summer lovin’ top tutorial

I kept having visions of summer dancing in my head while sewing this shirt. I don’t know if it was the bright yellow fabric or the warm weather I was enjoying, but it works!

I totally love Sadie in yellow. and cute shorts. 

I love the little swoops (technical term, btw) on the shoulders and the buttons. And the stripeys! Gotta love stripeys. 
Headband, purchased. Flower made with this tutorial.


Say, you wouldn’t want to make one for yourself or a smaller person, would you?
Get the how-to after the jump!

You’ll need:
knit fabric 
polyester thread (matching)
ball point needle
buttons if desired
sewing stuff (machine, scissors, yada yada)

First I made my patterns. You’ll need to trace a shirt to get the basic shape-this will be the back pattern. Don’t forget to add on your seam allowances!
Then I made the front pattern pieces. This little swoopy piece you can get by tracing the top of the shoulder seam, and part of the arm hole, then sketch the swoopy part. (very scientific and exact…not!)
 For the front, I traced the back pattern, then laid it over the swoop pattern. (I use freezer paper for my patterns, FIY)  I then sketched in a half an inch behind the swoopy bit, that’s where you’ll sew them together. Then I drew the front neckline like so, I used another shirt to figure out the placement of that. Hopefully the pic below helps more than my words do.
So…let’s talk fabric…I upcycled this tee from one I got thrifting, for $2 or so. I love getting quality tees there to upcycle for Sadie -my local Sal Army always seems to have lots of Lands End, or LL Bean tees in good shape.
If you’re not using a tee, you’ll probably need about 1/2-1 yard of knit material.
So now with your pattern cut out one of the front and back pieces, two swoops, and two sleeves. I cut out my shirt pieces on the existing hem. (note, I did re-cut the sleeves so I could use bias tape on the bottom edge…these are just the ones I cut before deciding to do that.)
and some strips cut on the bias (mine were 1.5″ wide)

Now to construct this tee. Pin the swoops, right sides together, to the back piece, at the shoulder seam. Sew across the shoulder seam.
Then make your bias tape-I use my lovely Miss Prym for that.
Read more about her and how to make bias tape here. 
You can also easily iron the edges in, and then in half again.
***TIP*** I find that using spray starch helps a TON with this step, and really any step while sewing with knits!
Then I pinned some bias tape around the swoops and back neckline that you sewed together, and then across the front neckline.
Then carefully sew that on, making sure to catch the back of the bias tape. If you sew in tags-make sure to add yours here before you sew on the bias tape. I’m the worst at remembering…but I did on this one! hooray.
Next, pin the front piece 1/2″ underneath the swoops, like so, lining up the arm holes.
Then stitch in the ditch (where you sewed the bias tape on).
Then cut 2 pieces of bias tape to your child’s arm measurement+1″ (or more if you want a looser sleeve, and sandwich the end in between the tape. I also gathered the bottom of my sleeve to fit the bias tape length.
Sew the tape on, and then pin and sew the sleeves right sides together, into the armholes.
Pin and sew the sides of the shirt right sides together. Hem the shirt if you didn’t use an existing hem, and sew on some buttons if you like!
tada! so cute, right?


  1. absolutely adorable! love it! the “swoopy” pieces and buttons make this so much more than just a regular t-shirt.

  2. Oh my, Jess I’m in love. And you make it look so simple. I can’t wait to try this. Thank-you.

  3. You are the most amazing person…seamstress….I know!! Darling shirt!! You make my jaw drop with every project you do!

  4. SO cute! Love the yellow and stripes and buttons. Thanks for the pdf version and sharing this!!

  5. CUTE! As always, you make the best stuff. Thanks for the tutorial!

  6. you are officially the coolest person I “know”. I think I’m getting too repetitive with my “I LOVE THIS!” comments and must be boring you. But I do. I love it. I love everything. And I’m still gonna keep commenting about it. Try and stop me.

  7. You are so talented!!! What a perfect summer shirt!

  8. Eu amo este Blog, parabéns pela transformação!

  9. I love this!!! My daughter LOVES some of her big brother’s shirts that he’s outgrown (and are TOO big for her).

    This gives me TONS of ideas for her wardrobe now 🙂

  10. You’re always whippin’ up something adorable! Thanks for sharing this! I love it!

  11. Soooo cute! It´s been a while since I checked your blog (unfortunately), and I´m amazed at all the beautiful things you’ve sewed in the past months! I agree with all the other girls when they say you’re the best. And your blog is such fun to read! Congrats!

  12. I love it! What a great refashion. Thanks for the tutorial!

  13. I love this!! The buttons are adorable! You should make one of these for you for the Spring Top week!!!!! Ok, secretly, I want you to make one of these for you so you can teach us how to do an adult version 🙂 I’m so sneaky….

  14. Adorable, great job!

  15. This is so, so cute! I love it! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  16. DANG IT JESS!! You keep making me add stuff to my “to do” list!! It’s a good thing I love it! ;D LOL!! Can’t wait til I have my space for sewing done so I can seriously sew again!! Thanks for sharing this!!

  17. LOVE!!!!! On my MUST MAKE list!

  18. The buttons on shoulders is an adorably brilliant idea. You. are. genius.

  19. You are amazing! What a cute little top!

  20. This is adorable. I always wondered how those shirts were made and now I know! Seriously you give me free sewing lessons daily. Now I just need to dig through the refashion pile and give it a whirl.

  21. LOVE It!!!

  22. This is too cute! Thanks for the share. I love the way it is so easily converted. It makes it much more special, than an ordinary T.
    I ‘ll pop back in again soon,

  23. That is really cute!

  24. I love your adorable top!!!

  25. aww so cute!!!!

  26. I forgot to say that I would love to make one, I just hate working with knits, even though I have a serger =(

  27. This is such a cute top!!! I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


  28. This is such a cute top, Jess. I love that you upcycled an existing shirt. Love it!

  29. I love it! Thank you for the tutorial. Your girl looks adorable in that top.

  30. Very cute!

  31. Another beautiful shirt for our little girls – thank you, thank you for sharing that wonderful talent of yours with us all!

    Off to find some fabric for this project!

  32. i absolutely love this. i want to make some for my girls and myself!

  33. Dude. Cutest. Ever.
    How do you do it, you crafty genius?

  34. I LOVE this top! I made one for my daughter and blogged about it here Thanks for a great tutorial!


  1. […] Envelope Tee via craftiness is not optional […]

  2. […] Jess from Craftiness Is Not Optional shows how to make her Summer Lovin tee for little girls.  I love the swoop shoulder yokes!  The buttoned yokes take the shirt up a notch without being too dressy.  I know it’s intended to be for little girls, I think it would also be awesome for us grown-ups, too.  Get the tute. […]

Speak Your Mind