Warm weather is here- time to start sewing a few lightweight t-shirts! This free flutter sleeve sewing pattern is available in girl’s sizes 3 to 10 and is just perfect for the warm days ahead.
Flutter Sleeve T-shirt
It’s taken a bit of time, but I’ve just finished creating a flutter sleeve to my free t-shirt pattern.
It took several pattern drafts to get the “flutter” of the sleeve to be fluttery enough without having to add any gathering to the sleeve. Nothing wrong with gathering of course- it just would have made binding the neckline a bit more difficult. (And if you’re anything like me- you just don’t have time for that!)
What Fabric is Best for a Flutter Sleeve Tee?
After sewing several versions, I’ve noticed the fabric thicknesses, weight and fiber content will affect the way the flutter sleeve falls.
My very favorite fabrics to use are the lightweight rayon blend knits. Though sometimes these rayon blend fabrics might not have a lot of stretch- like this purple top. (Which is something to keep in mind when using the same fabric for binding a neckline that needs to stretch over the head, lol.)
This top can be made with heavier fabrics too and the flutter will still look pretty and fluttery, especially if you cut the sleeve pattern out on the bias.
I intended to just add this additional sleeve version to the original t-shirt pattern, but since I’m recommending the sleeve fabric be cut on the bias, I decided to release this flutter sleeve tee as it’s own pattern.
The actual sleeve pattern is a full sleeve (instead of a half sleeve pattern cut on the fold) which makes it easier to line up on the bias. Though if you are running short on fabric (like I so often am) keep in mind the sleeve is still cute cut out on the crosswise grain and save quite a bit of fabric that way. (The sleeve on this top is not cut on the bias.)
Quick note on the original long sleeve t-shirt pattern: I gave it little update, it now includes a cut line for a short sleeve and I adjusted the seam allowance shape on the back neckline, (but the basic shape of the t-shirt did not change.) If you have the first version- you might want to download the updated pattern.
This purple fabric was so soft and flowy, I didn’t cut the sleeve on the bias and it still looked great. This top was one of my test versions so I didn’t bother hemming it. ( I was in too much of a rush to try it on and take some photos.)
I’m also embarrassed to say that I upgraded my coverstitch machine in early December but had still not taken it out of the box until after I made this top. I’ve now used it several times and that machine sews like a dream! (You can see the cover stitch hem on the top two tops in the 2nd photo.)
The machine I had before was the brother coverstitch- which was so finicky, it would take me an hour just to set it up and sew properly on my fabric- talk about frustrating. So if you are thinking about a coverstitch machine- I highly recommend this one!
Perfect for summer!
Are you ready to sew a flutter sleeve T-shirt with this free pattern?
Free Flutter Sleeve Sewing Pattern, sz 3 to 10
To make this t-shirt you need:
- Up to 1 yard stretch knit fabric
- Ribbed binding (usually has 50 to 70% stretch) or other stretchy knit for neckline (you don’t want to use anything with less than 30% stretch-see notes under pattern tips and tricks)
- Ball point/jersey needle
- spray starch/iron
- basic sewing supplies
- Enter your name and email to download the pattern. Save it to your PC, open the pdf document in adobe acrobat. Don’t print from google’s online version of adobe. (It will sometimes cause the pattern to print to small.)
- Seam allowance is 3/8 inch with a 1/2 inch bottom and sleeve hem.
- The pattern for the neck binding is designed for a ribbed knit with 50 to 75% stretch with good recovery (Fabric Fairy has a lot of good quality ribbed knit choices.) If using a binding fabric with less stretch, you have two choices: 1. Measure the neckline and cut a fabric strip 15% less than the measurement (multiply the neck measurement by .85) and follow the instructions in step 4. (This is the “in the round” method– and it never hurts to do the finger stretch test before sewing…) 2nd choice: The “flat” method– Sew only one shoulder closed, fold binding in half and attach the binding from one end of the neckline to the other. Trim excess binding and sew the other shoulder closed. (The only downside to this method is the seam will be on the side and slightly bulkier.) (Similar to what is done in this tutorial.)
- Use a ballpoint/stretch needle
- Sew seams with either a serger, stretch stitch, narrow zig zag or a straight stitch with a longer stitch length and a slightly loosened tension. (Make a couple of practice stitches on your fabric to see what works best.) I also like to use this “lightning bolt” stretch stitch on seams that need strength but a little give. (For my project I used a combination of straight stitch and serger for seams and zig zag on the hems.)
- Use spray starch when pressing hems. Sew hems with a zig zag, twin ball point needle, narrow zig zag with a long stitch length or a straight stitch with a long stitch length and a slightly loosened tension or leave raw. (also helps to use a walking foot.)
- If you find your fabric keeps getting pulled inside the needle plate, place a small piece of tissue underneath the fabric so the feed dogs have something to grip.
- Size 3: Height- 38.5 inches, Weight- 32 lbs, Finished length: 16 Finished chest: 23.125 inches
- Size 4: Height- 41.5 inches, Weight- 36 lbs, Finished length: 16.85. Finished chest: 23.75
- Size 5: Height- 44.5 inches, Weight- 42 lbs, Finished length: 17.75. Finished chest: 24.375
- Size 6: Height- 46.5 inches, Weight- 48 lbs, Finished length: 18.25. Finished chest: 25.75
- Size 7: Height- 51 inches, Weight- 60 lbs, Finished length: 19. Finished chest: 27.25
- Size 8: Height- 53 inches, Weight- 66 lbs, Finished length: 19.75. Finished chest: 28.5
- Size 10: Height- 55 inches, Weight- 74 lbs, Finished length: 20.75. Finished chest: 29.5
Products used and recommended in this post:
- My favorite fabric shop for knits: Funkalicious Fabrics, Fabric.com and Girl Charlee.
- My Sewing Machine: SINGER 9960 Quantum Stylist, my coverstitch: Janome Cover Pro 1000cpx
- My Serger: Brother 1034D 3 or 4 Thread Serger or you can just use Pinking Shears
- Rotary Cutter
- I love my large ruler and large cutting mat, but you may prefer to start of with a smaller Cutting set
- Dritz Dual Purpose Marking Pen and Fray Check
- Ball Point needles
- Singer walking foot or universal walking foot
- Wonder clips (I didn’t use these in the post, but they are just awesome!
Sewing instructions for Free Flutter Sleeve T-Shirt Pattern
Step 1: Print and Assemble pattern, cut out pattern pieces.
Navigate to the pattern download page in my shop, add the pattern to your cart and check out. (Pattern is free)
Save pattern to your desktop, open in the free adobe reader. Set to print actual size and print pattern. Cut out each block around the outer gray edge and align the gray boxes, edge to edge (don’t overlap) matching up colored circles. Tape pattern together and cut out size needed.
(You can print the bodice twice- one for the front and one for the back or print once and use a tracing wheel and paper.)
Please note: There is an error in the pattern!
I accidentally left the binding piece off the pattern and I’m in the process of correcting this error.
In the meantime, after you have sewn the shoulders together, measure around the entire neckline and multiply that measurement by .85 . Cut a strip of fabric, your measurement by 1.5 inches.
(You can also use the binding from the basic t-shirt pattern, as the necklines are the same)
Step 2: Cut pattern pieces from fabric.
Fold fabric so the stretch is running side to side and the selvages meet in the middle. Line bodice up on folds and sleeves as shown. (Image below shows a size 10 on 56 inch wide fabric.)
Cut out a front and back bodice, 2 sleeves and neck binding.
If you are using ribbed binding or fabric with 50% stretch cut out neck binding from pattern. Using fabric with less stretch: you’ll want to measure the neckline and cut a strip that is about 15 % shorter than the neckline.
Step 3: Assemble shirt.
Right sides together, line up front and back bodice. Sew together at shoulders, using a 3/8 inch seam allowance. (Don’t forget- if you decide to use the “flat method” (see binding tips above) only sew one shoulder closed.)
Step 4: Attaching neck binding.
Fold binding in half (as shown) press.
(“In the round” method”) Unfold binding, sew with a 3/8 inch seam allowance and trim excess seam.
Refold binding and divide into 4 equal sections. Mark t-shirt neckline into 4 equal sections.
(Please note: I adjusted the depth of the back neckline, so your side pins may be closer to the shoulder seams.)
Line up the quarter marks as shown:
Attach the binding to the neckline with a 3/8 inch seam allowance. Stretch the binding fabric as you sew. Take care to not let the neckline fabric stretch. (Go slow and know this my take practice.)
For a more finished look, you can topstitch along the edge of the neckline.
Step 5: Attaching sleeves.
Fold the edge of the sleeve over 1/2 inch and sew with a zig zag or other stretch stitch. (Using spray starch will help stabilize the hem for easier sewing/hemming.)
Repeat for other sleeve.
Right sides together, line up top of sleeve with shoulder seam. Sew using a 3/8 inch seam allowance.
Repeat with other sleeve.
Step 6: Side seams and hem.
Sew along sleeve and down side of shirt. Repeat on other side.
Hem bottom of tee, by folding up 1/2 inch and sew with a zig zag or other stretch stitch.
That’s it you’re done- now go take some pictures!
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About the Author
Jamie Sanders is a wife and mom of 2, located in the heart of Texas. She founded Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom in 2011 as a place to share creative ideas and family friendly recipes. Her work has been featured on Martha Stewart, Woman’s World, HuffPost, TODAY, Pioneer Woman, HGTV, CNET, Good Housekeeping, Yahoo, Oprah Daily, and Redbook, plus many other publications. To date, she had given away just under a million free pdf sewing patterns.