Preparedness blog

How to Sew Your Own Shirt

By Nicole from Ready Store
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In the past, we've covered how important it is to be smart and not scared when faced with a crisis. Whether it be because of a natural disaster or financial loss, it is always good to be prepared with not only food but also have the skills and knowledge of how to become more self-sufficient. One of those being sewing. In the past, we wrote about how to sew a queen size quilt by hand. Today, we will be giving you tips on how to sew a basic shirt from scratch.

Items Needed:

  • 1 Yard Knit (stretchy) fabric
  • Old shirt that still fits
  • Freeze Paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissor
  • Thread
  • Iron
  • Pins

Step by Step Guide to Sewing Your Own Shirt

There are a couple of different avenues you can take when sewing the perfect shirt. If you’re looking for the simplest way; take a shirt that fits you, fold it in half and place on a large piece of freezer paper. Trace around the shirt with a couple of extra inches in the length and width for the seam allowance.

sew your own shirt

Cut the pattern out of the freeze dryer paper. Next, lay out the yard of fabric. Making sure that there are no bumps. On both ends, fold the fabric towards the center.

sew your own shirt

Place the t-shirt pattern on one side with the edge touching the fold. Make sure to pin through both layers of fabric while working around the outer edges of the pattern. Repeat on the other side.

sew your own shirt

Make sure that you do not cut the pattern on the fold. only cut around the edges where you traced.

Lay the front side on top of the back and pin both layers. Sew the curved area above and below the arm. Hem the shirts sleeves and bottom by ¼ inch. We recommend using a slight zigzag stitch or double needle.

sew your own shirt

Next, measure around the shirts neckline and minus 4 inches. Cut the ribbing to that length. On this design, it ended up being 24 inches long and 1 ½ inches tall. Fold the ribbing in half and press. In the middle of the ribbing, pin it to the front of the neckline on the shirt. Sew around the neckline and press flat.

sew your own shirt

This is how the shirt should look at the end!


What are some of your favorite things to sew?

8 years ago
Cheryl Olson
8 years ago at 7:00 AM
This is one of those subjects that I feel has been REALLY lost on several younger generations now since they took Home Economics out of the school systems! We all learned to sew, and pretty well. But, I graduated in the 1970's where we were just expected to know those things. I am already teaching my 7 year old grand daughter how to sew, crochet, garden, and care for the smaller farm animals here. She LOVES it! I hope more people teach these basic skills to the younger ones before these things become lost arts.
Sue C
8 years ago at 12:39 PM
IMPORTANT NOTE: Use a zig zag stitch (a narrow width) when you sew with knits. If you don't the fabric will want to stretch but the stitch will not let it. Your line of stitching will then break.
Cynthia Simpson
8 years ago at 10:43 PM
While I'm not the best I've been an avid sewist for many years. If your machine has a stretch stitch, use that to sew on knits. Otherwise, use the zigzag stitch as recommended above. Even if all you can do is fix hems and sew on buttons, you're still way ahead. I've bought clothing from thrift shops and raised hems, sewn on new buttons, or fixed split seams, and had a new garment for a fraction of what it would cost new.
Claris Bastien
7 years ago at 1:55 PM
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Diana Underwood
7 years ago at 6:28 AM
After doing steps above, the shirt will feel so much better if you straight stitch on the front of the shirt going through the front and the neck ribbing once you have ironed it down, as in towards your toes in front and then splayed in the direction all over. This will force the ribbing to stand up at the top and lay against the skin nicer everywhere else. If not done the ribbing can feel like its jabbing straight in like a scratchy tag.
Peppermint Patty
7 years ago at 8:38 AM
I'm working on my own design for a tent jacket. I recently saw a commercial of one on the market and it's being pre-sold for 300 bucks. I'm not stealing the design but borrowing the idea. Mine looks like a modern poncho with piping for the tent frame poles. I can buy a shirt for 3 bucks and it costs twice to see it. But you can make grocery bags, wine totes, secret pockets into your clothes, phone armbands and other clever items that are too expensive to buy. I'm always caught without an umbrella when it rains. I'm designing a detachable briefcase cover that expands into an umbrella. I got the idea from Taco Bell's soft and crunchy taco. So I'm trying to design dual purpose convertible clothing.