My basic fitted T-shirt Pattern

***Note! I recently simplified and tweaked my tshirt drafting process, and have a new tutorial for drafting a tee from measurements that is a little more user friendly. Both are good methods, though, so check out my new one, and decide from there! Thanks for stopping by, and like always I love to get feedback or questions!

There have been a few people who have asked me for my t-shirt pattern. “Sure!” I said. But then it occurred to me that not everyone is my size. Hmm. So I decided to break it down like MJ, and let you figure out your own perfect t-shirt pattern. Hopefully this will give you a good pattern, and then you can tweek it until you feel it’s a great pattern. This is my rooky attempt at pattern drafting, so if you have any suggestions, questions, or maybe you want to pull your hair out, leave a comment. And if this is just completely intimidating, then just buy a pattern. In fact, unless you’re broke or lazy, just go buy a pattern. It’s easier. BUT if you’re into free and figuring, then give this a whirl and let me know how it turns out! FYI: Different knits can REALLY change the size and fit of your tee. Sometimes my shirt comes out pretty fitted, and then sometimes it’s pretty loose. So, if you find it’s too big/little, I would change the shirt, not the pattern, because it’s possibly/probably the fabric that’s making the difference.

See my fitted tee tutorial HERE

Determine Your Measurements.Determine Your Measurements

Get a friend or a lucky someone to help you measure yourself.  Wear a simple t-shirt that you like the way it fits, length, etc.

*Note–all the following measurements are taken from your BACK SIDE!

*Note–all my measurements are based on a scant 1/4 inch seam! (The width of an overlock stitch).


1. Measure from the top center edge of your BACK neckline to the bottom of the shirt. Add 2 and then write that down.  (I actually add 4 because I like my shirts LONG as the Dickens, and I like to have more to work with if I can.  If you do this, be sure to add 4 to step 1-4. (i.e. it says add 2, you add 4; it says add 2.5, you add 4.5). Got it?

2. Measure from the top shoulder seam to the bottom of the shirt.  Add 2.5 and then write that down.

3. Measure from the bottom shoulder seam (where it meets the sleeve), to the bottom of your shirt and add 2. Write that down.

4. Measure from the top of your side seam (underneath your armpit), to the bottom of your shirt. Add 2 and write that down.

5. Measure around the bottom edge of your shirt (pretty much around your hip bones). Add 2 and then divide by 4, and write that down.

6. Measure around your true waist (the smallest part of your middle).  Add 2, divide by 4, and write that down.

7. Measure around your bust.  Add 2, divide by 4, and write that down.

8. Measure from the top center back edge to the bottom shoulder seam (see pic), and then add 1 and write that down (you’re not measure diagonally, rather straight–eyeballing how far that shoulder seam comes out. Capish?).


9. With your arm down, measure the fullest part of your bicep (without flexing!), add 2.5 and write that down.

10.  Measure the length you want your sleeve to be (starting from the top of your shoulder down), add 1/2 and write that down.

11.  Measure around your shoulder, (over shoulder, under armpit, fairly snugg),  add 1/2 an inch, and write that down.

Calculate and Draw the Pattern.

*NOTE: The armhole curve should equal (or almost equal) answer #11 DIVIDED by 2.

* TWO IMPORTANT NOTES. There are two crucial errors: the neckband should be cut on the BIAS (the diagonal grain). This will help it lay flat–trust me, it’s important. And secondly, it saysthe length of the neck PLUS a few inches, and it should be the length MINUS of few inches. The neckband should be SHORTER than the measurement of the neck opening. It should be anywhere from 3/4 -7/8 the length of the neck opening.

Now go! To my fitted tee shirt tutorial!



  1. Posted April 16, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    This tutorial is just what I was looking for! I am going to try to make a t-shirt tonight.
    Oh and your blog is wonderful! I am adding you to my google reader right now.

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend :)

  2. Posted July 18, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Hey! My SIL Maren just sent me your way, and I’m so glad she did! She said you guys were roomies at BYU. This is such a great post, I’ve been trying to do more with knits this year, so this is perfect. I can’t wait to make a shirt with your instructions. Your whole blog is great too, you are hilarious! Seriously, like “don’t have to get to know you to think you’re funny” funny :).

  3. kia
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    If line D on the front is a 1/2 inch higher how will it match up won’t it be 1/2 inch longer at the bottom?

    • Posted May 13, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      Kia so sorry to not get back to you, I haven’t had time to go back and check, but I may have made a mistake. If I did then make the back 1/2 longer too or trim them evenly.

  4. isabelle
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Thanks a lot! You’ve helped me out a lot. I have searched all over the internet for a basic shirt like this! I löve the first picture were you show were to mesure.!!!!!! 😀 😀

    • Posted June 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      You’re so welcome!! So thrilled it worked out for you!

  5. Posted October 12, 2012 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    Very patient tutorial…lots of effort put into preparing this. Thanks a lot!

  6. Kiki
    Posted October 14, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    How would you make the sleeves longer?

    • Posted October 14, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      Just extend that hemline, and taper it in slightly the further down it gets!

  7. Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I love these tutorials that you can understand in less than a minute. Very clear, thank you!

  8. Ag
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your amazing trial – cant wait to make one for myself :-)

  9. Astut
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Thanks for such a clear explanation of the pattern making :) yet I have a question: if I use centimeters (metric system) instead of inches, should I convert everything what is written into cm or not? eg. ‘2. Measure from the top shoulder seam to the bottom of the shirt. Add 2.5 and then write that down’ – 2.5 inches to cm?

  10. Judi Singleton
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much. I will try this very soon.

  11. adventuressmiss
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for posting this!! I am visual learner and never could get all those tutorials with all just words. The drawings help HEAPS!!

  12. Kristen
    Posted May 2, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was totally right.

    This post truly made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for
    this info! Thanks!

  13. cutyjj
    Posted May 14, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    i have seared so many site and blogs looking for the simplest way to make a basic t-shirt.this is totally it.its so easy to understand and straight to the point.Am truly tankful for you and your site.words cant express how much this simple post means to a young and aspiring sewer and you just made my day.thank you.

    • Posted May 14, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      So so happy to be of service! Hope it works out for you!!

  14. Te
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Hi, this is great. What kind of fabrics would this work in? I’m moving to a super hot country!!!

  15. Posted June 28, 2013 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    This is great! Thank yo. Your instructions are easy to understand and I’m excited to fine it a try. Tina

  16. Posted October 5, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Howdy I am so happy I found your site, I really found you by
    mistake, while I was searching on Google for something else, Regardless I am here now and
    would just like to say thanks a lot for a remarkable post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I donít have time to read through it all at the moment but I have
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    do keep up the excellent work.

  17. Susan Poer
    Posted October 24, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Hi, this is a great idea and I’ve been following your instructions. My armhole curve is about 6″, but for the back it says it should equal measurement #11, which is 16.5. Am I reading that correctly? Doesn’t seem possible since line D is higher on the back.

    For the front it says #11 divided by 2, which is about 8.25.

    • Posted October 24, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      Yes, if you look underneath the graphic I’ve made a note that it should equal #11 DIVIDED by 2. I’m sorry for the confusion, the text was in the graphic, and instead of going back and editing the picture I just made a note within the post. If your armhole curve is 6 then your measurement for #11 divided by two would be 8.25 which is probably a bit big, but take note that your are adding ease so it will be a little bigger. Measuring can be difficult, and you just sort of have to adjust as you go to get it all to fit together, but the end result will probably be fine. Also, the first draft you’ll learn a lot about what type of fit you want and what adjustments to make the next time round. Take a look at the other t-shirt drafting post I have, it’s a bit simplified!

  18. Posted November 18, 2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    i thenk u so much this realy assisiting becouse it tate stap by stap

  19. Posted June 27, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Hi Miriam! I took your class last year, it was fun! We ran out of time, so I didn’t see how the fit was… I’m a plus plus size with even more plus bust. The fit is great across the bust line, but there is way too much fabric above the bust. I’m i going to need a dart, a big yuck for a knit, but maybe needed? Any other ideas?
    Thanks, Judy

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Hi Judy! I’m sorry I didn’t see this comment til now, I haven’t been blogging a lot lately, and I somehow I miss some! Unfortunately a dart will likely be the only way to fix the problem on your shirt, but you should be able to fix your pattern so that you don’t have the same problem with the next one. Just slash and overlap around the shoulder or wherever the problem area is (mimicking where and how you put the dart in), and then retrace. I hope that helps! It took me a couple times to work out my fit issues, I hope you can solve the problem! xo

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Another possibility would be to take the sleeves off, and then take in the shoulders or side seams or wherever helps, and THEN reattach the arms.

      • Judy Morgan
        Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the ideas. I’m more concerned about getting a good pattern than getting that particular T-shirt to work, so I’ll adjust the pattern using the slash technique.

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