This series of Lou Box Top hacks came about because I’ve finally learned something.
So why would I once again walk down this path of proven self-loathing? Because what I finally figured out is the secret to making a boxy top work for me.
I’m a big fan of Sew DIY‘s fun, easy, and basic aesthetic. All the patterns are wardrobe staples (including the Ali sweater, which is on this year’s Sew My Style list!). They’re also super versatile, especially the Lou Box Top.
Um, except I don’t actually own the Lou Box Top pattern. If I did, 2 out of 3 of these hacks wouldn’t be necessary—they’re already built into the pattern!
Instead I own Lou Box Dress 1 and 2, both of which have cut lines to work with the regular LBT pattern. Since I don’t actually own that pattern, I was out on my own. The cut lines make for a very cropped shirt, so I knew at least I’d have to lengthen it.
Oh and full disclosure: Sew DIY designer Beth is a friend of mine. She’s a super rad person who I enjoy cocktails with (currently only virtually). However I paid for these patterns myself and all opinions are my own.
So why did I chose to make a boxy top if I knew it wouldn’t look good on me? Because I’m a sucker for Beth’s marketing and I support local indie brands!
I also love the versatility of the pattern, as it can be made in a wide variety of fabrics—both knits and wovens! I love a pattern that goes both ways!
And Beth makes near-daily inspiration posts about it (and both dress patterns). So I was finally inspired to try my hand at it, knowing full well I wanted to “me it up” (that’s Paulette-speak for “make it my own”).
What are my Lou Box Top hacks?
- Lowered the neckline
- Created a hi-lo hemline
- Altered the side seams for a less “boxy” look*
*This is the one that unlocked the key to making boxy work for my body!
How did I do all this? I borrowed from other patterns and clothes I already own!
Lou Box Top Hack #1: Lower Neckline
This “hack” is actually included as one of the versions of the LBT pattern. But again, I was working from the dress pattern.
This is an extremely easy change and one I have done multiple times for a lot of patterns.
In fact, my #SMS20 co-leader Minna has a great post on this with colorful visuals. It’s specific to the Gelato dress and blouse, but easily applies to the Lou Box Top (and any other neckline) too.
I know where I like my t-shirt necklines to fall. That’s how I determined that I wanted to lower the neckline 3″ (7.6 cm).
To make this change, measure down center front the desired amount, then blend back up to the original neckline/shoulder point. (Note this is a generic drawing I made and not the actual pattern flat.)
Since I was making this in a low-recovery thin knit material, that also meant redrafting the neckband. That’s also an easy fix, though it absolutely depends on your fabric.
Most sources say neckband 75-90% of the length of your neckline works depending on the stretchability of your fabric. Here are a few resources for doing it:
I made mine a tad too long so it pops up a little in the very middle. But that’s okay.
Lou Box Top Hack #2: Hi-Lo Hem
This is yet another hack that’s kind of included in the original Lou Box Top pattern. It comes with a “dip hem.” However this is a way to adjust it to your preferred length and you can do this to any shirt pattern!
After making all of the necessary back adjustments to the pattern, I lengthened it just enough in the back to cover my butt. From experience with an otherwise ill-fitting Briar tee, I knew at least the back length from that pattern was just about right for my butt.
I don’t like how high the front hem is on the Briar, which is right about my waist. I wanted a little more length than that so I brought the Lou Box Top hem down to my hips. Then I blended the side seams together for a seamless join.
In the end I had two pattern pieces that looked a little like this:
The important thing with this type of adjustment is making sure your side seams on both the front and back pieces match in length.
Lou Box Top Hack #3: Shaped Side Seams
This is the hack that is probably the most game changing for me specifically. Altering the side seams to curve in instead of being a straight up-and-down box is how I make “boxy” work for me.
This hack didn’t make it form fitting and it didn’t change the overall look of the pattern either. It’s still a loose-fitting, easy-wearing top. It just suits my petite torso a lot better than a straight box does. Like an FBA would.
To achieve this hack, I really just eye-balled it. I chose a point along the waist that felt about right, but was still larger than my waist measurement. I blended in from the armhole to the new waist, then back out to the hip, in a smooth curve.
You just have to make sure your new side seams account for your bust, waist, and hip measurements. As long as those are covered, the shirt will fit!
The total I shaved off the side seams at the deepest part is only 1.25″ (3.2 cm) on each side. Here’s a very rough illustration. Again, make sure your side seams match!
And it all worked out splendidly!
I even enjoyed my birthday clad in my hacked Lou Box Top! I spent the day lounging on my big gold couch while enjoying White Russian dalgona coffee in my very easy-wearing t-shirt. Can you tell I was hungover from the virtual beer fest the night before? No? Good!
Happy 42nd to me!
And now that I’ve made these changes, I can go back to all those other garments I originally thought were fails and fix them!
I’ve also learned that the type of fabric makes a huge difference. This lightweight double-faced knit has a very fluid drape. A stiffer knit might still be too boxy on me.
So I’m going to enjoy exploring other boxy patterns I might have dismissed in the past, all from what I learned from these Lou Box Top hacks! And I plan to make a bunch more of these in the future.
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