Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tutorial: A Bubbly Ruffly Shirt

They've always been opinionated about fashion, but lately the girls have been voicing very strong opinions about the fabric I choose for their clothes.  The girls both saw this fabric, declared it "pretty bubbles" and they wanted it, so it became the bubbly ruffly shirt!

It has a square neckline with a pretty ruffle accentuated by a coordinating ribbon.

Two little buttons close up the back (although you could easily use snaps!).

Plus it goes well with our pink bouncy balls :)

Grab some supplies and let's make one!  You will need:

-1.5 yards fabric (for most little girl may need more for bigger girls)
- Coordinating 3/8" wide grosgrain ribbon
- 2 coordinating buttons
- Sewing stuff (coordinating thread, sewing machine, scissors or rotary cutter/mat)

Seam allowance is 1/2" unless otherwise indicated.

First we need to make a pattern.  You can see this process in more detail here, but basically you want to fold a well-fitting t-shirt in half and trace around it (trace both the front and back necklines).  Make sure to add seam allowance! Then quickly square off the neckline and draw a cutting line just above the bottom of the armhole, about 1.5" down from the neckline (cutting lines are in blue on the right).

For the back, I followed my back bodice pattern and cut it off at the same height as the front.  If your pattern doesn't already have it built in, you will need to add 1" to the center  back line to allow for the button overlap.  You could also square off the back neckline if you like, I just chose to leave it rounded.  I would suggest that if your child has a larger head, you might want to use a square back neckline to make the opening a bit wider.

Here are my front and back bodice pattern pieces.  Save the bottom part you cut off and we'll use it to cut out the bottom half of the shirt!

For the gathered sleeve, trace the complete armhole curve of your bodice pattern and make a mark for length (I just lay out a sleeve that fits and add an inch at the end for hemming allowance).

Now swoop down a couple of inches from the bottom of the armhole to allow for some gathering later and then connect all your lines to finish the sleeve pattern.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Gathered sleeves are pretty forgiving (obviously, since this is about the ugliest sleeve pattern I've ever seen!).  The top line is your fold line.

For the bottom half of the shirt, take the bottom part of your bodice pattern that you cut off earlier and lay it on the fold of your fabric.  Add enough length to the bottom to allow some room to hem it and cut 2 pieces on the fold.

Cut 2 front bodice pieces on the fold (1 for main and 1 for lining) and 4 back bodice pieces not on the fold (2 for main and 2 for lining).  Add that to your 2 bottom half pieces and you should have all this so far.

Also cut 2 sleeve pieces on the fold.

Finally cut a piece for your ruffle strip.  It should be about 1.5 times the width of your bodice and 3" long.

Now that all the awful pattern making and cutting is over, we can finally sew!  Take your main bodice pieces and sew them right sides together at the shoulder seam.  Do the same with your bodice lining pieces.

Lay your main and lining bodices right sides together, matching up the shoulder seams.  Pin and sew all the way around the neckline and down the straight button flaps (sewing line indicated in black in the photo below).

Turn the entire bodice right side out, push out all the corners sharply and press well with your iron.

Overlap the back pieces by 1" and mark for your buttonholes.  Following your machine's instructions, make buttonholes and carefully rip them open with your seam ripper.

Fold your ruffle strip in half lengthwise and press with your iron.

Run a basting stitch (longest stitch length) 1/4" from the raw edge.  Pull the bobbin threads to gather the strip until it is the same width as the bottom of your bodice.  Pin the ruffle strip to your bodice, lining up the raw edges and stitch in place with a 3/8" seam allowance.

With right sides together, sew the bottom front shirt piece onto the bodice.  Finish the seam by serging, zig zag stitching, or trimming with pinking shears.

Overlap the back bodice so the buttonholes are on top and attach the lower back shirt piece in the same manner as the front.

Cut a piece of grosgrain ribbon to the same width as your bodice.  Covering the seam between the bodice and the lower part of the shirt, pin the ribbon in place and stitch very close to both the upper and lower edge of the ribbon.

Run a basting stitch along the curved part of the sleeves.  Pull the threads to gather until the sleeve fits into the armhole.  I prefer to concentrate my gathers near the top (center) of the sleeve, but you can distribute them as you like.

With right sides together, sew the sleeves into the armholes and finish the seams.

Lay the entire shirt out right sides together, matching up the underarm seams and stitch it together from the bottom of the shirt all the way to the end of the sleeve.  Finish the seams.

Hem the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt, sew on your buttons and you are done!

Go out and enjoy the fall colors!


  1. A cute top. Wonder if it would look good on grown up girls too?
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Me encanta su blog.
    Como suscribirme por correo electrónico ?
    Siempre vuelvo a su blog en algún party .
    Siempre aprendo.Cariños.


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