modern yardage: fabric review and tutorial

I've been working on a new tutorial for you and it's finally finished! I was contacted recently by Andrea of Modern Yardage and asked if I'd like to try out some of their fabric. I chose two prints, Chaise Lounge Chevron and Fun-Fetti, by Heather Dutton. Modern Yardage fabric is a bit different from the usual stuff. The prints are 44" wide but they are printed on 58" wide fabric - the extra 14" inches are used for fun and creative value-added items such as sewing patterns, coupons, craft ideas, or messages from the designers. The fabric offered is high quality, 100% cotton, pre-shrunk, optic white poplin. It is free of flame retardant chemicals and environmentally friendly, water based pigments are used. Another cool feature - each print is offered in small, medium, and large scales.

I really like the feel of the fabric, especially for sewing garments. It feels less stiff than regular quilting cotton and has a bit more drape, I think.

Below you'll find instructions for making a shirred summer top (or make it a dress!) with a button placket, side vents, and skinny straps. This stretchy style top will fit a variety of sizes with just a simple adjustment in length. Be sure to read through the entire tutorial before beginning. Happy sewing!


fabric (I used 1/2 yard cuts for my tops but would suggest at least 3/4 yard cuts for sizes 4T and up)
elastic thread
1/2" or smaller buttons
pins/scissors/rotary cutter/mat/ruler
measuring tape
water soluble fabric pen


The measurements I used are based on fabric that is 44" wide. (WOF: Width of Fabric) Begin by cutting the strap and button placket pieces. The button placket piece will eventually be cut into two pieces - length to be determined later in the process. If you end up making a dress 20" or more in length, you'll need to cut 2 WOF button placket pieces. To determine the length of the front and back shirt (or dress) pieces, simply measure your kiddo from armpit level to where you want the shirt to fall + hem allowance for both the top and bottom of the shirt. 

For fit reference: my daughter/model wears a 4T in tops


Begin by finishing the sides of the shirt front and back pieces - either by serging, zig zag stitching, or using pinking shears. 

Next, measure up 3" from the bottom of the shirt front pieces and make a mark. Place one of the front pieces onto the back piece, right sides touching, and sew side seams together using a 1/2" seam allowance making sure to stop at the mark you made. Press open seam allowance and repeat with the other front piece.

Next, you'll hem both the top and bottom of the shirt. I made a narrow hem by folding the fabric under 1/4", pressing, then folding it under again 1/4", and stitching in place. You could also do a rolled hem using a serger for the top of the shirt. When sewing the bottom hem, make sure to stitch around the side vents as well. 

The next step is to add some rows of shirring parallel to the top edge of the shirt. How much is up to you. I did 8 rows (about 2" total) starting close to the top edge of the shirt and using the edge of my presser foot to keep the stitching aligned. The closer together the rows are, the more tightly gathered the fabric will be. Make sure to start and finish at the very edges of the fabric and to either backstitch or tie off the thread ends so they don't unravel. Don't worry about trying to keep things perfect here. . . once the top is shirred, you won't be able to notice any wonky stitches. Here's a great tutorial for shirring if you need some help with that.

Now you'll attach the button plackets. Since the shirt is so stretchy, I opted not to sew buttonholes and instead just sewed my buttons on through both plackets. If you'd like to add buttonholes, I would suggest adding a strip of fusible interfacing to the inside of the placket pieces for reinforcement.

To determine the length of the button plackets, measure the hemmed/shirred shirt from top to bottom.   Take that measurement and add 1/2" for the seam allowance. For example, my shirt measured 11" so I cut my placket pieces 11.5" long. Fold them in half lengthwise and press. Open the plackets, fold under the short ends by 1/4" and press. Next fold in both long edges in 1/4" and press. Take one of the placket pieces, unfold one of the long edges, and line it up with one of the front edges of the shirt - right sides facing. Pin well, especially in the area with shirring, and check that the bottom and top folded edges line up with the top and bottom edges of the shirt. Keep the short edges folded as that creates the finished edge of the plackets! Sew along the 1/4" crease.

Flip the shirt over so the wrong side is facing you. Press the seam allowance towards the placket and then fold the placket in towards the shirt covering the raw edges and stitching. If needed, adjust the top and bottom edges of the placket to line up evenly with the top and bottom edges of the shirt. Pin in place and top stitch from the right side of the shirt making sure you catch the placket underneath. Pretty much like sewing on binding! I like to top stitch along the other edge of the placket as well but that's optional. Repeat process for other side. 

Almost done! It's time to sew on buttons. Since the "bodice" of the shirt is stretchy, place the buttons in this area close together to prevent gaping. You can space the rest of the buttons out along the skirt. Since I skipped making buttonholes I just placed the plackets on top of each other making sure they were lined up well and the sewed my buttons on through both layers. Once that's complete, try the shirt on your kiddo and determine where you want the straps to go in the front and back, making marks with a fabric pen. 

Making the straps:

I make my straps like double fold tape since it's easier (to me, anyways) than trying to turn skinny tubes of fabric right side out.  I fold the long strips in half and press (1). Unfold (2) and then press in both long edges to meet at the crease in the middle (3). Press again and then fold in half again (4). I then sew along both edges. Each long strap can be cut into 2 pieces giving you 4 straps total. 

To attach the straps simply tuck them into the shirt by about 3/4" at the marks you made and then tack them in place using the sewing machine. Trim the straps as needed and tie small knots at the ends of them. Finished! 

Hope you've enjoyed the tutorial. If you have any questions, feel free to email me or post in the comments below and I'll be sure to answer. Tutorial is personal use only! Please don't copy/paste the tutorial in its entirety elsewhere. Thanks!

Don't forget to check out the great prints available at Modern Yardage!


  1. I love this shirt and the fabric is great! My daughter needs a few new summer tops and this looks perfect!

  2. adorable- I love the funfetti print :)

  3. Both fabrics are adorable and so is the shirt.
    Great tutorial!

  4. Waaaaa!!! I want an adult size version for myself :) Seriously!! I'm beyond tickled that you chose some of my fabrics for your stunning tutorial and it makes me giddy that you love the quality and the fun extra treats Modern Yardage prints on the additional 14". Thanks so much for sharing Vanessa! I'm smiling from ear to ear!

  5. Oh this is fantastic!! I love love love it!

  6. Super cute and I happened to order the same prints! :)

  7. Gorgeous and will definitely be gorgeous as a dress too. I love the spot print:)

  8. I pinned this one because it is stinking adorable! I could see my little Sweet Pea in this top!

  9. Super cute tops!! And adorable model, too. Thanks for the link to the shirring tutorial -- great info!

  10. Beautifully written and photographed as usual. I'm petrified of shirring, but this seams approachable. Thanks for sharing this Vanessa!

  11. SUCH a cute top and tutorial, Vanessa! Love it.

  12. you are the master of sewing. and photography. love love love these tops!

  13. These are so cute and sweet! I've made similar shirred dresses before, but without the buttons. The buttons really make yours stand out - so classy! And I had not heard of Modern Yardage yet - what an amazing range of fabric they have!

  14. Thanks for the tutorial!! Can't wait to try this!!

  15. very nice tutorial loved the way its explained