Swing Top- Tutorial for pattern and sewing

I saw a top I wanted to make but it didn’t come in the sizes I wanted. Doll and under 6 months. So I decided I could draw my own and now I’ll show you how.

Before we go any further yes it does resemble the Lucy top by Shwin & Shwin and that is the top I saw but this is my own work using a free pattern.

You will need:

  • shirt or other a line top pattern that fits well and includes sleeves
  • pencil and paper
  • main fabric and lining fabric- doll sizes use about 1 FQ/ 1/4 metre and newborn uses 1/2- full metre with careful layout
  • 1-2 big buttons
  • matching thread

First you will need a shirt or pinafore pattern, something with an a-line shape to it or you won’t get the swing effect from it. I used this pattern by scaling up and down for the sizes I needed. It’s a pattern I’ve used before and know fits well but instructions are in french so just click the red writing to access the pattern. You can use a pinafore dress pattern and shorten it but you also need sleeves.

First off grab the back pattern piece of your shirt and copy it off onto a piece of paper. If it is a place on the fold type you will need to flip it and draw the other side so you have the full back piece. I had to stick pieces of paper together.


You can use the back piece we just drew but you will need to add about 1cm to hem and 0.5cm to shoulder grading down to sleeve subtlely. This is for the back piece only.


Next job you need to follow from one shoulder the neck found about 1/4 of the way then gently dip lower whilst following another 2/4 of the neckline round you will then create a curved shoulder using the should as a guide. Aim for the curved part to be about 0.5cm min smaller than actual shoulder.


Bring it round to created a curve that flattens out just past the centre of back. (indicated by paper join)


Because you are using a pattern the seam allowances already are added so don’t draw your front piece too small because when sewn will end up smaller. This is also why we add to the back piece.

Using the back piece as a guide cut out a back yoke that will go from shoulder to shoulder and interface the neck line. alternatively you can fully line the back as well as the fronts but this would be different construction to what I will show you and use more fabric.


Cut out 4 fronts ( 2 outer, 2 linings and ensure they are opposites), 1 back and 2 sleeves.

Lining on top of pattern side to show 2 opposites.



Unless otherwise stated please use 0.5cm seam allowance.

To start you need to place 2 fronts together, a lining and main fabric, right sides together (pattern side against lining fabric) and sew around neck line, curved shoulder and curved front. Repeat for other side

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Trim edge, turn out and iron.

Next place the back yoke against right side and sew along neck. Turn to inside and iron. Then sew along curved edge to secure. You may wish to top stitch neck as well.

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Place the square shoulders of front pieces to back pieces against pattern sides together and sew in place.


Sew the side seam of back piece to outer layer of front piece on both sides.  Make sure front lining doesn’t get caught in the stitching.


Turn lining of front piece under 0.5-1 cm and pin to match the seam you made stitching in place to secure the lining and hide the side seam. Repeat for other side.


Next finish your back piece seam. I zigzagged along the bottom edge and turned up to match length of front piece, sewing in place with straight stitch.

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Hem your sleeves by turning up 0.5cm twice to create closed hem and sewing.


Place the straight edges together and sew to form your sleeve. Cut by the cuff at an angle and zig zag or serge along seam to secure the raw edge. Trimming this stops any over hanging seam when worn. Repeat for other sleeve.

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Turn your top inside out and place sleeve in arm hole matching the curved top edge to shoulder seam (top) and seam of sleeve to side seam of top. (where my finger is).

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Sew in place and finish the raw edge.


You may wish to add your sleeve before sewing side seams and having unhidden seams.

You can use snaps or buttons and now it’s time to add them. If you are using buttons make button hole angle from middle of curved shoulder towards middle of top rather than straight down. (black lines)image101

Alternatively you can add kam snaps. If you only use one button make sure to add a hidden sewn on snap to the other side so doesn’t slip down inside, or you can place a snap onto the lining before constructing the top.


I made a point of using unisex colours to show it can be suitable for boys too! If you’re not into this style for boys no worries because it’s still cute for girls in ‘boy’ fabrics.

You can pretty it up or down by adding lace or ruffles.

Doll versions ranging from 7- 14 inch, using snap fasteners:

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Newborn size with short sleeve and one button; and 0-3 month size with coordinating fabrics and 2 buttons:





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