circle knit shirt tutorial

Posted by & filed under fabric, Sewing, tutorials.

So. I have a favorite shirt. I’ll be honest, it’s probably my favorite because it’s the most comfortable shirt I own, AND my husband bought it for me and he thinks I look cute in it. That’s really all I need. Oh, and it’s a great backdrop for a pretty necklace! That too.

{my inspiration shirt – not the actual one I have, but same style}Photobucket

Anyway, I wear it with a long tank top, leggings and either boots or black Toms, depending on the weather. It’s my uniform right now. And I wanted to make one for Hazel because I thought she’d dig it too. (Or, at least I’d dig making it for her and seeing her wear it.)

So, I worked this week on developing a 2T-sized version of my shirt. I’ve got to say, once I figured it out, this is a really simple project and it turned out beautifully! Since it’s flowy and not fitted, it’s not hard to get a good fit. The key is not making the arms too long so your little gal doesn’t look dumpy or frumpy. But once you’ve got that under control, you’re good!


Tutorial to follow, after the jump!

What you’ll need:
The fabric piece I used was knit (you want a drapey fabric), and was 20″ wide and 34″ long. (so it’s not technically going to be a circle – more of an oval. it’s cool.) I used white because it’s what I had on hand, plus I’m digging neutrals these days. But get creative! You can find patterned knits even at JoAnn, and you can always embellish your top with a pretty pocket or flower applique. This is your basic starting point – have fun and make it yours!)


Also, you’ll need a sewing machine. A serger is definitely not necessary, but since I have one and I like the extra-finished look, I used it for the project. Knits don’t fray though, so really don’t worry.

Get your fabric piece laid out on your cutting board, folded on the top so it looks 21″x17″. (My piece started out longer than 34″, so I needed to cut it still at this point.


There. Now it’s all cut and square and tidy. Better!

(That’s a fold on the top – you want your rectangle intact!)


This might be a good time to tell you how to measure for a size other than 2T…

How to measure for your own sizing:

Width: Arms straight out, you want the sleeves to fall just on the hand-side of your elbow. So measure that distance – for Hazel it was about 20″, so I added 1″ for hemming, thus the 21″ width.

Length: For length, you’ll have to pardon my sailor language, but you want the front and back them to land right about at the crotch. So measure up and over the shoulders, from crotch-to-crotch. Was that really necessary? Anyway, Hazel’s measurement was 33″, so I added 1″ for hemming, thus the 34″ length.

Neck: And for the neck – I don’t like huge neck holes on little people, it just looks like a worn out onesie. I kept it small and had no problem getting it over her head. Remember: after you cut, you’re still going to turn it in, which will make the hole larger.

Okay, on to the task at hand:

Mark the center point of the top of your fold. If you’re using my dimensions, it’s at the 10.5″ point.


Okay, now fold the fabric in half vertically (so the top and the right sides are folds). Because this is a symmetrical garment, we’re going to make it easy on ourselves and cut everything just once.

Below are the dimensions for cutting:


Now unfold it and it should look like this. It’s taking shape really quickly!


Now comes the serging! You can skip this if you don’t have a serger, of course.

Run a serging stitch all the way around the outside edge of the garment. Also, run a stitch around the inside of the neck hole.


When you’re done, your edges will look like this. Lovely!


I know you’re looking at that neck hole and wondering how on earth this is going to go right; curves and hems are not friends. But it’s okay – this is stretchy! It will go right.


If you serged your edges, turn them all in 3/8″ or so and press. If you did not serge, turn your edges in 1/4″ and press, then another 3/8″ and press again.

Really don’t fret about this. Do your best, but remember that this garment is going to be forgiving, too!


Pressing the neck hole. It’s almost like it wants to be turned out. So friendly, this stretchy material is! (Yep. Been watching Star Wars with Oliver this week. Love me some Yoda I do.)


Okay, back to sewing. Set your stitch length to 3 (just a little longer than normal) because this is a hemming stitch and not a construction stitch.


Beginning on a straightaway, backstitch once, then get going and don’t stop until you are back where you started. Easy hem!

PhotobucketNow, the same with the neck hole. It’s a little trickier than the outside hem just because it’s in the middle. Still, you can do this! (And feel free to take your time to make this stitch nice and even. Even with coordinating thread, this one will show just because it’s near the face.) Remember: slow and steady!


So close! Seriously, we’re almost finished!

Just a few simple instructions: using a fabric ruler or any straight edge, make a line that goes from the center of the neck line to the corner of the sleeve. DO NOT actually draw this line – it only needs to be imaginary! :)

Make a small dot with a disappearing fabric marker 4″ in from the corner of the sleeve. Just a little one. (If you’re not confident in your ink’s ability to disappear, you can mark with a tailor tack, which is just a contrasting thread stuck through that point with a needle.)

Do the same on the other side and pin the shirt closed so nothing shifts while you’re stitching.


Back to the sewing machine for the final time! Sew a straight line from your mark to the corner of the sleeve on each side. Be sure to backstitch really well at the beginning and end – this is a construction stitch, so it matters that it stays in place!


Press all of your hems so they lay nice and flat. Hang your little lady’s shirt on a hanger, then stand back and admire! All finished!


And for your viewing pleasure, here is a shot of  Miss Lady, rocking her comfy-yet-stylish circle knit top this morning (and it only took five mini marshmallows and a little Super Why for her to cooperate!):

Photobucket{After putting the finished product on her this morning I realized two things. 1. this bad boy is going to fit for a long time! Honestly, this size could fit 3T or bigger, and I maybe could have stood to make hers a little smaller. She’s not quite fitting into 2T yet.) 2. I should have used a darker color knit – what was I thinking trusting her with a pretty white canvas, just begging to be tainted? Sheesh.}

If y’all are interested, I can work on another tutorial for an adult-sized top. You could probably just enlarge the dimensions of this one, but there are some things I would change for a grown up to make it more flattering. Let me know!

And until next time – have a lovely Wednesday, friends!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Brother NX800 machine mentioned above for free in exchange for a mention of the product in my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
**added: here is a shot of me in the inspiration shirt:

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45 Responses

  1. keight 11 January 2012 at 1:06 pm

    ah! this is the one we were dreamscaping (thats right) in F21 chattynogo, right? you did it! even with all your sneaky teases, i didnt realize this was the one that was coming. love it, love the hipstahaze. i think i might have a few….BOLTS of knits lying around somewhere to try with the bad boy.

  2. Sara 11 January 2012 at 3:32 pm

    I would DEFINITELY love if you did an adult tutorial. If I had a small adorable child I’d make one of these right now! I do have a niece though….

  3. Lesley McFarland 11 January 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Seriously…you have some MAD sewing skills. I would love this in an adult version…better yet…I would LOVE for you to just whip one out for me…hehehe.
    Thank you so much for all the tutorials that you do.

  4. Ashley 12 January 2012 at 12:23 am

    I would LOVE an adult tute- I just acquired a stash of awesome lace trim (like in your inspiration pic) and I would love to make a (few) shirt(s)! PERFECTION!

  5. Tammy 12 January 2012 at 11:04 am

    This is so adorable and it makes me want a serger that much more! An adult tutorial would be awesome…please, please please. :-)

  6. Marti 28 April 2012 at 8:19 am

    Wonderful tutorial. Loose flowing garments are so forgiving, so I encourage your readers to give it a try. I made a Star Wars hooded robe for my 65 year old husband (Sigh. Don’t ask.) with no pattern, just by guess and by gosh and it turned out fabulous. I am definitely going to make this blouse for myself. I think that by making it a great deal longer, it will disguise the stomach pooch and the widening hips and wearing it I will feel like the size 8 chick I never was.

    This is my first visit to your blog and it is just lovely. Just wanted to warn you that you have a real good chance of raising your young ‘uns to love the Lord, but your probable success rate in getting them to take their dishes to the sink is slim to none. Ask me how I know this. Never mind. Don’t ask.

  7. Rachel Dale 7 November 2012 at 10:28 pm

    I am so glad to find this tutorial. I have been pondering making a poncho style jacket for my 3 month old with some fleece I have lying around. This will help with the body of it. Now I will just have to figure out how to get a hood on it. I would love to see an adult verion of this. Love the shirt on you!

  8. Rosie Posie 2 January 2013 at 11:41 pm

    This is my first visit also. I have had a blouse my mother got in Hawaii years ago. It is a circle blouse but with a white flower pattern on a very dark blue background and I have been wanting to replace it as it is faded and torn at the top edges of the side seams. The construction is exactly as you drew it. I can copy mine but really enjoyed your tutorial, and yoda too. I needed the tips on the neck. Oh mine has a slight v dip in the front which will help accomodate an adults head.
    If anyone knows where to get a floral fabric in a cirle shape please let me know. Thank you all.

  9. gmabcky 6 June 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Did you do a tutorial for adult sizes yet? I’m going to make this for some birthday gifts. Love it!

  10. Barb boran. 29 June 2013 at 11:50 am

    Would LOVE an adult version. I am always looking and buying these style tops but would love to make my own. Please

  11. Michelle 30 July 2013 at 11:13 pm

    I also would love an adult pattern for this top. It would be so nice on these extra warm summer days, it would let the air move around the body.

    in Seattle

  12. Claudia 9 September 2013 at 10:07 am

    May I add my wish for an adult version? I would love to make one for myself – it’s just the thing for me. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Susie 31 January 2015 at 9:52 pm

    Would it be possible to make this top longer so it covers my booty in leggings? Or would that mess with the roundness of the top? I guess it’s more oval shaped anyway… but do you think it would work?

  14. Kara 18 May 2015 at 6:39 am

    Hey Molly! Thanks for this tutorial. I’m planning to make one in an adult size for my sister’s birthday this week. Any tips/suggestions you have for the adult version would be SO appreciated. I’m still learning all the tricks to sewing, and I’m not that advanced yet. Thanks so much!

  15. Tena 20 October 2015 at 12:14 am

    It’s my first visit here, and now 2015. Did you ever do an adult pattern for the knit circle shirt? I would love to see it!

  16. alejandra 2 January 2016 at 6:51 am

    I totally love this tutorial! I would like this tutorial on adult size :D
    I know I can probably just enlarge the measures. But, I would love to see what you would change and/or add! :)

    • Wendy 16 March 2016 at 6:23 pm

      I’m excited to find this shirt and want to know if you created an adult version. Will enjoy looking through your website found on Pinterest. Thanks Much!

  17. Janet McNamara 8 July 2016 at 12:25 pm

    I noticed that the last comments were in 2012 and now it’s 2016 so I’m hoping there has been a tutorial for the adult circle. Would very much like to try this.


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