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?



The best laid plans ….

Measuring up the teepee

As any project manager knows, plans do change. Things may take longer than expected, staff or other resources may become unavailable. It happens. My plans this week have been turned upside down.

A website that I work on (voluntarily) had to be put ‘live’ due to the existing site being taken down with no notice. The first I knew about it was staff calling me asking why they couldn’t access their emails. I had a very fraught 48 hours getting the site up and working. I have nothing but nice things to say about the host (Clook) they were great and pointed me in the right direction when I was really, really stuck. I then had to down tools for a whole range of reasons (funerals, hospital appointments, birthdays).

Sewing therefore, has had to take a bit of a back seat. But as I’m on a deadline (Honey’s birthday) it can’t stop altogether!

I have now finished her Oliver & S Sailboat skirt and a top that I’ve made from a self-drafted block. Pictures will have to wait until she is able to model them! Fingers crossed they fit…

Oliver & S Sailboat Top and Skirt

Making things from old, unloved clothes was not as straightforward as I thought! Firstly, it’s hard to find where the grain should be once you’ve unpicked everything – I guessed! Secondly, some clothes just aren’t as big as you think they are and getting a whole skirt back from one leg of jeans was challenging.

The latter was the reason why I end up drafting my own pattern. The sailboat top has a lovely boat neckline which fastens with buttons. I tried adapting it but I just wasn’t confident that it was going to work and it still wouldn’t fit on the fabric I had, so I decided to draft my own. At least that way, I know exactly what the measurements are and where to adjust if necessary.

sleeveless-blockIt was pretty straightforward to draft and one big bonus of the sleeveless block is that the armscyes (armholes to you and me!) are the same for the front and back.

That’s two projects down for the big birthday bash and one to go. As you can see we’ve measured up for the teepee. Ian just needs to put his maths skills into practice and tell me exactly how large my panels need to be so I can cut them out. That will be tomorrows job – along with lots more tidying!!