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7 Steps to Sew a Summertime Cover-up

Alter a basic T-shirt pattern to make a breezy summertime cover-up.

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It's easy to design and create fun cover-ups you'll love to wear, based on a basic T-shirt pattern.

Make a fashion statement on the beach by following these seven steps to sew summertime cover-up—or caftan—that is light and flowy.

It’s easy to design and create fun cover-ups you’ll love to wear based on a basic T-shirt pattern. We added length and width to this Simplicity 2190 View C shirt and turned it into a beautiful, ankle-length caftan.


A deep-slit neckline is added and highlighted with decorative stitches and a tie closure. Follow the steps below to alter the pattern and then create the caftan (cover-up).


Alter the pattern

1. Lengthen the T-shirt into a caftan. Measure from your upper shoulder point to the desired caftan length. Extend the pattern to the new length, plus hem allowance. This design is 53 inches long.

2. Add width to the body. On the pattern front, draw an angled line from the underarm to the hem. Angle the line to be a few inches away from the side seam at the hem. Draw a second line extending horizontally from the underarm a few inches and then down vertically to the hem. Cut along the lines and spread the pattern pieces apart. Determine the total extra width you wish to add to the garment. Each slash represents 1/8 of the added width. (The garment front and back each have four slashes.) For the design shown, we added 24 inches to the garment circumference at the hem (3 inches in each slash).

Make a new back pattern. Apply the length and width alteration to the back pattern piece.

4. Mark the neckline slit at the center front. Do not cut. The example slit is 7 inches long.

5. Draft neckline facings. Follow the back neckline to draft a facing that is by 1 1/2 inches wide. For the front facing, draft a facing pattern that is 1 1/2 inches wide from the neck and neckline slit edges. Don’t forget to extend the facing 1 1/2 inches below the slit end point. Write “place on fold” along the long vertical edge.

Create the caftan

1. Cut out the garment pieces and interface the facings. Sew the garment and the facings’ shoulder seams. Mark the slit line on the garment and the facing’s wrong sides. Do not cut the slit.

2. Make the neck ties. Cut a 1 1/2-inch by 36-inch fabric strip. Fold it lengthwise, and sew along the long edge with a 3/8-inch seam allowance. Turn the tube right side out. Tuck the raw ends inside the tube and close the open ends with a few hand stitches.

3. Align the facing and garment. With the garment on the bottom, and right sides together, match the facing to the neck edge. Sandwich the fabric tie between the facing and garment, perpendicular to the slit line and near the neckline. The slit line should run through the tie’s center. Use pins through the facing and garment to match the slit lines.

4. Sew on the facing. Sew 3/8 inch from the neck edge and the slit line. At 3/8 inch below the slit line base, pivot the work with the needle in the fabric, take two or three stitches, pivot again, and then sew up the slit line’s other side.

5. Cut the neck slit. Cut through the fabric layers and tie. Press the seam allowances toward the facing. Clip where necessary, and understitch.

6. Finish the facing. Turn the facing to the wrong side and press. Topstitch close to the facing edge. Use decorative machine stitches to embellish the facing.

7. Complete the caftan. Sew the side seams. Finish the seam allowance edges. Hem the sleeves and bottom.


This sewing project is an online extra to accompany the article “Under Cover,” published in SewStylish Summer 2011.

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  1. user-1131771 | | #1

    Thank you. Very useful and easy to follow

  2. User avater
    SageCombs | | #2

    wow very nice...

  3. User avater
    RubyGarcia | | #3

    Awesome and easy Useful

  4. User avater
    nathanwood | | #4

    wow really nice summer design..

  5. User avater
    Natasha1 | | #5

    wow very nicee.

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