Review: First Top – Simplicity 8523

Simplicity 8523

Pattern Description:

A collection of pullover woven t-shirts, sleeveless or with sleeves, with neckline variations: jewel, scoop, square, and v-neck. The jewel-neck tops come with a separate back-piece (center seam + a short zipper at the top).

Pattern Sizing:

8-10-12. I made View F. The tissue points out that the top has 11″ of ease at the waistline. Because of that huge amount of ease, I cut my first muslin at a size 8 from top to bottom. That didn’t work, because the pattern does not have 11″ of ease at the hip. It is almost straight up and down. For my second muslin, I graded out from size 8 at the waistline to size 12 at the hem, but the top was still too narrow at the hip for my figure.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Yes and no. The shirt is the same, but the drawings on the envelope use model poses (hands on hips or leaning to one side) and careful shading to make the top look less boxy. The line-drawings on the back give a more accurate rendition of the shape of the garment. The front of my finished garment is pictured above. Here are the side and back views.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

I had no problems with the instructions. They were very clear, and this is the first top I’ve sewn (first neckline, first armholes, first facings for either of those).

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I like the idea of the pattern–it’s a versatile, basic top. However, it is far too boxy to be flattering or to feel right on me. I feel like I’m wearing scrubs when I put it on!

Fabric Used:

A burgundy-and-purple, large-starburst-patterned cotton from Jo-Ann. The cotton is very soft (not stiff like quilting cotton) and therefore has a nicer drape than the cotton I used for my muslins. I think the soft drape was important. The final shirt skimmed my body better than the muslins.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

I worked hard to get a good fit on this, making 2.5 muslins and consulting at length with others on PR (thank you so much!). I never got a result I was happy with. You can read about my attempts to make this top in detail here: (The Saga of) Simplicity 8523.

Alterations included:

  • redrafting the pattern because I’d cut the smallest size for the muslin!
  • grading from a size 8 to size 12 between the waistline and hem
  • lowering the waistline by 1 1/4″
  • raising the hemline by 2″ (if I were to sew this again, I would only remove 1″ below the waistline)
  • a swayback adjustment using this tutorial, which I do not recommend. In the end, it distorted the shoulder and neckline, meaning I had to . . .
  • draft a new back neck facing

Although the adjustments improved the fit, it didn’t get me to “flattering.” I suspect that the wrinkles I struggled to eliminate came from the top being too tight at the hip, even after I graded out to the largest size in the envelope.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I learned a lot from trying to make Simplicity 8523 fit my body, but I would not sew it again. It isn’t flattering enough to make it a TNT or wardrobe basic. The top is very loose and boxy (again, 11″ of ease at the waist!), yet it isn’t accommodating to people who have large hips in proportion to their bust. I have a small bust (32A) plus a 10″ difference between my waist and my hips. Even adding all the extra width at the hipline that the pattern allowed wasn’t enough.

If I ever were to sew this again, I would use the alternate back with the center seam and zipper so that I could pinch out some of the extra fabric in the back.

I would recommend this pattern as a simple-to-sew, basic top for those who like a loose fit or whose measurements at the bust are not very different than then their measurements at the hip. However, I want to note that the necklines on Simplicity 8523 are quite high–higher than is in style right now (2013).


Simplicity 8523 was a good learning tool, but not a good fit for me. I do think other reviewers are right that this is a good top to “showcase” an interesting print.

In the future, I will be looking for a woven-t-shirt pattern that is better suited to my body. New Look 6356 appears to be an updated version of Simplicity 8523, but with a taper into the waist and out to the hips built in. It also has the center-back seam and zipper and lower, more current necklines. I think that for many body types, the New Look version of these basic woven tops will work better.

2 thoughts on “Review: First Top – Simplicity 8523

  1. LadyD says:

    I think it looks fine on you. Its not a disaster. No wonkey hems. You aren’t ‘busting out’ or anything major like that. I’d say that was a success. Maybe it’s that you need to choose shapes that you know ‘flatter’ you (I’m your opinion). I think it looks fine. If you want to define the waist add a small ‘belt’ round your waist.
    p.s. don’t get obsessed by smoothing out wrinkles it can drive you crazy. Sometimes its okay to just say ‘That’ll do’. Is it better fit than RTW? If the answer is yes then you have your first ‘step’ of fitting ability achieved. Don’t expect PERFECT immediately it takes quite a while to get it close to perfect but you will never (no one does) get absolute perfection.
    Hope this helps.

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