Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sew your own T-shirt: Stripes for Spring

how to sew your own easy t-shirt
Saturday I made the royal mistake of going clothes shopping.
I really don't enjoy shopping. It takes me hours upon hours to find anything, and 99.999% of the time I walk out of the store empty handed.
As was the case Saturday.

I started wondering, how, out of the thousands of clothes I've tried on in my lifetime, do only about 2% of them fit? And by fit, I mean are acceptable to wear. I have so many "acceptables" in my closet....ho hum.

How do companies come up with patterns that are supposed to fit all shapes and sizes? I don't know who's body they're using, but I'm guessing they don't eat Twinkies.

After all the depressing hoopla, I decided that if I was going to have anything to wear, I'd have to make it myself. And I would make it fit ME, not Millie the Mannequin.


The easiest t-shirt to make, in my opinion, is a style with body and sleeves all in one. They call it Dolman.

t-shirt with dolman sleeves or in-set sleeves

T-Shirt Style

Dolman sleeves are cut as part of the body of the t-shirt. There are no separate sleeves to cut-out and sew in place. And although not as form fitting, dolman style t-shirts are as simple as it gets.

In-set sleeves create a more natural fit but raise the difficulty level, as compared to dolman sleeves. In-set sleeves aren't incredibly difficult, they just require a bit more time, detail and measurement. I'm not a huge fan of sewing in-set sleeves, but maybe that's just me.

T-shirt Fabric

T-shirts are made with knit fabric. Since knit is soft and stretchy, be sure to use a ballpoint needle. It's much less likely to suck down into your machine and won't leave permanent holes in your fabric.

I found this cute royal and light-blue striped soft knit on clearance a while back; perfect for a spring t-shirt.

how to sew a t-shirt with knit fabric

T-shirt Pattern

Make your own t-shirt pattern by tracing a t-shirt
Sew your own t-shirt using an existing shirt for a patternOne of the easiest ways to create your own t-shirt pattern is to use an existing t-shirt as a guide.

Fold your fabric in half; fold your t-shirt in half and lay it down on the fold of your fabric. Make extra room for seam allowances and cut, or trace and then cut.

*Make sure to account for both necklines, which are different cuts for front and back.

Once cut, lay your pieces right sides together, and sew all the way around, except for the neck opening. Hem the bottom edge and sleeves. Some people opt to leave them raw, but since knit can stretch out of place, I usually hem them.

For the neckline, I decided to make it a thicker boat neck shape. Here's a good tutorial on how to sew a classic t-shirt neckline.

sew diy t-shirt completed

I decided to add bands to the sleeves to follow the style of the neckline.

Due to the shape of the dolman sleeves, the bands ended up flaring out a bit. To fix it, I folded the excess fabric over and top stitched, which kept the sleeves nice and round and ended up being a cute detail.

Easy dolman sleeve t-shirt make your own

For this particular t-shirt, I decided to use two pieces for the back because I like the look of a back seam. I didn't line the lines up. Oops. But I'm totally okay with it.

make your own t-shirt for spring

The t-shirt turned out to be a little on the roomy side, my husband called it "loose". I may do a few alterations or just leave it as-is. I'll take loose over tight any day.

Do you have a stash of cute knit calling out for you to make a t-shirt?  Making your own t-shirt is easier than you think. AND best of all? Instead of making it to fit some random percent of the population, you'll make it to fit YOU! J

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  1. This turned out super cute!! Love that fabric!!

    1. Thanks Emily! I had never bought knit before, just refashioned pre-made t-shirts, so this was a first for me! :)

  2. Great looking T-shirt. The stripes look so fresh! I love the bateau neckline.

  3. I love that shirt! I'm wanting to get over my fear of sewing knits, because I love the dolman style so much more than boxy shirts. Thanks for sharing the cute inspiration!


    1. Thanks for your nice comment Bobi! I know knits can be a bit intimidating at first, but it's not so bad once you get going. Using a ballpoint needle, turning down your pressure dial to help ease them through your pressure foot and even sewing with a walking foot can help reduce problems. Good luck if you give it a try!


I'd love to hear what you have to say! Thanks so much for your comments! ♥


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