Dot to Dot Sewing – Basic Woman’s Top Tutorial

I can always count on the change of seasons to spin me off into a sewing mood. It’s time for the wardrobe to change, and that means this girl needs some new stuff.

how to sew a basic woman shirt chapter37


OK, not really, but it’s a good excuse anyway. I despise clothes shopping with a passion. I’m tall and not exactly anywhere near the realm of petite, which spells royal pain when it comes to finding anything half way attractive to wear. Oh yes, and I’m cheap. This is why sewing is my saving grace. I mentioned before, that making your own patterns is easy if you think of it as a giant dot to dot picture. Measure out the dots, then connect them. If it works for a little girl’s dress (HERE), it will work for you!

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This is how you can make a basic shirt out of knit fabric. Woven fabric is just as easy, but I’ll talk about that in a later post. This shirt doesn’t have a set in sleeve, so if you’re new at sewing this is perfect for you. Sleeves are super simple, but again, we’ll chat about those at a later date. You need to know your width measurement at your widest point, usually the bust, and how long you want the shirt. Mine is quite long with a high/low hemline, but you can do it anyway you like.

Grab a nice large piece of paper. Use wrapping paper, packaging paper, whatever you like. I use freezer paper myself. Cut it as long as you want the shirt to start with.

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If you don’t want your shirt to be fitted, add an inch to your width and call that your “original measurement”, if you do want it to be tighter, leave it as is. Add 1 inch to your original measurement, and divide that total by four. My number is 13, so I marked my rectangle 13 inches wide.

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It just looks like a rectangle right? Ok, so now we add shape. Measure down the line you just drew, 3 inches and mark it.

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From that mark, measure down 8.5 inches and draw another dot. (Never mind my extra marks, I was getting ahead of myself!) This marks your sleeve opening.

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Now, in the top left corner, opposite the marks you just made, measure over from the corner 3.5 inches.

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Measure down the edge 2 inches.

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Use a curved ruler, or free hand, to connect those two dots for your neckline.

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This is your back neckline. (Obviously, you can change these numbers to get any sort of neckline you wish.) Draw a line connecting the neck to the top of the sleeve opening. This is your shoulder seam line.

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Now, using your original measurement make marks curving in to that width under the arm pit and tapering down the hem. My line goes from 13 to 12 back to 13.

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Use your curved ruler again to make your new side seam line. As you can see, I sketched mine till I was satisfied with the curve.

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Cut this all out, and you have your back pattern.

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Trace it onto a new sheet of paper for your front pattern piece. Make sure to drop the neckline at least on inch.

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I also added a higher hemline with my curved ruler.

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To cut out the shirt, I use one yard of fabric. Fabric comes off the bolt already folded. I fold it again with the stretch going width wise.

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I lay my back pattern piece on it, and cut it out first. I actually trace around my pattern first, then cut out the fabric. I feel like it’s more accurate a cut that way than cutting around paper.

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Once all the fabric has been cut at one time, using the back pattern piece, I open the fabric up.

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Then I lay the front pattern piece on the inside folded fabric, and cut out the front of the shirt. (Just be careful not to cut the fabric underneath or you’ll be oh so sad.)

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Sew it together, wrong side out and hem. If you’d like sleeve bindings or cuffs this is how I added the black to my sleeves. Cut two strips of fabric 8.25 inches by 4 inches.

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Fold them in half and sew the edge.

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Fold them in half so the seam is hidden inside.

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Slip them inside of the sleeve, with the shirt wrong side out. Pin the seam to the underarm seam.

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You’ll have to stretch the cuff a tad as you sew it, since it is a hair smaller than the actual sleeve.

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Wow, that’s a whole lot of information! I hope I didn’t overload you, or make it seem more complicated than it is. Honestly, these are a thirty minute project easily, once you get the hang of it!

how to make a woman's shirt chapter37

I love a high/low hemline just because you can get a nice long shirt without it feeling frumpy.

hi/low hemline shirt tutorial

Do you know I’ve never ever in my life worn an animal print before? The mood just struck me when I saw the fabric, and whadayaknow but I actually like it! I, obviously, don’t subscribe to the “no white after labor day” rule, I plan to wear it all the Fall long thank you! So, go break all your fashion rules and make a cute top while your at it!

 1 Peter 4:8   And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 

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About Abby

I'm a mom and blogger. I love all things creative! Follow along at
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5 Responses to Dot to Dot Sewing – Basic Woman’s Top Tutorial

  1. Gina says:

    Abby, Thank you so much for this tutorial! I want to make things for myself so badly, but I have no idea what I am doing! I need a quiet afternoon alone to try this! :) I love the print and I agree with you about the white after labor day. It’s in the 80′s here, so I don’t think that can possibly apply when it still feels like summer! :)

  2. Pingback: Do as I say and not as I do – How to draw on your clothing - Chapter37

  3. Shannon says:

    Very cute! Nice step by steps too. I hate clothes shopping too but I have the exact opposite problem – I’m 5’4 and even petite clothes don’t fit me right. Thank goodness for sewing!! :) ~Shannon

  4. Cindy Taylor says:

    Hi Abby,
    I have limited experience sewing clothes but I hope that changes soon (I make quilts). Also, I have sewn knits before. There’s one place in your tutorial that confuses me – after you have cut the back fabric and have opened it, where do you get that “inside fold” onto which you place the front pattern piece? I can’t wait to make many of these tops; they are exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thank-you for sharing this. Cindy

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