Pattern drafting – girls sleeveless top


Lesson one in pattern drafting – measure then measure again and just to make sure – yes you’ve guess it measure again!

I made this top for Honey’s birthday. I was a bit of a leap of faith drafting my own pattern to make her a top without any fittings – but hey you can only learn from mistakes can’t you?

I drafted it using Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for Children’s Wear and Babywear. I’ve used it a few times now and have always been really pleased with the results. I use a mixture of actual and provided measurements as some of them are really difficult to take accurately.

I drafted the ‘flat’ sleeveless  body block. It’s really simple as it’s the same front and back. That said, it’s clearly so simple that I messed up first time around. I got the width calculation wrong (don’t ask me how, I clearly wasn’t concentrating – hmmmm I’m seeing a pattern here?). The armscye’s looked odd (no other way of putting it!) when I’d finished so I measured the width and realized that there was no way Honey was going to fit into it. I looked at my calculations and started over! On the plus side, it’s always much faster second time around.


I decided to add a small keyhole opening at the back neckline and create a frill on the bottom. I refashioned a top that I had lurking in the bottom of my wardrobe. I love the fabric but there was never going to be enough to create something for me from it as whilst it was oversized it was already a size 8, so Honey reaps the benefits instead. I didn’t have enough to pull off my own bias binding so I used some shop bought tape in pale blue – the closest colour match I could find.

It was simple to make. Here’s the construction order I used:

  1. Attach bias binding to keyhole opening (I basted first as it was fiddly and pins weren’t really up to the job)
  2. Sew the shoulder seams – I used french seams
  3. Attach the bias binding to the neck edge basting first
  4. Top stitch the binding in place
  5. Sew the side seams (again I used french seams)
  6. Attach bias binding to the armhole edges, basting first
  7. Top stitch the armhole binding in place
  8. Make frill – to do this I machine basted two rows of stitching about ¼ inch apart and then drew the threads up to gather until the frill was the same size as the bottom of the top.
  9. Pin frill in place and stitch to the bottom of the top
  10. Remove machine basting threads
  11. Finish the gathered seam (I overlocked it)
  12. Slip stitch the bias binding at the keyhole opening
  13. Attach button
  14. Sew button loop (there is a good tutorial here – next time I’ll try it. I’m afraid it’s just one of those things that I learnt to do years ago!). I finds it’s a good idea to add the button first and then you get a better idea as to how big the loop needs to be.


It was a quick and easy make and I’m really pleased with the result.

I did have a few fitting issues – please don’t laugh too much! Honey really struggled to get over her head and well, there were tears when I took it off!! I’ve since removed the bias binding, dropped the neckline and made it wider by about 1cm and made the keyhole back about 1 cm longer. It now goes on much easier. Phew!

It is a little snug width wise so the pattern needs a little more ease for a woven fabric. Honey would like it a little longer too.

It’s certainly a pattern I’ll be revising and revisiting again. I may well draft a sleeved version too.

Why not have a go at drafting your own pattern too and create a unique garment for either your own or someone else’s child?



3 thoughts on “Pattern drafting – girls sleeveless top

  1. Looks like you are going to have the weather for this lovely top at the weekend – with suncream in one hand and a happy girl in the other. The bias fastening is a treat. Jo x

  2. I love that little top! I would actually wear it myself- such lovely fabric! Glad you also get along with Winifred Aldrich- apparently there is a pretty big divide within the pattern cutting community over her approach but I have always loved her instructions for ladieswear 🙂
    Would like to get the childrenswear book and maybe draft some bits for my niece!

    • You’ll have to enlighten me some day about the divide – I’m intrigued! I guess like me, you find that you need so many alterations that being able to draft patterns from your own measurements is a real plus 🙂
      The childrenswear book is good – I’ve drafted a few things now and apart from my sleeves often having too much ease they work brilliantly 🙂 I’m also a big fan of Oliver & S patterns for children – do check them out 🙂
      Louise x

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