Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Easy Peasy T-shirt Tutorial

Mr. P. plays hard. The evidence can be found on the grungy looking t-shirts that pass through the laundry room at the end of each day. There's only so much cleaning one can do before a shirt is retired. So I thought I'd try and make him a t-shirt. Cheap and fun! 

So, without further ado, I give you the: 

Materials: for the T-shirt, you will need 1/2 a yard of knit fabric for the body of the shirt (assuming you're making a child's shirt) and a very small amount of rib-knit in a contrasting color for the lining around the arms and neck. 

To begin, fold your main fabric in half, get an existing t-shirt (you can see Mr. P.'s wear and tear on this shirt) and then trace the outline of just the body (no arms) on your main fabric. If you're very precise (which I am not) please know that in tracing, you will automatically be giving yourself a 1/8 sewing margin. 

Here's what my tracing looked like. Notice to the naked eye, it's not symmetrical in the arm area! An easy fix! 

Just cut out the pattern and then fold it over on top of itself. Then cut the arms (or wherever else you think you messed up) to make them even. 

Now, you need to go back and do the same thing for the sleeves. Folding your fabric over, trace the sleeve shape onto your main fabric. Do this once for each side. 

When you're done tracing and cutting, you should have the following: 1 pair of sleeves and a shirt front and back that look identical, so two arm pieces and two body pieces. 

Now, you need to cut two binding strips of your rib knit for your neckline.  I left my two strips two inches wide and then just measured the length of the t-shirt neck and doubled it in order to get the right size. Keep in mind it's always better to over estimate on length as you can always cut it. 

Take your rib knit strip and pin it all the way around the neckline of one of your body pieces....right down the middle of the rib-knit so that one inch hangs on one side of the t-shirt and one inch hangs down the other side. Sew together using a zig-zag stitch. 

Repeat for the second body you now have two separate body pieces each with ribbed knit sewn to the neckline. 

Take the two body pieces and place them right sides together, pinning at the shoulders. Sew the shoulder seams together using a zig-zag stitch. See that extra piece of ribbing? Don't worry, once the shirt is done, I'll turn it inside out and trim the fat, so to speak. 

Okay, time to tackle the sleeves. Get one sleeve and one sleeve binding ready (all I did to cut the sleeve binding in red was make sure that it was two inches wide and then I doubled the length of the sleeve) In the picture below, the straight green side will get attached to the red ribbing, while the sloped green side will get attached to the body of the t-shirt. 

Open up that sleeve and pin the binding you've cut to the arm side of the sleeve. Then sew using a zig-zag stitch. Look at all the extra binding I have! No problem, I'll trim it later. Better too much than too little! 

This is the trickiest part (but really not that tricky in the grand scheme of things.) With right sides facing down on the table (as well as right sides together at the seam), slowly pin the rounded part of the sleeve to the rounded part of your body piece where the arm goes. Then sew using a zig-zag stitch. 

Repeat on the other sleeve. 

Now, with right sides together, you need to sew up each side of the shirt as well as curve under the armpit and then sew up the shirt sleeve in one fluid line. See below. 

Repeat on the other side of the shirt. 
Now, while the shirt is still inside out you can cut any extra fabric you may have. 

Still inside out, iron the bottom of the shirt 1/4 of an inch all the way around. Repeat and iron another 1/4 of an inch around so that your shirt is now 1/2 shorter. Pin and sew. 

Here's a close up of the bottom of the shirt once it's been sewn. 

Turn tightside out and here you have it! A brand new shirt!!!!! Easy, peasy!! 

If you make this shirt, be sure and email me a photo! I'd love to see it!!


  1. Thanks for the tutorial! I'm going to have to give this one a try!

  2. Hi, I'm loving your recent posts! Pop over to my blog for a lovely surprise - I've awarded you the versatile blogger award!

  3. Oh, I'm so glad to see this post! I have been very hesitant to try to sew knits on my regular machine. So, how was it? You make it look so easy, lady!


  4. I would love to see this again at my link party. It will be a weekly link up Friday through Sunday. Hope to see you there. You can find the button for it on my blog now if you like.

  5. Thanks, all! Glad you liked this one! And Bella Boutique!! Thanks you for the award! I will blog about it soon! I'm honored! Craftsister - it was pretty easy! Once everything was cut and pinned, the whole project only took about 20 minutes to sew. Next time, I'm going to cut out multiple shirts at once (since that's the my least favorite part of sewing) and just bang them out. Mindie, I am off to join your blog party right now! Party time!

  6. Hi!

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    I came across this post on Party Mindie Style
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  7. Looks great! Did the ribbing go back stretchy without using smaller lengths?
    Thanks for linking up to Making It With Allie! I can't wait to see what you have for next week!

  8. Hey Alia and Allie! Thanks for the shirt love! Allie, I am such a wannabe crafter that I'm not sure I even understand your question about the ribbing! Feel free to try and ask it again and I'll attempt to answer it! But yes, the ribbing was stretchy in the end......

  9. Thank you for linking up to Bacon Time. For the first party it was a huge success with over 300 links. I am going to have a special give away next week just for linkers. Thanks for grabbing the button too!

  10. THis is great! Thanks os much. making a t-shirt always seemed so intimidating but this tutorial looks like fun! :)

  11. Your blog is so cute!! I will definitely be following you!! :) and will be watching your blog to learn some new things!! I would love it if would check out my blog and follow me back also!!

  12. Wow! I have bought some material for myself and I think I will try to make a T-shirt style top for myself. I will cross my fingers and hope it works!


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