How to Make Your Own Shirt Pattern
I drafted this shirt pattern straight from an existing shirt that I love to wear. I actually picked up this silky fabric last summer from a local fabric shop that had some big discounts, as they were relocating.
I’m just now getting around to using it. One of my favorite shirts is made from a similar material and I could see that the shirt pattern pieces were not too complicated. So I decided to create a shirt pattern from my existing shirt and put this beautiful silky fabric to good use.
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When using an existing shirt to create your own pattern, it’s important to note the fabric. You’ll want to use comparable fabrics. You can interchange fabrics with a similar stretch and weight, but if they’re too different then your shirt will not turn out the same. For instance if your favorite shirt is a stretchy knit fabric that moves with you, then you’ll want to use a similar knit with similar stretch, not a woven cotton for instance which would have minimal stretch and be lighter. I am no fabric expert, but you can assess most fabric by feel. Stretching it on the bias (diagonally) will illustrate how stretchy. Just holding it, will tell you if it’s heavy or lightweight. Again, your fabrics need to be similar, not exactly the same!
Pattern Making Materials:
Pencil & Eraser
Large paper (butcher paper, tissue paper, tape together printer paper, recycled cardboard, etc)
Similar fabric to existing shirt
coordinating thread, scissors, sewing machine
This is the shirt I will draft my pattern from. You can see that it has one front pattern piece and then two back pattern pieces. From one seam to the next is what will become your pattern piece.
Create your Pattern:
Lay out your paper.
Fold your shirt (according to the seam lines) & lay out on top of your paper.
Trace around the pattern piece. As I trace, I add 1/4″ seam allowance, you can add more (1/2′ or 5/8″) if you like.
Mark where the fold of the fabric is on your pattern paper. For this shirt, to keep both side uniform, I fold the front when drawing the front pattern piece and label the fold. This way I will remember to fold my fabric likewise when cutting it out. So I would label it: Cut 1, & Fold (along the folded edge)
Write down any notes, like cut 2 pieces or cut one left & one right. For this shirt, I need one back piece for the left and one right.
Re-fold your shirt to accommodate the next pattern piece & repeat the process.
Here is the neckline for the front and back. You can see all the edges are enclosed in bias tape. The back has a keyhole opening with a little loop button closure.
The basic construction of the shirt was simple. Sew together the two back pieces, leaving about 5″ for the keyhole opening. Then sew together the front piece and back pieces at the shoulders.
Now all the raw edges are ready to be enclosed in bias tape. You can always purchase pre-made bias tape, in a variety of colors. I had plenty of this fabric and I like to hone my skills when I can so I made my own. They even have these nifty little bias tape tools to help with the folding now.
Once my bias tape was made, I enclosed all the raw edges and sewed them closed. Since my material was ultra slippery I went over board on the pinning to ensure my raw edges stayed put when I passed them through the machine.
It was a simple pattern and perfect for this fabric.
I’m so glad I was able to get this shirt sewn and ready for summer wear!
Thanks for the great tips! I have been wanting to draft a few of my own patterns from ready made clothes.
It’s not as hard as it may first seem!