Every year when it comes time to do our school shopping I’m amazed at how much it costs to outfit each child…and when you have 5, it really adds up! To make the cost a little less painful I do a lot of thrift store shopping and try to sew a few things using fabrics from my stash. Raglan tees (baseball style tees) have been very popular for a few years now and they’re super easy to sew. In addition, when you mix and match colors and patterns they look a little cuter than a plain t-shirt.
In today’s post I’ll show you how to draft your own raglan tee pattern in any size, and then I’ll show you how fast and easy it is to sew one up.
Once your pattern is all set and you’ve made one shirt so you’re familiar with the process, you can whip out additional tops in about 45 minutes each. Raglans for younger kids are a great way to use up scraps of fabric left over from other projects.
To draft your own pattern, you’ll need a t-shirt that fits your child well. Don’t make the mistake of grabbing a t-shirt from last year – you’ll end up with a shirt that doesn’t fit! Not that I’ve ever done that before…
I like to use freezer paper to trace patterns – it’s cheap and comes in rolls that are wide enough for almost any child’s pattern piece.
Place your t-shirt on the freezer paper, with the straight edge of the paper going through the exact middle of the shirt. Trace around the shirt as you can see in the photo above. For the sleeve, you want a straight line from the neckline down over the shoulder. I made the sleeve opening on my pattern a little larger than the one on my t-shirt because the t-shirt I was using had a gathered sleeve.
Once you move the t-shirt, you’ll have a basic shirt outline, like the one you see below. Draw a slightly lower neckline curve for the front of the shirt. Also draw a straight line from the armpit to the neckline, as you see below.
Cut the pattern piece out, and cut it apart at the armpit-neck line (1st photo below). The next step is optional, but I think it gives the shirt a little better fit. Cut a very slight curve into the line where you just cut the two pieces apart – you only need to take about 1/4 inch out of each pattern piece. It should look like the 2nd photo below.
Now we’re going to retrace each of our two pattern pieces, this time adding whatever seam allowance and hem allowance you like to sew with. (You can see that I didn’t add seam allowance at the neckline, but I should have!) Remember to transfer the front neckline markings onto your new pattern pieces. Cut them out, and throw the old ones away so you don’t get mixed up!
Just one more quick step to finish the pattern: right now the sleeve piece would have to be cut on the fold. Trace around the sleeve pattern piece, then flip it over and trace around it again to get a full pattern piece. On one side of this pattern piece you’ll trace the back neckline (higher) and on the other side you’ll trace the front neckline (lower). Be sure to add a little room for a hem if you haven’t done so already.
Ok, now you can cut out your fabric. Cut one front and one back bodice piece ON THE FOLD, as shown below. Remember, the back piece will have a higher neckline. Cut two sleeve pieces. (You must use knit fabric, which is stretchy. The stretch should go side to side on all pieces.)
Alright, the hard part’s done! This shirt sews up extremely quickly. Start by unfolding the back bodice and laying it down on a table. Grab one of your sleeve pieces and lay in on top of the bodice, right sides together, as shown (make sure you’re using the taller side of the sleeve here). Stitch as shown.
Repeat with the other sleeve on the other side. Your shirt will look like this:
Next you want to match up the front bodice with the front (shorter) sides of each sleeve and sew them, again right sides together.
Once the sleeves are attached, you can pin and sew the side seams:
Start at the bottom of the sleeves, sew up and under the arm, then back down the side. I like to give the fabric a gentle stretch as I’m sewing under the arm to make sure this seam won’t pop when the child lifts her arms.
Turn the shirt right side out, and it looks like this:
Then you just need to finish the neckline as desired and hem the shirt and sleeves. My favorite method for finishing necklines on t-shirts can be found in the original easy tee post.
Here’s what the finished shirt looks like:
(Yes, the sleeves are suddenly a different color 🙂 I just didn’t like how the matching coral color looked on the sleeves, so I took them out and added gray ones instead.)