Every Fall season it’s 90 degrees here in Texas and then one weekend it drops to 60 and I totally freak out. “The kids have NO warm clothes!”
Typically I run to Target and grab 5 pairs of their $4 pants and long sleeve Tees (cause who can beat that price). But I’ve been gathering quite a collection of knits from my trips to Michael Levine in LA. So in honor of the Kids Clothes Week Challenge at Elsie Marley, I whipped up a little tunic top for Clara. And hey, why not make a tutorial to go with it? (now that I have a camera and all….)
Let’s get started!
First create your pattern. This might sound scary but making patterns is easier than you think. You don’t have to know fancy terms or have fancy tools (I don’t). I use paper and a pen. Check out my detailed tutorial here or follow along with these basic steps….
• If you’re a sketching kind of person, draw out a picture of what you’re going to make. Sometimes I do; often I don’t (because I suck at drawing. There. Said it). But this shirt is simple so I sketched. Then created a pattern…..
• Tape a few sheets of standard paper together. This is my favorite method (rather than using drafting or butcher paper) because I can fold-up the pattern at the paper seams when I’m done and stick them in a drawer.
• Use an existing item of clothing from your child’s wardrobe to gauge the sizing. If you don’t have a child at home, buy something from a thrift shop or retail shop so you know what fits a 2 year old, etc. I used this long sleeve tee to measure the armhole and shirt width. Trace around the area as best as you can, adding an extra 1/4 or 1/2 inch for your seam allowance.
SLEEVE: I wanted a puff sleeve, so when tracing the existing sleeve, I added extra width on the curve and placed a mark where the gathering should end (right photo below)
SHIRT FRONT and BACK: A boatneck is one of those classic looks that I absolutely love. It’s so feminine and well, cute (I made a similar shirt for myself here). For this tunic, the front and back of the shirt are going to be the same pattern piece. The neck is cut very high but also very wide so you’ll have enough room to get the head through. After using the shirt above to trace my armhole and shirt width (across the chest), I gave the shirt more of an A-frame side, extended the length of the shirt, and created a higher/wider boatneck. And there you have it:
You can really make this from any type of fabric….cotton, knits, linen.
I wanted something really cozy for the fall so I used a jersey knit (more on sewing with knit fabrics HERE)
• Fold your fabric and cut two of each pattern piece, on the fold.
• Mark the gathering area on the top of the sleeve with a fabric marker or pins. Sew a loose stitch between the marked area (read more on gathering fabric HERE). Gather the top sleeve area and set aside for a later step.
• Bind the neck of the shirt. This is just like making bias tape (detailed tutorial HERE)….only I cheated and didn’t cut the fabric on the bias cause with knit fabrics, I’m typically working with scraps. So I cut it where I can.
Now I’ll be honest, knit bias tape is not as easy to work with as woven cotton. But give it a shot and have a little patience. You’ll love the finished look.
• Cut/create 1/2 inch double-fold bias tape. It needs to be long enough to bind the front and back necks of the shirt.
• Sew it to the shirt neck using the “Proper” method (explained in detail HERE). Basically…unfold the binding, place the RIGHT side of the binding on the WRONG side of the shirt neck and sew a 1/2 inch seam (sew right along that first ironed fold). Then flip the shirt over and fold the binding over to the right side of the fabric, sandwiching it around the neck. Pin it in place and sew it with a 1/8 inch seam allowance (use matching thread color).
• Create the Boatneck. This is similar to creating the 90 Minute shirt envelope shoulder, but you only need to overlap it slightly. Bring the back of the shirt neck over the front, pin the two together, and sew a baste stitch (just a normal stitch to hold it in place) about 1/4 inch from the fabric edge.
• Sew the sleeves in place. Here’s a bird’s eye view of where the sleeves will go (more detailed info in this tutorial HERE)
• With right sides of the sleeve and armhole together, pin the sleeves in place, sew them to the armhole, and iron/hem the ends of each sleeve. (Sleeve hemming can be done later, for a more polished look, but on kids clothes this is the easiest time to do)
• Fold the entire shirt with right sides of the fabric together and pin down the inner sleeve and sides of the shirt. If you have a little side tag, insert it about 2 inches from the bottom of the shirt (detailed info on my labels HERE)
• Starting at the end of the sleeve cuff, sew down the entire length of the sleeve to the armpit, pause and lift your presser foot, swivel the shirt, and continue sewing down the side of the shirt (sew on the dotted line below).
Now at this point, I recommend trying the shirt on your little one to see how the neck fits, then…
• Sew the neckline together slightly at the shoulders to make it a bit more fitted. If you don’t have a child to try the shirt on, sew down the shirt binding about 1or 2 inches.
• Iron and sew a hem at the bottom of the shirt. This can be as long or as short as you like. A tunic top is typically in-between a shirt and dress length (and looks super cute with leggings). Sew a 2nd parallel line next to the hem line for a double-stitched look.
• Add one final touch….a pop of color at the shoulders!
• Hand-sew tiny buttons to each shoulder, onto the binding. These aren’t for function but just for look. HOWEVER, for a more fitted look, you could create actual button hole closures for the neck area. This would allow you to close the neckline further while still being able to take the shirt on and off.
Try the tunic on your little tot and see if she likes it.
….or drools on it.
Or goes through every emotion in the book.
I think it’s a keeper.
Now I need to make more!
(Adding my tunic top to the KCWC flickr group.)