Monday, February 11, 2013

Tutorial: Tiered Ruffle Tee

I'm smitten with this style of tunic for Eliza. It's got the shortened bodice that looks precious on little girls, and the knit makes it comfortable. The ruffle fabric makes the possible variations endless!

tried it with a men's shirt for Project Run and Play and decided to try twice more with different fabrics and lengths.

A little tidbit about the fabric used for this tutorial version -- it's the first Liberty fabric I ever bought. It was a birthday present in 2011, and I used it to make Anna Maria Horner's Four Corners Nursing Blouse. There was about a half-yard left over.

So, here's the tutorial! Please leave me a comment if you have any questions!

(1) Start with a basic t-shirt pattern -- either self-drafted or otherwise. (If you need help drafting your own t-shirt pattern, here's a great tutorial.)  Here you see the Flashback Skinny. I'd marry this pattern if I could. I'm using a size bigger here than normal so she can wear it this summer. (I'll cut off the sleeves.)

Everything in this pattern is cut on the fold. Just five pieces - front, back, two sleeves, and neckband.

(2) Decide where you want the first ruffle to begin. I prefer a pretty short bodice, so my ruffle will begin about 2/3 of the way down the armhole. Cut the pattern straight across. (Make sure it's straight!)

(3) Decide where you want the second ruffle to begin. I've made a shorter version (here&nbsp), and the version in this tutorial is longer. Cut the pattern straight across.

(4) You're left with three pieces. You'll discard the bottom piece. For the purposes of this tutorial, I'll call the other two the TOP BODICE and MIDDLE BODICE.

(5) Add 1/2" seam allowance to the bottom of the TOP BODICE piece. Add 1/2" seam allowance to the top of the MIDDLE BODICE piece. (This assumes a 1/2" seam allowance throughout.)



(8) Here's another look at your three pattern pieces.

(9) Remember to add the seam allowances.

(10) Just in case you forgot.

(11 - 13) Determine your ruffle width. My preference is to measure across the bodice pieces where the ruffles will meet and roughly double that measurement. For example, the TOP BODICE seam here is 9", and the MIDDLE BODICE seam is 11", so I split the difference and made the ruffles 20" wide. (Doubled 10".)

(14) Now to determine the length of the ruffles. There's a little math involved.

Measure the length of the MIDDLE BODICE piece. Then ADD 1.5" to account for seam allowances, hems, and ruffle overlap.

For example, my MIDDLE BODICE piece here is about 6", so my ruffles are 7.5" long. 

Cut your ruffle pieces based on the determined measurements. (For this tutorial, mine were 20" wide and 7.5" long.)

You'll have FOUR ruffle pieces. (two FRONT RUFFLES and two BACK RUFFLES) I made them all the same width and height. (You could opt to cut them on the fold and only cut two, but I prefer to have side seams for matching purposes later.)

(15) For the two TOP RUFFLES, cut out the bottom part of the arm hole. It's easiest to go ahead and use the piece already cut for the MIDDLE BODICE as a guide. It already has the seam allowances included.

Be sure to cut out the arm curve on both the left and right side, front and back TOP RUFFLE pieces.

(16) You'll have four ruffle pieces, two TOP RUFFLES (with partial arm holes on either side) and two BOTTOM RUFFLES.

(17) Sew side seams of ruffles. Finish edges with your preferred method.

(18) You'll end up with two circles of fabric. (You can barely see the arm holes at the top of both sides of the TOP RUFFLE below. The BOTTOM RUFFLE is just straight across.)

(19) Turn up bottom of ruffles 1/2" twice and hem.

(20) Use the longest stitch setting to gather the tops of the ruffles. For the TOP RUFFLES, you'll have to gather the front and back pieces separately because of the arm hole.

I prefer two rows of gathering stitches for more even gathers. (both within the seam allowance) (because I'm lazy and abhor removing basting stitches)

(21) Sew shoulder seams. Finish seams if you prefer.

(22) It's time to attach the TOP RUFFLE. Lay out your pieces as you see below. The TOP BODICE is right side up in this picture. So are the TOP RUFFLE and MIDDLE BODICE. 

Flip over the TOP BODICE so it and the TOP RUFFLE are right sides together.

(23) Sandwich the TOP RUFFLE between the TOP BODICE and MIDDLE BODICE.

(24) If you are looking at it, it will be layered like this: wrong side TOP BODICE facing up, right side TOP RUFFLE facing up, and right side MIDDLE BODICE facing up.

Match top raw edges. Arm hole curve will still be free.

(25) Here's another view of the sandwiched ruffle.

(26) Stitch ruffle in place using a zig zag (so it stretches over baby's belly). Finish seams if desired.

(27 - 28) Tuck ruffle up out of the way through the neck and pin the MIDDLE BODICE side seams, being careful not to catch the TOP RUFFLE in the seam.

(29) Finish seams if desired.

(30) Here's what you've got so far. If you lift the TOP RUFFLE a bit, you can see the MIDDLE BODICE piece. It's ready to have the BOTTOM RUFFLE attached.

(31) Attach the BOTTOM RUFFLE to the MIDDLE BODICE, right sides together, matching raw edges and side seams. Use a zig zag stitch so it'll stretch over baby's belly if needed. Finish seams if preferred.

(32) Here's the view from the inside.

(33) On to the sleeves. Sew the bottom sleeve seams. Mark the top center of the sleeve with a pin.

(34) We'll be doing set-in sleeves. For me, it's easiest to turn the sleeves RIGHT sides out and the garment WRONG side out, and then tuck the sleeve into the arm hole. Right sides will be together. Match up the bottom seams of the ARM with the MIDDLE BODICE and TOP RUFFLE side seams. Match the top center of the sleeve with the shoulder seam. Pin in place, being careful to smooth the TOP RUFFLE that's sandwiched in the bottom part of the arm hole. 

(35) All pinned and ready to sew. (If they don't match perfectly, knit is forgiving. It's not necessary to ease in the sleeves as long as it's close to matching.)

(36) Sew in place and finish the seams, if you prefer.

(37) Finished arms. See how the seam with the TOP RUFFLE meets the arm hole? That's one of my favorite details of this style.

(38) Hem the sleeves with whatever method you prefer. In this version I turned them under once and used a zig zag stitch.

Attach the neck band. My preferred method is detailed here. **A note about the neckbands in the versions you see in this post -- these haven't been washed yet, and for me, the neckband looks better after a wash and dry.**

You're all done! Find a willing model and watch her twirl. 

You want me to do what? 


  1. Michelle, this turned out great! I had seen the blouse in its many versions on IG, and this tutorial is fabulous. I love all of the photos and how you've numbered your steps to match the numbered photos. Well done, really! I hadn't had a chance before now to look through your tutorials, and they're great - I'll definitely be referencing them more in the future - thanks!

    1. Thanks, Jenny! I'm trying new things each time, slowly but surely figuring out which method of photographing/documenting each step works best for me. I'm glad to get positive feedback!

  2. The tutorial is great! I got the general idea, but it's always good to hear tips and what has and hasn't worked for someone else. Much appreciated! I definitely will make some for my girl. I think they'd be so cute short sleeved this spring. Thanks!
    Oh and I love the name :)

    1. Thanks!! Yes, I love tutorials simply to see someone else's method of doing things -- you never know when a tip may hit at just the right time.

      As for the name, I'm just going to start putting it out on IG and letting you guys name projects! ;)

  3. Oooooohhh! This is SO adorable! Thanks for the pattern and tutorial.

    1. You're welcome, Christina! Thanks for visiting!

  4. How sweet! I love that you made a tutorial for this, and that it's so easy! It's such a cute style!
    Thanks for linking up!

  5. This is sooo cute! I can see an even longer one for a dress on my little one :)

  6. This is so cute! My little girl would look precious in it!

  7. I love the ruffled T! (Pinned it!) Great tutorial too. :) I need to try this top for my daughter! BTW, where do you buy your knits? Love that aqua.

    1. Thanks, Mary Jo! I buy all my knit through a local manufacturer and retailer -- Spiritex.

      They have a warehouse sale here a few times a year where I stock up on deeply discounted fabric. They sell online through Near Sea Naturals here:

      Thanks for visiting!

  8. This makes me wish I had a little girl to sew for. So cute!

  9. I found you from Sugar Bee Crafts! I host Fluster Creative Muster Party on Wednesdays and I would love it if you would come by and party with us. Hope to see you there!

    Hugs, Smiles, and Blessings,

    Fluster Buster

  10. This is such an adorable shirt! I made a ruffle dress for my girls, but I used a t-shirt. Great tutorial! I'm pinning this!


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