Making a basic t-shirt is a great way to learn how to sew. Not only is it a simple project, but you can also customize it in many different ways. Plus, once you know how to make a basic t-shirt, you can use that knowledge to create all sorts of other clothes and accessories! In this tutorial, I'll show you how to make a simple t-shirt from scratch without using a pattern. All you need is some basic sewing supplies and a little time!
What You'll Need
- 1 yard of fabric (I recommend using a cotton or cotton blend for this project)
- A sewing machine (or you can sew this by hand if you'd like)
Step One: Cut Out Your Pieces
Start by cutting out two rectangles of fabric, one for the front of the shirt and one for the back. The rectangles should be about twice as wide as your chest and long as you'd like the shirt to be. For example, if you have a 38" chest, you'll want to cut out two rectangles that are approximately 76" wide by 20" long.
Step Two: Sew the Shoulder Seams
Fold each rectangle in half lengthwise so that the wrong sides are together. Next, sew along the folded edge at the top of the rectangle, using a 1/2" seam allowance. This will create the shoulder seam of your shirt.
Step Three: Sew the Side Seams
With the wrong sides still together, sew along each side of the shirt rectangles, using a 1/2" seam allowance.
Step Four: Hem the Sleeves and Bottom Edge
To finish off the sleeves and bottom edge of the shirt, fold each edge over by 1/2", then again by 1/2". Finally, sew along the folded edge, using a 1/2" seam allowance.
Your shirt is now finished! You can leave it as-is or add some embellishments like pockets, appliques, or embroidery.
Choosing a Shirt Style
Now that you know how to make a basic t-shirt, it's time to choose a style! T-shirts come in all shapes and sizes, so there's bound to be one perfect for you. Here are a few of the most popular types:
1. Crew Neck T-shirt
This is the most common style of t-shirt and the one used in this tutorial. Crew neck t-shirts have a broad, round neckline at the base of the neck. They're comfortable and easy to wear, making them an excellent choice for everyday wear.
2. V-Neck T-shirt
As the name suggests, v-neck t-shirts have a V-shaped neckline that dips down in the front. This style is a bit more flattering than a crew neck and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
3. Scoop Neck T-shirt
Scoop neck t-shirts have a broad, round neckline that dips down in the front, similar to a v-neck. However, scoop necks are generally more shallow than v-necks, resulting in a less dramatic look.
4. Henley T-shirt
Henley t-shirts have a placket of buttons at the neckline, which can be worn open or closed. They're a bit more casual than other t-shirt styles but can still be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion.
5. Tank Top
Tank tops are sleeveless t-shirts, making them great for warm weather. They come in various styles, including crew neck, v-neck, and scoop neck.
6. Long Sleeve T-shirt
As the name suggests, long sleeve t-shirts have sleeves that extend to the wrists. They're an excellent choice for cooler weather and can be worn on their own or layered under a sweater or jacket.
7. Hooded T-shirt
Hooded t-shirts have a hood attached to their collar, which can be worn up or down. They're casual and perfect for lounging at home or running errands.
8. Pocket T-shirt
Pocket t-shirts have a small pocket on the front, usually located just above the stomach. They're a casual style, perfect for everyday wear.
9. Baseball T-shirt
Baseball t-shirts are similar to regular t-shirts but have a banded collar and 3/4 length sleeves. They're casual, often worn as part of a sports uniform.
10. Graphic T-shirt
Graphic t-shirts have a design or image printed on the front. They're a casual style, perfect for everyday wear. Popular graphic t-shirt designs include band logos, movie and TV show characters, and humorous sayings.
T-shirts are usually made from cotton or a cotton blend. However, you can also find t-shirts made from synthetic materials like polyester or nylon. Artificial materials are often used in performance or athletic t-shirts, as they wick away sweat and help to keep the body cool.
Cotton is the most common material used for t-shirts. It's soft, comfortable, and breathable, making it an excellent choice for everyday wear. Cotton t-shirts can be found in various weights, from light and airy to heavyweight and substantial.
Polyester is a synthetic material often used in athletic or performance t-shirts. It's lightweight, breathable, and wicks away sweat to keep the body cool. Polyester t-shirts are often used as part of a sports uniform, as they hold up well to repeated washings.
Nylon is another synthetic material often used in athletic or performance t-shirts. It's lightweight, breathable, and wicks away sweat to keep the body cool. Nylon t-shirts are often used as part of a sports uniform, as they hold up well to repeated washings.
T-shirts come in various sizes to fit a range of body shapes and sizes. The most common size categories are small, medium, and large. However, you can also find t-shirts in different trim, large, and size classes.
To find the fitting size t-shirt for you:
- Start by taking your measurements.
- Measure your chest circumference and compare it to the size chart on the t-shirt website or tag.
- If you're between sizes, choose the larger size for a more comfortable fit.
T-shirts can be printed with various designs, from simple text to complex graphics. The most common method is screen printing, using a stencil to apply ink to the fabric. Other printing methods include heat transfer and direct-to-garment printing.
Screen printing is the most common printing method for t-shirts. It's a relatively simple process that involves using a stencil to apply ink to the fabric. Screen printing is best suited for designs with fewer colors, as each color requires its stencil.
Heat transfer is a printing method that involves transferring an image onto the fabric using heat and pressure. Heat transfer is best suited for designs with fewer colors, as it can be challenging to align multiple layers of transfer paper.
Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing is a printing method that involves printing directly onto the fabric using inkjet technology. DTG printing is best suited for full-color designs, as it can print complex designs with multiple colors. DTG printing is a relatively new technology; not all t-shirt printers offer this service.
Sewing the Shirt: The Process
1. Choose the Right T-Shirt for Your Project
The first step in any sewing project is to choose the suitable fabric for your needs. For example, for a t-shirt, you'll want to choose a cotton or cotton blend fabric. Avoid synthetic materials like polyester or nylon, as they can be challenging to work with.
2. Prep Your Fabric
Before you start sewing, you'll need to prep your fabric. First, wash and dry your fabric according to the manufacturer's instructions. This will help to prevent shrinkage and fading after the shirt is complete.
3. Cut Out Your Pattern Pieces
Once your fabric is prepped, it's time to cut out your pattern pieces. For example, for a basic t-shirt, you'll need two front and two back body pieces. You may also want to cut out two sleeve pieces using a printed fabric.
4. Sew the Shoulder Seams
The next step is to sew the shoulder seams. Place the front and back body pieces right sides together, aligning the shoulder seams. Sew the shoulder seams using a straight stitch and a 1/2" seam allowance.
5. Sew the Side Seams
After you've cut out your pattern pieces, it's time to start sewing! Begin by sewing the shoulder seams of your shirt. To do this, align the two front body pieces with the two back body pieces right sides. Next, sew along the seam line with a straight stitch, then press the seam open with an iron.
6. Sew the Sleeves
You'll also need to sew the sleeves if you're using a printed fabric. To do this, align the sleeve pieces with the shirt's body, right sides together. Next, sew along the seam line with a straight stitch, then press the seam open with an iron.
7. Hem the Bottom of the Shirt
The last step is to hem the bottom of the shirt. Fold
the fabric up 1/2" and press with an iron. Fold the fabric up again 1", then sew along the edge with a straight stitch.
8. Add a Neckband to the Top of the Shirt
The final step is to add a neckband to the top of the shirt. To do this:
- Cut a strip of fabric 1-1/2" wide by the circumference of your neck.
- Fold the strip in half lengthwise and press with an iron.
- Sew along the long edge with a straight stitch, then turn the right side out and press with an iron.
Align the raw edges of the neckband with the raw edge of the neckline and right sides together. Sew along the seam line with a straight stitch, then press the seam open with an iron.
9. Add a Design to Your Shirt
You can add a design to your shirt in a few different ways. One popular method is screen printing, using a stencil to apply ink to the fabric. Another option is heat transfer, which involves transferring an image onto the fabric using heat and pressure. Of course, if you're using printed material, you can skip this step altogether!
10. Wear Your Shirt with Pride!
You've now made your very own t-shirt from scratch! Whether you wear it yourself or give it as a gift, we hope you're proud of your accomplishment. Thanks for following along, and happy sewing!
Now that you've finished your t-shirt, it's time to show it off! Please put on your shirt and take a photo to share with us on social media.
If you enjoyed this sewing tutorial, check our other tutorials for more step-by-step instructions. And if you're looking for more sewing projects to try, be sure to sign up for our email list! We'll send you new project ideas and tutorials weekly to your inbox.
- If you're using a knit fabric, you can sew your shirt without cutting out any pattern pieces. Instead, cut the material to the correct size and shape, then sew the seams as directed in the tutorial.
- If you want to make a longer or shorter shirt, adjust the length of your pattern pieces before cutting them out.
- If you want to add a pocket to your shirt, sew a rectangle of fabric to the front before sewing the side seams.
- If you're using a printed fabric, you may want to cut out your pattern pieces using pinking shears. This will help prevent the material from fraying.
- If you're using a solid-colored fabric, you may want to finish the raw edges of your pattern pieces with bias tape. This will give your shirt a professional-looking finish.
Q: How should I wash my t-shirt?
A: If you're using a knit fabric, you can machine wash your shirt on the gentle cycle with cool water. If you're using a woven fabric, you'll need to hand wash your shirt in cool water. Be sure to iron your shirt before wearing it to help keep the material looking its best.
Q: Can I make this t-shirt in a different size?
A: Yes! If you need to resize your pattern pieces, print them out at the desired size. Remember that you may need to adjust the seam allowances if you significantly change the shirt size.
Q: Can I add a design to my t-shirt?
A: Yes! You can add a design to your t-shirt using screen printing, heat transfer, or embroidery. If you're using a printed fabric, you can also skip this step altogether!
Q: I don't have a sewing machine. Can I still make this t-shirt?
A: Yes! You can sew this t-shirt by hand using a needle and thread. Using a knit fabric, use a stretch stitch or zigzag stitch to help the seams stretch as needed. If you're using woven fabric, you'll need to be extra careful not to pull the fabric too tight as you sew.
Q: Can I make this t-shirt in a different color?
A: Yes! You can use any color of fabric you like to make this t-shirt. However, if you're using a solid-colored material, you should finish the raw edges of your pattern pieces with bias tape. This will give your shirt a professional-looking finish.
We hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Also, if you want ready-made t-shirts instead of making them yourself, check out our shop! We have a wide variety of t-shirts for both adults and kids. Thanks for stopping by!