Sunday, October 30, 2011

How To Build A Shirt

      Have you ever been to "Build a Bear"? Don't go unless you want to have the most expensive stuffed toy you've ever seen in your life...but its a very fun concept and kids love it! While I was working on this post, I was thinking how fun it would be to have "Build a Wardrobe" store...I mean, how stupendous would it be to walk in, pick out what fabric you want, what piece of clothing you want, how you want it styled and accessorized and have them do it right there in front you?! Somebody out there needs to work on that idea, seriously. All righty, before the good idea train falls off the track into a ravine and burns, lets get back to the original topic.
     I'm going to show you how to make a shirt without any pattern or using any other piece of clothing as a pattern. Normally, when I make things, I'll throw down a shirt or whatever on my fabric to use as a general guide. This doesn't work however, if I want to do a something in a different size than I am. It also doesn't work if I want to make something that is quite different than anything I already own. If I know what "makes" a shirt (or whatever garment) work, than I can make whatever style my little heart desires.
       So, here is the concept. To do a shirt, you need to know the measurement of the widest part (chest or tummy) of your torso. Once you have that measurement, add about two inches. (If you are using a non stretchy material you will probably need to add three or four inches.) Cut a square of fabric as wide as that measurement, and as long as you want the shirt to be. (Don't forget you need two of everything, two sides of the shirt, two sleeves, etc.)

        Now, a shirt needs shape obviously, so fold your square in half. I wanted a shirt with looser sleeves and a boat neck, so, I cut to fit my idea. I measured down the side ten inches and across the top two inches. I cut that out in an arch.

      Now, for the neck, I measured across the top two inches, and down the fold four inches. I cut that out and now it looks more like a shirt! (you probably want to cut the front slightly lower than the back)

      Now I "build" the rest of my shirt based on this foundation. I use the arm hole of my shirt to determine the sleeve. The sleeve has to be cut on the fold. It looks like this.

       I wanted binding on the sleeves, a band around the waist, and a chunky collar, so, I again, used the existing pieces to determine what to cut. The sleeve binding is cut on the fold, just like the sleeve.

      I used the bottom of the shirt to determine the band.

     I like to stretch out the neckline against a yardstick to get an estimate of how long to cut the collar, or neck binding.

      One thing to know, if you cut the neck binding the same width at your neck it will be loose. If you cut it shorter and stretch it to match the neck as you sew, it will lay flat and tight. It all depends on the look you are wanting.
      Sew it all together and you've built yourself a shirt!

      If you get that first bit right, the actual shirt part, then you will be able to figure out all the rest of the pieces. It will all fit together just like a puzzle. I did a few that I will be listing in my Etsy shop later this week. I personally find this style very comfy, and nice for cooler weather.

       This method also works for dresses. Just remember when doing dresses, you have make sure you have enough ease around the hips. I did the exact same style on this dress. (one of these will also being going in the Etsy shop later this week) The neck on this one is much tighter, so it lays flat. A floppy neck would look odd on this style dress.

     So there you go. Using that concept, you can make any style you wish. Don't get too hung up on using patterns. Patterns are just measurements with lines drawn after all. That being said, it probably wouldn't hurt for me to learn to use one now and then! =)

Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Linking to:
Singing Three Little Birds
The Southern Institute
Not Just a Houswife
Sugar Bee Crafts
Home Stories A to Z
Chef in Training
Running with Glitter
My Girlish Whims
Simple Home Life


  1. awesome! Thank you soooo much for this!

  2. You have such an amazing talent! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Love those shirts! They're really flattering and they look so comfortable! Thanks for linking up at Creative Me Monday today. :)

  4. Those shirts look really comfy and kind of snuggly. I like 'em

  5. YES! Patterns are just measurements with lines... I wish someone had said that to me YEARS ago. You've inspired me! I will master making my own clothes (not just clothes for my kids!) this year. All the best!

  6. Thank you so much for you generous sharing of so many simple fun and creative things to make. I think even I could do this for my girls and granddaughters. Thank you again for sharing. I will be coming back here often!