Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

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stretch yourself logo Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

Isn’t it fun how we’re all different? Straight, curvy, plump or lean—we’re all  trying to rock what Mother Nature gave us, and often it’s hard to find clothes that fit just right.  You know what I’m talking about—too short, too long, too wide, ill-fitting, unflattering, and on and on.  That’s why pattern drafting can be so worth it; you’re designing for yourself based on your own unique measurements.  It’s an amazing fit, and really pretty simple.  Don’t get intimidated by the word “drafting,” it’s really just measuring, straight lines, and then connecting the dots.  One of my very first posts on this blog was a tutorial on drafting a tee pattern from measurements, and although it’s a great method, I’ve simplified, tweaked and improved the process here. If you’re still overwhelmed at the thought of making your own pattern, then  head on over to Miranda’s to learn how to draft a pattern by rubbing off your favorite tee, and next week we’ll review a couple of women’s tee patterns which are easy enough for anyone!

Drafting a tee from measurements.

Before you begin you’ll need to add ease.  Ease is the space between the garment and your body; without added ease, this pattern will produce a skin tight shirt because the measurements of the shirt will equal your body measurements. So if you want a little more room, then you’ll need to add some ease—I suggest 1-2 inches (mine has 2).  Add it to each of these calculations, and always add it in before you divide (i.e. neck measurement plus 2” ease divided by 2). You will add the ease to the measurements that are marked with an asterisk (*)

mad mim stretch yourself drafting pattern02 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

You’ll need: a tape measurer, tracing paper (exam table paper works famously!), acrylic ruler, seam gauge, and tailor’s chalk. It also helps for you to wear a fitted solid colored tee while measuring yourself.

Measure and calculate: (click on the measurement chart for a printable pdf).

Tip: I find it’s easier if before I start, I mark my high shoulder point, shoulder point, upper chest, bustline, true waist and hip with a sliver of soap or tailors chalk. This makes it easier for me to find the right spot and be consistent. 

mad mim stretch yourself taking measurements01 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

Drafting a Tee Measurement Chart23 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself mad mim stretch yourself taking measurements02 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

1. *Half neck: Neck divided by 2. (To find neck width, hang a string around your neck and allow it to hang down on either side.  Measure from one side of the string to the other –4-5” for women).

mad mim stretch yourself taking measurements03 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

2. *Half shoulder: Shoulder divided by 2. Your shoulder points are easily located as the points that depress or crease when you lift your arms straight out.

3. *Quarter bust: bust divided by 4.

4. *Quarter Waist: True Waist (smallest part of your waist) divided by 4.

5. *Quarter hip: Hip divided by 4. Take this measurement at the point you want your shirt to hit. This is can be the high hip (hip bones) or low hip (most ample part of bum) depending on how long your want your tee. I prefer a length right in between the two. 

mad mim stretch yourself taking measurements04 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

6. *HSP to upper chest: To locate the High Shoulder Point hang that string around your neck again; the HSP is the point on the string between the neck and shoulder. Measure from the HSP  to upper chest (tape measurer should go right under your armpits).

7. HSP to True Waist

8. HSP to hip (or where you want shirt to hit).

9. *Bicep half (with arm down, the fullest part of bicep (without flexing, you bad A!) divided by 2.

10. Sleeve length: from shoulder point to where you want sleeve to hit, OR for a long sleeve, from shoulder point to wrist.

11. Underarm seam length: measure from you under arm (the pit) to where you want your sleeve to hit, and MINUS 1” from that measurement for ease.

12. Wrist half: (for long sleeve) wrist divided by 2.

stretch yourself basic fitted tee plotting front1 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

Plot shirt front:

Cut a piece of paper that is plenty longer than your HSP to Hip and quarter hip measurements (give yourself at least 6” more on both). One edge needs to be completely straight, as it will become your center front and fold line.

  1. Starting a couple inches down from the top, draw a perpendicular line out from the Center Fold edge that equals the distance or your half neck. Mark; this is your High Shoulder Point or HSP.
  2. A half inch below that line, make another perpendicular line from CF that equals the distance of your half shoulder. Mark.
  3. From your HSP, measure straight down the distance of your HSP to High bust and mark. Directly over this mark, draw a perpendicular line from CF that equals your quarter bust measurement.
  4. From your HSP again, measure down the distance of your HSP to waist and mark.  Directly over this mark, draw a perpendicular line from CF that equals your quarter waist.
  5. Once more from your HSP, measure down the distance of your HSP to hip and mark. Directly over this mark, draw a perpendicular line from CF that equals your quarter hip.

 Connect the dots:

6.  Starting from your HSP, draw a gentle concave curve to the CF that will be your front neck drop.  Make it as deep or shallow as you please, but take care that it hits the CF and HSP perpendicularly for at least a ¼”.

7.  Connect the HSP to shoulder point with a very slight convex curve.

8.  The concave curve between the shoulder point and quarter bust line is your armscye (or armscyth), which is a fancy word for armhole.  Draw it more straight coming down from the shoulder point, with a sharper curve going into the side perpendicularly.  Check out your fave fitted tee (off your body) to get a good idea.

9.  Now unless you dig the boxy look, draw a curved line from the bustline to waistline to hip.  This is a gentle curve that happens gradually about 1” from the top and bottom of the side seam.  Because I didn’t want my shirt super fitted through the waist, I drew my waist curve about ¾’s of an inch away from the quarter waist point.

10.  The bottom hemline is the final convex curve; like all your other corners, it must intersect with side seams and CF at perpendicular right angles.  Begin this curve just above you hip line, and then descend down about 3/4” below the hip line, where it hits the CF.

mad mim stretch yourself drafting pattern01 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

True  up.  Make sure your angles are squared, and you’ve added ease where needed. Double check your measurements, and it might be useful to compare your drafted pattern to a favorite tee.

stretch yourself basic fitted tee plotting back Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself Plot shirt back:

The shirt back is a whiz. It’s basically the same as the front, but with a small tweak.  I suggest tracing the front, and then drawing in the alterations.  The back neck drop is much higher than the front, and usually only dips down about a ½”-1”.  Everything else is the same. Cut out, and make sure to mark clearly “front” or “back”, “cut 1 on fold”, and maybe your bust, waist and hip measurements so you have a size reference for the future. Your CF is the fold line as well as the grain line.

basic fitted tee plotting sleeve3 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself Plot sleeve:

Fold in half height-wise a cut of tracing paper that is several inches larger than your bicep half and sleeve length.

A)  Plot sleeve length along folded edge (CF)  starting at least an inch from the top.

B)  From the bottom edge of the length line, measure up the distance of your underarm seam length, and mark.

C)  Directly over this point, measure out perpendicularly the length of your bicep half.

mad mim stretch yourself drafting pattern031 540x399 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

D)  Now you’re ready to plot the upper curved edge of your sleeve. You’ll need to first measure carefully the distance of your front armscye.  On a measuring tape, measure out this distance and pinch.  Starting on the folded edge, arrange your measuring tape to help visualize the upper curved edge and get the proper distance. It will meet perpendicularly into the bicep line for about 1” before it curves upward and intersects the CF at a right angle.  Play around with it until you get a nice even curve and then trace that line.

E)  To finish, you’ll draw another line perpendicularly out from the CF bottom edge the distance of your bicep half minus 1” or so, and then

F)  Draw a straight line connecting line C and E to close sleeve side.

Now fold paper down CF again, and trace the your plotted half sleeve onto the other side.

Cut pattern:

Before you cut, you’ll need to add ¼” seam allowances to shirt front, back and sleeve  (the width of a serger  finish or overlock stitch on a sewing machine) everywhere but the hems, where you’ll add a generous 1”.  Keep  a seam gauge and ruler handy, or just eyeball it if you feel confident.  Optionally, you can choose to not add the SA to the paper pattern, but add them to the fabric as you cut out. If you choose this method, you should mark clearly what seam allowance should be added during cutting on the pattern, so you don’t forget.

*It’s best to cut the neckband after cutting other pieces so you can hold the front piece up to yourself to check the depth of the front drop.  If you’re not quite happy with it you can alter the depth and width at this point before calculating neckband width.

Neckband:

Measure carefully the front and back neck curves on seam line (not cutting), and then times those numbers by 2 and add to each other for the full neck opening circumference.  The neckband should be smaller than opening—anywhere from ¾’s to 7/8’s of that measurement. It’s difficult  to make a hard and fast rule because the stretch for different knits vary so much.  Start with 7/8’s of your neck opening (neck opening times .875 for all you math phobes like me!), and know that you may have to shorten that length in order to get the band to lie flat.

The width of the band will be however wide you want plus the seam allowance. I find a 1 ¾” width makes a great band.

Cut a rectangle using this length and width on the crossgrain so that the length has the greatest degree of stretch. Alternatively you may cut this rectangle on the bias, which helps the band lie flat against your chest. This isn’t necessary, but  look nice if you have the fabric to spare.

mad mim stretch yourself drafting pattern04 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

mad mim stretch yourself drafting pattern062 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

mad mim stretch yourself drafting pattern07 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

Don’t miss Miranda‘s post on making a pattern from a favorite tee, and come back tomorrow and we’ll teach you the ins and outs of knit t-shirt construction as well as knit sewing and finishing finishing techniques!

More Stretch Yourself:

Knit Fabrics and Selection at OLM // Cutting Knit Fabric at MM

Making a Pattern from a Tee Shirt at OLM // Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements at MM

Basic Tee Shirt Construction at OLM // Finishing Details for Knit Fabric at MM

Tee Shirt Dress Variation at OLM // Peplum Tee Variation at MM

Drafting and Sewing Leggings at OLM // Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt at MM

Serger and Coverstitch Techniques at OLM // Baby Lock Diana Threading and Coverstitch at MM

BabyLock HortLogo K Tag1 Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

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22 Comments

  1. Posted January 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Wow, this looks so cool! Thanks for sharing!

  2. YAM B Fan
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    When you think about customizing your own T shirt pattern you usually think of the ability to make it long enough, or maybe avoid a plunging neckline. But as you get older you want a shirt with a little longer sleeve, and this would be the perfect way to be able to get the right length on that. Upper arms start getting pretty scarey as the years go by. Thanks for this amazing post on how to do this.

  3. Posted January 9, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Love this! I know this is all about sewing with knits, but would this work to draft a t-shirt pattern using woven fabrics? Just need to add more ease? 3 or 4 inches? Maybe alter the neckline to get it over the head?

    • Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      You know, I’ve never tried it, but I’ll bet it would. You definitely would have to change the neck–maybe a keyhole closure or add a placket, and then add 3-4 inches ease. If you ever do try it, I’d love to see!

  4. Posted January 18, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Wow, thanks for the tutorial. I can’t wait to try this. Pattern making seems so complicated but I think I can manage this one :) I’ve only been brave enough to tailor/refashion other pieces.

    Tailoring my life

  5. Posted January 29, 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    wow this is great! I’m guessing that measuring like this can be used to fit and customize almost anything. including patterns i already have. I have a hard time getting things to fit right as i’m tall and long in the torso.
    thank-you so much

  6. Posted February 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I love this tut! I’m going to use it this weekend and we’ll see how it comes out. Thanks for sharing.

    • Posted February 27, 2013 at 1:10 am | Permalink

      Glad you like it! I have a newer drafting tutorial (link in post) that I really love too! Would love to see how it turns out!

  7. Bodil
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, this is a very fine tutorial! I have just drafted a pattern following it for a well fitting T-shirt; did sew it up too. I did ommit the 2″ ease and went along with the bare bodymeasurements, though. It gave me the fit I went for.
    Best regards, Bodil

    • Posted March 24, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Yay! I love hearing success stories!! If you have a picture I’d love to see it, either via email, or you could post on the mad mim facebook page or flickr group! So happy it worked out for you!

  8. Bodil
    Posted April 1, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Hi Miriam.
    I have posted a couple of pictures on the mad mim flickr group page – I’m FruBodil – of the long sleeved version.
    Happy Easter and best regards, Bodil

    • Posted April 1, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      It turned out SO AMAZING, it makes me so happy to see people have success with this! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Genny
    Posted October 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    I am wondering how hard it would be to do a variation with a bust dart going horizontally into the side seam? T’s always look terrible on me without this bit of shaping. It elevates the simple t-shirt so much, with only a bit of extra work.

    • Posted October 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      That would be a wonderful addition, I’m sure! I don’t think it would be hard at all, just increase your length a bit in front to accommodate!

  10. Paige
    Posted February 2, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I’m a bit big-busted, and my armscye looks totally huge and weird when I try to curve it from the shoulder. Am I doing something wrong? Here’s a picture:

    • Paige
      Posted February 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, I think the blog ate my link to the picture. Here it is: https ://www. dropbox.com/s/gq5bdd448bxaemb/2014-02-02%2013.38.55.jpg (remove spaces)

      • Posted February 13, 2014 at 1:07 am | Permalink

        The links didn’t work for me, darn it! It’s hard to picture exactly what you mean, but if it seems to big and huge it probably is, just raise it up a bit. Measure the distance on a shirt you own and like the fit of, and then compare measurements. You can always cut it down if you bring it up too much! Hope that helps at least a bit!

  11. kyambadde derrick
    Posted February 25, 2014 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    That is fine and easier to make.

  12. Rachel
    Posted April 19, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Okay, so I tried this with woven fabric, and it worked! I used three inches of ease on the ease-specific measurements, and I can comfortably fit the shirt over my head and shoulders. I didn’t even have to use a keyhole closure or placket because I cut the neck large enough to just fit my head.

    Thanks for the great tutorial! I’m really happy with my new shirt.

    • Posted May 5, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      That is so awesome!!! So glad you commented here about it, thank you!!

  13. Tola
    Posted June 3, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Hi Miriam,
    I want to use this method to draft a patter for a cotton fabric. You made a comment earlier that this can be achieved by adding ease of 3-4 inches. Just to confirm, I would take my regular measurement and then add say 3-4inches ease to all measurements marked with astericks (*) I plan to put a zip at the back with perhaps a boat neckline and princess darts. I am quite good with the others, i just need to make sure that I am adding correct ease

    Cheers

    Tola

    • Posted June 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that’s right Tola. Add your additional ease to all measurements marked with an asterisk. I’ve had a few people do this and had no problems, I don’t think they even had to put in a zip, although it sounds like that is part of your design. Good luck! Let me know how it goes, the more info in this thread the better for future sewists! xo Miriam

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