Monday, February 28, 2011

˚tutorial˚ Making a Onsie (Free Pattern)

Let's be honest. I really like to sew, but...the whole two-students-in-the-house thing doesn't leave a whole lot of room in the budget (and yes, we actually have a budget) for crafting expenses, so sometimes most times, I have to get creative.

I like to grab my coupons and head to the clearance section of any store. (I really like Kohls because they will let you use coupons on their clearance.) So, when I found this little beauty, I couldn't resist the adorable fabric and the price. (Especially because it was another 30% off the clearance price listed.) Nice find right?

After some pattern creating, cutting, and sewing, I turned this inexpensive little beauty (along with some pink scrap knit that I had) into these two onsies:

They look a lot like the white store bought onsie in the picture, don't they? They even have the overlapping shoulder feature to make them easier to put on.

The one thing they are missing...the snaps at the bottom. (I 'm not quite that far yet).

Wouldn't it be cool to make your little one a shirt out of your old favorite shirt?

Want to make your own?
You want to make sure that you have some good fabric. The pink onsie was made of knit, and the blue flower onsie was made of cotton and spandex. The knit was easiest to work with because it was a little less stretchy than the cotton/spandex blend. Stretchy fabrics can be difficult to work with, but with a little patience, and a few tips that can be found in this tutorial, I think you will love the finished product.

The pattern I created is for 3-6 month (maybe a little larger). If you would like a smaller onsie, you might increase your hem length. If you would like a larger size, just use my pattern to create one that is a little bigger. It may be helpful to use an existing onsie to guide you. In order to print the pattern, save the images below, put them into a word processer and make sure they are the same size as an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. (Please don't use these patterns for the making of anything that you will sell. They are for personal use or gifts only.)

 First, print two copies of the pattern and tape them together where indicated. Cut along the blue and bold black lines on one of the copies and the red and bold black lines on the other copy. This will give you the front and back pieces. Then cut out the sleeve piece.

Place the back pattern piece on your fabric, being sure to put the "place on fold" side of the pattern on a fold. You are not going to cut this side of the fabric.

It helps to use a fabric pen (or if you are lazy like me, a normal pen) to trace the pattern. You can also pin the pattern in place using sewing pins. Cut around the pattern (but don't cut along the "fold" side). When you are finished, you should have a back piece that looks like this:

Now do the same thing with the front piece pattern. Place it on the fold:

And cut along the edges. When you are finished, your front piece should look like this:

Now cut out the sleeves. Place the edge that reads "place on fold" on the fold. Cut around the other three edges of the pattern. Do this twice. The sleeves should look like this when you are finished.

Make sure that you make the tick marks on the front and back bodice pieces near the top on both pieces and on both shoulders of the pattern (see the pattern for more instruction). In the end, you will have four tick marks.

You will also need to cut out the ribbing for the onsie. FYI: ribbing can also be purchased (this is the easiest way to get ribbing, but it is also more expensive than using fabric you already have to make your own.) You will need strips of fabric that are:
  • 31 inches x 2 inches
  • 5 inches x 2 inches
  • Two pieces that are 14 inches x 1.25 inches
Since I am repurposing a shirt, I will unpick some of the ribbing that is already on the shirt to use for my two pieces of ribbing that are 14 inches x 1.25 inches.

I also do not have pieces of fabric that are long enough to make a continuous strip that is 31 inches x 2 inches.  So, I will piece two together. 

Here is a little secret for piecing strips of fabric together to avoid a lot of bulk from the seam all in one place. 

First, cut your strips of fabric. Then place them perpendicular to each other (with right sides together) like this:

Sew across the fabric diagonally. Make sure you sew in this direction, or your strip won't open up to be continuous.

 Trim the seam:

 Open your strip and iron the seam open like this:

Now, to make your ribbing, iron the strip in half:

 Unfold the strip and iron each side into the middle to meet at the folded line you just created:

 Now iron the strip in half again:

 Your finished ribbing should look like this. Use this method for any other pieces of ribbing that you need to make.

Now, pin the thin piece of ribbing into place along the top of the front and back bodice piece. Since my fabric is patterned and hard to see, I took a picture of a pink piece of paper (the ribbing) and used a white piece of paper (the bodice piece) as an example. You are going to put the ribbing onto the edge of the fabric like this:

Try not to stretch the ribbing as you pin it into place. Here is the backside of my onsie with the pinned ribbing:

And here is the front: 

 Now sew the ribbing into place. This is the hardest part of the project. Because you are working with stretchy fabric, increase your stitch length to make it easier to sew. You can also use a knit stitch if your machine is able to do that. As often as you need, stop sewing, drop your needle, and lift the foot to rotate and adjust your fabric.

If your fabric slipped and didn't catch everything, feel free to sew along the edge again to be sure everything is secured well. You can also do this if you like the look. If you need to, unpick any sections and resew them so everything is secure.

When sewing ribbing, it tends to stretch a little bit. Just iron the ribbing and it will shrink back into place. Trim the extra thread and any extra ribbing handing off the ends.

Once you have applied the ribbing to the top of the front and the back bodice, your pieces will look like this:

Now lay both pieces (right side up) on the floor. You want the font bodice piece to be below the top bodice piece like this:

 Pull the back bodice piece down until it overlaps the shoulder pieces of the front bodice piece. Make sure that the shoulder pieces of the back bodice piece are on top of the shoulders of the front bodice piece. Match up the tick marks you made above and pin into place.

Hold the pieces up and match the edges of the shoulder pieces and finish pinning into place.

 It should look like this with all the edges matched up nicely:

 Now sew across the shoulder pieces with a 1/4 inch seam. Be sure to back stitch and be careful not to sew over your pins. Clip your extra thread.

 Fold your pieces so that the right sides are together. Pin the edges of the front and back bodice pieces together.

 Sew into place using a 1/4 inch seam. Then zigzag or serge the edges:

 Flip your onsie right side out and iron the sides. Now we need to attach the thicker ribbing onto
 the bottom of the onsie. Start at the edge of the front crotch (leaving a little extra tail just in case) and pin the ribbing. Be careful not to stretch the ribbing as you go.

Do not pin any ribbing to the bottom of the front crotch piece. We will do that in a separate step. Once you are finished, it should look like this:

 Now sew on the thicker ribbing the same way to sewed the thinner ribbing. (I forgot to take a picture of the thick ribbing sewed on....SORRY!) Adjust your ribbing as needed. Unpick any parts that didn't quite get attached and resew them. When you are finished, trim the excess ribbing from the crotch piece.

Now take your short piece of ribbing and fold and iron it into place so that the edges are tapered in, like this:

 Now fold the tapered edges in:

 And fold the whole thing in half. This small piece of ribbing might be a little difficult to handle, but just keep working with it until you get it how you need it.

 Pin the small piece of ribbing into place on the bottom edge of the front crotch piece:

 And sew across the bottom. Be sure to back stitch. Clip any extra thread.

 You are doing good! Now for the sleeves. Pin the bottom of the sleeve about 1/2 inch (depending on how large you want your hem):

 Sew across the hem. You can sew it twice if you like the look:

 Put right sides together to form the seam. Pin.

 Sew using 1/4 inch seam and then zigzag.

 Now, turn your onsie inside out and your sleeve right side out. You are going to put your sleeve inside the armhole of the onsie. This allows the right side of the fabric to be together. Make sure that the hem (that you just sewed above) of the sleeve enters the armhole first. You also want to match up the seams on the sleeve and in the armpit of the onsie.

 Can you see how my seams are matched up here?

 Pin into place. You might want to carefully turn the onsie right side out to be sure you have oriented everything correctly.

 Now, sew along the edge using a 1/4 inch seam. Be very careful so you don't catch any other fabric while you are sewing. You also want to make sure that your new stitch is further towards the center of the onsie than your old shoulder stitch. When you are finished, turn the onsie right side out. Check to make sure everything looks good and is secure, and then zigzag around the seam.

 Do this with both sleeves. Turn the onsie right side out and iron everything so it lays correctly. Now, go find some snaps at your local craft store and you will be good to go!


  1. Super cute. If I had a sewing machine... oh man do I want one.

  2. Found your link on Make It Do comments.

    Those look great and thank you for the tutorial, your explanations make it seem so easy. Love the fabrics!

  3. Thanks for this great tutorial. I printed out the pattern and some of the instructions came out really blurry. I was wondering if the seam allowance is already included or if I should add it?
    Love your site btw.

  4. Cindy,

    Thanks for letting me know about the blurry-ness. I will try and post a better picture. In the meantime, if you email me at candidly-kate (at) gmail (dot) com, I can send you the PDF pattern that should print out better. Also, the seam allowance is included in the pattern. Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow me if you feel so inclined!

  5. Hi Kate,
    Thank you for your swift response. I tried e-mailing you several times big gmail keeps on sending me a msg saying that my msg couldn't be delivered. I would love to receive the pattern in pdf. My email is cindysmith032680 (at) gmail (dot) com.
    Thanks again your new follower Cindy :-)

  6. I would love to get the PDF pattern emailed to me also. My email is

    Thanks so much, Teresa

  7. Thanks so much for the pattern! I so wanted to make a camo onsie for a friend, now I can! Just a little tip...An easier way to put in those tiny sleeves would be to sew them on before you sew the side seam. You would then sew the underarm & side seam as one seam.

  8. awesome tutorial!! So great! I've pinned this. thanks for linking up to Create LInk Inspire!

  9. These are such a great idea! I never thought to make onesies out of our own clothes. The pictures are perfect for explaining every step. Thanks so much for sharing your tutorial and pattern, your post will be featured in tonight's What'd You Do This Weekend! Pinning :-)

    Ashley @

  10. This is a fantastic tutorial and I can't wait to try it! If I were to buy material for it, how much do you think I would need? My second child is due in February and I received a sewing machine for Christmas. :D

    Thank you!

  11. Thank you for the pattern, I've used it in the size it comes and also made a larger version for my 1 year old grand-daughter. However, my first version of this(the 3-6 month version) came out very long and thin, it just goes round my 3 month old grand-daughter but it won't fit her for long. I measured the pattern pieces and they would only allow for about a 38 cm waistline (just over 15") by the time I've taken off 3/8" or a 1cm seam allowance. Luckily I used quite a stretchy knit. The length is also about 40cm which seems quite long for a 3-6 month old. I made it a lot wider but not much longer for the older grand-daughter. For the next one for the 3 month old (now 4 months) I'll need to make it fatter but it can also be quite a bit shorter. Do you think it's just the way it's printing? I'd be interested to know what size yours comes out. Maybe you can put a 1" square (or 2.5cm) on the next version / pattern?

  12. How do I get the pattern? I tried putting it in word & just got gibberish. Thanks

  13. I saw your blog on Pinterest for the onesie pattern and noticed in the comments that you were willing to send a PDF of your pattern via email. I'd like to receive a copy of your pattern as well. I love your idea of buying knit shirts on clearance to make the onesies. Excellent idea! I was using t-shirts to make rompers for my new grandson. My email address is

    I look forward to getting the pattern.

    1. I need pdf pattern my email address

  14. I am just starting to sew and this will be perfect for an upcoming baby shower! Your tutorial is wonderful!! I would love your pattern Thanks!

  15. Hi there,

    I have just started sewing and love your tutorial! Thank you so much for posting. I was wondering if you could please send me the pattern? I would love to make a couple of these for my daughter for xmas,

  16. If I could also get the pattern, that would be awesome! My email is courtney(at)paggeot(dot)com

  17. Really love this tutorial! I've saved the images but they are a bit blurry. Would you please be able to email the pattern to Thanks so much! x

  18. I would love this pattern sent to thank you

  19. Its really good and interesting article. Your love and spoil can be as simple as a new comfortable shelter from BINGO!. If You are a pet lover you should visit the bingo pets.

  20. My daughter wants some onesies for my granddaughter. Your tutorial is phenomenal. I will give it a try after Christmas, next year lol. You have gone into so much detail. Thanks sew much for sharing.


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