One of my nephews had a birthday coming up and I knew that a homemade gift would be expected so I set about trying to design an easy to make toddler shirt. I bought the fabric several months ago when I saw it in my local Abakhan shop, it was specifically bought with the idea of making a toddler shirt in mind as it’s a solid but lightweight fabric with a little stretch too.
|The finished shirt|
Trying to decide how to make the pattern as easy as possible I had a look at a conventional shirt and determined to reduce the basic shirt shape into as few pieces as possible. I concluded that really only three pattern pieces would be needed: a back piece, a single front piece (that could be used for both sides), and a sleeve piece. Originally, I was going to add a collar but decided later on that it wouldn’t add anything to the design and might even make it more uncomfortable.
After collecting basic measurements from my nephew I made a very simple, quite square shirt pattern, and then used tailors chalk to mark my fabric – it was crucial at this stage to make sure the pattern matched up across all the pieces. Using my new rotary cutter and cutting mat I’d got for my birthday I quickly cut out all the pieces I needed, being very careful not to let my hand slip!
|I love this new rotary cutter but it's very sharp|
My first step for sewing was to attach the front pieces to the back piece. This was easy, I positioned the pieces right sides to right sides and stitched across the shoulders and down the side seams, which left the two arm holes ready for the sleeves to be inserted.
|The cut fabric|
To construct the sleeves I folded over each sleeve piece and then straight stitched the seam that would eventually be under the arm. To hem the end I simply turned the edge of the fabric up and used a straight top stitch along the edge. Now to insert the sleeves, and ensure that the side seam of the shirt matched the underarm stitching on the sleeve, I tacked the sleeve into position before securing it with my sewing machine.
The neckline was tackled next, and I was incredibly lazy and decided to simply fold the fabric over and run a top stitch along the edge to secure it. This worked really well as the slight stretch in the fabric meant it folded really easily and lay flat once complete. The bottom hem was then finished with a basic roll hem, as were the two overlapping edges of the front pieces, ensuring there was enough overlap left to affix the buttons.
|Basic roll hem|
|constructed but no buttons yet|
As normal I chose acrylic buttons, but to keep the shirt looking in scale I used smaller 15mm buttons, as usual I bought them from eBay. Once again the button hole setting on my sewing machine saved me lots of time, and I can honestly say I don’t miss the days of hand stitching every button hole like I had to with my old little sewing machine!
|I buy buttons in bulk|
I loved the final result, the way the skulls matched up on the front worked out far better than I could have hoped and the simple design means it’s a loose and comfortable shirt, ideal with a little long sleeved top underneath when it’s cool or light enough to be worn on its own during the summer.
|I love the pattern matching|
Despite my reservations it was very easy to make, and undoubtedly will become a favourite design, much like my beloved tab top dresses – because style is important, but for children comfort and simplicity will always win.
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