April 10, 2012

The Easy Peasy Shirt: Tutorial

the Easy Peasy Shirt tutorial {a lemon squeezy home}

Made from a fun knit fabric (Joann), this shirt is comfortable and light.  It’s also perfect alone, belted, or for layering.  And it’s SO easy to make! 

the Easy Peasy Shirt tutorial {a lemon squeezy home}

You’ll need: 
-a form fitting shirt (mine is a modbe shirt)
-about a yard of stretch or knit fabric (more or less depending on size you are making and length of the shirt)
-elastic (measure around the part of the waist you want the shirt gathered at, adding just about a half inch, and that’s how much elastic you’ll want)
-twin needle (mine is a 4/80), and also says for stretch fabrics on the back of the package.


*Please note that you will see my edges are serged as the tutorial progresses. You in no way need a serger to complete this shirt, and I’ve not included that step anywhere in the tutorial.  In fact, I don’t think it helped any because the twin needle does a fine job finishing your garment—I suppose it was more for the inside seams but since this fabric doesn’t fray, I didn’t need to serge the edges at all. Just personal preference—you could zig-zag the unfinished inside seams if you want them polished.

*Also, don’t be afraid of using a twin needle.  They are so easy to use and have such professional results!  I love mine and will be using it much more often now that I’ve gotten over my fear of them!  See HERE, HERE, and HERE for great sources on using a twin needle.  The only thing I saw different is one says make sure the thread is coming off the spool the same direction, and the other says the opposite—they both said because it will prevent the thread from twisting.  I tried it both ways and both times I had mine twist together once, so I’m not sure which is the correct way.

Lay out your shirt on your fabric, double layered. 
the Easy Peasy Shirt tutorial {a lemon squeezy home}

Measure about 4” out from the bottom hem and cut a square or rectangle, if you would like more length.  I cut a 24” x 24” square, but wish I had added about 3” to the bottom and made mine 24” x 27”.  You can learn from my mistakes and make your shirt longer if you want ;). 


Now take one layer at a time, fold in half, and cut the same neckline using your fitted shirt as the guide (if you like the neckline of course—change it if you would like!).  The front is normally lower than the back, of course.


Lay the layers on top of each other again, matching up the corners.  Fold in half.

If you want to give your shirt a bit more shape, you can cut off a small slant as pictured below:

Next, measure about 10” down from the corner of the shoulder.

Cut a tiny 1/4” snip or make some type of mark by that 10”. 

Starting from the lower corner (all the layers still matched at corners and folded in half), cut a curve from the bottom corner to the 10” mark as pictured.  I’m obviously no pattern drafter!

Unfold shirt and match corners, right sides together.  Starting where the scissors are pointing, pin and sew ONE side seam together, using a 1/4” seam, leaving the armhole open.

Open your shirt at the side seam so you’ll have one long strip of fabric, but not sewn at the armholes.

Try the shirt on as best as you can and get a feel as to where you want the gathered portion of the shirt to fall on your torso.  Measure out enough elastic to fit around that portion of you.  I marked where mine should be gathered and it ended up about 5” down from the curve of the armhole.  Mark that at each side of the shirt and connect the marking with a line in chalk or other non-permanent marking device, across the shirt.  You’ll have drawn one long line where you will sew your elastic onto.  Hopefully the pictures will help that make more sense if that is confusing.

Making sure you measured the elastic for where you want it to be on your body, start in the middle of the elastic at the sewn side seam, and sew the elastic along the line you just marked above, stretching the elastic to make sure it will make it to the other end of the shirt.  This will gather the shirt as you stretch the elastic.

After you reach one end, start again with the sewn side seam and sew that elastic towards the other end, following the same steps for stretching the elastic.  With right sides together, sew the other side seam together. 
the Easy Peasy Shirt tutorial {a lemon squeezy home}

Now for the finishing touches.  Swap your single needle for the twin needle.  If you don’t have another matching spool of thread, wind a bobbin and put both on the spool.  Thread the machine as if you only had one thread, but holding both strands.  Once you get down to the needle, untwist the strands and thread each needle.  Again, refer to the sources at the beginning of the post for a more thorough explanation of using a twin needle.

We’ll start with the neckline and fold under the fabric about a 1/2”, but pin on the top, not the bottom. 
DSC_0119the Easy Peasy Shirt tutorial {a lemon squeezy home}

Starting at one of the seams, start sewing, making sure to backstitch at the start and finish.  I just followed the edge of my presser foot.

See?  Beautiful!  DSC_0120DSC_0121the Easy Peasy Shirt tutorial {a lemon squeezy home}

After the neckline is complete, hem the sleeves and the bottom the same way.  You can choose to use a larger hem on the bottom if you want. Since I made mine shorter than I had wanted, I just used a 1/2” there as well. 
the Easy Peasy Shirt tutorial {a lemon squeezy home}

Ta-Da!  All done!  It really is SUCH a non-complicated shirt to sew, and finished in very little time! 
the Easy Peasy Shirt tutorial {a lemon squeezy home}


  1. You make it look so easy... I would butcher that... it looks great though.


  3. I still haven't ever attempted using the double needle! I need to. I love the look!

  4. Love this!! Thanks for sharing. Cute fabric, too.

  5. What a great shirt. May I pass along some helpful hints from years, ( I refuse to say how many! More then 29 and less than 31) of sewing.)
    If you use Wooly Nylon in the bobbin, it will "give" so you will not experience popped stitches if the hem is stretched a bit too much. Secondly, with a Schmetz twin needle, the blue bar on the twin needle is specifically for knits. A ball point, so it will not pierce the fabric, just go between the fabric.
    There. Utter perfect hems!
    Keep up the great tutes!

  6. I would love to sew as you do, in such a easy way. You make it seems so easy. Great post.
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  7. Nice! I made a similar project but made it into a dress.

  8. what a cute shirt! I am hopeless with sewing machines, but if I knew how to sew, I would be all over this project :)

  9. Cute! I haven't done a lot of sewing with knits but this makes me want to try a twin needle.

  10. Wow this tutorial is so simple!! I like it and I love your blog, many compliments for all your creations!! Ps. And sorry for my scolastic english!!

  11. fantastic tutorial and shirt! i love the ease of it and can see adapting for my girls, too!! thank you and good luck!

  12. How cute! I love the fabric you chose for this project!! :)

  13. I just finished my shirt! I can't wait to wear it!! Its the first shirt I've ever made! :) Thanks for posting the tutorial and offering some great tips!

  14. that's beautiful! thanks for sharing

  15. Great easy tutorial, very clear. Now must conquer fear of knits :)

  16. You've made it look so easy! The shirt looks so cute

  17. I don't have a twin needle....what's the outcome if I don't use the twin needle?

    1. No problem--you can just stitch two lines to make it look more finished or stick with one line of stitching. It's a loose enough shirt that you shouldn't have problems with popped stitches.


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