Monday, November 12, 2012

Pintucked Butterflies Top Tutorial

A certain 2 year old may or may not have done some campaigning for this fabric.  It's a bold choice, but it's definitely fun and seems fitting for my girly one.  I asked if she wanted a shirt or a dress and she wanted a shirt, so I present to you the Pintucked Butterflies Top!

As the name implies, the bodice features a pintucked/pleated detail and a contrasting faux button placket.

The back closes with a super simple button closure and you don't even have to sew buttonholes!

It's a perfect fall top with those great details you just can't find in store bought clothing.

To make you own top, you will need:

- 1 - 1 1/2 yards of main fabric (depends on size)
- scrap of contrasting/coordinating fabric for button placket
- 3 small buttons for placket 
- 3 fabric covered or plastic buttons for back closure (I used size 36 fabric covered buttons)
- 1/8" wide elastic for button loops
- sewing stuff (machine, coordinating thread, scissors or rotary cutter/mat, hand sewing needle)

First we need to make a bodice pattern.  You can use any basic bodice pattern you have, or grab a well-fitting t-shirt, fold it in half and trace around the neckline, armholes and side, adding seam allowance as you trace.  Make a front bodice pattern by tracing the lower front neckline.  For the back bodice pattern, trace the higher back neckline and also add 1" to the inside (fold) edge to allow for the button closure.

Also make a sleeve pattern by tracing the armhole curve of your bodice pattern, then extending lines straight out until it is long enough to fit your child.  I typically just lay out an existing sleeve to mark for correct length and add an inch for hemming.  The top line will be on the fold of your fabric.

To make sure your pintucks are all properly spaced and centered on the bodice, I find it much easier to make the pintucks and then cut the bodice out.  To make it a little easier to work with, lay your front bodice pattern out on the fold of your fabric.

Then cut a good sized rectangle of fabric out using the top and bottom of your bodice pattern as a guide for height and adding several inches to the side to allow plenty of room for the pintucks.  Hey, you might even want to cut a straight, even rectangle!

Unfold your rectangle and we're going to leave a space in the center for the faux button placket.  Mark the center of the rectangle with a pin (black pin here) and then mark 1/2" on either side of that (yellow pins) which represents the outside edge of your 1" wide placket.  I'll be leaving the black and yellow pins in the entire time so we always know where the center is.  Mark another 1/2" out on either side of that (red pin on the left and green pin on the right) which will be the start of your first pintuck.

Okay, here's where it gets a little tricky.  I have always had a hard time following people's explanations for making pintucks, so hopefully this visual will be helpful to some of you.  If you are comfortable making 1/4" pintucks, feel free to do so and ignore my overly detailed explanation!!  For a 1/4" pintuck, you need to have pins placed 1/4" apart.  In the photo below, the two red pins are the outside edges of the pintuck and the blue pin marks the center, which will be our fold line.  

Fold your fabric on your center mark (blue pin) which will bring your outer edges (red pins) together.  Press with an iron.

Sew 1/4" from the fold (where your red pins were), all the way down your fabric piece.

Repeat on the opposite side, then unfold the fabric and press the two pintucks out so the folded edges are facing out.

Pretty pintucks!  Yay!  Next you will repeat the process, making your first mark 1/4" from the fold of your first pintuck (yellow pin in the photo below) then marking the fold line of your new pintuck 1/4" from that (white pin) and the outer edge (yellow pin).  

Make another pintuck in the same manner as before, repeating for both sides.  I did a total of 3 pintucks on each side of center.

Once your pintucks are complete, fold the fabric in half on your center mark and pin your bodice pattern piece in place.

Cut out one front bodice piece.

Also cut 2 back bodice pieces and cut a strip of fabric on the bias long enough to fit around your neckline.

Measure across the bottom of your front bodice piece.

Using that measurement, cut 2 pieces for the bottom half of the shirt that wide by however long you need to fit your child.  Be sure to leave a couple of extra inches for hemming!  I also cut my bottom pieces slightly A-line.  Also cut two pieces on the fold from your sleeve pattern.

To make the faux button placket, measure the height of your bodice at the center and determine how long your want your placket to be.  My bodice was 5" and I wanted a 3" placket.

Add 1/2" to your desired height and cut 2 pieces from your placket fabric that height by 1.5" wide.

Place the placket pieces right sides together and stitch with a 1/4" seam allowance along the two long sides and one short side (photo left).  Clip the corners and trim the seams close to your stitches (photo right).

Turn the placket right side out and press well with your iron, making sure to push the corners out sharply.  Pin the placket in place on the center of the front bodice.

Topstitch the placket down close to the edges.

Take your two back bodice pieces and finish the raw inside edges by serging, zig zag stitching or trimming with pinking shears.

Fold and press the inside edges over 1" and stitch in place.

Place the bodice pieces right sides together and stitch together at the shoulders.

Take the bias strip you cut for the neckline and press it to make double fold bias tape (a good tutorial for that here - you can just skip down to the part where she explains how to fold it). Fit it to your neckline and fold the short edges under 1/4" to encase the raw edge.  Pin the bias strip right side to wrong side of your neckline.

Sew it down just to the inside of the first fold line.

Flip the bias strip to the outside of your bodice and pin in down.  Making sure you are hiding your first set of stitches, sew it down, completely encasing the raw edge of the neckline.

To make the button loops, cut pieces of 1/8" wide elastic into 2" long strips.  I actually used some brightly colored ponytail holders because I liked the fun colors, but any plain elastic will work.  Fold your elastic pieces in half so the cut ends are together and evenly space them on the inside of your back bodice.  Sew the loops down by hand, looping your needle through only one layer of fabric so the stitches don't show on the outside of the bodice.

Line up the sleeves right sides together in the armhole, then pin and stitch in place.  Finish the seam by serging, zig zag stitching or trimming with pinking shears.

Turn the bodice right side out and overlap the button placket just slightly (about 1/4" at most).  Pin it together to keep it in place.

With right sides together, sew the lower half of the shirt to the front and then repeat for the back.  Finish the seams and press them up towards the bodice.

Lay out the top right sides together, matching up the underarm seams and bodice seams.  Pin and sew the top together, then finish the seams.

Topstitch all the way around the shirt just above the bodice seam.

Hem the shirt and sleeves, sew your smaller buttons onto the front placket and your larger buttons on the back to close it up and you're done!

Enjoy the last bits of fun fall play before the craziness of the holidays takes over!

I'd love to see any versions you make!  Be sure to leave a comment or post a photo in the flickr group.  Have fun sewing!


  1. Those shirts are so adorable (and the models too)! I love the fabric, so cheerful!

  2. The tops are super cute! I adore the pintucks.:)

  3. Love those bold butterlfy tops on those precious girls! Thanks for the tutorial!
    Seamingly Smitten Sewing Patterns


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