****Free pattern added in size L! Find it in this post***
I like easy sewing projects. I really like easy sewing projects that can be completed in one naptime (I always think through my to do list in how much of a naptime each item will take). Today’s project is the easiest t-shirt I know how to make. There are no set in sleeves, just a front, back, neck band, and hem band (and yes, adding a hem band is actually easier than just hemming most stretchy fabrics).
We all know by now that I also like non-muffin-top-revealing sewing projects, so this tee is cut to be roomy around the middle, but it’s very easy to customize for whatever fit you’d prefer.
To make your own easy tee, you’ll want to start with a cap sleeve shirt that fits well so you can make your own pattern, like this: Fold your shirt in half and lay it on a large piece of paper (I use freezer paper because I have a hugemongous roll of it and it’s pretty wide). Trace a shape like the one you see below, using your cap sleeve tee as a general guide. Note that I added seam allowance along the top of the shoulder and added a couple extra inches in length and width. I also added plenty of extra room around the sleeve opening. (My pattern is now available in this post!)
Cut your shirt pieces out of knit (stretchy) fabric. One yard will probably be plenty since knit generally comes 54 inches wide. I used this white knit with gold dots from Girl Charlee. It’s quite thin and fairly see through so I have to wear a tank underneath, which is lame, but it’s also very pretty, which is nice.
Cut two of your pattern on the fold. You’ll want the neckline of your front piece to scoop down a little lower than the back piece (use your well-fitting tee as a guide here).
You’ll also want to cut two rectangles on the fold just below your pattern pieces – they should be as wide as the bottom of your shirt pieces and 4 inches tall. And finally you’ll also need one long rectangle, 28 inches wide and 1.5 inches tall (it should stretch along the width). Begin putting your shirt together by laying the front and back pieces RST and sewing across the shoulders. Oftentimes knit tees have reinforced shoulders to keep that top seam from getting all stretched out. I simply sewed across the shoulders twice and that seams to be sufficient for now – my fabric is so lightweight that it’s not getting stretched out. (If you’re interested in why/how to reinforce shoulders, check out this post.)
Next you’ll want to sew the side seams. When you are sewing the curved area under the arms it’s a good idea to give the fabric a pretty good stretch as you sew, as this area will need to stretch when you’re wearing the shirt. I sewed along the curve twice as well. Press your seams open and try on your shirt. If needed, take it in on the sides or cut a lower front neckline. Once it fits well, hem the sleeves by turning under 1/4 inch twice and sewing with a slight zigzag or double needle. This can be tricky if your knit is very stretchy. I found I had to stabilize the armholes with a piece of paper under the fabric as I sewed in order to get a nice looking hem on the sleeves (and then I had to pick the paper out of the zigzag afterwards). Next it’s time to bind the neckline with your long rectangle piece, which we’ll call ribbing. Measure around your shirt’s neckline and subtract about 4 inches, then cut your ribbing to that length (mine ended up being 24 inches long and 1.5 inches tall).
Fold the ribbing in half lengthwise and press. Find the middle of your ribbing and pin it to the middle of the front neckline on the shirt, matching raw edges. Pin ribbing around neckline, stretching the ribbing slightly each time you pin. When you reach the shoulders you’ll want to open up the short ends of the ribbing and sew them together RST, then continue pinning the ribbing to the back of the shirt. Adjust if needed so the ribbing is evenly distributed around the neckline. You’ll see that the shirt is bunched up a little bit (photo 3), so when you start to sew you’ll need to pull gently so the material lays flat as it goes under your machine. Use a slight zigzag here so the neckline has some give once it’s sewn together. Press the neckline ribbing flat and your shirt will look like this:
Now, if you want, you could leave the bottom edge of your shirt raw and unhemmed for a casual look. I almost wish I’d done so – I kind of like how it looks in this photo. You can also simply turn up the bottom and hem, but getting a nice looking hem can be very tricky with super stretchy fabrics (there are lots of good tutorials out there though, so if you’d prefer to just hem google hemming knits). I think it’s easiest to just finish the bottom with a hem band. Grab the last two pieces we cut out.
Lay them RST and sew together along each short edge as shown. Decide if you want them hem band to hang past your hips or sit on top of them – I wanted mine to sit on my hips so I took it in a few inches. Then fold it in half lengthwise, right side out, and press. You can see in the 3rd photo here that my shirt is now wider than my hem band. Slide the hem band up over the shirt, matching up the raw edges, and sew them together. If your shirt is wider than your hem band, like mine, you’ll need to pin it on and stretch slightly while sewing, just like you did with the neck ribbing. Flip the hemband down, press again, and your shirt is complete!
So now you know how to make a super simple, super basic tee. I have some ideas for customizing this look a bit which I’ll be sharing in the next few weeks. Thanks for reading! Find the other Easy Tee posts here: