The La Bella Donna~ For “The Beautiful Women”

There are some patterns that are so good, you just sew them over and over. Imagine a top that makes you look great on your good days AND bad days. A top that is forgiving when you gain a few pounds here and there. A top that always makes you feel good about yourself. Sound too good to be true? Nope~ the Love Notions La Bella Donna or the LBD as we like to call it truly lives up to it’s name. “The Beautiful Woman” is exactly who you will be when wearing this top or tunic.

To see how I created one of my favorite Tee shirts, scroll down to see how I combine the LBD with the Classic Tee.


The La Bella Donna is a great Dolman style top and tunic that deserves a place in your closet!

The Details:

  • Shirt and Tunic length
  • Shirt tail or banded hem on Shirt length
  • 3 Sleeve options: Short(cap), 3/4, and Long
  • Hood or cowl options
  • Pocket option for Tunic length

There are so many reasons to love this Dolman style knit top. Here are a few:

  • Very quick and easy sew
  • Flattering on all body types
  • Great beginner pattern
  • Only a little more than 1 yard of fabric required for cap sleeve version
  • The BEST top for layering under cardigans.
  • Works for both casual, work and dressier outfits. (I’m retired, so most of mine are all very casual)

For Fall I am looking forward to making a hooded version with the band in some soft French Terry. A fellow blogger made one this past Spring and I just fell in love with it. I never thought of using the La Bella Donna for a sweatshirt! It really is such a versatile pattern!

Sizing and Alterations

The La Bella Donna is available in sizes XS- 5X. As with all updated patterns, a Full Bust front piece option is included. Since the LBD is a Dolman style, there will be some additional ease in the underarm area. It is important to realize that this is a Dolman sleeve~ meaning that the sleeve is attached to the bodice when cutting out. Because of this you will often see a small fold in the underarm area. You should be selecting your size based off your High Bust measurement. If you are in-between sizes, you should size down.

Since I have a High Bust of 40″ and a Full Bust of 45.5″ I made the XL with the Full Bust Option. My hips are just outside of the XL, however I did not grade out for my hips. Remember that using the Full Bust option an additional 2″ will be added to the finished garment measurements at the waist and hip. This along with the wearing ease included in the LBD will give me enough room in my hips.

The way I determined this was by utilizing the Finished Garment Measurements Chart. Visit my blog post over at Love Notions to read more about these charts, how to use them and to learn “All About Ease”.

Since I am only 5 feet tall, I did shorten the top by 1″. I do prefer to wear my tops a tad longer, so the 1″ was the perfect amount for me. If making the shirt tail hem, it’s important to determine your finished length before cutting out your fabric so that you can maintain the nice hem shaping.

Fabrics and Notions

The La Bella Donna is designed for medium weight knit fabrics. Fabrics such as jersey, rayon jersey and sweater knits are recommended in the tutorial. Knits used should have 40% stretch. I have made the LBD from many different types of fabrics These are some of my favorites that work beautifully.

  • Waffle/thermal knits ( If it doesn’t have the best recovery and you may want to size down)
  • ITY knits
  • Double Brushed Poly
  • Rib knits~ wide and narrow
  • Bamboo Lycra
  • Pointelle~ doesn’t always have enough stretch, you may want to size up

Neckline Binding

If you have looked at my La Bella Donnas closely, you might have noticed that I do my neckline a bit differently. I like to finish my necklines with a binding folded to the outside/right side. This is just my personal preference. I feel it gives my LBDs a more RTW finish. It’s really very simple and just a way to personalize your tops to your preferences.

How I sew my neck binding(version1)

  • Use the chart on page 11 of the tutorial to cut your binding piece
  • Sew binding right sides together at the short end
  • Mark your 1/4 points on your binding and neckline
  • Pin the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the neckline opening
  • Make sure to align the seam of the binding at the center back of the neckline opening
  • Sew the neck binding to the neckline using a 3/8″ seam
  • Press binding and seam allowance up and away from the top. This is important to achieve a nice clean/neat finish
  • Fold the raw edge of the binding over the seam allowance to meet the stitching line
  • Fold again, this will completely enclose the seam allowance. The binding will be completely on the outside now. Pin in place
  • Edgestitch the neck binding as close to the fold as possible. You can use straight stitch, zigzag or coverstitch. This neckline really doesn’t need to stretch over your head, so a straight stitch will work fine.

Second option for sewing neck binding

This option works best with thinner/lighter weight fabrics.

  •  Sew binding right sides together at short ends.
  • Fold binding in half lengthwise- wrong sides together and press.
  • Mark quarter points on the binding and neckline of top.
  • Pin the binding to the WRONG side of the neckline (align the seam of the binding at the center back)
  •  Sew the neck binding around the neckline using a 1/4” SA ( This can be sewn with either 1/4″ or 3/8″ SA, depending on how wide you would like your binding to be.
  • Press the binding and seam allowance up and away from the top- * this is important to achieve a nice neat finish.
  • Flip the neck binging fully to the right side and pin in place. The seam allowance is now sandwiched between the top and binding.
  • Edgestitch the neck binding to the top as close to the fold as possible- you can use a lengthened straight stitch, a double needle or a cover stitch.

The Bella Classic MashUp

One of the things I love the most about the LBD is the neckline. It’s not too high , it’s not too low ~it’s perfect for me! Because I love it so much I’ve traced it onto other Love Notions patterns. My favorite pattern to use it on is the Classic Tee.

I love the LBD, but sometimes you want a set-in sleeve. I love the fit of the body and sleeve of the Classic Tee, however my issue is the neckline. Since I am petite and busty, I don’t find the crew neck very flattering on me and the scoop neck is just a tad low. Enter the PERFECT neckline of the La Bella Donna! Since I am vertically challenged AND a bit hippy, I also love the shirt tail hem of the La Bella Donna. I find that a bit more flattering on me than a straight hemline. So, I also trace the LBD hemline onto my Classic Tee pattern. I have a drawer full of this mashup!

  • Trace the neckline curve of the LBD for the front neckline of the Classic
  • Retain the back neckline curve of the Classic
  • Redraw the curve at the shoulder so the back matches the front.
  • You may need to adjust the length of the neck binding. (A good rule is 85% of the neckline opening)

LBD and her Boyfriends

There are several reasons why I LOVE the LBD, but one of the main ones is that the cap sleeve version is perfect underneath the Boyfriend Cardigan(or the Fraser or Canyon Cardigans and even the Metra Blazer). Don’t you hate it when you pull on a cardigan and your shirt sleeve gets all bunched up in your armpit? Yeah? Me too!! I have a closet full of solid color cap sleeve LBDs that I have made simply to wear underneath my cardigans.(See photo below)

These are the cap sleeve La Bella Donnas I have in my closet right now~ I have a few jewel and earth tones ones to make for Fall.

Thanks for stopping by! I truly appreciate all of you that visit!  If you enjoyed this blog post, please consider subscribing to my blog to stay up to date with all my posts!  

Mary Anne 🙂

Remember to follow me over on Instagram to see all my latest makes!  @sewmarymac

You can grab the La Bella Donna pattern HERE. Today only (9/30/22) if you purchase the LBD you can get the Classic Tee pattern for free! Simply place ANY LN pattern into your cart and you will automatically get the Classic Tee patterns!!

The Girls La Bella Donna is also available for girls, you can grab that HERE

You can grab the Classic Tee pattern HERE.

This is an affiliate link. It costs you nothing to purchase from this link, it just helps fund my fabric addiction which allows me to test and review more patterns.

(The MARYMAC10 code will NOT work for the free pattern promotion today 9/30/22)

To receive an additional 10% off the pattern price, use this coupon code MACSEWS10. This coupon code can be used at anytime on any pattern….even a $5 Feature Friday pattern. My code does change quarterly, so please always check the newest blog post for an update if you find a code isn’t working.

I am currently a Love Notions Patterns Ambassador. I purchased and fell in love with this pattern long before I was an ambassador. As always all opinions are my own.

Fabric Resources

Raspberry Creek Fabrics~ excellent source for high quality retail and custom rib knit prints

Mily Mae Fabrics~Great source for narrow(or lush) rib knit in solids and prints

Amelia Lane Good source for a variety of knits at great prices!

Fabmere Fabrics Good source for a variety of knits

Stylemaker Fabrics Best source for solid color staples in Modal and cotton, bamboo rayon


  1. Marcia Dumas says:

    Thank you for tI am always inspired by your makes and helpful references for measurements to determine fit. Great mashup information too!


    • sewmarymac says:

      I shorten the cuff of the sleeve 1.5 “. I would cut the cuff from a scrap first and baste it on the bodice to see how it fits. The cuff has to be shortened before you cut it out- you can’t trim it later. By doing this you can figure out how much you’d need to take off. Depending on your arms, you might want to take some off the dolman part of the bodice- you want the seam to hit your arm where it is comfortable. I wouldn’t want the seam of the dolman and the cuff to hit the crease of my elbow.


  2. Cynthia Willis says:

    I love the idea of the LBD neckline on a reg tee and the way you use the neck binding s genius! Now for my question: do you sew the LBD sleeve band(for cap sleeve on a 1:1 ratio , cutting the band slightly longer or do you ease the band on? I couldn’t tell from the photos but trust you will explain. I have made 2 LBDs to date and I like the brown on sleeve for a quick tee. Thanks.


    • sewmarymac says:

      I love the LBD too! I have sewn the sleeve band both ways. If I am making the LBD to wear under cardigans I often will cut the pattern as drafted and ease the band on. If I am making an LBD to be worn by itself, I have added a bit of length to it so it is 1:1 ratio. It works well either way. Whichever you prefer is the “right” way! The beauty of sewing our own clothes is having them be exactly how we like them.
      So sorry for the delay in my response, as life has been a bit hectic lately!


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  4. I’m confused about the armhole curve. When drawing the neckline of the CT do I continue around the armcyce to the side seam and then start the LBD until I add the curved bottom of the Classic Tee???? I’m hoping to do this today. Then do you just store the traced copy. I’ve never mashed before.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sewmarymac says:

      I start with the Classic tee front and back. I trace the front neckline of the LBD to the Classic- then redraw the curve to line up at the shoulders. I trace the hemline of the LBD to the Classic as well. I don’t change anything about the armhole curve. I start with the Classic Tee and add the front neckline and hem of the LBD.

      It sounds like you are trying to start with the LBD. And yes, I have my traced copy stored and labeled so I can use it over and over again


    • vernadelhotmailcom says:

      I assumed you curved the back of the Tee? I did? for the neckline, you just did the curve of the neck from center front to shoulder?


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  6. Pat Semeraro says:

    Hi MaryAnn, I need help making the bicep larger on my LaBella Donna pattern. Are you aware of any tutorials of how to do that? Thanks so much for all you do.

    Liked by 1 person

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