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As I’m just starting my blog for real and it will be mainly about sewing tutorials I have to find some easy way of preparing some basic cutting patterns for the clothes you’re going to make. I’ll start with the easiest method any of you can master that is copying the shape of the garment. You can use this method for most of the basic items, on condition they have no darts and these articles of clothing lend themselves to spreading flat each of their parts.

I’ll show you how to do this taking a basic t-shirt as an example. The t-shirt form reflects the shape of the upper body perfectly and is a perfect basic form for most of the articles you’re going to make.  I’ll use it as a starting point only it will be modified later on; I’ll make it wider or longer, add some creasing effects and so on.  I’m explaining how to make the cutting pattern for the upper body garment (made of knitted fabrics) I’m going to be using a t-shirt shape as a starting point. Let’s start!





  • Your favourite t-shirt.
  • Two large sheets 100cm x 70cm of semitransparent tracing paper (you can buy it here).
  • Soft fabric of the size of the tracing paper.
  • Felt-tip pens, scissors, pins and a ruler.




Spread the fabric across the table, spread the tracing paper on this fabric – the fabric at the bottom enables you to make perforations in the tracing paper with a pin – I’ll explain it later. Place your t-shirt on the tracing paper and spread it flat with your hands so as to avoid any creasing. You’re going to copy the body of the t-shirt first, than the sleeves. Make sure any part you’re copying should be flat without any creasing. As you can see in the picture below I had to crease the sleeves so I could avoid creasing on the body of the shirt around the armhole. Look closely at the structure of the knitted fabric at the seams to see if the attached element (sleeve) doesn’t stretch the fabric nor deforms it. If all is fine you can start copying the shape: first outline the easily accessible contours you: sides, bottom-hem and shoulder lines.

Then use pin to mark the curves along the armhole and neck: puncture the paper with a pin densely along these seams, so it leaves small holes in the paper.






Join the dots with a felt-tip pen and you’ll get the shape of the front neckline (the deeper one) and the armholes. (The difference between the front and back armholes is so insignificant that you can ignore it.




As a knitted jersey t-shirt is quite unstable there’s a chance you won’t be able to place it perfectly symmetrically and it can be deformed after some washings, so your next step is to bring the pattern into its symmetrical shape. Fold the paper in two so as the outlines of two symmetrical part are as close to each other as possible. Using the pen of different colour, draw the new shape which is in-between of the two outlines.




Draw the bottom hem line so as it is at the right angle to the paper’s folded edge.Correct the shoulder line so it’s a straight line, while the neckline and armholes should be nice arches.   The side should be slightly arched inwards, in sports garments it can be a straight line however (without a waist fitting). Cut the from out of the folded paper along the red lines – when you unfold it you get a symmetrical t-shirt. So now you have a front and a back in one piece – the only diffenece between them being the depth of the neckline. Cut away the paper along the middle, make a deeper neckline in one of the halves (the front). Here you are: now you have a pattern for both the front and the back. In symmetrical garments you always work on halves of the pattern, which is later copied on the folded fabric.

It’s time to prepare a sleeve now: copy the front  part. (To do it properly crease the front of the t-shirt so that the sleeve curve is clearly visible – see the picture below.  Copy the edges and puncture with a pin the curved seam.




Turn the t-shirt to its back, and place it so the sleeve’s edge touches the long edge of the sleeve (you have just marked working on the front of the t-shirt – this edge is the length symmetry line of the sleeve). Copy the edges and puncture with a pin the curved seam.




Make the sides of the sleeve even. Fold the paper along the symmetry line of the sleeve and draw the bottom-line of the sleeve as a straight line at the right angle to the length symmetry line of the sleeve.




Sleeve cap is not symmetrical  –  at the front it’s a bit more cut-in.  Now measure the total armscythe length using the measuring tape (total, that is the front and the back). Measure the sleeve cap length to check if it’s equal to armscythe length.




If the difference is greater than 1cm correct the sleeve cap: the measured difference divide by three and mark the difference in three points marked on the picture in green  (if you making the sleeve cap smaller) or blue (if you making the sleeve cap bigger). And then correct the sleeve cap shape. Measure both lengths again to see if they are equal now. Ready!




I’m going to redirect you to this tutorial any time you need the t-shirt basic form – so this was the preliminary tutorial, now let me go to the main one.

This tutorial has been prepared for you by Janek