Have you ever had an article of clothing that you absolutely loved? One that fit you just right and you wish you had second, or maybe at least had it in a different color so it wasn’t quite so obvious that you wore it so often 😉 If you answered yes, (and you sew) hopefully this tutorial will be helpful to you!
I have always had a hard time with store bought patterns. I find them a bit confusing to read, and usually they do not fit me quite like I want them to. I still want to keep trying patterns, but my favorite way to sew clothing is to take things I already own, love and that fit me well and use them to create my own patterns. I have been doing this for a while so now I can pretty easily take a shirt that I like the neck line of, a blouse I like the sleeves to, and a dress I like the length of and use them together to create a dress with all of those features combined. But this tutorial really is perfect for someone just beginning to sew clothes without a pattern. I used a very simple shirt without and darts, gathering, buttons, etc. It has simple sleeves and a simple neckline. I would suggest finding something similar in your own closet and starting with that.
First flip your article of clothing inside out and look at all of the seams to see if you can try to figure out how it was put together. If you have something that has holes in it or that has a big stain on it and you cannot wear it anymore then start with that and actually take it apart! Be sure to cut right along the seams if you go that route. This tutorial though is for if you want to keep the original in tact.
First flip it inside out and lay it out as flat as possible on a freshly ironed (or at least wrinkle free!) piece of fabric.
This part can be a little tricky with some clothes. But you need make sure all of the seams for one side of the fabric are very flat. Sometimes I have to do it in sections. Usually on womens shirts the front piece is wider that the back piece to give extra fabric for the bust. Also remember to give yourself a consistent seam allowance for everything you cut. It doesn’t matter exactly what it is ( 1/2 an inch, 5/8 an inch etc) just make sure it is the same for the entire project.
Be sure you pay attention to the shoulders. My seam was not centered at the top but actually came over to the front some so you want to make sure that you give extra fabric for however far it comes around.
Sometimes as we wear our clothes they stretch and the right and left side may not be the exact same so once you have one side cut you will want to fold it in half and cut the other side so that they match perfectly.
Lay the fabrics with the right sides together and sew the sides together. If you have a serger do that too! If not you can do a french hem (that I will show on the shoulders) use a zig sag stitch, or pinking shears.
For the shoulders I did a french hem (except I left out the final step of sewing back down the top again! If you want a better tutorial for a french hem click the link above.) This is a perfect hem if you do not have a serger, or if you are working with a sheer fabric and don’t want to see the seams.
These sleeves are basically a large cuff. Great for summer and very easy to sew!
If you know how to do bias tape that is basically what I did here. Lay the fabrics right sides together. I left about a half inch extra by the armpit of my shirt so that I could sew it closed after I sewed the fabric on.
Here are the open ends after sewing around the arm hole opening. I then lined them up and sewed straight across.
Next I folded the sleeve cuff in half and turned under the edge ironed it in place and pinned it on the outside. When you sew it together you will want to sew right down your original seam so that you do not see your thread, but make sure that you are catching the fabric on the back side to sew it closed.
For the neck line I made bias tape and sewed it very similar to the arms. This is a wonderful tutorial on attaching double fold bias tape. She is doing it on a quilt but I use this same technique and I LOVE the way that she finishes it off. It is perfect for necklines! And now you have two!
I am by no means super knowledgeable in this area. I am very much a self taught seamstress and learn as I go from calling my mom when things don’t work out to searching the web for you tube videos on how to do x,y,z! I hope this is helpful and easy to understand. If you have any questions please let me know!