The Buttercup Tunic – A (mostly) Free Pattern

Here is a little tunic I made last Summer for my then-four-year-old.


I just whipped it together to match these Monkeysbug Sailor shorts I had made.  She wore it again this Summer for the first day of Vacation Bible School and one of my testers commented that this should be my next Molly Blossom Pattern.


For some unknown reason, I thought it was a good candidate for a free pattern/tutorial.  You know, just a way for you to get a little treat for (almost) free and see what a Molly Blossom pattern is like if you’ve never tried one.  That being said, this really isn’t the full Molly Blossom Design treatment here.  It’s sort-of the scaled down version with no pretty packaging.


The Buttercup Tunic only takes 1/2 yard for the skirt and really just scraps for the bodice.  You will need a 2″ by 30″ long strip for the straps, but if you’ve been sewing very long, you can probably find that in your stash.

Don’t be mad, but it doesn’t come in my full size range.  The Buttercup Tunic is currently only in sizes a 2/3 and a 4/5.

Now, the reason I keep saying  almost and mostly free is because I am going to ask you to go to my Etsy shop and buy the pattern pieces for $1.  Here is the listing.  Go get it and then we can get started!

Cut one front bodice in your focus fabric and one front bodice in your lining fabric.

Cut one  back bodice in your focus fabric.

Cut one bodice ruffle.

Cut one ruffle-center strip.

Cut one skirt piece

Cut one long strip (we will use this for the front loops and for straps), 2″ wide x 30″ long

Important: You will also need some clear elastic or some elastic thread (if you prefer shirring) to make the bodice fit properly.

Seam Allowance is 1/2″ unless otherwise stated.


Grab your long strip that will become your loops and straps.  Iron the entire length of the strip in half.  You will fold it so that the 30″ edges are aligned.

Open up the strip and iron two more creases in it by folding each 30″ edge in to meet at the center crease you just made.

Fold the strip down the middle again and sew along the length of the strip 1/8″ away from the folded edges.


Cut off two 3.5″ sections of your long, sewn strip.  These are your loops the straps will go through.

Cut the rest of the long strip in half to make two straps.


Place the two raw ends of one loop on the top edge of the right side of the front bodice piece at the dot you so dutifully transferred from your bodice pattern piece.  If you didn’t transfer your dot, do it now so you’ll know where your loops go. Baste 1/4″ away from the edge.  Repeat with other loop on the other side.


Finish the two long edges of your bodice ruffle  with either a rolled hem or a baby hem (1/8″ or as small as you can make it).  Fold the strip in half so the two hemmed edges meet and finger press (using the heat of your fingers to press a crease into fabric) or iron.  Run a basting stitch along the center crease.

Fold your bodice front in half and finger press or iron to create a crease.  Pin the ruffle top to the center top edge of the bodice front and use the bobbin thread to gather the strip to the length of the bodice.  Pin in place so that your basting threads follow the center crease in the bodice  Baste ruffle to the bodice, sewing the center of the ruffle to the center of the bodice, from top to bottom.


Fold the two long edges of your ruffle-center strip in toward the center of the wrong side to hide the raw edges and press.

Lay the strip atop the basted ruffle, lining up the center of the strip with the center of the ruffle.  Pin in place.  Sew 1/8″ inch away from each folded edge of the ruffle-center strip.


Place the bodice front and bodice front lining right sides together.  Be sure the loops are facing downward and hidden in-between.  Sew along the top edge, beginning 1/2″ from the side and ending 1/2″ from the other side.


Clip all along the top edge of the bodice since it has a slight curve.  Turn right side out and press.

Lay the front bodice aside.

Now get your back bodice piece and finish the top by turning the edge down 1/4″ toward the wrong side of the fabric and either ironing or basting.  Then turn it down another 1/4″ and sew close to the bottom folded edge.


If you have not transferred the dots from the back bodice pattern to your fabric, do so now.

Lay your two strap pieces over your markings on the right side of the fabric so each strap has one raw edge aligned with the bottom edge of your back bodice.  Sew the straps to the back bodice as illustrated.


I recommend rolling or folding up the straps and pinning them to the bodice back, out of your way, before you move on to the next step.

Grab your front bodice and lining again and place the bodice front and back right sides together.  Open up the 1/2″ at the top of the bodice that you left unsewn and press the lining back out of the way.  Pin the side edge of your bodice front focus fabric to the side edge of your back bodice and sew.  Repeat with the other side edges being careful not to sew the lining into the seam.


Flip the seams you just made towards the front bodice and press.

Tuck the 1/2″ of lining you previously pressed out of the way back inside between the bodice and the lining, covering the seam allowance you just pressed inward.  Pin so the fold of the lining stays covering the side seam. Stitch in the ditch (here’s a video if you’ve never heard that term:) on the side seams on the outside of the bodice, catching the folded edge of the lining on the inside.


Topstitch the top of the front bodice from side seam to side seam.


Time for the skirt.

Sew together the short edges of your skirt piece.

Designate the seam you just made as a side seam and put a pin on the opposite side where to mark the other “side seam.”

Run a gathering stitch along the top edge from side seam to your pin and then start again on the other side of the pin and continue to the side seam.  I try to put the gathering stitch within the seam allowance so those stitches won’t peek out after I sew the skirt to the bodice.

Change your stitch length back to normal. Turn the skirt inside out and slip the bodice inside the skirt, lining up the bottom of the bodice with the top of the skirt. Match up the side seams (real and pretend) and pin to anchor seams. Find the center of the front and back of the bodice and find the center of the front and back of the skirt. Pin at the centers.


Separate your threads out so that you have the bobbin thread (the thread tail on the underside of the fabric as you put it through the machine) from one end and pull them as you slide the fabric along to create gentle gathers. After you have gathered from one end evenly and so that the edge of the skirt is now the same length as the edge of the bodice. Pin, pin, pin.

Repeat the same thing from the other seam, gently gathering towards the center. Repeat from the two ends on the other side. Sew all the way around and then finish the edge with a zig zag stitch or serger.

Press seam allowance up toward the bodice and topstitch.

Next, hem the skirt by folding over 1/4” and ironing. If you don’t want to measure 1/4” as you iron, you can alternatively sew a line of straight stitching 1/4” from the top edge and use that as a fold line. If you choose to stitch a fold line, lengthen your stitch to about 3.5 or 4.

Fold over again, this time 1” (I like the look of a fat hem sometimes). Iron and sew 1/8” away from the inner fold.

You can, of course, make the length shorter before you hem if you have the luxury of trying it on the little girl. When I created the pattern, the hope was that the hem of the top would hit the girl at about mid-thigh.


Back up to the bodice now.

If you prefer shirring, then shir three or four rows on the back of the bodice in between the straps.


Alternatively, you can cut three or four pieces of clear elastic at 4″ long for the size 2-3 and at 4.5″ long for the size 4/5.

Place the first piece of elastic with one end at the line of stitching indicating the inner edge of one strap close to the top edge of the back bodice, but not on the hemmed portion.  Change your machine’s stitch to a zig zag about 2.5-3 in width and 3 in length.


Start by doing a few stitches, including back stitching, to anchor the elastic, then stretch the elastic to where it meets the stitching that indicates the inside edge of the other strap.  Zig-zag the elastic onto the back bodice.  When you are finished, the elastic should draw the fabric into puckers and gathers.  Repeat in rows two to three more times.

One more thing!

Hopefully you have the child at this point to try on the tunic.

Pull the straps under and through the loop and mark where you want the button hole to be.  Cut off any excess.  I left about 3/4″ from the edge of the button hole to the end of my strap.  Zig zag or fray check the end you just cut off.

Make your buttonhole according to your marking.

Try it on again. Mark where your buttons will be and sew them on.

You are finished!





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