How to make a Dolman T-shirt without a pattern. (DIY Banded Dolman Tee)
Making your own dolman tee is a great way to add a unique touch to your wardrobe. And the best part is that it’s easy to do without a pattern! All you need is about a yard of knit fabric and a well-fitting tee to use as a template!
The Dolman-Style Top is my Fave
There is nothing I like to wear more than loose and comfy knit tees and dresses. Lately, I have sewn myself a few new tops and dresses. (I’ve got quite a collection of knit fabrics and figured I better start using them.)
I’m so glad the Dolman-style sleeves are so popular now because they are ridiculously easy to sew. (And super flattering – at least on me, you can check out my Anywhere Dress Tutorial I made last year using this same self-drafted pattern.)
If you haven’t tried to make your own pattern before, then this is the project you need to do!
DIY Dolman Tops
Making the pattern is so easy. You just need a T-shirt that you already love the fit of and then you really only need to make one pattern piece. (the back piece.)
It is (IMO) so much easier to make your own pattern than it is to print out and tape together a huge pdf pattern.
Part of what makes this project so easy is the loose fit and very few pattern pieces to cut. (The style is very forgiving…) You can add binding around the neck, sleeves, and bottom or just leave it raw – depending on the look you are going for.
How to make a Dolman T-Shirt without a pattern (DIY Banded Dolman Tee)
- 1 to 1.5 yards of 54+ inch wide knit fabric.
- t-shirt to trace
- Paper to trace pattern on. (wrapping paper or freezer paper.)
- fabric marker
- pencil, ruler, iron, scissors, and other basic sewing supplies
If you already have a dolman style t-shirt to trace, that is great! Use it.
If you don’t have one, that’s ok, you can use a regular tee too. (I am using a regular tee in the photo below.)
Step one: Make the pattern and cut the fabric.
Make the pattern:
Fold the T-shirt in half, (back of tee facing out) and lay it on the paper, and smooth out all the wrinkles.
Trace around the back of the tee. You can add the seam allowance now, while tracing, or just trace the tee as-is and add them later. If you are using a regular-shaped tee, just follow the line of the sleeve at a gentle downward angle as shown below.
Fold the paper you traced the pattern on in half and cut out your pattern.
When you open the pattern, you will have a full back pattern piece, which is helpful when working with knits, since they tend to slide around. (Technically this is the back pattern piece, but it is the same as the front except for the difference in the front neckline.)
Cut the fabric: Pin the pattern to the fabric and cut out 2 back pieces. (we will cut the front neckline in a moment.)
For my shirt, since the stripes ran side to side, I cut my pieces on the bias. I uses a ruler and drew bias lines directly on the pattern to help me keep the lines straight)
Make the bottom band: For the bottom band, measure the bottom edge of the shirt, and add 1/2 inch. Cut 2 strips of fabric 6 inches by the width of your measurement above.
Right sides together, sew these strips together, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. so you have one long strip.
Cut out the front neckline: Fold one of the fabric pieces in half.
Fold your original tee in half and line up the middle and shoulders of the original tee and the new shirt front. Use a fabric marker and trace the neckline right onto the fabric
Cut out the neckline.
Step 2: Putting the T-shirt together.
Line up the front and back pieces, right sides together.
Step 3: Cutting and Adding Neck Binding
Layout your top and measure one of the sleeve openings. Double this measurement to get the measurement all the way around and add 2 inches.
Cut 2 pieces of binding (Stretchy-ness should be side to side) to your sleeve measurement plus 2 inches by 1.75.
Fold the binding in half and iron flat. If your fabric edges are curling, use spray starch to help keep them flat.
Line up the raw edges of the binding and the sleeve edge. As you are lining up the binding, very gently stretch the binding, BUT NOT THE SLEEVE! Use a few pins to hold the binding in place, but leave the ends loose. (By stretching the binding, the binding should end up being about 1/2 inch less than the sleeve.)
Mark where the binding edges overlap.
Remove the binding from the sleeve.
Open up the binding and right sides together, line up the marks and sew. Trim the edges to about 1/8 inch.
Iron the new seam flat and flip the binding back.
To help evenly line up the binding around the sleeve, mark the binding into 4 equal sections. Fold the binding in half one way and then the other way to find the 4 center points. Mark these points with your marker. (or a pin)
Fold the sleeve the same way and make 4 equal marks. Then line the raw edges of the binding and sleeve back up and pin the sleeve and binding together at the 4 marks. (The photo below is the neckline, but it’s a very good illustration.)
Increase your stitch length just a bit. (This helps when working with knits) Sew the binding to the sleeve about 1/8 inch from the edge. You should have to stretch the binding just the tiniest bit, but do NOT STRETCH THE SLEEVE.
Repeat this process for the other sleeve. (Go back to step 3b for the second sleeve. I recommend repeating the binding attachment/measuring process in case your sleeves aren’t the exact same measurement.)
Step 4: Adding Binding To The Neckline.
Measure around your neckline and cut a piece of binding your measurement plus 2 inches by 1.75 and follow the same process to attach the neckline binding.
Once attached, press the binding seams toward the inside of the dress. If you want, you can finish these seams with a zig-zag stitch or serger, but it is not necessary since you are working with knits.
At this point, you can topstitch around the binding.
That is pretty much all there is to the tee! Cute and simple…
My photography assistant for the day wanted to be in the picture too…
Share Your Dolman Top!
Made this pattern/project?
Please leave a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or a review in the comments section below. If you share an image on Instagram, be sure to tag me and use #scatteredmompatterns! You can also share an image to my private Facebook sewing group!
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About the Author
Jamie Sanders is a wife and mom of 2, located in the heart of Texas. She founded Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom in 2011 as a place to share creative ideas and family friendly recipes. Her work has been featured on Martha Stewart, Woman’s World, HuffPost, TODAY, Pioneer Woman, HGTV, CNET, Good Housekeeping, Yahoo, Oprah Daily, and Redbook, plus many other publications. To date, she had given away just under a million free pdf sewing patterns.