My children grow so randomly, I’m not sure if that’s normal? My four year old has been the same size for the last two years, and then all the sudden whamo! She’s suddenly a good three inches taller and nothing fits! Um kid? Can we do this growth thing gradually and consistently next time? It would make mommy’s life so much easier trying to clothe you, seriously.
For the time being, little Miss thinks new handmade clothes are super special…so I’m running with it until she gets too trendy for my sewing abilities. She helped pick out the fabrics out of my stash, and supervised the process closely.
This tunic top builds off the pattern I showed you how to make for the basic girls shift dress HERE. You’ll need to reference that to make this pattern. The pattern is all the same, except we are going to add actual sleeves…hey, it’s cold out, have you noticed? Time for sleeves!…something I had a hard time persuading the above child to believe. I guess obstinate opinions accompany growth spurts? Oh joy.
There is a link to print the pattern I used, at the bottom of the page. I am going to show you how to do your own, because I think it’s really good to know!
Start by tracing a copy of the back of the shift dress pattern onto paper. ( I am making a 4T size, but the principle of this will work all the way up to making an adult size.)
Measure down the side five inches and draw a dot. (Add to this if drafting a pattern for a larger child.)
Measure from the neck over 2.5 inches. If you would like the sleeve to begin higher up on the shoulder only measure 2 inches.
Use a curved ruler (or eye ball it, we aren’t building a nuclear bomb here…) to connect those two dots. The curve should be a very gradual one.
That’s the arm hole! Cut this out for the bodice pattern. (Don’t worry about length…as long as you have the very top done, you can add as much length as you want to make a tunic or a dress when you are cutting out the fabric.) You’ll need to make another one exactly like this for the front, only the neck should be at least an inch lower. (By they way, if you stop right there, you have a tank top/dress pattern! Handy huh?!)
To make the sleeve pattern, lay your newly made pattern face down right along the edge of your paper. Trace the arm hole curve onto your paper, starting at the edge.
Decide how long you want the sleeve, and measure down the edge that amount. For a long sleeve, I measured 13 inches.
Obviously, the arm is not as thick around the wrist as it is at the top, so the sleeve will need to taper down to the smaller size. My little girl’s wrist was roughly 6 inches, so I made the wrist 3.75 inches. (Don’t forget to add in a seam allowance, and room to move!) Connect the arm hole to the wrist with a straight line.
When you cut the sleeve out, you would use this pattern on the fold.
Cutting out the bodice is easy enough. I fold my fabric four layers thick and cut out both the front and the back at the same time, using the back pattern piece.
Then I open up one layer, and trim down the neck for the front piece. (Eww! Blurry picture, sorry!)
Sew just the shoulder seams together, and lay out the top completely spread out. Insert the sleeve by lining up the middle of the sleeve with the shoulder seam. sew it in place. You’ll have to stretch the arm hole a bit as you sew the sleeve to it.
Once the sleeves are sewn in, you just sew the underarm all the way down the side to connect the front to the back.
Hem all your openings, and that’s it! If you’d rather have a facing around the neck, THIS tutorial will show you how. My audience was rather impatient, so we skipped the facing and just hemmed it all. (I like hemming knits better than using a facing anyway.)
I used sweater knits for these tops, and ribbed knit for the contrasting sleeves. They ended up very soft and cozy…I think I could use a few really.
You could easily use this pattern with fancier fabric to make a nice little dress or tunic for church or whatever. I plan to, actually, since we seem to be having a dress shortage around here.
Next time we talk sewing for girls, we’ll modify this pattern for woven fabric…just in case you’ve been hording some adorable corduroy fabric that needs some attention. This is a really basic shape, but you can take this and go in a million different directions! So many possibilities.
I know at least one little girl who is plotting a bounteous collection in her closet.
Click on the below link if you’d like to print out the pattern I used here. I’ve written on it how many inches to extend the length based on what you are wanting to sew (shirt, tunic, or dress). Please note, this a 4T pattern based on my child’s measurements (who is rather petite), you may need to adjust based on your child’s size. I can use the same pattern for my 2 year old, by simply adjusting the length and neckline.
Psalms 36:7 How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
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