Girls Sleeveless Tunic Top (pattern hack)

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How to sew a Girls Sleeveless Tunic Top using my free sleeveless nightgown pattern!  (Pattern Hack of the nightgown pattern – available in sizes 3 to 16.)

girls sleeveless tunic top

Wow, we are 2 weeks into September already and it is still so hot around here!  We finally broke out of the hundreds earlier this week with some rain and clouds on Wednesday. I just checked the weather and it looks like the temps will stay right around 100 for at least the next 7 days.  I was really hoping we would not break 100 again this year, but it looks like this is the year of never-ending summer!

When it is still this hot, I just can’t seem to get myself into the spirit of back to school sewing, as I can’t get the kids to wear anything but shorts and tees. (And our school district still does not have AC’s on the busses!)

I still have my sleeveless nightgown pattern on the cutting table so I thought I would use it to make a sleeveless tunic top for my missy, that way she would have a dressier, non-t-shirt option that she could wear to school. (They are allowed modest tank tops and leggings if worn with tops that fall below the hips.)

how to sew a tunic top (free pattern)

Girls Sleeveless Tunic (pattern hack)

This free nightgown pattern is great for tops too!  It’s a-line, flowy and can be adjusted to any length. I dressed up the sleeveless tunic top by using a slinky ITY knit and omitting the binding from around the neck and arms.

Omitting the binding did lower the neckline and armscye of the top by about 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch, but the top still covered all undergarments, so it will still be ok for school.

The other changes for the top were to leave off the ruffle and shorten the pattern by about 2 to 3 inches.

The bottom edge of the nightgown pattern has a bit of a curve, so preserve the shape, I trimmed off the bottom edge of the pattern, shortened to our desired length and taped the bottom curve back onto the pattern.  

If you make this change too, don’t forget to leave a half-inch for the bottom hem.  

I did actually take the time to set up my cover stitch machine with black thread to hem this top properly.  I almost never do that, lol.

girls sleeveless tunic top pattern

If you don’t have a cover stitch machine to do your knit hems, you have a couple of options…

  • Leave it unhemmed.  Some knits are thick and sturdy enough that this looks fine
  • Use a zig-zag stitch.  I use the zig-zag frequently and if you can get a perfect thread match on a solid fabric, the stitches just disappear.
  • Use lots of spray starch on the hem along with a twin needle meant for knits and a walking foot. If you go slow, you can get a pretty hem on a fabric that is not super stretchy.
  • If you are working with a fabric that is super-stretchy, my secret weapon for great hems is wash away hem tape!

Since I didn’t do the binding, I change the construction steps just a bit.

I sewed the side seams together first and then did the sleeve edges and then the neckline.  Once those were done, I lined up the shoulder seams and sewed those together.

I have to share how I did the arm and neck hems.  It was so easy!!

I used the washaway wonder tape.

what is washaway wonder tape

What is Washaway Wonder Tape

Washaway wonder tape is a double-sided tape that washes away on the first wash. Not only does it hold the hem in place while you sew, but it also helps stabilize the hems so you can have a pretty hem without any special sewing machines. (Just use a double needle.).

I usually use the Dritz Brand Wonder Tape but have seen other brands online. (Just haven’t tested them out as of yet.

How to use Wonder Tape on a Neckline

For this tunic top, I just cut small pieces and placed the tape around the arm and neck edges.

how to use washaway wonder tape

Peel off the backside of the tape.

washaway wonder tape

Fold the edge over and it stays in place.  This is especially helpful for slippery fabrics that wond hold a press.

Then just sew! 

Even with the hem tape to stabilize the edge, my machine kept pulling the fabric into the feed dogs.  To fix this, I placed a piece of tissue paper below the fabric. Once done sewing, I just pulled it off.  

Want to give one of these tops a shot?  Grab the pattern here.

My sewing machines:

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  1. Janice C. says:

    This is the type of pattern I’ve actually been looking for to make myself “tanktop tunics”. I wish I knew how to size up patterns so I could make this into a plus size friendly garment.

  2. Anna Porter says:

    Oh my gosh! Where has wash-away wonder tape been all my life! Thanks for this tip and the pattern!!

    1. Jamie Sanders says:

      Yes! It is so helpful on tricky hems.