Kid’s Gathered Summer Top

As always, the transition from spring to summer has caught me unawares! Over the past couple of weeks the weather here in New York has turned from damp and chilly to hot and sweaty, and I’m suddenly realizing that my poor daughter has nothing to wear!

And so I turned desperately to my sewing machine and whipped up the quickest, simplest summer top I could think of, this breezy Gathered Summer Top. Once I got it on her, I had to do a double take. This easy-as-pie shirt is actually cute. Really cute. So cute I went back to my machine and made more!

These Gathered Summer Tops are extra special in Liberty of London’s lightweight and silky soft Tana Lawn Classics. And with over 30 gorgeous, new prints recently added to the collection, choosing is more fun (and more difficult!) than ever. I chose the new and unbelievably pretty Navy John for one of my tops (and couldn’t resist an old favorite, Mabelle Turquoise, for the other).

The elastic casing and adjustable straps make these tanks easy to fit and even easier to sew. You can finish a whole shirt in under an hour, from the first cut to the last stitch. And to make sure I’m prepared for next year, I’ve sized the pattern from 1 to 10 years. Sneaky summer won’t catch me off guard again! -Corinne


To make one Gathered Top for size 1 (2, 3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10), you will need...




Prewash all materials before starting.

For the sake of clarity our instructional photos use Robert Kaufman's Architextures in Tangerine Hatches, a fabric with a clear right and wrong side (instead of the Tana Lawn).



Note: When cutting simple rectangular shapes for patterns such as this, straight, clean cuts are key. The best way to make these cuts is with a rotary cutter and a non-slip quilting ruler on a self-healing cutting mat. If you have limited experience using a rotary cutter, I recommend visiting our Rotary Cutting Tutorial.

Cut two 20 x 12 (21 x 13, 21 ½ x 14 ½, 23 x 16, 24 x 17 ½, 24 ½ x 19, 26 x20 ½)-inch rectangles from the Liberty of London fabric. These are the Body Pieces.

Cut one 1 5/8-inch strip from selvage to selvage. This is the Strap piece.

Cut a 22 (23, 23 ½, 24 ½, 26, 26 ½, 28)-inch length of the elastic.

Prepare the Straps

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, use the 18mm bias tape maker to create single fold tape from the Strap piece. Fold in half lengthwise, encasing the raw edges, and press.

Sew the long open side closed with an edgestitch.

Trims the ends and cut the strip into four equal-length pieces. Set aside.

Piece the Body

With wrong sides facing, stack the two Body pieces on top of each other. Pin along the two short sides.

Sew along the two pinned sides with a ¼-inch seam allowance.

Turn the garment so that the right sides are now facing and press flat along the seams. Sew along the short sides again with a ½-inch seam allowance.

Press the seams to one side and sew down with an edgestitch.

Hem the Bottom Edge

Fold the bottom raw edge of the garment up ¼ inch towards the wrong side and press. Fold the same edge up ¾ inch towards the wrong side, press and pin. Sew the hem down with an edgestitch.

Hem the Top Edge and Attach the Straps

Fold the top raw edge of the garment down ¾ inch towards the wrong side and press. Fold the same edge down 1 1/8 inch towards the wrong side and press.

Lay the garment out flat with the wrong side facing out. Measure 4 ½ (5, 5 ½, 6, 6 ½, 7, 7 ½) inches in along the top edge from one side seam (not the edge stitch). Pin one strap to this spot, aligning one of its ends with the bottom edge of the hem.

Pin the second strap in the same way 4 ½ (5, 5 ½, 6, 6 ½, 7, 7 ½) inches from the other seam.

Flip the piece over and repeat with the remaining two straps.

Sew the top hem down with an edgestitch, leaving a 1-inch gap near one of the side seams. Backstitch over the straps when you reach them.

Sew a second seam ½ inch down from the top edge (and approximately ½ inch up from the previous seam) all the way around the garment. Again, backstitch over the straps when you reach them.

Thread one end of the elastic onto the bodkin (or safety pin).

Push the bodkin into the 1-inch gap. Pull the elastic through the channel, making sure not to pull the other end inside.

When you have pulled the bodkin all the way through to the other end of the channel, overlap the two ends by ½ inch. Sew the two ends together lengthwise with a zigzag stitch.

Tuck the elastic into the hem and close the gap with an edgestitch.

Turn the top right side out. Distribute the gathers evenly across the top edge of the garment by pushing the fabric along the elastic.

Tie the shoulder straps at the desired length and trim the ends as needed.

If you find that the garment's fit needs adjusting, either push the gathers toward the center of the front and back of the garment to bring the straps in and enlarge the underarms; or spread the gathers out if you'd like the straps set wider and a snugger fit under the arms.

26 Responses to Kid’s Gathered Summer Top

Click here to add a comment
  1. Ellen says:

    Hi- thats a lovely pattern you made for us there :-) What is the fabric you show at the DIY ? Kind regards Ellen

  2. Debbie C says:

    Thank you for the directions for this sweet little top. I am excited to make a few of these as soon as possible. It is a pleasure to read such clear directions along with the beautiful photos.

  3. sarah says:

    This is gorgeous, and totally doable for a near-beginner sewer like me! Making one today… Thank you!

  4. purl bee says:

    Hi Ellen-

    The fabric is Robert Kaufman Architextures, Tangerine Hatches and can be found here:

    Thanks so much for writing in!


  5. Kym says:

    I am excited to make this! I will be fabric hunting very, very soon….

  6. Sarah says:

    Just made one tonight and there will definitely be more!

  7. Sally Anderson says:

    I love your patterns, this one included. I would so love to see you offer a link to a PDF of your patterns so I can save it on my iPad and use it as I sew. I would love that on all your patterns, actually! Thanks for reading!

  8. Thank you for sharing. I think I like it in broderie Anglaise.


    Juffrouw Mier

  9. elsa says:

    Such a sweet top ~ I know a couple of little girls that will just love them!
    Thanks for the tutorial!

  10. C says:

    This is adorable! Could you possibly give information to make this shirt into a dress (length and yardage required)? Looking for sizes 2, 3 and 4.
    Also, would love to make this for 5 month old – any pattern info/tips to alter for smaller size would be much appreciated.

  11. Dianne says:

    The tops and fabric are adorable! Perfect for summer days. I have seven granddaughters (and two grandsons) and love sewing for them!

  12. purl bee says:

    Hi Sally-

    Thanks for getting in touch with this concern. Unfortunately right now it's not feasible for us to reformat our free patterns to PDF form. (Our paid patterns are all avaialble as a PDF download.) But we do understand that it can make printing or referencing them a bit difficult. We recommend that you copy and paste the pattern into a Word or Text doc and from there convert it into a PDF. On a Mac (which is what I use) you can do that in the Print dialogue box.

    I'm sorry this isn't ideal but I just wanted to let you know that we do hear you and hope to have an easier system in the future!



  13. Nancy says:

    These look just like toddler skirts that I make, except with straps! Very cute and easy!

  14. June says:

    What adorable tops! I enjoy your blog and all the creative ideas.Thank you so much for these free instructions. I couldn't tell from the pictures if you finished off the ends of the straps in any way to prevent fraying.

  15. purl bee says:

    Hello C –

    Thank you for writing in. I am so glad you like the pattern!

    To adjust the pattern for a dress I recommend measuring from the child's underarm to the desired length and adding 3 inches. My rough estimate would be 20 inches for size 2, 21 1/2 inches for size 3, and 23 inches for size 4-5.

    For each of these sizes 3/4 yard of a 54-inch wide fabric will be enough.

    To adjust the pattern smaller, first measure the child's chest circumference. The width of the two Body pieces should be cut 1 inch smaller than this measurement. You can determine the length of the Body pieces using the same directions above (measure from underarm to desired length and add 3 inches). The elastic should be cut 1 inch longer than the chest measurement. The straps should be cut and prepared in the same manner described in the pattern.

    My rough estimate of measurements for a 5-month-old is a 17-inch chest circumference, with 2 Body pieces cut to 16 by 10 inches, and the elastic cut to 18 inches.

    I hope this helps!

  16. purl bee says:

    Hello June -

    Thank you for writing in!

    I did not finish the ends of the straps and have found that because the Liberty fabric is so fine the fraying has been minimal, even after much wash and wear.

    If you would like to finish the ends of the straps on your garment, in the Prepare the Straps section, trim the Strap piece into four equal-length pieces after you have pressed the folds but before you have sewn the long open side closed. You can now finish one short end of each of these pieces with a fold-over finish: Open the folds of the strap at one end and fold over the short edge 1/4 inch towards the wrong side. Press flat. Refold the strap and press. Sew closed along the long open side with an edge stitch. Repeat with the 3 remaining pieces.


  17. Anne DiNoto says:

    do you have projects for toddler boys?

  18. Shani says:

    Just a quick note to Sally: Use the "Print Friendly" option (which can be found at to convert any post you read to a PDF that you can save to your computer. You may delete any part of the post you don't want before you save. Just save the "Print Friendly" bookmarklet from the previously mentioned site into your bookmarks, click on it when you have a page you want to save, and it will convert it for you to save. Hope this helps, and happy sewing! :)

  19. purl bee says:

    Hi Anne-

    Currently we only have two garment patterns for toddler boys:

    We do have many knitting patterns as well as sewn toys, blankets, bibs, and accessories that are unisex.

    Here is our Children's Sewing Projects Gallery:

    And here is the same for knitting:

    The issue is that the sewists among us only have daughters but we will certainly try to think of some more toddler boys projects going forward. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!


  20. Gina Hancock says:

    Beautiful pattern! I'm a newbie sewer and this project looks perfect. The only thing is I don't own a bias tape maker. Could you possibly tell me if I can do that step without using one? Thanks so much!

  21. purl bee says:

    Hi Gina –

    I'm glad you like the pattern! It is a perfect beginner project.

    You do not need a bias tape maker to make the straps. To make them without it, first trim the Strap piece into four equal-length pieces (this will make the folding and pressing much more manageable). Fold one piece in half lengthwise and press to create a crease. Open up the fold. Now, fold the two long raw edges in towards the wrong side to meet the center crease. Press these folds. Refold lengthwise, encasing the raw edges and press again. Sew the strip closed along the long open side with an edgestitcch. Repeat with the three remaining pieces.

    I hope this helps!

  22. susan says:

    Something confuses me about the pattern instructions: why do you make one seam at 1/4 inch seam allowance and then another at 1/2 inch seam allowance? I have the fabric and trying to go through the steps first in my head. Maybe it will become clear to me as I do it, but maybe you can help me out. Thanks so much!

  23. purl bee says:

    Hi Susan –

    Thanks for writing in – This is a great question!

    I think you are referring to the side seams, correct? These two seams are the steps to create the French seam that will completely encase the raw edges of the fabric. You need the second seam allowance to be slightly larger than the first so that the raw edge does not stick out from the seam line. Please note that the first seam line is made with the wrong sides of the fabrics together, while the second is made with the right sides together.

    I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any other questions as you're working!

  24. Thalita says:

    Love this project.

    Can you please share the link for the Mabelle fabric? I searched for it and could not find it at the Purl Soho shop.


  25. Laura W says:

    So excited to have just finished this in Liberty Tana Lawn Poppy Danjo print! It is one of my very first true articles of clothing I’ve ever sewn, and it came out great!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 × = nine

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>



Subscribers receive a FREE premium Purl Soho Pattern of your choice (up to a $15 value!). learn more