Introduction: Last Minute Multi-purpose Emergency Panic Costume

A pattern to make a unisex tunic for children 3-12, which dressed up can make a variety of costumes.

I created this pattern because kids needing short notice costumes is a regular feature in family life. Some examples:

'I need to be a Roman tomorrow'

'I need to be a Celt tomorrow'

'I need to be a member of the Algerian football team tomorrow' - this actually happened and it was a long night.

Most of us don't have a vast theatrical wardrobe within easy reach. If you are one of the many, this pattern is for you.

The .pdf pattern file contains illustrated instructions and A4 pattern sheets that can be printed and stuck together. The pattern can be used to make additional costume layers, such as the tabard for the knight (simply make the tunic without sleeves in another fabric). Draping fabric over the tunic and pinning with a hidden safety pin can give further options, such as the Celt, Ancient Greek and Roman.

Published in time for the inevitable Christmas performance panic, this pattern has your back, and from there it's all teatowels on heads and gifts for the baby. I actively hope that it will be useful to families, schools, and community groups: have fun.


* this .pdf includes the instructions and pattern pieces scaled to the right size for use (there is a measurement reference grid on each page.

Step 1: Tunic: Essentials

A unisex tunic with back button fastening.

Multisized to fit ages 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12.


Fabric for tunic

Matching thread

1m bias binding


Step 2: Tunic: Fabric Requirements


For ages 3-4, 5-6, you will need 1m / 39 ½ inches.

For ages 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, you will need 1.25m / 49 ½ inches.

Fabric must be at least 115cm / 45 inches wide.

*This is the amount for plain fabric; patterned fabrics may require a larger amount to pattern match.

Suggested Fabrics

cottons*, polycottons, linens.

* I used calico, it looks more old-fashioned and authenic.

Step 3: Pattern Instructions

Print and assemble the pattern pieces. Assemble them as shown below.

Do not alter the settings on your printer. The pattern sheets have a metric grid for reference. There is a degree of overlap between sheets to help with assembly, you will need to trim some pieces before sticking them together.

Cut the pattern pieces out of the assembled and stuck together sheets.

Step 4: Cutting Out the Pattern Pieces on the Fabric

Fold your fabric, wrong sides together, right sides showing. Fold in half along the grainline (the natural direction of the weave of the fabric.

Place and pin the pattern pieces for the tunic pattern, on or off the fold as indicated. With the remaining fabric cut out the sleeve pieces, both on the fold as shown.

Step 5: Sewing the Shoulder Seams

Take the fabric pieces for the top (front, back left and right), right sides facing inwards, wrong sides facing outwards and pin across the shoulder seams. Sew across the shoulder seams with a 1.5cm / 5/8 “ seam allowance. \press the seams open.

Step 6: Sew the Bias Binding Around the Neckline

First, sew around the neckline 5mm / ¼ “ from the edge. This is called staystitching, and will maintain the curve of the neckline. With the wrong side of the tunic facing, unfold the bottom part of the bias binding and sew around the neckline, attaching the binding to the wrong side of the neckline.

Turn the tunic round, so that the right side is facing. Fold the binding over the neckline edge; the bottom edge of the binding remains unfolded to give a neat finish. Sew the binding to the neckline on the right side, trimming any excess to match the tunic fabric ends.

Step 7: Sleeves

Match the centre of the sleeve top edge with the shoulder seam.

Select a long stitch on the sewing machine. Being sure to leave a length of thread at the start and end of the stitching, sew around the curved portion of the sleeve 5mm / ¼ “ from the edge. Sew another curve ~ 2mm / 1/8 “ on the inside of the previous one.

Mark the centre line of each sleeve with a pin, or in another way. Gently pulling the threads at each end of the rows of stitching will gather the edge of the sleeve. The aim is to match the curve of the sleeve with the curve of the armhole of the tunic.

Sew each sleeve in place with a 1.5cm / 5/8 “ seam and press open. Remember to sew the seams on the wrong side of the fabric.

Step 8: Sewing Up the Sides of the Sleeves and Tunic

For both sides of the tunic, and each sleeve. Sew on the wrong side of the tunic and sleeve. Starting at the end of each sleeve, sew the sides of the sleeve continuing down the sides of the tunic with a 1.5cm / 5/8” seam. Press the seams open.

Step 9: Finishing the Sleeves

For each sleeve.

Sew around the bottom edge of the sleeve 5mm / ¼ “ from the edge. Trim the fabric close to the stitching line, making sure not to cut into it. Turn the bottom edge towards the wrong side twice, by 5mm / ¼ “ each time. Sew around the bottom edge to fix it in place. Press the bottom edge of the sleeve.

Step 10: Sewing Up the Centre Back Seam.

Pin the centre back seam together, with the right sides together, wrong sides facing out. Ensure the necklines meet at the top.

Starting: 20cm / 8” for age 3-4

22cm / 8 ½ “ for age 5-6

24cm / 9 ½ “ for age 7-8

26cm / 10 ¼ “ for age 9-10

28cm / 11” for age 11-12

From the top, sew down the centre back with a 1.5cm / 5/8 “ seam allowance to the bottom edge. Press the seam open, carrying on to include the unsewn area at the top of the tunic.

Step 11: Sewing the Back Opening

Sew down and across the bottom edge of the back opening to fix it in place.

Step 12: Attaching the Button and Loop Fastening.

Cut a 10cm / 4” length of the bias binding. Fold it in half as shown, and sew along the length. This will be used to form the loop. Fold the sewn binding in half and sew to one of the back edges of the tunic on the wrong side. Sew the button on the right side of the opposite edge of the back opening.

Step 13: Bottom Hem.

Sew along the bottom edge of the tunic 5mm / ¼ “ from the bottom. Trim any excess fabric being sure not to cut across the stitching. Turn the bottom edge towards the wrong side twice, by 5mm / ¼ “ each time. Sew around the bottom edge to fix it in place. Press the bottom hem to complete the tunic.


* have fun with your costume!

Patterns Contest

Participated in the
Patterns Contest