How to Sew a T-Shirt

    by Melissa J. Bell

    About the Author

    A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.


    Sewing your own T-shirt is one of the easiest sewing projects a beginner can do. By making a T-shirt using an old shirt as a guide, you can learn how clothes are put together without having to wrestle with patterns or draping before you are ready. This project is ideal for any style T-shirt, from men's large shirts to women's fitted babydoll shirts.

    Things You'll Need

    • Existing T-shirt
    • Seam ripper
    • Knit fabric
    • Fabric marker
    • Scissors
    • Iron
    • Ironing board
    • Matching thread
    • Sewing machine

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    Find an old T-shirt you don't mind destroying. Make sure your new T-shirt fabric is similar to the one you are copying, otherwise it will not fit properly. Take the T-shirt apart at all of the seams, using a seam ripper. You should have a piece for the front, back, sleeves and collar.

    Press all the ripped seams flat with an iron and trim away any loose threads.

    Spread out your new T-shirt fabric, right side down. On top of the fabric, lay the front, back, collar and both of the sleeves, all smoothed out flat but not stretched. Pin these pieces to the fabric. With the fabric pencil, trace around the pieces, leaving an extra 1/2 inch at the seam edges and an extra 1 inch at the hem edge of the sleeves, front and back. Cut the pieces out, using your lines as guides.

    Pin the front and back together at the shoulders, with the right, or outer, sides of the fabric together. Stitch the shoulder seams 1/2 inch away from the edge. Use a narrow zigzag stitch or a twin needle. Iron the seam toward the back of the shirt.

    Take the collar piece and fold it in half lengthwise. Iron it flat, then stitch the short edges together. Pin the collar to the neckline, right sides together, and stitch the collar to the neckline 1/2 inch away from the edge. Iron the seam toward the body.

    Put the front and back of the T-shirt together, right sides touching, and pin the sides together from bottom to sleeve end. Stitch 1/2 inch away from the edges and iron the seam flat.

    Pin and sew the lower seams of each sleeve. Pin the curved side of each sleeve to each armhole, lining up the middle of the sleeve with the shoulder seam. Stitch 1/2 inch away from the edge, and iron the seam toward the sleeve. Fold back 1/2 inch of the straight side of each sleeve and iron it flat. Fold back another 1/2 inch and pin in place, then stitch.

    Turn the shirt right side out, then fold the bottom edge under 1/2 inch and iron it flat. Turn the edge under another 1/2 inch and stitch in place.

    • Finish the loose edges of the seams by serging, hand stitching or binding, or leave them raw if you like.
    • Make a paper pattern you can use again and again by tracing the shirt onto paper, then adding seam and hem allowances.
    • Use a narrow zigzag stitch or twin needle to sew all the seams and hems for your T-shirt. A straight stitch will not withstand stretching, making the seams and hems weak.