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Tie Front Top Pattern and Tutorial (free pattern – girl’s sz 3 to 14)

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I’ve got a great new pattern update for you today! This Tie Front Top Pattern is a knit top sewing pattern for girls is now available in sizes 3 to 14. This cute DIY Dolman Top is designed to be sewn with knits and is a great sewing pattern for tweens and girls.  (Free Dolman Sleeve sewing pattern)

Tie Front Top Pattern (free Dolman Sleeve Top sewing pattern for girls)

Tie Front Top for Girls

I originally posted this Dolman Top Pattern a few years back, but only included sizes 5 and 7.  It’s been on my to-do list to revise the pattern to include more sizes. 

It’s a perfect top for school-age girls and my lil missy just loves the one I made!  Want to make one of these tops in a different size?  Here is a tutorial on how to make a dolman sleeve pattern(Looking for more free patterns? Be sure to check out my free patterns and tutorials page here.)

This was my original version:

Make a Dolman-Style Tie front top with this tutorial and pattern

She looked so cute in this little outfit- totally trendy with the chevron print top and leggings.  (I blogged about the leggings here). You can size up to get the oversized look you see in the photo.

When I’m sewing for myself or my kids, I want the items I’ve made to look like and have the quality of something you would buy at a store or boutique. (An exclusively expensive boutique, of course… {wink, wink})

Especially with knitwear.

I totally nailed it with this little tie-front Dolman-style knit top!

Tie Front Top Pattern (free Dolman Sleeve sewing pattern for girls)

I didn’t time myself while sewing the top, (I take multiple breaks when sewing) but not counting the time it took to create and cut out the pattern, I am guessing it took no more than an hour to make this top.  Yep, it’s that easy!

If you want your knit projects to have a professional look, you’ve got to have the right tools:  a walking foot and a ball-point stretch twin needle.

The walking foot (I use this one on my singer) and stretch twin needle (along with a loosened tension and lengthened stitch) will allow you to hem your knits without stretching out the hems and seams.  If you need more information on sewing with knits, I have quite a few tips and tricks in my Tunic Top tutorial.

Tie Front Knit Top Pattern (free Dolman Sleeve sewing pattern for girls)

When we were trying on the shirt to check for fit, my missy requested the little folded sleeve detail.  To do that, I folded the sleeve hem up about 2 inches, hemmed, then used my iron to press the sleeve into the folded position.  I then tacked the folded hem into place.

Tie Front Knit Top Pattern (free Dolman Sleeve sewing pattern for girls)

New to sewing with knits? 

This pattern is fairly easy to sew, but the fabric ties can be a challenge for someone without a lot of experience sewing on knits.  Patterns like this Tunic TopRuffled Skirt or Flat Front Ruffle skirt are a great option to get your feet wet on…

Helpful Tips for sewing with knit Fabrics

  • Always use a ballpoint needle.  A ballpoint needle has a rounded tip and allows the needle to move in between the thread fibers instead of piercing the thread fibers. (Which will cause holes in the fabric.)
  • When sewing seams that need to stretch, be sure to use either a narrow zig zag stitch- set at a medium stitch length or many newer machines have additional stretch stitches you can use.  (Refer to your manual to find out which ones your machine does.)
  • It helps to loosen the needle thread tension just a tiny bit. (experiment on scraps til you find what works best on your fabric.)
  • For seams that don’t need to stretch (like side seams) a regular straight stitch is fine. To keep the fabric from stretching when you sew, you can try a slightly longer stitch length and loosening the needle thread tension just a tiny bit.  ALWAYS do a few practice stitches on the fabric you will be using and then make any adjustments needed.
  • If you are working on a fabric that keeps curling, use fabric starch and your iron to flatten out the fabric.  This technique is helpful on all knits as the starch makes it less stretchy and moves through the machine smoother.
  • For hemming knits, you have a few choices:
    1. Leave the edge raw.  This looks fine on casual garments. 
    2.  Add a bound edge.  (You can see examples of how adding a bound hem works here and here.)  
    3. Use a walking foot and hem the edge with either a zig zag or other stretch stitch or using a twin needle. (The walking foot helps feed the material through the machine with less stretching.)
  • Remember to try a slightly longer stitch length and to loosen the needle thread tension just a tiny bit!
  • If your fabric is getting sucked into the machine or is still stretching, you can place a piece of thin tissue paper between the fabric and bottom feed dogs.  After you are done sewing, you can gently tear the tissue paper away.

The one thing to note about this top is that hemming the ties can be a smidge tricky due to the extreme curves. 

The solution to that?  This Dritz Washaway Wonder Tape

It’s amazing, just stick it to the edge of your pattern pieces and fold the hem into place and it is a dream to sew.  Once you wash the top, the hem tape washes away.  (In a pinch, you could use a tiny dot of washable glue, you just have to give it time to dry.

how to sew a tie front top

Where to buy Knit Fabrics

Knit fabric comes in so many different weights, content, and stretch.  It is important to use the right fabric for this project.  I’ve tried a few different fabrics and definitely have my favorites.

  • For leggings you need to look for a knit fabric with at least 50% stretch and around 4% or more lycra/spandex for recovery. This particular top does not need that much stretch due to the ease built in. (But it does need some stretch – so don’t use quilting cotton.)
  • I love the cotton lycra from Funkalicious fabrics most of her 3/8″ Cotton Lycra Stripe Knit Fabric is pretty great.
  • Kaufman Laguna knit is also good, but a bit thinner that the cotton lycra from Funkalicious
  • Riley Blake Cotton Jersey has great stretch and recovery, is a nice weight and has a ton of cute designs
  • The BOLT line is slightly thinner, but has great stretch and recovery for leggings.
  • The “Premium Dots and Stripes” from  NR Fabrics on Etsy are amazing to work with!!!
  • If you are looking for ribbed knit for binding, these are a good option.
  • I am sure there are other great fabric lines of great quality to choose from, but I have not personally tried them.

Are you ready to sew one of these tops for your little miss? 

Where do I get the pattern?

Look under materials needed for the link to the pattern.

Tie Front Knit Top Sewing Instructions

  1. My favorite fabric shop for knits:  Funkalicious Fabrics and Girl Charlee. My favorite shop for cottons and other fabrics: Fabric.com.
  2. My Sewing Machine: SINGER 9960 Quantum Stylist, my coverstitch: Janome Cover Pro 1000cpx
  3. My Serger: Brother 1034D 3 or 4 Thread Serger or you can just use Pinking Shears
  4. Rotary Cutter
  5. I love my large ruler and large cutting mat, but you may prefer to start off with a smaller Cutting set
  6. Dritz Dual Purpose Marking Pen and Fray Check
  7. Wonder clips (I didn’t use these in the post, but they are just awesome!
  8. Ball point needles
  9. Ball Point double needle
  10. Walking foot

Fit Chart:

  • Size 3:   Height-  38.5 inches,  Weight-  32 lbs, Finished length: 13  in, finished hip: 25.22 inches
  • Size 4:   Height-  41.5 inches,  Weight-  36 lbs,  Finished length: 13.75   in, finished hip: 26 inches
  • Size 5:   Height-  44.5 inches,  Weight-  42 lbs, Finished length: 14.5 in, finished hip: 27  inches
  • Size 6:   Height-  46.5 inches,  Weight- 48 lbs, Finished length:  15.45  in, finished hip: 28  inches
  • Size 7:   Height-  51 inches,    Weight- 60 lbs, Finished length:  16.35  in, finished hip: 30  inches
  • Size 8:   Height-  53 inches,    Weight- 66 lbs, Finished length:  17.25  in, finished hip: 31.75  inches
  • Size 10: Height-  55 inches,    Weight- 74 lbs, Finished length:  18.125  in, finished hip: 33.5  inches
  • Size 12: Height-  57.5 inches,   Weight- 85 lbs, Finished length: 19.62   in, finished hip:  36 inches
  • Size 14: Height-   60 inches     Weight-  96 lbs  Finished length: 20.65   in, finished hip: 37  inches

Pattern Tips:

  • 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 too small.) *there is also a new option to print only the size needed)
  • Seam allowance is 3/8 inch with a 3/8 inch bottom hem and 1/2 inch sleeve hem.
  • Pattern is designed to hit at low waist/high hip level. Shorten or lengthen as desired.

Binding tips:

The pattern for the neck binding is designed for a ribbed knit with 50 to 75% stretch with good recovery.

If using a binding fabric with less stretch,  Measure the neckline and cut a fabric strip 10 to 15% less than the measurement (multiply the neck measurement by .90 or .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…)

Tips for sewing with knits:

  • 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, double needle 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.

Materials needed:

  • Pattern
  • up to 1 yard of 60 inch wide knit fabric. (I was able to fit a size 14 on one yard of fabric with creative folding and flipping the pattern around.  If your fabric has a one-way directional print or nap, you will need more.)
  • ballpoint needle and ballpoint twin needle
  • walking foot
  • basic sewing supplies

Sewing Instructions

Step 1: Print pattern, tape together and cut out size needed.

Once you have downloaded the pattern to your desktop and opened it in the free adobe reader program, there’s a new printing option for you.  You can now print only the size needed.  (this pattern only, I’ll slowly go back and start updating the older patterns.) This function is super handy and makes it much less confusing when cutting the pattern, plus I love that it enables me to print in black and white.  (that color ink can be pricey!)

Assemble the pattern and cut out pattern pieces.

Step 2:  Cut pattern pieces from fabric.

Lay out your fabric, so the most stretch is going side to side.  Fold one side over, selvage toward the middle (until you have enough width to to cut out the sleeve.)  Place the side of the pattern on the fold and cut out the front piece.

Cut out the back piece and the neckband.

Step 3: Assembling the top

Place the front and back pieces right sides together and sew along the shoulders and side seams.

(I used my serger for this step.  If you have a serger by all means, use it, but it is really unnecessary to finish the seams since knits don’t fray. )

Use your iron and press the bottom edge of the entire top over 3/8 inch (including the ties).  Use pins if you need too and when you get to the curve in between the tie, it’s ok if you need to stretch the fabric a little or even if you need to cut the shape slightly more circular.  Once the top is tied, you can’t see this seam edge anyway.

Using your double stretch needle, sew along the bottom edge of the top, including the ties.

When you get to that tricky curved part, just go slow…

When you are using a double-needle, you can’t pivot on turns like you normally do. I just sewed to the end, lifted my needle and presser foot and manually turned the fabric.

Step 4:  Adding the neck binding.

The neck binding for this pattern is designed for a ribbed knit or other very stretchy fabric.  If you are not using a super stretchy fabric, I recommend making your own binding measurement by lining up the front and back neckline and measuring the neckline width.  (the front is deeper than the back, so shoulder seams will not be the edge.  Once they are lined up, multiply by the measurement by 2 for the entire neckline measurement. Multiply that nuber by .9 and cut a piece of your knit fabric to your number.

(Tip: I always recommend doing a finger stretch test before attaching the neckline.   Stretch it around the neckline with your fingers and if it seems like it will fit, it probably will.)

Fold the binding strip in half, wrong sides together and press.

Open the strip, line up the short raw edges and sew together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Re-fold the binding.

Using pins or a fabric marker, divide the binding into 4 equal sections and mark the spots.Do the same thing on the t-shirt neckline.  Keep in mind, the shoulder seams will not be the exact halfway point because the front neckline is slightly larger because of the dip.

Line up the 4 marked spots on the neckline and binding and pin the binding to the t-shirt.  The binding should be smaller than the neckline and the extra fabric should be evenly spaced along the binding.

Use a straight stitch and sew along the edge using 1/4 inch seam allowance, stretching the binding evenly from pin to pin.

Fold the sleeve edge over 3/8 inch and press.  Using your double needle and walking foot, sew along the edge of the sleeve.

That’s it you’re done!

Have fun and I can’t wait to see what you make, please come back and share!

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  1. Thank you for this pattern, my 8yr old granddaughter loves her new top.

  2. Thanks for the great tutorial and pattern! Just FYI the layers aren’t showing up on this pdf to separate and only print the needed size, but it is working on your girls circle top pattern.

    1. Jamie Sanders says:

      Thanks for the heads up, something must be wrong with the layers setting. I will check it out.

  3. Elaine Johnson says:

    Love this pattern. Made it yesterday and also a basic T shirt from your patterns and added cap sleeves. Love your tip for bonding tape!! Just downloaded the leggings pattern. Thanks for reminding me how much fun knits are to sew!! My own tip: Bought a roll of “wedding aisle runner” thin and almost see through, and I trace each size (2 girls) on a separate sets of paper and fold/store them in labeled zipper type bags. Only have to print pattern once!!