Home » DIY Tutorials » DIY Sewing » Sewing: Clothing » Baby Clothing » Girl’s Shirt – Pleated/Ruffled Neckline

Girl’s Shirt – Pleated/Ruffled Neckline

I love a full neckline.  

For some reason, I am so drawn to the ruffle, the texture, the fluff……

Even in a mini size.

And I just love raw edges with knits.

It adds the perfect amount of shabby.

And I also keep working with tone on tone.….. Yum.

And this top makes me long for spring.

**Remember, you can make this in your own size by just adjusting the measurements a bit.**

And either re-purpose an old shirt……or find some clearanced knit. I found this yellow knit for $2 a yard at hancock fabric. Nice and affordable for a new shirt.

Here’s how to make your own…

First, make a basic shirt using an old shirt just like the tutorial here. Or follow the technique used here. Both will get the same results, it just depends on how you like to piece your sleeves onto your shirt.

However, don’t finish off the neckline, sleeves, or bottom hem. Leave them alone for now.

First, make your pleated neckline by cutting out a long strip of knit. My daughter wears a 3T/4T and I cut out a piece that was 1 1/2 inches wide by about 60 inches. I pieced 2 pieces together to get it that long. Adjust according to the size you’re making.

Then I started making pleats in the strip of knit and pinning each pleat in place.

I folded two folds in toward each other…..

And then did the same going the other way…… Over and over again. Each pleat is folded over about 1/2 an inch.

I made this pleated section long enough to go around the entire neckline.

I placed the pleated strip about 3/8 of an inch above the actual neckline of the shirt and sewed down the center of the pleated strip. This will assure that you catch the neckline underneath in your stitch, as you’re stitching down the center of the pleated strip.

I started at one end in the back, starting with a flat tail of your pleated section. I sewed all the way around to the front until I got the the back again, about an inch or two from the end. (Make sure that the shirt underneath is lined up properly and is laying flat as you’re sewing.) I cut the excess fabric off……..

……..and made sure that the loose end was tucked under before sewing the rest of the way around.

Then I made another seam right above the first one, making sure to catch the neck line of the shirt again.

Now you can either hem the shirt sleeves under, or you can cut about 1/4 inch off the end…..

…….and pin it right to the edge of the sleeve.

Then sew all the way around. That gives it kind of a shabby, raw look to it.

Do the same with the bottom of the shirt.

And now you’re ready to fancy up that little girl of yours. (Or yourself.)

How sweet is that.


**By the way, I was talking to my mom (my original sewing instructor……bless her for her patience!) and I was asking her what other easy tricks she knew for sewing with knits. She was telling me about a crooked zig-zag, that looked like a lightening bolt. I looked on my machine, and sure enough. There it was. It sews like a zig-zag, but more diagonally, and all squished together. I know that sounds crazy, but it sews in more of a straight line but there’s a zig-zag to it, so it allows the knit to stretch. Try it out.


Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. piska says:

    Hi Ashley, You are doing great..i’ll learn how to sew and make something with my hand from TODAY! Wihiii…

  2. Jenny Richins says:

    I love this tutorial too. I think I am going to try this out on one of my t-shirts I have in my closet for myself. I am always up for a refashion in my wardrobe. Thanks.

  3. Erin says:

    I made one for myself today. Thanks for the great idea!

  4. Amber says:

    I love your projects and think you're wonderful!! Thank you for sharing. I have to admit though – you must have endless patience!! =)

  5. Kim says:

    I LOVE this shirt! I totally want one for myself and my little girl! Thank you for such amazing instructions and ideas!! Your daughter is just darling.

  6. janeen says:

    i love this, i'm gonna have to try it now :)

  7. meg says:

    i was just looking at some shirts like this at crew cuts (jcrew kids), and thinking about how jane would love one. ruffles are everywhere this year, and i'm excited to try making these.

  8. Amy Miller says:

    Thank you for this idea. I was trying to make the ruffle front shirt out of a non-rib knit and the neckline was a mess! I was going to scrap it, but this neckline has saved it. it's still a little stretched out, but looks so much better.
    I'm still having a hard time with stretching. Can you post a picture of the lightening stitch? I have a few that might be the one you're talking about. Thanks for all the fun projects!

  9. Mommafo says:

    I wish I could get my daughter's hair to look that good in pigtails!!! You are truly a jack of all trades. :)

  10. Heather says:

    I am absolutely loving this shirt! The colour is that perfect spring day yellow! I've got some tshirt dresses I'm making that would look adorable with that collar…thank you so mch for the inspiration!

  11. Michael and Brenda Smith says:

    I LOVE THIS!!! You always come up with the cutest things. I'm going to do a little repurposing this weekend for my girlies and all my inspiration came from you. Thanks!

  12. l.alden says:

    I love this cute little tee! Your work inspired me so much that I had to make one for myself. Here's the link:

  13. Tiziana says:

    This idea is fantastic, i like your blog.
    If you want visit my blog:
    Tiziana nidodilana

  14. my quilting adventure says:

    This is soo cute! My daughters would love one! I am thinking of making one! Thank you so much!

  15. says:

    I want to make one for me, this is gorgeous! Thanks so much for explaining it so well. I'll be linking.

  16. Designs by Jessie says:

    That tutorial is awesome! I have been looking for one for ever it seems! Thanks so much! Your project came out awesome!

  17. by night says:

    I bought some knit fabric recently but I am sooo afraid to use it. This could be a good way to start. Thank you for this lovely tutorial – again!

  18. mary'smom says:

    Oh so very cute!

  19. Jessie says:

    This makes me smile :)

  20. Ashley says:

    When you wash the knits, it fluffs the edges a teeny bit…..but most knits won't unravel at all. I have left several of my homeade shirts with raw edges and they still look great. But everyone's preference is different. I made a dress out of regular 'ol lightweight cotton the other day and added a similar ruffle around the neckline……but for this I made a tube of fabric first, turned it right side out, pressed it, and then ruffled it up. Just as cute…..just takes a bit longer.

    Also, I answer the camera question in my FAQ section here:

    Hope that help!


  21. Girly Girl Essentials says:

    So cute! I'm excited to try it for my little girls!

  22. momto3cuties says:

    I've been following for a while and you have gotten me super motivated with the creative juices flowing. I have a non-crafty question tho. What kind of camera do you use? I am always admiring how your pics came out. We just got a canon 50d and I cant seem to get the settings tweaked just so. Any tips?

  23. lv2scpbk says:

    That is so cute. I don't sew at all but I do other crafts like scrapbooking, artist trading cards, and some card making. If you visit my blog, you can see some of my crafts at

  24. The Rowburys says:

    I wish I was that talented. I can't sew to save my life. I did do a re-decorating project, you can see it over on my blog. If you like it I thought maybe I could guess blog for you. Let me know.

  25. RedHead says:

    I know you are a busy lady, but I awarded you on my blog!

    :o) Courtney

  26. Melanie says:

    You are wonderful! Love the tutorial!

  27. Nina says:

    I've missed your clothing tuts. Love the shirt!

  28. Lora says:


  29. Krissy says:

    Adorable shirt, thanks for the tutorial!

  30. Lissy says:

    Oh love this :) I am looking at my machine and cannot work out the crooked zigzag…could you maybe stich some and post a picture please? :)

  31. PDCScarbroughpage says:

    love this shirt! now I've GOT to find some girls to make girly things for! I have two nieces, so maybe I'll just have to wait a few years…hmm. Love it!

  32. Jeremy and Heidi says:

    Love this! Thank you for always doing tutorials–I'm this to my list to make, along with the bath toys bag you just made! Thanks for generously sharing your creativity

  33. Erin says:

    That is so cute. I have one question, though. How do those unfinished edges look after you wash the shirt? (P.S. Your photos are gorgeous…all because of the model, I'm sure!)

  34. Heather Feather says:

    This is adorable! I want it to be spring. Thanks for the stitch tip!

  35. L.S. Bijuterias & Acessórios says:

    So simple and so beautiful!

  36. Lissa @ MyThriftyTreasures says:

    I LOVE IT! So springy and girly, and of course the fact that it's uber easy makes me love it even more!

  37. Kimm at Reinvented says:

    That is adorable! One of these days, when I get brave, I'll give that one a try, thanks for sharing!

  38. Mary says:

    Love it! I want one for me!

  39. ~Katie~ says:

    I have made a few dress tops out of cotton like this for some people and I love the look of it! If you make a tube and do the same thing it makes it look a bit more finished. But I also like the shab look. Very cute!

  40. jojoebi says:

    I have a t-shirt cut out ready to go, I am going to try this to fancy it up a bit, looks great! and thanks for the zig-zag tip, I have that on my machine but never knew what it was for – my manual is all in Japanese!

  41. Anissa says:

    One of these days I'm going to get up the nerve to try sewing a shirt. Seems so daunting. But your tutorial from awhile back makes it look surprisingly easy. And with all your tips from this post I'm moving it higher on my list of To Dos.
    Very cute!

  42. Molly says:

    That is super adorable! I wonder how it would look on my son… just kidding :)… but I could make it for a friend!

  43. Beautifully Veiled says:

    Oh My Gosh!!!! I just found you. My family is getting nothing but sandwiches for supper because I'm spending the afternoon HERE!!!

  44. Shelley says:

    You amaze me! AMAZE ME! –Every time I look here,…jaw dropping. Thanks for sharing. -Shelley {}

  45. Sara says:

    I am going to have to try this out on my little girls and I might just make one for myself!

  46. Tiff and Jer says:

    I just started following your blog and love your work. Honestly I need some sewing lessons from you. You are amazing.

  47. CouponChic says:

    OH my GOSH…just found your site…
    I don't have a girl (just boys)..but, I'm going to try this shirt. TOO CUTE!
    Add a mark beside your name…you have a NEW blog stalker!

  48. CouponChic says:

    OH my GOSH…just found your site…
    I don't have a girl (just boys)..but, I'm going to try this shirt. TOO CUTE!
    Add a mark beside your name…you have a NEW blog stalker!

  49. Leanne says:

    This is so pretty. It's time to dust off my sewing machine.

  50. Mandy says:

    That is such a sweet and simple tutorial! I am totally going to try it this weekend for my daughter (and maybe myself)… thanks a bunch!

  51. Brandon and Cody Roper says:

    I was reading the post thinking, I'm totally going to do that to all my knit shirts.
    Then I thought, but my stitches always break because the shirt stretches when I pull it on, so never mind, I'm totally NOT going to do that to all my knit shirts.
    But THEN i saw your note about the lightning bolt stitch! I always wondered what the heck that was for! THANK YOU!

  52. Janae -- Thoughts in Vinyl says:

    So cute! I love the idea of the raw edges.

  53. Tamara ViAnn says:

    Now that I think of it… that type of ruffle would also look gorgeous around the base of a lamp shade as an accent. It looks stunning around the neckline too!

  54. Tamara ViAnn says:

    As someone who wore clothes my mom made me growing up (which definitely wasn't "in" when I was a kid) I sure wish you would have been my mom. The clothes you make your kiddo's are so darling and stylish!!! I would have loved that.

  55. Kim's Treasures says:

    Sooo adorable!!!

  56. Cindy Sage says:

    Adorable shirt! Love the dimples on your cute model : )

  57. Dawn says:

    Oh i love this project! I have a shirt for myself that has the same neckline. Its my favorit shirt! I dont have any daughters but plan to make one for myself. I think people are getting tired of seeing me in the same shirt (I wear it all the time!) and a change of color would be good!

  58. Adventures in Dressmaking says:

    Of course, that is a great way to finish off the sleeves! I always use cheap long-sleeved tees for my tee refashions, and it is really hard to hem a knit; the feed dogs stretch it out and make it look pretty awful. I will try that next time!

  59. courtney says:

    can't wait to try this for my munchkin and myself.

    and your little model is beautiful!

  60. Whatever Dee-Dee wants says:

    It's s cute! I want to make one for me :)

  61. Christie says:

    That's so beautiful! I really love it!

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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