How to Sew a V-Neck With Buttons – Laurence Top Dress Hack

wearing the v-neck button Laurence dress hack closeup

This is a hack I have been wanting to try but couldn’t find specific instructions for what I had in mind – so I just had to figure it out myself! In this tutorial I will go through the steps for how to add a button placket on a v-neck top pattern.

wearing the v-neck button dress standing in a garden smiling

I’m using the Laurence Top by Vivian Shao Chen to make a button down bodice for a dress. This is a favorite pattern of mine and I’ve made a few versions of the Laurence Top dress hack – with and without buttons and a two tiered skirt version.

These techniques should work on any v-neck top pattern and you can choose to make just a top, or make a dress version like I made.

showing the finished button v-neck bodice attached to the skirt

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Some things you’ll need

Trace your pattern

Front bodice

Trace your pattern onto paper and add seam allowance to the center front. I added 1/4″ to the center front (this is the seam allowance when we later add on the button placket).

NOTE: Typically when adding a button placket to a top, you need to add more to the center front, so that when it overlaps the front piece width is the same as the back. I originally tried adding 1 3/8″ to the front there was quite a bit of gaping at the neckline. By only adding 1/4″ to the center front, it means that my Front piece is slightly smaller than the Back piece. However, since there is a lot of ease in this top, it’s not noticeable at all.

Button Placket

To make you button placket, turn over your Front pattern piece you just made and trace the center front line and v-neck curve. Measure out 1 3/8″ wide and make sure it’s the same length as the bodice.

showing the finished front bodice and button placket pieces for the v-neck button-down top

Cut and Prepare your pieces

If you would like to, you can make a toile (or test version) to check the fit before cutting into your final fabric.

Button Placket

Remember to cut a mirrored pair for your button placket. Apply a 3/4″ wide piece of interfacing to the wrong side of the button placket 1/4″ away from the edge on shorter side of the placket (see photo above). I didn’t have my piece of interfacing go all the way down to the button since I’m attaching a skirt later.

Fold over the longer edge of the button placket 3/8″ (it should fold flush over the interfacing) and press. Cut off the extra pieces sticking out at the top of the placket to match the angle of the v-neck.

Front, Back and Bias Binding

Cut out two mirrored Front pieces, the Back piece on the fold, and enough bias binding for the neckline and armholes (I’m using 1″ wide bias binding).

showing the front bodice sewn together on the v-neck button top

Skirt panels and pockets

If you’re making a dress, then measure out your skirt panels and cut out pockets if you want to add those in. I made my skirt panel about 1.75 times the width of the bodice and cut two panels at that width. Also decide how long you want your skirt and make sure to add in seam allowance.

In my tutorial How to Attach a Gathered Skirt to a Bodice, I go into more detail on figuring out the skirt panel dimensions, gathering the skirt and attaching to the bodice. If you need more detail on sewing inseam pockets, then head over to my tutorial How to Sew Inseam Pockets.

Start Sewing

Sew the bust darts on the Front piece and press down towards the bottom.

With right sides together, sew the side seams at 1/2″ seam allowance. Finish seams and press towards to the Back.

button Placket and bias binding

Place the Button Placket right sides together to the left Front of the bodice. Line the raw edges at the center front, corner and v-neckline and repeat for the right bodice.

Next, place the bias binding right sides together on top of the Button Placket, and line up the raw edges. The folded edge of the Button Placket should still be folded and underneath the bias binding. Make sure the binding does not go all the way to the edge of the button placket or it will get sewn over on the next step (this makes it tricker when folding over the bias binding on a later step).

Pin everything in place and repeat on the other side.

Starting at the bottom of the placket, sew all the way around with 1/4″ allowance. At the corners where the Button Placket meets the neckline, lift your needle and pivot.

Understitch the bias binding

Press the bias binding seams up towards the binding and understitch all the way around the neckline.

Understitch the Button Placket

Press Button Placket seams in towards the placket (away from the bodice) and understitch as close as you can to the corners.

Turn out the Corners

Carefully turn out the corners with a point turner and press.

showing the folded under bias binding on the v-neck button top

fold in Bias binding

Fold bias binding in once and then again – make sure it’s tucked neatly under the button placket.

Sew the button Placket and bias binding

Pin the Button Placket and bias binding in place. Starting at the bottom of the placket, edgestitch all the way around the bodice.

At the corners where the Button Placket and bias binding meets, raise the presser foot and pivot before continuing to edgestitch around the neckline.

And that’s the neckline done!

showing the finished bias binding on the armhole of the v-neck button top

Armhole bias binding

Sew bias binding to the armholes with 1/4″ seam allowance. Press seams up toward the binding and understitch. Fold over the bias binding twice like you did at the neckline and edgestitch.

buttons and buttonholes

finished bodice laying on the table with assorted bottoms spread on top

Now it’s time to choose your buttons! Since the button placket isn’t very wide I used 3/8″ buttons for my dress bodice to match the daintiness of the fabric. I used 5 total, but really it’s up to you!

showing how to space the buttons and to leave space at the bottom for the skirt seam allowance

Figure out the spacing that you want between your buttons – I spaced my buttonholes 1″ apart. If you’re making a dress, make sure to account for the seam allowance at the bottom where the skirt will attach – you don’t want your button too close to the skirt.

You can see on my green striped version (photo below) that I didn’t follow my own advice and put my last button a little close to the skirt, ha. I had to do a smaller seam allowance when attaching the skirt and sewed the button on afterwards so I didn’t run over it with my machine. It all worked out though!

closeup of the bodice of a neck button top dress

There are buttonhole marking tools like an expandable buttonhole marker but I haven’t managed to try any yet. Let me know if you have a buttonhole marking tool that you love!

showing the finished buttonholes on the v-neck button top

sew the buttonholes

The buttonholes are typically sewn on the right side of the bodice (as you’re wearing it) but if you’re left handed, you may want them on the other side – it’s up to you! Also if you’ve never sewn buttonholes before I’m not going into detail about how to sew them…It can also depend on your sewing machine and buttonhole foot but reading your sewing machine’s manual can help you out!

Here’s what I usually do: After I’ve picked my buttons I eyeball about how far apart I want them and how many buttons will comfortably fit. I make a test buttonhole on a scrap piece of fabric and measure how long it is. I make the first buttonhole at the top, and then measure the space after it and mark where the next one will go. I work one buttonhole at a time until I’ve made the desired amount.

After you’ve sewn your buttonholes and they all look somewhat straight and spaced evenly, carefully open up the finished buttonholes with a seam ripper. I place a pin at the end so I don’t cut through.

Lay the opened buttonhole side on top of the other side of the bodice. Mark right in the middle of the buttonhole with a chalk pencil or fabric marker where the buttons will be sewn.

sew the buttons on

Sew your buttons on and test them to make sure the bodice lines up – it’s easy to take a button off and redo it if you need to!

If you’re only making a top, then all you have left to do is hem at your desired length and you’re done! If you’re attaching a skirt to make a dress, then read on 🙂

Attach the skirt to the bodice

showing a close-up of the basting stitch at the bottom of the  button placket

Before attaching the skirt to the bodice, sew a basting stitch at the bottom of the button placket.

closeup of gathering stitches on skirt for v-neck button dress

Prepare your skirt for gathering by sewing two lines of basting stitches. Place the skirt inside the bodice, right sides together. Pull on the bobbin threads until the skirt matches the bodice circumference. Sew with desired seam allowance (I did a 3/8″) making sure the gathers are all laying nicely.

For more in-depth instructions, head over to my tutorial How to Attach a Gathered Skirt to a Bodice.

showing the finished skirt attached to the bodice of the v-neck button top

Try the dress on to double check the fit before finishing the skirt seams with a serger or zig-zag stitch. Press the seam allowance up towards the bodice and remove any visible basting stitches. Hem at your desired length and you’re done!

I was very excited to figure out this v-neck button placket and be able to add variety to an already well-loved pattern! I also made a version in a striped green linen with a two tiered skirt (see above photos).

I love how this dress turned out and it’s a perfect dress for summer (but I’m already imagining layering a tee under it for cooler months!) Hope that this button down v-neck tutorial was helpful for you! Thanks for reading and happy sewing 🙂

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