how to pattern draft and sew a raglan tee in any size


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.

learn how to draft a pattern for a raglan shirt, then how to sew it up - it's easy!

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.

learn how to draft a pattern for a raglan shirt, then how to sew it up - it's easy!

 

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.

raglan-shirt-how-to-sew-make-pattern-draft

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.

raglan-shirt-how-to-draft-pattern-sew-make

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.

raglan-shirt-how-to-draft-pattern-sew-make-2

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.

raglan-shirt-how-to-draft-sew-make-3

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!

raglan-shirt-how-to-draft-pattern-sew-make-3

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.

raglan-shirt-how-to-draft-sew-make-pattern-4

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.)

raglan-shirt-how-to-draft-pattern-sew-make-5

 

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.

raglan-shirt-how-to-draft-pattern-sew-make-6

 

Repeat with the other sleeve on the other side. Your shirt will look like this:

raglan-shirt-how-to-draft-pattern-sew-make-7

 

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:

raglan-shirt-how-to-draft-pattern-sew-make-8

 

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:

raglan-shirt-how-to-draft-pattern-sew-make-9

 

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:

learn how to draft a pattern for a raglan tee in any size, and then how to sew it up!

 

(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.)

raglan-shirt-how-to-sew-girls-tutorial

 

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    This is such a great tutorial. Thank you! Where do you buy your cute t-shirt fabrics? I cannot seem to find any in the big fabric stores that is cute, and I cannot find anything decently priced online…

  2. 4

    KMCC says

    Hi, I love your tutorials – and your ideas! I was wondering if I could actually sew long-arm shirts in the same way just by adding length to the arms? Any advice appreciated. 🙂

  3. 8

    says

    You are a true blessing. I haven’t sewn in many years but this takes out some of my fear to start up again.
    Thank you very much for sharing your great talent. Thanks for making modest clothing too.

  4. 10

    Kristie says

    thanks for posting this! I need to work on a different style of shirt for my girls. I have been making them a bunch of dolman type shirts, and while it is cute I really wanted a new pattern! thanks for the help!

  5. 12

    says

    Oh! My! Your tutorial is terrific — thanks so much for sharing it with us! I know how long it takes to do one like this and your readers appreciate it greatly. Nice switch on the sleeves, too — it enhanced the style factor for sure!

    • 13

      autumn says

      Thanks! I’m glad you like the tutorial – and yes, the sleeve switch helped! I was ready to scrap the shirt because I just didn’t like it, but the grey sleeves saved it!

  6. 14

    Sarah Helene says

    I’VE ALWAYS LOVED RAGLAN SLEEVES . . .your tutorial on how to draft and sew a raglan sleeve tee in any size is FAB! So detailed with sharp photos showing steps clearly. Shows your talent for design. I love this chevron front & back with plain fabric for the raglan short sleeves. Once a pattern is drawn, ONLY 45 minutes to sew a T-shirt. CUTE, practical & can be coordinated with many skirts & pants. Thanks for sharing. Sarah in Minneapolis

  7. 15

    says

    What a lovely tee! And what a great tutorial! Thanks!
    I’ve just started sewing with knits and I can’t wait to sew a bunch of raglan tees for my daughters. I know they will love it!

  8. 17

    Shelley says

    Oh Thank you thank you thank you so much for providing the perfect raglan tee tutorial, you have no idea how much trouble I’ve had finding the perfect pattern and now you’ve helped me create it!! Thank you 🙂

  9. 19

    Tess says

    This is such a fab and easy project, even a novice like me want to try this. I don’t have a serger though :(. What setting do you recommend to use on normal sewing machine?

    • 20

      autumn says

      Any part of the shirt that’s going to stretch (such as the neckline) needs to be sewn with a stitch that will allow for a little stretch, so a narrow zigzag is a good way to go. Depending on your machine, you might even have a “stretch stitch” you can use. For side seams and other seams that won’t get stretched while wearing, and plain old straight stitch will work!

  10. 23

    Melanie says

    Hi!
    I just did a raglan tee for my daughter. It’s not bad, the only problem is that the neckline is too wide and ends up “pointing” upwards instead of lying on the shoulder. What did I do wrong? And how can I fix it? Thanks!

  11. 24

    Sue Ireland says

    I can’t get the pattern to print out with all the lines for sizes. I think I can get them marked right so just an FYI for you. Thanks

  12. 27

    Allison says

    I love this! It was so easy to make. The only problem was the neckline came out floppy and stretched (I don’t know why since I didn’t have to work with it enough to stretch it out) and the sleeves were too tight. I’d love to use this pattern again. Any advice on how to fix it for next time??

    THANKS!

  13. 28

    says

    magnificent points altogether, you just received a
    brand new reader. What could you suggest in regards to your post that you made
    some days ago? Any positive?

  14. 36

    Didi R. says

    What a helpful tutorial as a basic technique to adapt to other design ideas! Mine is a terry beach cover for my 6 y.o. granddaughter from a bath towel, hand towel (for hood) & wash cloth (for pockets) with other “girlie” embellishments (TBA).

    I was stuck until I came across this tutorial…I so appreciate the the time you took to post simple instructions & great pics for those of us who would rather spend the $12 (?) saved (from purchasing a pattern) on her ice pops & sunscreen! LOL 😎

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