How to Make Homemade T-Shirts

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Because T-shirts are widely available and often inexpensive, there's little practical reason to make homemade T-shirts. Still, wearing something you made yourself can be satisfying, and T-shirts are a simple project suitable for sewers of all experience levels. Another advantage to making DIY T-shirts is the almost infinite variety of unique cuts and designs you can create, especially once you get the hang of the basic technique.

Things You'll Need

  • Knit fabric
  • Needle and thread or sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Pins (optional)
  • T-shirt to use as a template

Choose a fabric. A fabric with a little stretch but not too much is best--most T-shirts are made of cotton jersey or a fiber blend. You can use old extra-large T-shirts to make homemade T-shirts in smaller sizes, too.

Fold your fabric in half with the outside together, and lay it flat. Position a well-fitting but not-too-tight T-shirt on top of the fabric, to use as a template.

Cut all the way around your template shirt, about half an inch out from the edge to leave room for seams. Cut the fabric to match the back rather than the front of the collar area at this point.

Remove the template shirt. Cut the front piece of your fabric a bit deeper in the collar area, using your template shirt as a guide, but remembering to leave a little extra fabric for hemming.

Sew seams on each side of the shirt, from the bottom edge to the lower end of the sleeve. Sew another seam on each side, from the edge of the neck hole to the upper end of the sleeve.

Hem the raw edges. Technically this step is optional, but it helps make homemade T-shirts look neat and finished. Fold a raw edge up a bit, then fold over again, creating a small roll. Use a needle and thread to make small stitches along the inside edge of this roll and through the T-shirt fabric. Continue around all the raw edges at the bottom, sleeves and neck of the shirt.

Tips & Warnings

  • Half the reason to make homemade T-shirts is probably to decorate them yourself, so customize the fabric however you like, for example with fabric paint, screen printing or embroidery. Unless you want designs to wrap around the seams of your shirt, it may be easier to customize your fabric before you make it into a shirt.
  • Homemade T-shirts created with this method may not fit quite as nicely in the shoulder area as standard T-shirts, because the sleeves aren't cut out separately. If you have intermediate sewing skills, consider using your template to cut out individual sleeves and body pieces, then sewing these together before completing the other seams.

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