Back to School Art Smock Tutorial

on August 5 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 47 Comments

Shelly Figueroa from Patterns by Figgy’s and our Sew,Mama,Sew! Editorial Board created this cute art smock tutorial for some Back to School fun. Now you can protect all of the new clothes you’re sewing with a cute smock, so kiddos can make a big, creative mess! Learn more about Shelly in her interview, and enjoy today’s tutorial!

My youngest son is preparing to begin his very first year of preschool. I know for a fact I’m more nervous about this than he is. He’ll be attending an “art” focused school that teaches a “learn by play” curriculum. When I first visited the school the teacher said “If you choose to send your son to our school I will warn you, he’ll come home filthy.” That made me so happy because:

      1. Most of his clothes are already filthy (he’s a boy) and…


    2. …To me that statement means he’s going to LEARN.

She also spoke about how they are always looking for “greener” donations and ideas to have in the classroom. My first thought being in the art school was “art smock.” I’m happy to have the chance to share this quick & fun art smock tutorial with you so that you can also create one for your child to wear. (Bonus: it is a really nice donation for the classroom.)

    You will need:

  • Nice fitting Tee shirt from your son or daughter’s closet
  • Ruler
  • Tracing Paper
  • Pencil
  • 1- 1.5 yds of Fabric (depending on the size you make)
  • Coordinating Thread
  • Handmade bias tape using fabric or pre-packaged purchased bias tape (roughly 2 – 2.5yds depending on your smock size)

Creating the Pattern:
1. Lay your tracing paper on a flat surface.
2. Fold the tee shirt in half and tuck the sleeves inside the shirt in order to show the curve in the arm opening. 1” from the edge of the paper align the folded edge of the tee shirt
3. Place the ruler at the bottom of the neck opening and ½” away from the tee shirt edge. Draw a straight line from the neck opening to 4” past the hem of the tee shirt.

4. Place the ruler at the bottom of the tucked in arm hole ½” away from the tee shirt. You will now angle your ruler out so that as you come down the side of your tee you will slowly move the ruler 1.5” away to form the (A-line). For those of you who are very technical your ruler will be placed at a 15 degree angle.

5. Place the ruler with the 4” mark aligned with the bottom hem of the tee shirt and make markings from the folded edge of the tee to the side seam. This will help you create a nice straight line.

6. Find an item in your house that you can use as a guide to mark the arm openings. My mixing bowl was a perfect fit. Large yogurt containers are always helpful, too.
7. Place the guide ½” away from the sleeve curve and mark from the top of the shoulder to the side mark.
8. Repeat with the neck opening.
9. Once you have those two curves marked you can draw a straight line across to connect the two.

I suggest writing “Cut 1 on fold for FRONT and Cut 2 for Back” onto your traced pattern for later use.

10. Place your bowl at the bottom right corner and trace a small curve. I suggest writing “back” next to this line b/c when you cut the back you will be cutting this little corner in a curved shape. Feel free to curve as much or as little as you like.

11. Time to cut your pattern! I chose a heavier weight fabric because I felt durability would be key to this project. I chose to use Echino “bus” fabric by Kokka.
12. For the Front panel you will cut 1 on the fold. For the Back panels you will need to cut 2 (not on the fold) and remember to trim off the blunt corner for a softer curved effect for the back.

13. Right sides together stitch the front to the backs at shoulder seam using a ½” seam allowance. Press the seam allowances towards the front.

14. Top stitch close to the seam and trim close to the stitching.

15. *Encase the armhole edges using the pre-made double fold bias tape or your handmade bias tape. Top stitch.

16. Right sides together using ½” seam allowance stitch the front to back at the side seams.

17. Measure the smock beginning from the neck opening on the left and around until to you reach the neck opening on the right. This will help you to estimate the amount of bias tape you will need.

18. *Encase the back and lower edge with bias tape. Top stitch.

19. *Encase the neck edge with bias tape, enclosing the raw edges, and leave 10” extended beyond each back neck edge to use as ties.

Top stitch, beginning at the end of one tie and around the neck, ending at the other end of the tie. I chose to use a “fancier” stitch just for fun. Another option here is to use twill tape.

All done!
I hope you enjoyed the tutorial. Have fun & Happy Sewing!
– Shelly

* Encase – Purchased bias tape will come pre-folded with one side a little wider than the other side. The wider side is to be placed on the WRONG side of the garment so that when the tape is stitched in place from the RIGHT side both edges will be caught while top stitching.

For your reference: Terrific post on how to make your own bias tape found here.

Comment on our Back to School Pattern features all week long for your chance to win a new pattern!

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47 Responses to Back to School Art Smock Tutorial

  1. shelly says:

    Thank you everyone for your responses!
    I’m so happy you enjoyed the tutorial and so
    happy to hear that some of you already made them!!
    Have a wonderful school year.

  2. Samina says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. My 2 1/2 year old is starting preschool too & I’m defintely going to make one of these for him. I expect that I’ll earn some brownie points (for him) if I offer to make them for the rest of his little class, too.

  3. CBx4 says:

    I just wanted to say thank you SO MUCH for this great tutorial! My son started preschool this year and I made a bunch of them for all the kids in the class. They are SO EASY to make and turned out so cute!
    Thanks so much!

  4. jes says:

    Ok I need to make this one for my daughter. Her daycare has her already working on art projects and she only 6 months old.

  5. Lindsey says:

    I just got my daughters school supply list from school and she needs an art smock. This pattern is perfect!!

  6. Amy Craven says:

    I’ve made a similar one in the past but I think I might need to make a new one for my little fellow. Maybe a Cars theme…Thank you for the tutorial. You make it look super easy.

  7. JenR says:

    What a wonderful tutorial! I will definitely be trying this! Thank you!!

  8. Samantha says:

    Love it! And I love the instructions for how to draft the pattern.

  9. Sara says:

    Great tutorial, love the fabric choice. Thanks for sharing!

  10. That’s awesome and that bus fabric you selected is terrific!

  11. April Hurley says:

    Oh I want to thank you so much for this tutorial! I have been wanting to make one for my two year old! She is also at a “creative” daycare. They provide smocks, but often run out and don’t have time to wash them between activities!!

  12. Margie Bennett says:

    Thank you I love this tute!! I want to make these for my grandchildren!!

  13. PeachRainbow says:


  14. Chris says:

    That’s perfect! Our son is starting his first year of preschool in a month and we’re SO excited. I’ll have to make a few of these!

  15. Adorable! And I loved the clear, step-by-step photographs.

  16. alisha says:

    Just the other day I was thinking about making an art smock for my daughter. I’ll definitely bookmark this one for when I have some sewing time.

  17. Anne Marie says:

    This is such a great pattern.

  18. Deb Cameron says:

    Great tutorial, is on my list of things to get started! It’s a long list, and that’s just the ones for my boys! LOL!

  19. Morgan says:

    Aw. I think I’d have my kids wear one every day if I could! 😉

  20. briana says:


  21. ~Helena~ says:

    Wow, great tute. Thanks for sharing

  22. Jill B says:

    So clever and the fabric and model couldn’t be any cuter!

  23. Em says:

    I love this! My kids go to a wonderful Montessori school and I made the kids in my daughter’s class some great smocks when she was in Children’s house – Now it’s time to do the same for my Son’s class! I think this is a great tutorial!

  24. Amber H says:

    This is super cute! I love it! This pattern can also just be a child’s apron in the kitchen when helping with cooking and the like. So many possibilities! Or even a pretty smock for a dress.

  25. angelina says:

    so smart! love that echino,,,i make my own bias too! love it!!

  26. Sara says:

    It’s a keeper and the little boy is so cute;)

  27. Rebecca says:

    I think this is such a lovely post and will definitely be back to use this! Thanks for the never ending support in creating!

  28. Kimberly says:

    How clever. Thanks!

  29. That is the cutest fabric ever for an art smock! They won’t want to take it off!

  30. Robin E. says:

    Great tutorial, and an amazing fabric choice. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Marcia W. says:

    Great idea for anything that a pre-k student might do.

  32. Kelly says:

    Very lovely fabric and how nice to see your boy again! Great job on the smock.

  33. Crowleyanna says:

    definitely going to make this one – and one for my nephew!

  34. Jamie says:

    What a great idea! Love the fabric choice too. I think I need to make up a few of these for the sitter.

  35. Devon says:

    Love it!! Got to keep their clothes clean somehow!

  36. Mrs.Pear says:

    Love this! Will definitely be making 2 soon.

  37. Colleen Butler says:

    So very cute and practical!
    And the fabric is great
    Thanks for the tutorial.

  38. Celia says:

    This is fantastic! I’ve been looking for a pattern like this for my boys.

  39. Leah says:

    That’s a really great idea!

  40. sy says:

    aww so cute. i love the fabric choices too.

  41. Jonah says:

    The laminated fabric would be awesome for this. Great tutorial! Thanks Shelly!

  42. Jamilee says:

    I am a preschool teacher and we are really in need of new paint shirts. These are so fun!

  43. Melissa S says:

    I’ll definitely be making this.

  44. DianeY says:

    Very cute, but I think I wouldn’t want that gorgeous fabric to get dirty or stained!

  45. Darling art smock! And what a great idea to use a t-shirt as a pattern! Love that fabric too!


  46. Liz says:

    this is very cute. I need to make my boys some art smocks this year!

  47. bruinbr says:

    Perfect timing for this tutorial! My daughter has decided that she is quite the artist and her clothes are usually her canvas!

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