Have you always wanted to learn how to sew a shirt but the thought overwhelms you? Sewing your own is a lot cheaper compared to buying it, and it’s easier than you think.

 If you’re a beginner sewer or have never sewn one before, starting with a basic shirt is the way to go. As long as you know how to operate a sewing machine, you can sew your shirt. To begin the process, you need to draft or work from a pattern.

In this tutorial, we will show you a step-by-step guide on how to make a shirt at home easily.

How To Create The Perfect Shirt Pattern

Step 1: Find a shirt that fits well

Copying the shape of your favorite shirt that fits you perfectly is the easiest way to make a shirt pattern. 

Step 2: Fold the shirt in half. 

Fold your shirt in half vertically, make sure to keep the front sides out. Then, lay your halved shirt over a large sheet of paper. 

It is recommended to put the paper over thick cardboard before you place the shirt on top. The cardboard will provide a work surface that’s to trace over. Furthermore, you’ll need to stick pins into the paper, and the cardboard backing will make this a lot easier.

Step 3: Pin along the back outline. 

Pin along the perimeter of your shirt. Pay close attention to the back neckline seam under the collar and the sleeve seam.

You don’t need to be precise when pinning along the seam, bottom hem, and sides since the purpose of this step is to secure your shirt down in place. 

For the sleeve seam, stick the pins straight down through the seam and into the paper. Space the pins no further than 1 inch apart. Meanwhile, for the back neckline, stick the pins straight down through the seam connecting the back neckline to its collar. Space the pins 1 inch apart.

Step 4: Trace the outline. 

With your shirt pinned securely, trace along its shoulder, sides, and bottom parts. Use a pencil to lightly trace around the entire outline of your shirt.

When done, lift your shirt to locate the holes marking the sleeve seam and neckline seam. Trace along these holes to complete the outline for the back pattern piece.

Step 5: Pin along the front outline. 

Move your folded shirt over to a fresh piece of paper and along the front outline rather than the back.

Follow the same steps you use for the shirt back to place the pins along the perimeter and sleeves of the shirt front. Keep in mind that the front neckline is usually deeper than the back. To mark it out, place the pins beneath the front part of the neckline, just below the collar. Keep them 1 inch apart and straight down.

Step 6: Trace the outline. 

Lightly trace the shoulder, sides, and bottom with a pencil, ensuring that your shirt remains pinned in place. Then, remove the shirt and trace along the pin marks of the neckline and sleeve to complete the front outline.

Step 7: Pin and trace around the sleeve. 

Unfold your shirt and flatten out one of its sleeves. Next, pin it to a clean paper and trace around the outline.

As before, insert the pins straight through the connecting seam.

Trace around the top, bottom, and outer edge of the sleeve with the sleeve still in place. Remove your shirt from the paper and trace along the pin-marked seam to complete the outline.

Step 9: Mark the pieces

Mark and label every piece by part, such as back body, front body, and sleeve. Also, mark the fold line of each piece.

Step 10: Cut and match the pieces. 

Cut around each pattern piece outline carefully. When you’re done, check and ensure that all pattern pieces match one another.

Material Preparation

Step 1: Choose the right shirt material. 

Most shirts are made from knit fabric. However, you may use a knit fabric with a fairly low amount of stretch so that it will be easier to sew. The rule of thumb, using a material similar in weight and construction  to the original shirt you drafted the pattern from will make it easier to duplicate its weight

Step 2: Wash your fabric. 

By washing your fabric first, it will pre-shrink and allow the dye to set. As a result, the pattern pieces you cut out and sew together should have a more accurate size.

Step 3: Cut the pattern pieces out

Fold the material in half and place your pattern pieces on top. Pin the pattern down, trace around it, and cut around each piece.

How To Create A Shirt Ribbing

Before sewing the shirt, you need to prepare its ribbing first. 

Generally, ribbing is a type of knit fabric with vertical ribs. You can technically use non-ribbed knits for your collar. However, ribbing is much preferred because its amount of elasticity is greater. Here’s how to do it:

  • Cut the length of ribbing for your shirt’s collar. Measure the full neckline of your shirt using a flexible ruler or measuring tape. Then, subtract 4 inches from this measurement and cut a piece of ribbing to that length
  • Fold and press the ribbing. Fold your ribbing in half lengthwise. Press the fold by ironing it.
  • Stitch the ribbing closed. Fold the ribbing in half crosswise. Using a 1/4-inch seam allowance, stitch the width ends of the strip together.

Instructions Oh How To Sew A Shirt

Step 1: Pin the body pieces together

Place the front and back body pieces of your shirt together with the right-sides facing inward. Pin around the shoulders only.

Step 2: Sew the shoulders 

Using a standard straight stitch on your machine, sew across one shoulder seam. Cut the thread, and then stitch straight across the other shoulder seam.

Step 3: Pin the ribbing to the neckline

Open the shirt and lay it flat at the shoulders. Again, make sure that the right-sides are facing down. Place the ribbed collar you made earlier over the neckline opening and pin it in place.

Note that the collar will be smaller than the opening of the neckline. Therefore, you must stretch the collar gently as you pin it down to the rest of the neckline. Also, try to keep the ribbing evenly spaced.

Step 4: Stitch the ribbing

Use a zigzag stitch to sew along the raw edge of the collar, utilizing a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Unlike a straight stitch, a zigzag stitch will not stretch with the collar as you pull the finished shirt over your head.

With your hands, gently stretch the ribbing as you sew it onto the shirt. Keep it somewhat tight so that folds will not form in the connecting fabric.

Step 5: Pin the sleeves to the armholes 

Make sure your shirt is open and flat at the shoulder on this step. But flip it over so that the right side is facing up. Position the sleeves with the right-side down and pin them in place.

Step 6: Sew the sleeves 

With the right-sides facing down, sew a straight stitch along the sleeves. This will connect them to the armholes. Make sure that the seam allowance matches the seam allowance you marked on your original pattern.

Step 7: Stitch down both sides 

Fold the shirt with its right-sides facing. Next, sew a straight stitch down the entire right side of your shirt, working your way from the tip of the underarm seam straight down to the bottom opening. Repeat this step on the left side of the shirt when you’re done.

Step 8: Fold and sew the bottom hem

With the right-sides of your shirt still facing, fold its bottom edge up according to your original seam allowance. Pin or press the fold in place, then stitch around the opening.

Step 9: Fold and sew the sleeve hems 

With the right sides facing, fold up the edge of each sleeve opening according to your original seam allowance. Pin or press the fold, then stitch along the opening.

Step 10: Iron the seams

Turn your shirt right-side-out again. Use an iron to flatten all the seam, including the seams along the collar, shoulders, sleeves, and sides.

At this point, your shirt is finished and ready to wear!