Sewing tutorial: Sew a 90 minute beach cover up

(Warning: Lengthy post with many photos follows)

Ditch the t-shirt this summer in favor of a bit of glamour with this oversized beach cover-up.

The inspiration for this cover up came from a Neiman Marcus mailing. When I saw this black polyester caftan my first thought was “oh, how cute” followed by “I can sew that for a lot less than $120!

You can too. Why spend big bucks when you can sew one that's unique to you in 90 minutes or less?

  • One size fits most.
  • The length of the cover up is approximately 36".
  • The width of the cover up is approximately 78" at the bust and 58" at the hem.
  • Pattern can easily be made larger or smaller.
  • 2 yards fabric. Choose a lightweight fabric that drapes well. This sample was sewn using a lightweight semi-sheer knit with a hint of sparkle sprinkled throughout. (From a Fabric Mart Fabrics mystery bundle.)
  • 1/2 yard stay-tape
  • thread
  • Ruler
  • Chalk or marking pencil
The pattern:
You can draw the pattern on paper or directly onto your fabric.

  • If you draw directly onto the fabric, make sure your fabric is folded in half before you begin.
  • Using a ruler, draw two rectangles that measure 36” (long) by 20” (wide)
  • Along the top edge, measure 3” from the fold and make a mark.
  • Along the bottom edge, measure 15” from the fold and make a mark.
  • Along the right edge, measure 12” from the top edge and make a mark. This will be the armhole opening.
  • Draw a diagonal line connecting the 15” mark along the bottom to the 12” mark along the side.
  • On the front pattern piece, measure 8” from the top edge along the center front fold and make amark.
  • Draw a diagonal line connecting the 8” mark along the center front edge to the 3” mark along the top edge. This is the front v-neckline.
  • On the back pattern piece, measure 1-1/2” along the center back edge to the 3” mark along the top edge. This is the back neckline.
Prepare to sew the cover up
  • Seam allowances are 1/2”.
  • Cut out the front and back pieces. Remember both pieces are on the fold of the fabric.
  • Cut one piece of fabric 1-1/2” by 30”. This is for the neck binding.
  • Cut 2 pieces of stay tape each 7” long. You’ll use this to secure the gathers at the shoulder seams.
Sew the cover up
Shoulder Seams
  • Gather each shoulder edge beginning and ending 1” from each edge.
  • Pull up gathers to measure 7”. Secure in place by sewing stay tape over the gathers.
  • You can easily make your shoulder seams longer if you want them to fall lower on your upper arm. Instead of pulling the gathers to 7" try 10" or 12".

    • Sew left shoulder seam together.
    • Sew right shoulder seam together, ending 2” before the neck edge. You’ll finish the shoulderseam after you add the neck binding.
    Binding the neckline
    • Stay stitch the center front point of the cover up. Clip to point.
    • Beginning at right shoulder, pin binding to neck edge right sides together. Sew together.
    • Fold binding to the wrong side, encasing the raw edge. Pin in place.
    • With right side up, stitch in the ditch to secure binding in place.
    • Trim excess binding fabric on inside of neck edge
    • To get a nice point in the binding, fold the binding with right sides together at the center front.
    • Stitch a small vertical seam from the point on the cover up to the top of the binding.
    • Finish sewing right shoulder seam.
    Side seams and armholes
    • Right sides together, sew the side seams ending at the mark you made 12” below the shoulder edge.
    • Hem the armhole opening.
    • Hem the bottom edge.

    Enjoy wearing your new cover-up at the beach!


  1. This looks like so much fun to sew.

  2. The coverup has great style. Thanks for sharing the instructions. Your post is so timely. I have a spring break vacation to a tropical climate coming up soon, and my old coverup is looking shabby.

  3. Great tutorial. Posted an award for you on my blog.

  4. Awesome tute! Thank you for sharing. I will be returning to this post when I make one later on.

  5. Oh! This is wonderful! Thank you so much for visting my blog and for adding this tutorial for Make & Tell Monday. It's so nice to meet you!


  6. Clever! I will be bookmarking this :)

  7. Great tutorial! If the pictures of me on our last beach vacation are any indication of what my body looks like hanging out in a bathing suit, I definitely need to make one of these before our next trip. I posted a link to your tutorial on the Craft Gossip Sewing Blog:

  8. Janice6:28 PM

    I have been looking for a pattern for a few weeks now. I have some fabric and I am going on a beach vacation on July 2. I am going to make this on the weekend. I think it would look great with a belt or cinched at the waist too. Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Thank you for sharing the process of making this pattern.

  11. Can you give some more explanation on the shoulders. Since the front is gathered and not the back, not sure how to sew?


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