Tutorial ~ Easy Sweet Summer Top

by Destri on June 5, 2010

This top was so easy, all you need is the bust measurement and you’re set.  I used scrap fabric for the bust, which I snatched from my sisters, and the body came from the scrap of a skirt I made to match.

The back has an easy elastic gathering for easy on and off with out buttons or zippers.

Really it can be made into a dress too, just make the body longer, or attach another gathered body piece to the bottom of the first.  Let’s get started!

Girls Summer Top


  • all your sewing stuff
  • 1/8″ to 1/4″ elastic
  • thread


Larger scraps should be plenty for the bust piece, for the body you will want at least a 7 inch by 36 inch piece for  a 2T.  I did use a lightweight cotton for the liner, you may or may not need one for the body.  I will give you my measurements as I go and you can adjust your pieces and cuts for the size you need.  It’s easy, don’t fret!


Measure around the broadest point of the bust.  Take this number and divide it by two and add an inch.  This will be the length of your front bust piece.  My little girls measurement came in at 20 inches, which gave me 11, so I cut one piece from my scrap measuring 11 x 4 inches, and the same size for the lining.  The 4 inches should work for a 18 month to 2t.  Add an inch or take an inch depending on size.

For the back piece of the bust take your bust measurement divide by two and add 4 inches.  So mine came in at 14 inches.  I cut one 14 x 2 inch piece and a piece the same size for the lining.  The 2 inches should work for up to 4t, only adjust that number if you adjust the 4 inch measurement from above.

Fabric Cuts

Take you front bust pieces, lining and front, and layer them on top of each other.

Make a mark 2 ½ inches in from each side on the top, and 2 inches down each side from the top.  You can adjust these for older or younger but I think it should work for 18 months up to 3T.  You could even place a nice fitting shirt over the pieces to use as a guide.  Now make a cut connecting the two marks forming an arch as shown.

For the last cuts you will need four 9 x 1½ inch pieces.

This will give you your front panel piece with lining, back panel piece with lining, and four strips to make up the bust of the shirt.

For the body of the shirt you will want to measure how long you would like the shirt, or you can make it longer for a dress.  Mine came in at 7 x 36 inches. As we go through this I will use the measurements I used, adjust where needed for yours!

Take your four strips and press each long side over a ½ inch, then fold in half and press.

Sew each of them up the side along the edge, and on two of them fold the ends under a little and tuck in the fold to sew the ends shut, these will be for your bows.  The other two you can leave a raw edge on the ends.

With the right sides of your front panel together, place the strips with the raw edge in between the two and pin ½ of an inch in from the sides of the top.  I didn’t in the picture, and had to dig out my seam ripper, so just make sure you bring them in to allow for the seam.  Now sew with a about a 3/8″ seam allowance across the top.  We will use a 3/8″ seam allowance throughout unless specified.

Cut out some notches in the armhole.

Turn right side out and top stitch along the top and armholes, and then do a quick zigzag along the bottom sewing the bottom together.

Take your back pieces and sew along the top with the right sides together. Then turn right side out and along the top you will sew the casing for you elastic.  Make your casing 8 inches long centering it in the middle, this should leave three inches on both sides of the casing.  Now take a 5 inch long piece of elastic with a safety pin on one end and thread through the casing.

With the end of the elastic without the safety pin at the end of the casing make a vertical stitch to hold elastic in place.

Then gather till the elastic is at the other end of the casing and finish off with another vertical stitch.

Now zigzag stitch the lining and back piece together along the bottom.  It should look like the picture when you are done.

Now lay your back piece over the top of your front piece, right sides together, and line up two of the ends and sew up one side and then finish off with a zigzag.  Leave the other ends alone for now and set aside and we will work on the body.

Hem the bottom of the body first by folding the edge over a little and press then again and stitch along the bottom, doing the same with the liner if you are using one.

Now with the right sides together stitch along the top and then fold the right sides out and press along the top.  Then sew a basting stitch along the top 3/8 of an inch from the edge.

Gather it to match the length of you top piece and pin overlapping the top ½ an inch like shown.  Now sew the two together with a straight stitch, then pick out the basting stitch when you are done.  Pin the sides together and sew shut, making a shirt!  Almost done!

I put the shirt on my little girl at this point to see where I wanted to attach the straps, I ended up making mine 7 inches long.  With the wrong side out, pin so they are down like shown on either side of the casing.

Sew them on, making sure to back stitch a couple times.

Then turn the shirt right side out and sew a top stitch starting at the end of the casing, folding the strap up like shown to be included with the stitch to the end of the back piece.  Repeat on the other side.

It should look like this on the inside…

And this on the outside, nice and clean!

Now take your last two strips, with the sewn ends, and make bows.

With a needle and thread securely sew them to the top of the strap.

Your done!  Isn’t it cute?  And so easy.

And even without buttons the back lays so nice, and it slips right on without a hitch.

The bloomers I made from a pillow case, and they were so so easy, if you would like I could show you how.

I did make a skirt with the same idea as the shirt, and I will show you how to make that in the next post!

**Edit:  Here is the tutorial for the bloomers.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Amber H June 5, 2010 at 3:16 pm

How cute! I’ve got two little girls, and they need more summery tops since it gets super hot here in Utah. Definitely gonna have to make them each one of these!


Destri June 6, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Yes, it is hot already, I am afraid we won’t get to much of a spring!


Anne June 6, 2010 at 6:10 am

What a sweet top!! I used to love putting my daughter in shirts like this when she was little!! I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


Destri June 6, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Thanks Anne!


Teresa aka Tess June 6, 2010 at 6:27 am

What an adorable top. Your tutorials make sewing look so easy. I think this would be a great project sewn from a vintage pillow case.


Destri June 6, 2010 at 6:46 am

Teresa, we must have ESP!! Seriously!!! Right when I was done with this I thought that, and then decided to make it longer for a dress, I shall report!


maria June 6, 2010 at 10:24 am

Sweet is the perfect word to describe that top. It is so adorable. You’ve done it again. Now I just need a girl to dress up.


Destri June 6, 2010 at 2:39 pm

You should get to work on that ;)


Megan June 6, 2010 at 11:37 am

so adorable. i’m going to have to make one or two of these for my little girl. It’s my goal to sew her some summer things. now if the kids will cooperate and let mommy sew…


Destri June 6, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Just pull your machine into the kitchen, put dinner in the crockpot and bring out the fun stuff…that’s what I do. There are toys I only let them play with when I am sewing, gets them all excited when they know they get to play with them!


Natalia June 6, 2010 at 2:15 pm

This is so sweet and you really do make a fantastic tutorial! Thank you so much! I would love it if you could show how you make the bloomers from a pillow case.

from a new subscriber


Destri June 6, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Will do! I need to make another set for another top, so I will whip one up. Thanks so much for the subscription, it means a lot!


Suzanne June 7, 2010 at 8:17 am

Darling as usual, love how cute your model is and the clothes too.


Tess June 15, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Thanks for the tutorial! This is super cute!


Barbi June 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm

mmmmmm….. definitely making this one. Thank you!!!


Amy Kirchhoff March 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm

I made this over the weekend. Love it! I had some trouble with the bottom, though. But that is probably entirely my newbie sewer fault. :) Thank you!


Tammy April 6, 2011 at 8:32 am

Thank you for the tutorial. I made a top using this pattern yesterday for my daughter. I blogged about it here: http://www.boosie.ca/?p=939


Terri August 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I made this top for my granddaughter. I used a daisy print for the bottom, and some denim shirt material from an old shirt of my husband’s. I embroidered a daisy on the top part. It is really cute! Thanks so much for sharing this. :)


Pati @ A Crafty Escape September 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm

What a cute set… might try to make it into a dress. Thanks for the detailed tutorial!


Destri September 12, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Thanks so much, be sure to leave a link if you get a chance!


Kira February 29, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Is there any way to adapt this pattern for a teenager/college student? I would love to make it for myself and it gets pretty hot where I live. I’m in love with your blog!
Keep on creating! :)


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