Sewing | Sewing Inspiration | sewing with knits

A New Top For Me, Plus Tips on How to Make a Pattern From a Shirt

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Have you ever wanted to learn how to make a pattern from a shirt already in your closet? It is actually very easy and today I have a few tips on how to draft a pattern from a t-shirt!

I’ve had this t-shirt/top project on the back burner for a while.  

I have been wanting to try to make a pattern from one of my favorite tops but kept putting it off.  (I even have a nice little collection of solid knits just for me.)

I don’t have any problem making patterns up for my daughter. (She would look cute in a paper bag.)  Fitting me is a bit more challenging and I dislike wasting time, effort, and fabric on creating something for myself and then it not be flattering.

The Made by Rae Spring Top Challenge finally motivated me to get going on a top for myself.  I originally wanted to make this top from the Burda website, but something is wrong with their site and  I couldn’t get through the checkout process.  (I will make that top someday, it is just too cute!)

Since I couldn’t make the Burda top, I decided to bite the bullet and make a pattern for myself.

I slightly regret my fabric choice because this fabric tends to pucker along the stripes after washing and I am not much for ironing.  

I bought several yards of this in 3 colors when it was on sale at  (Who knew the fabric would pucker like that, it looked so pretty online. should add a customer review section on the fabrics to help customers know what they are getting.)  

I decided to test the project on this fabric since I would be upset if I had used one of the knits I have been saving and the project didn’t turn out.  (Murphy’s Law states that If I had used one of my more expensive fabrics, this project would have certainly been a disaster…)

I think it came out really cute, and I predict several variations of this shirt in my future.  This fabric curls at the cut edge like crazy (even with a hem.) so I decided to add binding to the neck, sleeves and bottom to finish the edges.

Want to try making your own pattern?

Tips to drafting a pattern from a favorite top:

1.  Start with something simple, the shirt I chose to base my pattern off of did not have a separate sleeve to trace.  It was just two pattern pieces. One for the front and one for the back. (To make it even easier, I only made one pattern piece from the back and then cut my front neckline directly onto the fabric.)

2.  Trace the entire top onto a piece of paper.  (The only paper I had that was large enough was gift wrapping paper.)

Hard to see, I know.  But you get the idea…

3.  When you are ready to cut the pattern out, find the middle point of the pattern and fold it in half.  Then cut the pattern out from one side.  This will ensure your pattern is symmetrical.

You can see where I drew in my seam allowances…

Oh, and I added a little bonus feature to this top as well.

A matching dress for my daughter!  

It may be cheesy, but guess what?  I’m cheesy and I am taking full advantage of my daughter not knowing any better and cheesing her out as well!

I made her dress using my tiered pillowcase tutorial.  Instead of making tiers, I just used my same bodice pattern and drew out a full A-line skirt onto the fabric.  I also made the tie slightly wider.  (The same width as my tie.)

(By the way, I took these pictures myself.  I used my new wireless remote and tripod.  These two items are essential for self-portraits!)

More matchy/matchy outfit ideas:

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  1. Love you matching shirts/dress. I like the angled stripes, and its great you make something for your self. I love my serger too, and it can be dangerous when you are tired and it sucks in the material, and you go OMG, but I do love how it finishes the edges, more professional looking. Thanks for sharing your creative inspiration at Sunday's Best.

  2. I am going to be featuring you tomorrow morning on Blissful and Domestic. Stop by and grab a button.

  3. That is such a cute top! And I love your daughter's matching dress. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Oh I love love the angled stripes on this top. It seems like strips are all over lately! Great color & tutorial!

  5. Thank you for sharing. I have a shirt that I would like to make as well – but I have been dragging my feet at starting the project, maybe next week.
    ~Amy @

  6. Such a cute top. I have the hardest time sewing for myself with a pattern. I was just checking out some of your other tutorials and I NEED to make that tiered pillowcase style dress for my daughter. Will definitely be following you now, great ideas, great tutorials! Thanks!

  7. If you can make this *without* a pattern, you must work miracles *with* a pattern! I love it! 🙂

  8. That is adorable! I would love for you to share this (and any other creations) at my new linky party "Pin It and Win It Wednesday" at

  9. I love the shirt! I love making my own patterns as well, but they definitely don't always come out as well as that one did. It looks great, and the matching dress is super cute.

  10. Turned out so cute and the tips are great! Cheese it up — they are only little for such a short time! You look adorable together. I would love it if you would consider linking to Busy Monday at A Pinch of Joy, a Sunday through Thursday link party for ideas that make life easier, better and more fun!

  11. LOVE IT!!!! Oh and I love that your daughter is also sporting your easter basket!!

    Thanks so much for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer… From Dream To Reality!

  12. I love it & I really need to learn how to sew so I can make myself some cute shirts.

  13. I am glad you asked that question, I forgot I wanted to talk about that. I do have a serger and I did not use my serger until after I was finished with the garment construction. All I used it for was to go back and make the bound seams prettier in the inside (but this was totally unnecessary, I could have left the seam edges alone, since the fabric was knit and wouldn't fray or I could have used a zig zag stitch on my regular machine.)

    I love my serger and I use it all the time, but I have also ruined a few things with it too. The blade can be evil, especially if you are sewing at night and are tired, maybe not paying enough attention to what you are doing. Also, you cant use pins in the traditional way because the feed dogs are more delicate (at least I think that's the reason.) I stretched the neck and sleeve binding a tiny bit and used tons of pins to hold it in place to help make it look good.

    For my daughters dress, I did not use the serger at all.

    Good luck, I hope you make something cute!

  14. love love love your matching shirts!! maybe if I had the time I would do the same for my daughter…
    do you need a serger? I only have a regular sewing machine 🙁