FREE Simple Boat Neck Top Pattern – One Hour Project

simple boat neck top patternThis long sleeved, simple boat top can be made in only one hour –assuming you have a fully functioning sewing machine.  The top is comfortable to wear and very functional.  It can be worn in a wide variety of settings and complements all kinds of different looks.

I was a little bit annoyed while making this top.  As you know, I took a few weeks off to go to Europe looking for inspiration.  I brought with me one of those hand-held sewing machines and was planning to share with you 4 or 5 projects made with it, so in case you ever needed to make something on the go, you could do the same thing.  Sadly, I didn't check to see if the machine actually worked!  So I didn't manage to get any use out of the thing at all.  If anyone has had any success with a machine like THIS, I'd certainly love to hear about it in the comments below.

simple boat neck topAfter many attempts trying to make the machine work, I decided to take it apart and finally managed to sew a little.  However, the tension was never good enough to make anything that I would be happy to wear.  Needless to say, the machine ended in the rubbish bin.  That was plan A. On to plan B, sew by hand.

I decided to try to answer the question: “Can you really sew knit by hand?”  And if so, what stitch is the best? As it turns out, I had to use a combination of a back stitch and a running stitch but it seemed to come out OK.  The only reason I ended sewing the simple boat neck top pattern by hand is that I packed the wrong pile of clothes.  More on that later.

For Your Consideration

Are you a beginner and afraid of knits?  I hope you read this article about Sewing Stretchy Knits first before you proceed any further. Understanding knits and the types there are is a crucial step in buying the right fabric for your project.

simple boat neck top pattern

The simple boat neck top pattern is really easy to make.  I used a linen jersey knit with a very appropriate print of the map of the world.  (Please see the image below.)  You can use rayon, cotton or a combination of all, soft and drapey is best since the sleeves are kimono style.  I love this top since it is very easy to make and even easier to wear with a pair of jeans, culottes or a pencil skirt.

When I got back home, I made another one for this tutorial which you can see above.  This time I only used a small stitch on my serger with no hemming was required. In total it took me 35 minutes to make this top.

simple boat neck top pattern


Fabric Suggestions

The exact fabric I used is on the right side of this selection.

Optional Tools

Finished Garment Measurements

Size Width Length Hips Wrist
S 52″ 22 3/4″ 35″ 8″
M 52 1/2″ 23″ 36″ 9″
L 53″ 23 1/4″ 37″ 10″
XL 52 1/2″ 23 1/2″ 38″ 11″
2XL 54 1/2″ 24″ 39 1/2″ 12 1/2″
3XL 55 1/2″ 25″ 41 1/2″ 14 1/2″

Pattern Download

Opt In Image
Download the Free Pattern

You can download the pattern for this Easy Boat Neck Top from our account at Craftsy.

For help downloading and printing PDF patterns, please CLICK HERE.

Pattern Layout

simple boat neck top pattern

How to Sew the Simple Boat Neck Top Pattern

For best results, prewash your fabric and dry and then leave the fabric resting on a table overnight.

There are only two pieces to this simple boat neck top pattern.  The boat neck neckline allowed me to make just one pattern piece and use it both as front and back.  That is the reason you must use a very soft and drapey fabric.

If you have a four thread overlocker, go ahead and sew the top with the overlocker and seal or clean all the seam allowances including the wrists and hemline.  Please note the seam allowance is 1/4″ for all seams.  It is perfectly fine not to hem this top, but for that, you will need to change the serger to a smaller stitch.

Step One: Sew the Arms and Shoulders

Place the back print side up.  Align the front on the top print side down.  Prints are together.  Sewing along the arms and shoulders as indicated in the diagram showing location 1.simple boat neck top pattern


Step Two: Sew the Sides

Sew the sides making sure you do not stretch the fabric when you are sewing.  Sew along the seams indicated in the diagram showing location 2.simple boat neck top pattern

Step Three: Sew the Boat Neck to Seal the Fabric Edge

The best way to seal the seam is with the use of your serger using a small to medium stitch.  This will depend on your serger.  Take a picture of your current settings.  Then,  practice on a scrap of fabric before you decided to serge the top.  If you don't have a serger, use your sewing machine with a small zigzag.  If you're doing this project by hand, you can use a running stitch.

Step Four: Sew the Wrists Hem to Seal the Fabric Edge

This is the same as the neck.

Step Five: Sew the Hem to Seal the Fabric Edge

This is the same as the neck and wrists.

If your machine has a stretch stitch use it to make the hems at the neck, wrists, and bottom.  Try the stitch on a scrap of fabric.  If your fabric curls use a walking foot.

If you are using ITY knit the need for a zigzag or the use of the overlocker is not really necessary since this type of fabric does not ravel.



I made this top by hand, but you don't have to.  Use your sewing machine and in under an hour you will have a top to wear.

I know what you are thinking by now, why did I?  Remember when I mentioned I packed the wrong pile of clothes? Two days before traveling I usually make three piles of clothes:  The Yes Pile, the Maybe Pile and Probably Not Pile.

The Yes Pile has toiletries, makeup, jewelry, a light trench coat, a cardigan, socks and a very large silk scarf that can be worn as a top.  One pencil skirt, three blouses, a pair of jeans, one pair of walking shorts one long summer dress, one short black dress, and one in a “current fashion”.

The Maybe Pile contains things I like that might not be practical. Wedge sandals, stilettos, miniskirt, tight jersey knit dresses, white crispy tops, trendy tops in none natural fibers, dry cleanable dresses and pants,  tight outfits that I can wear if I fast for two days.  Spaghetti strap silk tops and dresses, pencil skirts in light colors. I think you get the picture.

The Probably Not Pile is everything I love but probably can't wear because I have put on weight or it is inappropriate.  Thick fabrics or too dressy for example.

Well, I ended up taking only the Maybe Pile.  I could make things work, but I was freezing in the cold of the Helsinki summer and cooking in the 105+ degrees (40+ degrees C) heat of Spain.  Dressing in layers saved the day and this is one of the tops that kept me warm during the very long, cold and windy days of the Baltic Region.

I am back home now and have since made another simple boat neck top which you can see in this tutorial.  This time I only used three threads and a small stitch on my serger with no hemming required.  It took me only 35 minutes to make this top and I'm sure you too can make on in under an hour.

Hope you enjoy it. Until Next time!

simple boat neck top pattern

Bookmark the permalink.

87 Responses to FREE Simple Boat Neck Top Pattern – One Hour Project

  1. Margaret Cannon says:

    Love it!

  2. Silva says:

    This looks like a simple and easy pattern for tops (variations of pattern) that are needed in a hurry!

  3. Teresa HG says:

    I always last more than you. If I make it quickly I make mistakes.

  4. Melanie Savage says:

    It would be really simple to extend the length (and widen the bottom to fit your hip measurement) so the top becomes a very versatile dress. Depending on your choice of knit fabric, it could be casual, office-friendly, or even a glam evening look. Thanks for a super easy pattern!

  5. Sue Lubin says:

    I ” think” I can never download your free patterns. Any helpful hints on how to do it?

  6. Lori Schell says:

    I think i am going to try this pattern and it will work well with my wings on my arms….lol

  7. Connie Bruce says:

    Looks like a quick project and great sewing technique. But, this is not something I would have in my Wardrobe. The look is just not for me. I don’t care for the sloppy unfitted look. Trends are moving away from the tent and back to a more feminine streamline look. Not great for the overweight woman. But, this would be perfect if you were.

  8. Carleen Parlato says:

    I’ve tried to use the hand held sewing machines without success. I’d rather sew by hand ( shudder)

  9. Michele says:


    Am I mistaken or did you rotate the ribbed knit in the first pictures so that the stretch is going top to bottom and not side to side?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      HI Michele, No, the stretch goes side to side.

      • Michele says:

        Sorry, my brain mustn’t be functioning. 😉

        The ribs in the top run horizontally and not vertically. Doesn’t knit rib usually stretch perpendicular to the direction of the ribs, and not in the same direction as the rib?

        • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

          Hi Michele you are assuming there is ribbing at the top there is not. What you see if a fold on the fabric due to the pose. I place the grainline horizontally because that is how I liked the drape of the fabric. I welcome experimentation, let me know what you come up with.

  10. Monika says:

    Hi, I’ve made it. It is fantastic. Thank you for this pattern!!!

  11. Heather says:

    This was my very first piece of clothing! It’s not perfect and I had to learn some lessons about sewing in general and getting to know my machine but I think it turned out cute! Your instructions are always easy to follow. Thank you so much for that!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi, Heather, I think your top came out great! Congratulations for making such great job on your first try;)

  12. Susan Babynchuk says:

    Hi there,
    I absolutely love your patterns. I have been trying to download your free boatneck shirt pattern and am running intoa problem. I click on the download pattern button, I am directed to another page but nothing loads up. Can you please help?
    Many thanks

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Susan, I think you might have a pop blocker, disable that and you will be able to redirect to that page.

  13. Sharon Luedeman says:

    Cute top. Thanks for the free pattern. I do love your patterns as you have such a selection of both free and paid for. Lots of inspiration from your newsletters. I have one of those hand held machines that I purchased 40 some years ago. It was ok for a quick mend,, but actually never worked. Not sure why I still have it ! lol

  14. Maegen Teasley says:

    I love this shirt pattern! It is so easy to make. My 7 year old daughter loves sewing and wanted to make herself one in her school colors. I just altered the pattern a bit s it would fit her. We are very happy with the way it turned out.

  15. Jackie says:


    Would u mind sharing where you found the linen jersey fabric with the map on it? It’s stunning thank you!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi, Jackie, I found it in a sale bin at a fabric store in Helsinki called Eurokangas. It is jersey linen and it is called blue sea. Hope that helps 🙂

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      HI Jackie, I found it in Estonia at a fabric shop called Abakhan, I believe they have a website.

  16. Alex says:

    Very easy top to make thank you! I found it a little short for me so since I’d already cut it I finished the bottom with some thick bias tape in a matching colour – worked perfectly!

  17. tricia says:

    The pattern says to cut “straps”, but they aren’t mentioned in the instructions…

  18. Cheryl Moore says:

    Thanks for the pattern! Just cut one out and reading the instructions it says to cut two straps at 4 x 22″. What are the straps for?
    Thanks for your help!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Thank you, Cheryl, there is no need for straps at all, it is a typo. I am fixing the PDF. all you need is front and back.

      • Cheryl Moore says:

        Thanks! I made the top in no time at all!!! Love, love, love the way it fits! This is a keeper for all seasons!

  19. Linda L. says:

    What’s the purpose of leaving the fabric overnight after you wash it?
    I had one of those hand machines too – it was only good for making temporary repairs and then only on lighter weight materials. It lived in the car for things like the unravelling hem I only saw as my daughter was heading into the school. It didn’t last very long even then.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Sometimes the fabric is overstretched, this allows the yarns to go back to their original place. This is a must when cutting a few tops at one time.

  20. Daniele says:

    Hi, I love this pattern and I will use it with a knit I already bought 2 or 3 years ago and which never came to use. I only have a question about the hemming. Do you fold the fabric in or do you really only zigzag it and let it show? Thanks in advance and have a nice day.

  21. michele says:

    I wonder if you can add length and make it into an easy wear dress?

  22. Summerdays says:

    I also had one of those little handheld sewing machines and couldn’t make it work either. My husband eventually concluded that they are only good to sew the top of grain or sugar sacks closed. I also had a small toy type sewing machine that only did chain stitch – it was marginally better than the handheld, although in the end it was much quicker and more reliable to rather hand sew instead!

  23. Elaine Cadiente says:

    I don’t understand how I can cut two (front and back pieces) on the fold with just 3/4 yard. The finished length of a size small is 22 3/4″ so wouldn’t I need that length times 2?

  24. Susan says:

    Next time try one of those little colored Janomes. They’re a real working sewing machine, but very small, designed for kids. But they actually sew, are lightweight plastic and fairly small (only 5″ deep, for example). I picked up a leomon yellow one last year from Bed Bath & Beyond online, for only about $35, b/c they were clearancing out that color and of course, BB&B has 20% off coupons. I tried it out and it sews great. Has zigzag and straight stitch. It even has a decorative satin scollop stitch. Great reviews on Amazon. They come in all sorts of colors. Mine is called “Citrus Circus.” Check it out! I have a bad back and with this I can sew in bed or in a lounge chair. I got one of those little plastic lap tables with pockets on the sides at Aldi’s for $5, and I can put the sewing machine on that. Works great. (You might need an extension cord, to reach, if you do this.) I use my hand to squeeze the tiny pedal, which is about 4″ square.

    Regarding your free patterns, thank you very much. However, I tried several days in a row to get the passport wallet pattern, but the Craftsy site keeps freezing up and I can never even get to my cart, let alone download anything. I’ve had this problem ever since they upgraded their site. I complained to them about it, but they said it was my fault, b/c my system was not up-to-date. Well, now it is up-to-date, and their site still won’t work for me. Very frustrating, as I love their stuff. I would really like to get this boat neck shirt pattern, as I would actually wear that, but frustrated to try. Is there another site that has your patterns that I could try? Thank you. 🙂

    • Susan says:

      Ok. I tried again and finally was able to download the patterns! Thanks again. 🙂

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi, Susan, I am working on it, Craftsy has Crazy traffic on Sundays, please remember I send an email with the heads up so you do not have to wait until Sunday to grab the pattern.
      I am working on a new Store to host the free and paid patterns. All our paid patterns are on Etsy for now, the store is called Printorplain.
      As for the machine, sounds like a real Jem. I will have a look. I will like to travel with it and sew as I go. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

    • Karen says:

      I had a similar problem with Craftsy. It turned out my PriceBlink was keeping the site from working correctly. Are you using an extension?

  25. Barbara says:

    Please give suggestions for a nicer edge finish. When I make a nice design like this I want to give the edges a professional finish. Did the inspirations you saw in Europe use the zig zag or the merged edges with no turn over or hem? Thank you for the free pattern. I will study it and wait for your reply. You are so kind.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      HI, Barbara, I might have misled you into thinking I saw this top in Europe. No, I did not, I was looking for new fabrics, new colors and textures this is what inspires me. I found this knitted linen, and ribbed knit linen not available where I live (Singapore). I used the exposed stitch because I had no machine. The other top I used my serger with a very small stitch (merged edges), just because it is exposed doesn’t have to look tacky. I love the look since the fabric is casual I can get away with it. But since you prefer a more finished edge use your serger first then turn no more than 1/2″ for all hems and 1/4″ for the neck. Do let me know how you found the pattern. Keep in touch 🙂

  26. Joyce Handley says:

    Love the top .hope tp make it soon..1

  27. Mary C says:

    Thank you for this pattern. I am thinking about fall and winter and I “need” ( as in really, really, really want) some new tops. This is perfect.
    I got one of those hand sewing machines about 8 years ago – thought it would be the answer for hemming draperies in odd size windows. I too, tossed it in the bin.

  28. sandra lyons says:

    Thank you so much. I had a top years ago like this and loved it. Been looking for a pattern ever since. It was simple to make and SO comfortable. Especially plus size.

  29. Sarah Testa says:

    Love the idea of something simple (Darts! Pockets! NO!) and easy to wear. Depending on the fabric, you could even go elegant 🙂

  30. does this work with simple cotton fabric?

  31. Nicole says:

    I’ve never been able to get similar hand sewing machines to work, they seem to just damage the fabric.

  32. Joanne Roots-Rochon says:

    love the pattern, thank you for sharing it with us. As for the hand held “sewing machine” these are for quick mending only, i.e. fixing a hem. They don’t actually “sew” a garment. I kept on at work for many years, and other than quickly mending something, it as pretty useless.

  33. Claudia Wright says:

    I made size large and 3/4 yard was only enough for one piece. I used 1 and 5/8 yards and made mine a little longer and widened the hip so it could hang longer if I wanted to wear it out.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Would love a picture, Claudia 🙂 The fabric requirement is 1 3/4 since the stretch needs to be across the chest.

  34. Andrea L says:

    This would be lovely with a band to finish the bottom and sleeves and take care of finishing the edges. Your handheld machine? Yeah, I had one too and could never get to work either. Though it was by a different manufacturer, same problem. The tension was so bad as to be useless. Never could get anything but but large loops. Cet la vie!

  35. Sharon says:

    I bought one of those hand-helds, too. Never did work. I thought “Too good to be true” and never picked it up again.

  36. Rose says:

    Hi thanks so much for the cute pattern!
    When you seal the seam when sewing with the surger do you stil turn the neck under and sew it? Rose

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      I did not but you can if you do not like the look, it truly depends on how you like the look. Do match the thread to the fabric as close as possible for better results.

  37. Sandra F. says:

    Thank you, love this style, will be making several of them perhaps for each season!!!!

  38. Leigh Rollins says:

    what do you mean by “seal” the seams, please?

  39. I love this so much! Im just getting back into sewing and I have 2 tops like that I love. Now I can make my own! One questions- cam I make it a bit longer? I’d love one a bit longer…….

  40. Cristel says:

    Thank you so very much for this great(free) pattern and about that handsewingmachine I couldn’t work with it too.

What do you think?