top made by Meg Carter of the McCall Pattern Company

When you have a gorgeous, detailed fabric like this one from Oscar de la Renta, it’s best to keep the design details to a minimum and let the fabric take the starring role. Butterick B6175 shell top pattern.

Butterick B6175 top made by Meg Carter of the McCall Pattern Company. Exposed back zipper framed in petersham ribbon.

I created a little back interest with an exposed zipper framed by a navy petersham ribbon.

Butterick B6175 top made by Meg Carter of the McCall Pattern Company. Inside view showing half lining.

Inside view of this top. Half-lining made of black silk charmeuse. I like my facings on the big and wide side, so I used one of my French curve rulers and filled in the facing to give more coverage in the front and back.

Everything for this top came from my stash and not a penny was spent. Ok, so I did pay $50/yard for the Oscar fabric in 2009 and I bought the charmeuse and the zipper and the ribbon at one time too…. But since everything has been just aging and depreciating in my stash for years now, I can claim I made it for $0, right?! Do you apply that kind of logic too when you use up stuff in your stash?

Shell top sewing inspiration:

Sewing inspiration: RTW shell tops. McCall Pattern Company blog

Shell top patterns from Butterick, McCall’s and Vogue Patterns:

Shell top sewing patterns from McCall's, Butterick and Vogue Patterns
Shell top pattern illustration from our archives:

From the McCall Pattern Company archives: 1950s Vogue Patterns illustrations

Shell top patterns from the 1950s. Vogue Patterns illustration.

Is a shell top pattern on your list to sew for the season? I just cut out another shell top last night, this time from Butterick B5948Β in lightweight denim. What other pattern styles should be in a pattern hall of fame, if there was such a thing?

Easy and chic shell top sewing patterns.