Tutorial: Make a pattern from your favourite t-shirt

By Max California - June 27, 2011

Well I did finish my Jedi minidress! If you're following this blog's twitter you would have seen me tweet it and the robe earlier today! [the twitter widget is on the left sidebar there]

Tonight I'm bringing you a short tutorial. I think it's kind of necessary for all the tutes I'll be bringing you in August, and even though it's simple and basic I think it's helpful to know if you've never done it before. I'm going to show you how to make a pattern from your favourite t-shirt so that you can use it to model t-shirt surgeries or even making yourself a nice fitting shirt from scratch. It also means that you don't have to destroy your favourite shirt to get a good pattern!

You ready? Lessgo!

So you'll need your favourite shirt. Mine is this long-sleeved black + purple striped one. I'm pretty sure you would have seen it as the basis for a few of my t-shirt surgery tutorials. I love it so much!

You'll also need plenty of paper. You can use newspaper or butcher's paper. I use this roll I call Chronicle Paper. You can buy these rolls from between $3-$7 and they are the end rolls of the paper that newspapers are printed on! Head down to your local and see if they have any for you! One roll lasts me a few years!

Also grab a pen or a pencil but I prefer to use a big fat black marker :) Oh and a ruler

Rule a nice long line down your paper. Or just use the straight edge of the paper :P This is going to be the centre back of your shirt pattern.

Fold your shirt in half and place it along the line. Trace around the neckline, shoulder and side seams and across the bottom of the shirt.



Back neckline and shoulder seam

Fold the sleeve over the body of the shirt, adjusting it so you have the curved armhole seam so you can trace it.

Mark on the fold line where the front neckline goes to. As you can see mine is quite low scoop but I like it so that's where I am marking it.

Add a 1cm seam allowance over all edges except for the centre back fold!

Snip snip!

Trace around that piece for the front pattern. Mark the scoop neck and add a 1cm seam allowance.

Rule another long line

Lay one of the sleeves out on it, the fold of the sleeve [top] along the line you ruled. trace down the inside of the sleeve and along the cuff. I like to use longsleeve shirts because you can always easily shorten the patterns.

Fold the body of the shirt over the sleeve, adjusting it so you have a curve that looks similar to the one below.

Add your 1cm seam allowance along the armhole and the inside seams and cut out

And you're done! You have a nifty t-shirt master pattern! In the coming months I'll be showing you how to adjust and add pieces to this pattern so you can make whatever style shirt you want!

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  1. Great Tut! I tried this once, but never got it right. One thing to note is: whatever you make with this pattern HAS to have to same amount of stretch as the original T shirt; or else it won't fit right, be too loose or too tight =-) Can't wait to see more tuts!

  2. Thanks for the tips about the sleeves!
    Because I usually check blogs on my phone I don't watch many videos, so this is the first one of yours I've seen. This is probably weird, but when I saw it this morning I was really surprised by your voice; you sound waaaay different than I expected you to - but much more awesome! :D
    That's weird, isn't it? I'm weird.

  3. Yays! This tute is awesome Maxi. I love it. I'm going to be trying it as soon as I get home. I've been wanting to learn how to do this for some time now. I use brown packing paper for my patterns. It's a bit heavier. You can usually get it at an office supply store in massive rolls. I can't wait to get home. I'm missing all my crafty supplies. :(


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