Summer Shirt Tutorial




Introduction: Summer Shirt Tutorial

This is a tutorial to make a sweet, summer shirt for your child (or even for you!).  This tutorial is based on measurements, not a pattern, so you can scale it up or down as needed.  You can even make it into a lovely sundress!

Come visit me over at to see more pictures and get a bonus tutorial for adding a gathered cuff to a pair of shorts..

You ready to get started?  Let's gather materials.

You will need:
Fabric (about 3/4 yard for a child's shirt)
Matching thread
Coordinating Piping (optional)

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Step 1: Math and Cuts

(All the math in sewing!  I wish I paid better attention in geometry!)  You will need your child’s chest (C), hip (H) and strap (S) measurements.  Place those numbers into the following formulas to get the measurements for the cuts you will need to make.  All seams are 1/2" seams (Except where piping is used).  If you want a looser fit, simply increase the ease in each formula.

Front Band Width (FBW) = (C ÷ 2) + 1” (ease) + 1” (seam)

Back Bands Width (BBW) = (C ÷ 4) + 0.5” (ease) + 1” (seam) + 1” (button placket)

Body Height (BH) = Desired length from chest to hip + 1.25” (hem allowance)

Body Width (BW) = (H ÷ 2) + 5” (ease) + 1” (seam)

Strap Length (SL) = S + 1” (seam)

Ruffle Length (RL) = S x 1.5 (gathering ease-increase or decrease as desired)

Cuts to Make

Front Band: 3” x FBW (Cut 2)

Back Bands: 3” x BBW (Cut 4)

Body: BH x BW (Cut 2)

Straps: 4” x SL (Cut 2)

Ruffles: 3” x RL (Cut 2)

Note:  For my 18 month old, I shortened both the band and the ruffles to 2.5”

Step 2: Make Ruffles

Round off the ends of each ruffle piece.  Remember to make them mirror images of each other.  (I simply used the edge of a plate as a template.)

Finish the rounded edge of the ruffle using a narrow hem or rolled edge.

Gather the unfinished long edge of the strip.

Step 3: Make Straps

Fold strap pieces in half lengthwise and press.

Reopen and fold raw edges into center and press.

Press strap closed. Should be 1 inch wide.

Mark 3/4” up from each end of the straps.

Sandwich the gathered edge of the ruffle pieces between the strap pieces and pin. Make sure the hem of the ruffle matches up with the marks.

Stitch strap closed close to the edge and top stitch along the opposite edge if desired. Press.

Step 4: Make Bands

Sew back pieces to front pieces along short edges for both outside and facing.

Press seams open.

Optional Step: Attach piping to the outside band. Stop piping 1½ inch from the left bottom edge.

Step 5: Attach Straps to Bands

Safety pin straps to facing wrong side to right side in the location you want them…I angled them in just a bit in the back.

Try this on your child to be sure straps are the correct length and in the best position.

Baste straps to facing in seam allowance.

Step 6: Finish Bands

Place facing and outside bands right sides together.

Pin top edge and sides.

Stitch from bottom of curved side all the way across the top and down the other edge.  Leave the bottom open.

Clip corners, turn and press, making sure that facing is completely invisible from the front.

Step 7: Sew Shirt Body

Place body pieces right sides together and sew both side seams.

Finish your seams and press towards back.

Gather the top edge of the body piece.

Step 8: Attach Shirt Body to Band

Place bottom edge of the band and top edge of the body piece right sides together and pin.

Match up side seams and adjust gathering as necessary.

Overlap ends of the band. The end of the band with curved piping goes on top.

Stitch body to band, making sure to stich very close to the piping. Note: It was a little finicky for me when I got to the overlapped ends. Just go slow and double check that you are stitching close enough to the piping.

Finish seam and press up toward band. 

Step 9: Finishing

Mark your button placement and make your buttonhole(s). Attach your buttons.

Along the hem press under 1/4 inch and then fold up another 1 inch and press.

Stitch close to the fold to secure the hem.

Step 10: Completed!

Finito! Now you have a sweet little summer shirt. Perfect for picnics and popsicles!

I would love to see your creations! If you make one of these sweet shirts or a variation thereof, please come add it to my new (very new) Flickr group...Sewing with Harmony.

Step 11: Bonus! Shorts Adaptation

Come by to get this bonus tutorial for adding a gathered cuff to the hem of a pair of shorts.

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    10 Discussions


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! These shirts were my challenge to myself to get better at piping.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I totally designed around this fabric...I love it so much!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    These are just adorable! And seriously amazing photos, too! You make it look so easy. :D


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! They really are very is all I can do to not make 10 of them for my girls. :)