The Essential Toddler Tee | Free Pattern and Video Tutorial

JAN 31, 2018 updated Sep 8, 2021

Searching for something to keep your little one stylish AND comfortable? This DIY Toddler Tee tutorial (free pattern included!) is guaranteed to make everyone happy. These are a cinch to sew up, and you can customize them to your child’s style. Pair with leggings for the ultimate comfy and crafty outfit. Check out the video tutorial below, or jump down to follow along with the step by step guide.

The Essential Toddler Tee | Free Pattern and Video Tutorial | Spoonflower Blog
Featured designs: Arctic Boats by fabelvag, Swedish Boy on Goose by revista, Kawaii Forest Faces on Pink by cjldesigns, Strawberry Summer Party by heleen_vd_thillart

Materials You’ll Need:

The Essential Toddler Tee - materials | Spoonflower Blog

  • 1 yard of Organic Cotton Knit Ultra (you could also use Cotton Spandex Jersey, Modern Jersey or Performance Pique)
  • Free digital pattern
    • Available in sizes 2T-5T
    • Seam allowances included in the pattern and specified with each corresponding step below
  • Fabric scissors or rotary blade
  • Sewing machine
    • Optional – Serger
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric pen 

The Essential Toddler Tee - cut your pattern out | Spoonflower Blog

Cut the pattern pieces for your preferred size. Fold your fabric in half, matching up the two selvedge edges. Trace the front and back shirt pieces on the fold and cut them out. Cut out two sleeves and one neck band on the fold from the rest of the fabric sleeves and armband pattern pieces. 

Pro tip: Neckband option 1 is for a jersey knit or ribbing. Neckband option 2 is suitable for knits with a little less stretch like the Organic Cotton Knit Ultra. 

The Essential Toddler Tee - pattern pieces | Spoonflower Blog

You should have a front and back piece, two sleeves, and one neckband.

The Essential Toddler Tee - pin your shirt pieces together | Spoonflower Blog

Pin the shirt front and shirt back pieces at the shoulder seams with right sides facing. Since we’re sewing with a knit fabric, you’ll want to use a zigzag stitch and ballpoint needle throughout. Sew the shoulder seams together using a ⅝” seam allowance. Press the seams open.  

The Essential Toddler Tee - hem your sleeves | Spoonflower Blog

Prepare the sleeves. Fold the flat edge of the sleeve in about  ¼” and again another ¼”, and stitch to hem.

The Essential Toddler Tee - finished sleeves | Spoonflower Blog

Repeat for the other sleeve.

The Essential Toddler Tee - attach the sleeves | Spoonflower Blog

Match the top center of the sleeve curve to the shoulder seam. Pin the sleeves to the shirt armholes with right sides facing. Stitch together using ¼” seam allowance.

The Essential Toddler Tee - attach the sleeves | Spoonflower Blog

The bottom of the sleeve and the sides of the shirt will still be open at this point.

The Essential Toddler Tee - pin the shirt together along the side seams | Spoonflower Blog

Sew the side seams by pinning the shirt front and back pieces together with right sides facing all the way up through the sleeve openings. Sew from the sleeve opening to the bottom of the shirt at ⅝” seam allowance. Press the seams open.  

The Essential Toddler Tee - prepare the neckband | Spoonflower Blog

Prepare the neckband by folding the fabric in half lengthwise with right sides together. Sew the raw edge with a ⅝” seam allowance.

The Essential Toddler Tee - fold the neckline | Spoonflower Blog
Featured design: French Linen Boho Adobo by Holli_Zollinger

Fold the neckband widthwise with wrong sides facing.

The Essential Toddler Tee - attach the neckband | Spoonflower Blog

To ensure your neckband lays flat, divide it into four even sections. Do the same with your T-shirt by finding the center of the front, center of the back, and shoulder seams. Pin the neckband and shirt body together, matching the four points.

The Essential Toddler Tee - attach the neckband | Spoonflower Blog

Sew the neckband to the right side of the fabric by starting in the center back and slightly stretching the neckband to fit into the T-shirt. There should a perfect amount of stretch in between each pin.

Pro Tip: Topstitch just below the neckband for a more finished look.

The Essential Toddler Tee - hem the bottom of the shirt | Spoonflower Blog

Hem the bottom of the shirt by folding the unfinished edge in about  ¼” and again another ¼”. Top stitch around the edge.

And you’re done! Don’t forget to sew up a coordinating pair of leggings so you can gift an adorable outfit to an adorable baby.

The essential toddler tee with free pattern and video tutorial! | Spoonflower Blog
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  • Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I have the pattern for the T shirt, thank you. But I haven’t been able to get the neck band right. They are my nemesis but I followed every thing you said. It has turned out better than previous attempts but it’s gaping at the front. Is there anything I can do other than taking the neck band off? Should I maybe cut the neck band a little shorter next time? Do you have a blog on how to do the ribbed neck? I wish I could post a photo of the neck band! Thank you.

  • Hi. Thank you for the freebies! Just checking that the seam allowance for the kids’ t-shirt when sewing the neckband is 1/4 inch? It doesn’t specify for that step.
    Cheers, Katherine

    • Hi Katherine!

      Other than the very first neckband step (prepare by folding the fabric in half lengthwise with right sides together, sew the raw edge 5/8″), you’re correct that you should use a 1/4″ seam allowance.


  • Hi there. I am trying to download the pattern but a quilt pattern keeps turning up when I click on the pattern. Would you be able to help please?

    • Hi Liv,

      Thanks for your interest in our free pattern. If you still need assistance I would recommend watching the tutorial video here to see how the sleeves are sewn.

      Take care,

  • Sharon Messersmith

    Thanks for great instructions! I just finished four tshirts for my granddaughter and your video and clear instructions enabled me to finish with adorable shirts and a rare feeling of pride. I\’ll be looking for more of your patterns!

  • bonsoir
    s\’il vous plait
    comment imprime le patron mon imprimante me propose plusieurs chois réelle ou a 100/° j\’aie un essais et un patron est plus grand
    alors pouvez vous me dire a quoi corresponde les taille en français et le carre de repère Test Square 2” by 2”
    merci ce serait une bonne aide pour travaille dans la bonne taille

    • Salut, vous voudrez imprimer le motif à 100%. Le carré de 2 “indique que lorsqu’il est imprimé, le carré équivaut à 2 pouces.

      Je ne parle pas français, mais j’espère que cela se traduit!

  • Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I printed the pattern an the shirt front pattern is shorter than the shirt back pattern piece. Is this correct, should they be different size in length? I measured the squares and they measure correctly for sizing.

  • Sophie Tomlins

    It\’s the first time I\’ve made anything stretchy! It was a success and I\’m really pleased. I made it size 5 and the neck seems quite wide (instructions didn\’t say seam allowance for this so I did it at 5/8 and it looks similar width to the example photos) and the sleeves a little on the snug side. I added a little pocket which looks great. Thank you for the pattern 🙂

  • Deborah Peck

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    When sewing the neck band to the neck, is it a 5/8\” seam allowance?

  • Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I love the pattern! I have a question regarding the neckband. I don’t see what the seam allowance is when I attach the neck and to the shirt. Is it 5/8 or 1/2?

    Thank you 😊

  • Hi, thanks for sharing this pattern. Could it be made in cotton muslin double gauze fabric do you know? I am not familiar with sewing with the fabric yet…

    • Hi Kate,
      Great question! This pattern is intended for knit (stretchy) fabrics like Organic Cotton Knit, Modern Jersey or Cotton Spandex Jersey, so we would not suggest a woven gauze fabric for this project. I hope that helps, but if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask! – Meredith

    • Hi Samantha,
      Thanks for your question! All of Spoonflower’s free patterns are designed to be printed on 8.5″ x 11″ pieces of paper. I hope that helps, but if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask! -Meredith from Spoonflower

  • I made a shirt for my daughter in size 2T. I used a child sleepwear fabric and a white ribbing for the neck. For some reason my neckline came out very wide. Wider than I’d like it to be. It’s almost similar to a boat neck line. Would you know what I may have done wrong?

    • Hi J,

      Thanks so much for your message and we’re sorry to hear there was an issue with the toddler tee! Are you able to send photos of the finished t-shirt to so we can take a closer look and see what the issue might be? We updated the pattern on April 20, 2018 to resolve a neckband issue so any additional details you can provide to help improve the pattern would be great! -Meredith from Spoonflower

    • Christelle Heyns

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      Hi, what seam allowance do you use when attaching the neckband to the shirt?

    • Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      I’m having this same problem. I’ve watched the video as well and I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. The curves don’t seem to line up. Is there a way that I could attach/send photos to show what I mean?

    • Hi Pandee,

      We’re sorry to hear the sleeves are giving you trouble! We have not experienced an issue with matching the sleeves but if you’d like to provide more details, we’d be happy to see what might have causing the problem.
      -Meredith from Spoonflower

  • Is it possible to extend the arms to make it a long sleeve? Hoping to use this pattern for my son’s Halloween costume. Thanks!

    • Hi Sarah,

      You can definitely extend the arms to make a long sleeve version! Using the circumference of the wrist (including seam allowances) you can extend the arm based on the arm measurements. If you have any other questions, please send us a message at
      -Meredith from Spoonflower

  • Great pattern but similar to other reviews the neck is much to small. I made the 3T size for my 2.5 yr old nephew. Before alterations it barely fit over his head and was then clinging to his neck more like a turtle-neck would. I cut the t-shirt just outside of the seam of the neckband to increase the size of the neck hole and then sewed on a longer neckband (cut at approx 11.5\” long). The neck fits great now and he will be able to grow into it. Thanks for the pattern!

    • Hi Megan,
      Thanks so much for your feedback and we apologize for any trouble caused. We’ve updated the pattern based on the feedback we’ve received and appreciate you sharing your experience.
      -Meredith from Spoonflower

  • Hello i wanted to know if you had any patterns 6-9 months for a shirt for a boy?

    • Nicky,

      Thanks so much for your question! At this time we’re only offering this pattern in 2T-5T. If we update the pattern to include additional sizes, we’ll be sure to let you know.

      -Meredith from Spoonflower

  • Hi, I have just cut out a neckband Option 2 from Organic Knit – there is no way this is fitting over my 2-year-old’s head! Am I missing something?

    • Hi Lilia,
      We’re so sorry to hear the neckband isn’t the size you were expecting! We’ll be happy to look into this further but when you have a chance, can you confirm your pattern was printed at 100% and the 1″ sample square measure 1″? We look forward to hearing back from you soon!

      -Meredith from Spoonflower

      • Lilia Subkhankulova

        Well, I stuck with it. I have trimmed as much as I could on a serger when setting in the neck band and it just fits around her head. When it settles after being worn for a little while it looks neat on her. If I cut the neck band longer I think it’d just pucker. So I think ideally the neck hole needs to be a tad bigger. But it did work and my 2yo does have a Stewie Griffith head, so would probably be fine for other kids. Thank you! I am very pleased with the result!

        • Hi Lilia,
          We’re so glad you gave it a try and thank you for sharing your feedback about the neckband. We’ve passed along your feedback to our pattern drafter and appreciate you taking the time to share your experience.
          -Meredith from Spoonflower

  • Why are there 2 options for the neckband? I did not find an explanation in the instructions. Thank you.

    • Hi Georgina,
      Thanks for your question! Neckband option 1 is for a jersey knit or ribbing. Neckband option 2 is suitable for knits with a little less stretch like the Organic Cotton Knit Ultra. If you have any other questions, please send us a message at

      -Meredith from Spoonflower

  • Do the patterns include seam allowance? Or do you have to add it yourself before you cut the fabric?

    • Hi Marijke,
      Sorry about any confusion! The seam allowances are included in this pattern, and we’ve updated the blog post to note that. The seam allowances are specified for each step of the tutorial, since they differ throughout.
      Suz from Spoonflower

      • Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        I can’t find the seam allowance for the neckline to attach the neckband in the blog. Since your seam allowances aren’t consistent, it would be nice to know what it is . If it’s 1/4″, that seems like a very wide finished width for a neckband for a little girl. If it’s 5/8″, that’s more challenging to stitch the straight band to the curved neckline because the cut edge of the shirt body has to be stretched a lot more.

    • Hi Chéri,
      Great question! This pattern can be used for boys and girls!

    • Hi Michelle,
      We’ve updated the pattern to include finished measurements of the tee. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to send us a message at

  • I’d like to make this for my granddaughter. I have looked through the blog post and the pattern and do not find the measurements for the different sizes that your pattern offers. Am I missing this information?

    Thank you for any help you can give me,

        • Hi Ashli,

          Thanks for letting us know! We’ve updated the pattern to reflect the sizing for 2T-5T.