Interested in making clothes? Want a totally unique T-Shirt? Can't find a pattern that you like? Our resident seamstress, Nell Frizzell, gives a step-by-step guide to making a basic T-Shirt from scratch...
The T-Shirt is probably the greatest invention since fire. They suit everyone, of every age, gender and shape. But they can be expensive and finding one you like can be tricky. So, take the bull by the horns and make your own. We’ll even take you through it.
A T-Shirt is basically made up of four pieces. The front and back panels, which look like vests, and two D-shaped panels, which are the sleeves. To make a T-Shirt all you really have to do is cut out those four pieces and sew them together. Easy!
Now, to make sure it fits, I’d suggest you start by roughly drawing round an old vest or top that you know fits you. Alternatively, measure across your chest and from your shoulder to the top of your jeans, and plot it out that way.
It’s important that you cut the shoulders out with this curve, so it doesn’t stick out like a box (unless that’s your bag, of course). The top of the vest bit should sit just on the lump that is the beginning of your shoulder, at the end of your collarbone.
If you want a lower or rounder neck, that’s cool – just make sure the back panel is still quite high, otherwise it might slip down your shoulders. (Believe me, I’ve done it.)
Once you’ve cut out the front and back panels, what I’d do is sew just the top bits together. This will help you cut out the right sleeve shape.
I’m sure you know this, but it’s worth saying – when you sew two bits of material together, make sure the “good sides” – ie the sides that the pattern is printed on – are facing each other. That way, when you turn the top inside out, all the messy stitching is on the inside and all the nice pattern and colour is on the outside.
At this point your T-Shirt will basically look like a tabard. That is all good. To make the sleeves, get a square of fabric wide enough to wrap around your arm. Fold it in half and lay it under the shoulder-bit of your tabard.
You can then draw the curve of the shoulder hole straight onto the folded square, which will become your sleeve. Cut along the line you’ve drawn, fold out the piece of fabric, unfold your tabard and see if they match up, like so:
The next step is to sew the sleeve to the shoulder. Now, sewing a curve can be a bit tricky, but don’t worry if it’s a bit wonky – it will barely show. I usually start by pinning the middle of the sleeve to the seam at the top of the shoulder (the first and only seam you should have sewn at this point). Then sew from the top, round to the armpit and stop at the armpit. Do the same for the other half of the sleeve. This way, the top should be nice and smooth and any wonkiness will be hidden in the armpit.
Next, sew the sleeve sides together from the armpit down to the bottom of the sleeve (where your arm will pop out). Then, sew the tabard sides together, from the armpit down the side of the vest-shaped panel to the bottom. Do this for both sides and you’ve basically got your T-Shirt.
The final thing to do is what we in the trade call “hemming”. This basically means folding the fabric, so the rough edge is on the inside and then sewing it down in a straight(ish) line. You’ll need to do this around the bottom of the sleeve, the bottom of the T-Shirt and around the neck. I tend to do fold over twice, so all the rough edges are well and truly tucked away in the fold, and can’t fray.
And there you have it. A very basic T-Shirt with no pattern and no messing.
Good luck and happy sewing!