Cloning a ready to wear t-shirt.

In January 2017, I offered to make Paul some T shirts to replace the ones in his closet that were worn out. I bought a couple of men’s Tee shirt patterns before drafting my own.

We tried Merchant and Mills ‘The Tee’ this pattern is designed to be made with woven fabrics. Unfortunately, this fit of the sleeve on Paul was terrible and I couldn’t figure out how to adjust it.

Next, we tried Seamwork Eugene  this pattern is designed to have a button placket which we didn’t include in our version. We made this pattern once but Paul felt that shape of the armhole wasn’t the right fit for him.

We decided to make a pattern from one of Paul’s well fitting, but worn out, size medium AS Colour T shirts. I chose to cut up the shirt to make pattern pieces from it. you don’t have to do this but it makes the process slightly easier.

I followed this method:

  • Firstly, cut close to the overlocked seams all the way around the shirt.
  • Then cut off the next band as close to the band as possible. Where the band is sewn together cut through this join.
  • All your pieces should now be separated.
  • Next pin together the front and back pieces on the fold.
  • Get yourself some paper or card, a pencil and a ruler.
  • Draw around the front and back of the garment as close to garment pieces as possible (we will add seam allowances and hem length later on)  mark on the pattern ‘cut x1 on fold’  and write front/back on the appropriate pieces.
  • (Optional) Create notches on your pattern. Notches help you line up the pattern pieces so everything sits correctly on the body. To make notches find the centre point of the arm hole and notch the point. On all patterns, a double notch shows the back area and a single notch is for the front area.
  • Now you’ll need to add seam allowance. I added .5cm to all areas but the hem where I allowed 1.5cm.  I construct knit garments on the overlocker so I added a small seam allowance. If you construct yours on a normal sewing machine you might want to allow a larger seam allowance.

I hope this tutorial was helpful! If you prefer to watch this process in a video I recommend this one by WithWendy.

Threads Magazine also have an amazing tutorial on copying a T-shirt.

Front of shirt pattern piece with the original t shirt as a template below.

To construct the T shirt I follow this process:

  • Coverstitch/ twin needle/ zig zag the back neck bib onto the back neckline of the shirt. If you want to add a tag it onto the back do so before coverstiching it into place. Please note in the photo below I don’t have it stitched in place as I didn’t have my coverstitch set up.
  • Overlock the front and back together along the shoulders. I carefully sew cotton stay tape into this seam to stop the fabric from stretching out during wear.20170603_210837
  • Overlock both sleeves to the front and back of the T.20170603_214008
  • Overlock the neckband to the shirt divide the sections into quarters to get the neckband to sit flat.20170603_220855
  • Overlock the side seams together carefully matching up the underarm seam.
  • Coverstitch the hems and arount the neckband.

All done! If you haven’t made a T shirt before please follow instructions from a pattern to achieve the best results. My method above is not a full set of instructions.

This blog post by Meg was really helpful to me when researching sewing for men: 

Patterns for men:

Seamwork Eugene

Strathcona Henley T shirt


Metro Mens T-shirt

The Tee Shirt by Merchant and Mills

Berlin Tee Shirt by Toby K Patterns

Please let me know if you have any questions or know of any other great mens patterns.

Happy sewing !

4 Comments Add yours

  1. sue13sews says:

    Great blog. I had the same experience with the M&M woven tee! Luckily I had bought the pattern on a half- price sale so didn’t feel too miffed at it being rejected.


    1. Hi Sue

      Thank you! It’s an odd pattern. I’m glad you managed to get it on sale.


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