The Butterfly Top – How to Make a Summer Shirt

Learn how to make the butterfly top, a cute summer shirt

Hi! I’m Amy and I blog over at Nap Time Crafters. Home to over 100 free Tutorials, Giveaways, the Friday Favs Party and the American Crafter Competition. You’ll also find over 50 darling PDF patterns over at Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop

You might remember me from my last post I shared here – the Shirred Triple Ruffle Top.

I had some fabric leftover so I whipped up the Butterfly Top – perfect for your little one to flit about in and stay nice and cool all summer long!

The flutter sleeves keep shoulders protected from the sun without making your kiddo too hot – no extra fabric bunching up under the arms. And for my butterfly lover, I appliqued on a bunch of cheerful little butterflies. 🙂

Make the butterfly top, cool for summer

And the elastic neck hole makes this top super easy to get on and off and easy for you to sew! A ribbon tie at the bodice adds just a bit of shape without making your kid uncomfortable.

The butterfly top, make with your own appliques

We love it!

For a 2T top you’ll need:

1/2 yard main fabric (I used Bella Solids in Fig Tree Cream)

Accent Fabric (Riley Blake Delighted)

1/4″ elastic

Fusible Interfacing

3/8″ Saddlestitch Ribbon

Let’s get started!

1. Let’s get our pieces cut.

You need a front and back, 2 sleeves, and a casing for the ribbon at the bodice.

cut out your fabric

2. Hem the bottom (wider) edge of each sleeve.

hem each sleeve

3. With right sides together, sew one edge of each sleeve to the front. Notice that the sleeves start at the top edge of the bodice but don’t go all the way to the side seam.

sew sleeves to the front piece

3. With right sides together, sew the back bodice to the other edge of each sleeve.

sew the back to each sleeve

4. Press the seam allowance of the sleeves in towards the wrong side of the shirt. Top stitch a length of ribbon over the seam allowance right along the saddle stitch lines. This completely encloses your seam allowance and finishes the edge at the armhole.

press and attach ribbon to enclose seams

5. Hem the bottom edge of the shirt – I folded over 1/4″ twice toward the wrong side and top stitched in place.

hem the bottom

6. Press the short edges of your casing in 1/4″ towards the wrong side and then press the long 1/4″ towards the wrong side. Position the 2 ends of the casing at the center of the front bodice and topstitch the casing to the shirt along both long edges.

attach the casing for drawstring

7. Fold the edge of your neckline over 1/4″ and then another 3/8″ and topstitch in place along the 1st foldline to create your casing. Leave a 1.5″ gap to thread the elastic through.

create a casing in the top

8. Apply fusible interfacing to your accent fabric and cut out your desired appliques. Iron them onto the shirt and then secure with a zig-zag stitch.

apply appliques and stitch

9. Now that all of the appliques are done you can go ahead and thread your elastic through the neck casing, sew the ends together, and sew the gap in the casing shut.

thread elastic through the casing

10. To finish the top – thread a piece of saddle stitch ribbon through the bodice case and tie in a bow.
Make sure to seal your ribbon ends.

thread ribbon through casing

And you’re all finished and ready to enjoy the warm weather!

Stop on by the blog and say hello anytime. 🙂


Thank you so much Amy!

If you loved this tutorial, you will love her many others.
Make sure to stop by her blog Nap Time Crafters and see what else she has.

And check out more of our Bella Solids by Moda.
We have 32 colors for all your needs! And make sure to check out more of our Basics.

If you loved the fabric used for the butterflies,
check out Delighted by by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake.

If you have great tutorials and a fun idea you would like to share on The Ribbon Retreat Blog,
please submit a project.

Have a wonderful day!

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  1. Cassie
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Love it! Can’t wait to try one for my niece!!!

  2. Posted May 6, 2012 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    How could I resize this pattern for size 6T? Thanks for reply to taraembendesigns(a)yahoo(dot)com

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Hi Tara! Other sizes are available in a pattern in the blogger’s shop – But as a general guideline you can use a shirt that fits well to make your own pattern. You want the top to be a few inches wider than you would normally cut it so that it can be gathered in at the bodice. It’s your basic peasant top style except with flutter sleeves instead of a full sleeve.

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