Get Started: How to Sew a Shirt & Patterns to Try
Are you finally ready to start sewing a shirt, but have no idea where to get started? That’s okay, this guide is here to help you figure out what type of shirt you want to make, tips for sewing shirts, and different patterns to try.
We’ll keep it simple so you can get an idea of how to think about this project – and save the detailed tutorials for a future post.
Shirts can come in different styles, from sleeveless to long sleeve and from a simple T-shirt to a cute little peplum. The first thing is determining what type of shirt you want to create.
Different Sewing Styles for Shirts
Sleeveless versus Sleeved
The first thing is to determine what type of sleeve you want. Shirts can come in sleeveless, short sleeve, half sleeve, quarter sleeve, or long sleeve.
Cuff or Hemmed
Shirts can also have cuffs around the wrist and waist, or they can be hemmed. Some people find cuffs easier while others think it is just as easy to hem.
Neckline Band or Invisible Neckline
Most shirts have a band for the neckline, however, there can be a few that have invisible necklines. This is done with a lining fabric that is sewn to the outer fabric. Invisible necklines are mainly for shirts that have a small skirt attached to the bottom.
Knit versus Woven Shirts
Knit shirts are going to be simpler in the fact that they won’t have closures like buttons and zippers which woven shirts will probably need to have.
Simple Steps to Sew a Shirt
- First, you will place the front body to the back body right side to right side or pattern side to pattern side, and then sew the shoulder seam together.
- Next, you will open the front and back body so that the front is on one side pattern side up and the back is on the other side pattern side up. Place the armpiece shoulder center with the shoulder seam of the body piece, right side to right side, and sew each arm sleeve to the body pieces.
- After, bring the front body piece to the back body piece right side to right side. Start sewing at one of the wrist seams and make your way up to the armpit of the shirt and down to the waist of the shirt. Complete this for the other side as well. It should start to look more like a shirt.
- Next, take the neckband and sew the neckband short side right side to right side. This should create a circle. Fold the neckband wrong side to wrong side so that it creates the band. Sew this band to the neckline of the shirt.
- Last, you can either hem the wrist cuffs and the waist or you can add bands to them.
Tips for Sewing Shirts
How to Center the Sleeve to the Body
Most shirts will have a sleeve that should be sewn to the body. One simple way to make sure that you center your sleeve correctly is to fold the sleeve in half lengthwise. Put a clip at the center fold and then line that clip with the shoulder seam.
Quartering Bands to Create an Even Neckline
Sometimes sewers try to sew a neckline band on without pinning and by the time they come around the full circle they have way more fabric than they anticipated which makes for a wanky neckband. One way to make sure that your neckband, or any band or cuff, comes out perfectly is to quarter the band and the neckline it will be sewn to.
Start by folding the band as if it was going to be sewn on the neckline. Next, place one pin or clip at the seam, then place one clip directly across. You can find the section that is across from the seam by putting one finger on the seam and the other on the other side of the band. The place that your other finger is at should be directly across from the seam. Next, line the two pins up so one is on top of the other. Then put a clip in the middle of both sides. This should have placed the band into quarters.
Quarter the neckline that the band will be sewn following the same steps.
Last, line the pins or clips from the band to the pins or clips of the neckline. This should ensure that your neckline comes out perfect every time.
Hemming Wrist Made Easy
Some people find it hard to hem the wrist of shirts since it can usually be a small opening. One way to avoid this frustration is to hem before sewing the back piece to the front piece. Simply hem the wrist by folding the end over about a ½” twice and then use a zig-zag stitch or cover stitch to hem the wrist. Afterward, sew the back piece to the front piece and the arms will already be done.
Shirt Sewing Patterns to Try
There are many places to find sewing patterns. Some sewers prefer the hardcopy patterns found in stores like Joann’s Fabric or Walmart, while others like the online patterns that have sewers print out the PDF of the pattern and tape it together to cut.
Adult Everyday Tee Pattern by Ellie & Mac
This flowy shirt is perfect for beginner sewers because of its simple three-piece pattern. The sleeves are cut out with the body and back piece, which makes it a quick and easy sew.
Split Hem Dolman Tunic by Rain City Pattern Company
The Split Hem Dolman can either be made into tunic length or dress length. This is an easy sew for beginners, with a front and back piece, two arm pieces, and a neckband. Arm length can be customized, and the unique split hem gives this shirt a unique twist.
Adult Swanky Tank by Petite Stitchery
The Adult Swanky Tank is a flowy tank top shirt. This pattern comes together quickly and easily with the main front and back, and three bands for the armholes and neckband. The best part about this pattern: it is free!
We hope this guide has given you the tips, tricks, and confidence to sew your very own t-shirt pattern. Happy sewing!