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Sew a Boho Tunic Top

Updated: May 29, 2021

I had been wanting to show off the lovely Double Gauze and Cotton Knits designed and sold by OTY Fabrics NZ and just couldn't find the vintage look I was after to make the style of tops I had in mind. I did however find two blog tutorials that gave me an idea to design my own. So I thought I would as always share the steps of how I did it with you all. My inspiration for doing this was this original Blog tutorial on the Bernina Blog, unfortunately it was in Dutch, but these days we can use Google Translate to help us with understanding most of it. I also used the information from the free Peasant Top design from Jamie at Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom to help me come up with some of my methods and the elastic sizing. In my tutorial I have used Jamies free Raglan Tunic Top in size 3 years to adapt and use to make my Boho Top.

Please follow along and make your very own Tunic Top. It works equally well in lightweight cotton knit (2 way or 4 way stretch) as it does in Double Gauze, Voile or Cotton Woven. I think it leans best towards lightweight structured fabrics rather than Linens or heavier quilting cottons. So use your judgement on which fabric you choose for creating these pretties. In my example I've used a lightweight 2-way stretch cotton knit I had in stash, just to test the design in before going ahead and making them in the gorgeous OTY Fabrics knits and Double Gauze I had on order. So without any more chatter onto the tutorial.

NB: this method works with any suitable raglan top or dress pattern, and you should be able to grade it to work for adults as well if needed. I have provided some tips on sizing for older kids but my instructions are based on a kids size 3 years as that is what I tested.

What you will need:

  • A suitable raglan sewing pattern to adapt I used the FREE Raglan Tunic Top pattern in girls 2-14Y from Jamie at Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom Blog.

  • approximately 1m x 150cm of Fabric (Double Gauze, Lightweight Cotton Poplin, Voile or Cotton Knit)

  • Overlocker and Standard Sewing Machine (optional Coverstitch)

  • Thread

  • Scissors

  • Pattern weights or Pins

  • Felt Pen or Pen for tracing pattern

  • Tracing Paper

  • Sellotape if needed

  • 12mm wide or less braided elastic approximately 1m long depending on size sewn

  • Bodkin or Safety Pin to thread elastic

  • Label or piece of ribbon to mark back of neck (optional)

Drafting the Pattern:

  • Grab your printout of your Raglan pattern pieces, you'll need the back, front and sleeves only for this tutorial.

  • Trace size needed (I use a size 3 years from the FREE Raglan tutorial as mentioned above) leave space to trace extra lines or have some scraps of paper to trace onto and sellotape as I have used in my example

Trace the pattern piece to the size needed
  • With the two body pieces together (my example has same pattern for back and front pieces) add an extra long strip down the centre front and measure out 7-12cm depending on the fullness you would like or the size you are sewing your top for. In my example I did 7cm, dot lines at varying spots 7cm out from the original centre front of the top pattern piece. Join the lines to make a new centre front line. Measure out the necklines flat to the new centre line.

Add extra width to the centre front fold
  • Add another strip of paper to the base of the pattern piece and measure 4.5cm to 8cm extra length to the bottom of your pattern piece depending on what size you are sewing up (or more for adult sizing). Again join up all the lines to create a larger pattern piece as shown in my picture.

Measure down from the hemline to add length
  • Measure up 2.5cm from the neckline following the curve to create a turn over for the elastic casing at the neckline. Square it off at the shoulder edge so its not too diagonal.

Measure up from the neckline to create elastic casing
Finished neckline looks like this
  • Trace off the Front pattern piece just beyond the armpit seam area to create a second body piece and repeat the neckline add-on of 2.5cm for that pattern piece. Grab your back pattern piece and lay it good side down and place the new front piece on top good side facing wrong side of the back pattern piece. Sellotape along the width bottom bit of your front pattern piece to hinge it off the back pattern piece aligning the edges as shown in my photo. This gives you a single pattern piece for both front and back that you can fold back as you cut whichever pattern piece you need. Its very handy way to create pattern pieces for cutting :-)

Trace front pattern piece from the main pattern piece
Attach front piece to the back of the back top piece
  • Now trace your sleeve piece onto tracing paper and leave lots of room around the sleeve to adjust it (you only want a sleeve that is half pattern piece not a full raglan sleeve, the FREE pattern in my example is this style sleeve)

  • Draw down from the armhole point straight down to the hemline, making it as wide as you would like to the hemline. Also draw a new centre line 2cm or more from the actual centre line of your sleeve piece.

Trace half a sleeve piece and widen to the cuffline
  • Draw up 2.5cm from the top of the shoulder as you did for the neckline of your top pieces. At the hemline add 4.5cm to 8cm extra length depending on the size you are doing (or more for adult sizing)

Add width and length to the sleeve
  • You now have your fully drafted pattern and its time to cut and sew :-)

Time to cut out and Sew the Boho Blouse:

  • Place your new drafted Back pattern piece onto the fabric fold cutting out without adding any seam allowances.

  • For cutting out the Front, place the pattern piece on the fold and fold the back pattern piece down to reveal the front pattern piece below (see photo) cut Front piece out.

Fold down top of back pattern piece to reveal front
  • Cut each sleeve on the fold as well

  • You should now have a Front, Back and 2 Sleeves

  • Stitch raglan sleeves to front and back pieces

  • Sew up sides and sleeves in one seam and overlock all raw edges

Stitch raglan sleeve seams
Sew side and sleeve seams. Overlock raw edges
  • Fold over 2cm at the neckline to create an elastic casing and stitch leaving a 5cm gap on one side of the back neckline for inserting the elastic into.

Turn over 2cm at the neckline and stitch down
  • Do the same on each sleeve hem also leaving a small gap to insert elastic into.

Fold over 2cm at sleeve ends too and stitch casing
  • Cut elastic following the chart below depending on the size you are sewing. (I used a 3years for my example) you will need two pieces for your sleeves, and one for the neckline.

  • Thread neckline elastic through the hole you left in the neckline casing. Pull ends out ensuring the elastic hasn't rolled, overlap ends and stitch together with a small zig-zag stitch, pull back through casing and stitch the hole closed.

Thread elastic into neckline casing
Join elastic ends together and stitch
  • Repeat above step for each cuff.

Thread elastic through sleeve casings
  • Hem top using small zig-zag stitch, twin needle or coverstitch.

  • And you are finished!

A floral gathered neck and cuff kids top on a mannequin
One finished Boho Gathered Top

Thanks for using my tutorial, don't forget to share on Instagram and tag us in your makes @picklefishproductsnz

I am sure I will have more hacks of this easy design in the future so keep an eye out for more ideas


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