Sewing: Double Puff Shoulder Shirt

You all are about to witness my foray into pattern making. After a lot of trial and error and learning Adobe Illustrator on the fly I present you with this – my first (albeit simple) shirt pattern from scratch. It is basically a t-shirt (that’s the simple part) made, in this case, with brown striped 50/50 poly/cotton jersey with a v-neck of brown rib and “double” sleeves. The bottom layer is a normal cap sleeve and the top is a gathered decorative part with a perpendicular stripe. Now everyone say “oooh” and “ahhhh.”

I know not everyone reading this is a sewer BUT if you are and you’ve got some scrap fabric lying around please try out my pattern. I made it in 5 sizes from 33″ bust to 41″. Measure your favorite t-shirts to find a good size, knit fitting is a little different than woven fabric. If these are too small or too big you can use the slash and spread method on make them your size.

This blog is my guinea pig I suppose. There is definitely a big learning curve with making a pattern and I can use all the help I can get. I’m looking for tips, criticism, advice with wording. If something is confusing let me know. If my measurements are totally wrong please let me know. I’ve gone over these documents a dozen times and all this stuff just bleeds together in my mind. I bet there are a zillion typos, too… Illustrator doesn’t have spell check, ugh!

So, even if you’d like to just look at it you can download the pattern pieces and also the instructions. One important note: when you print the pieces make sure your printer page scaling is not making the pieces smaller to fit in the printable area. It is intended for lines to stretch off the printable area and the dotted lines are used to match up the pieces. Then you tape all the pieces together and then cut out your size.

Once you cut out the pieces and your fabric it is pretty simple. I used a serger but you could also use a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.

Stitch the shoulders together. Then gather the top layer sleeve piece between the little dots. Layer that over the bottom layer sleeve piece and pin in place.

Stitch the sleeve layers to the sleeve space in the bodice.

Sew up the whole sides of the shirt.

Hem the shoulders.

Hem the bottom.

Fold the collar piece and pin in place. Rib fabric is extra stretchy so you’ll stretch it a bit to fit in the neck opening. Just make sure it is evenly spaced or else it could bunch up in little places.

And voila! I purposely didn’t finish the raw edge of the gathered sleeve area because I like the look. Knits don’t unravel like wovens so you don’t really have to worry about that. You could always serge the edge or fold and hem it under.

Phew, that took forever! The whole process, not just the sewing, of course. And I’ve already got more planned in my head and on paper. Happy sewing!

  • I really want to learn how to sew! Should I buy a machine??? If so, what do you recommend?

  • Awesome! I want to try this out. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do it soon. It really looks great.

  • i am so excited i found your blog via burda style!
    i have the partial made mini dress that i cant wait to finish your doing such a great job!

  • Anonymous

    I love your website! I found ur blog via Burdastyle website! Glad i gave your blog a look, b/c I thought I wouldn’t be able to use the pattern- b/c instructions were horrible(one filed under burdastyle “Instruction” file- which was misleading!). I am definitely going to try this out! I have no experience with knits but i love them! Love your blog! I am going to be visiting all the time! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Just wondering.. you said you learned to make pattern by using Adobe Illustrator… I have the software but never knew you could draft patterns with it! I am thinking of buying a computer software that’s for pattern designing… Could i just use Illustrator? was it hard?

  • Anonymous, you can use illustrator. You basically build a pattern piece using lines and curves and then re-size your piece from there. I work with it like drawing on grid paper.

    Although if you know how to use and can buy a program specifically for pattern making, do that. It’ll do all the sizing math for you and will save you so much time.

    Oh, and if you’ve never worked with knits before – use a ball point needle and zig zag stitch and work on practice scraps to get your stitch tension right. Knits are a little different to sew at first but I love ’em.

  • Do you have the name of the specific pattern drafting program? I’ve been doing a lot of drafting by hand, but now I’d love to be able to do it on my computer. 🙂

  • Anna, I just use Adobe Illustrator. It’s not specifically a pattern design program but you can still use it as such.