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Cut and sew t-shirt

Posted by Lisa Leleu on

KMLeon Cut and sew t-shirt

What do you need?

  • Your ready-to-use printed fabric, pre-washed, dried and ironed (*See washing instructions at the end of this work description)
  • Regular sewing machine with a stretch twin needle
  • Optional: serger
  • Thread in a matching colour (Tip: are you making a t-shirt with colour blocks? A way of making your t-shirt even more fun and original is to use a contrasting colour thread!)
  • Pins
  • (Fabric) scissors
  • Iron
  • Measuring tape
  • Tailor’s chalk
  • Work description

A tip before you begin: the seam allowances are already included in your pattern. They are not marked on the fabric, as these could be visible on your printed t-shirt. Keep in mind that an extra 1 cm has been added to all seams. This means that you will stitch all seams (except for the hem and sleeve hems) at a width of 1 cm. Most sewing machines have small markings on the stitch plate that you can use to maintain a consistent width:


Measure with a tape measure which marking you can follow by measuring the distance between the marking and your needle. If you fall exactly between two markings, you can always adjust your needle to the left or right.


Work description:

  1. Cut out the 5 pieces of your t-shirt from the fabric (front panel, back panel, 2 sleeves, and a neckband). Cut along the dashed line, not along the outer colored edge. The latter is only to ensure that the print is printed over the entire surface of the fabric. Seam allowances are included everywhere. There is 1 cm included at the side seams, neckline, shoulders, neckband, and sleeves. A 2 cm seam allowance is included at the bottom sleeve cuff and the hem of your t-shirt.


Make a small notch (not too deep!) at the sleeve cap where the mark is. This way, you'll know where the center of your sleeve should be placed later on. Tip: Can't find the notch anymore? Fold the sleeve in half, with the right sides together. The sleeve is symmetrical, so you can just make your notch in the middle of the folded sleeve.



  1. Place the printed sides of the front and back panels of your t-shirt together, pin them in place, and sew the shoulders together. You can do this with a zigzag stitch on your regular sewing machine or with the serger. Be cautious when using pins in combination with a serger! Ensure that the pins cannot come into contact with the blades, or you could cause serious damage to your serger.



  1. Place the sleeves (if there are two different sleeves, make sure to identify the left and right sleeves!) with the printed side facing the printed side of the front and back panels. The notch in the sleeve indicates the centre of the sleeve, and you should align it with the centre of the previous seam (shoulder seam).

Pin in place. Tip: first pin the middle and the two ends, then the rest, this way the sleeve will fit nicely into the arm opening. Sew both sleeves into the armholes (again here with a zigzag stitch or with the serger).



  1. Fold the t-shirt with the printed sides together. Fold the sleeves as well. You will now see the entire t-shirt inside out. Pin both sides from the sleeve to the hem completely. Tip: the pattern (stripes, color blocks, etc.) should naturally align, but still, check carefully as you pin everything. Because the fabric is stretchy, it can sometimes stretch a bit, causing the pieces to unintentionally not align perfectly. Sew this seam closed with a zigzag stitch or the serger.



  1. Are you making a V-neck t-shirt. Skip this part (point 5) and use the add-on v-neck description. Follow that completely and then come back and follow this description from point 6. Take the neckband and sew the short ends together (printed sides together).



Fold the neckband in half (you can press it flat if you like). Turn your t-shirt to the right side so that the right side (printed side) is now facing out. Place the neckband with the open edge against the neckline. Pin it in place while slightly stretching it. You will notice that the neckband is smaller than the neckline, but that's intentional. This way, you will create a nicely fitting neckband.


Make sure that the seam of the short ends aligns with the centre of the neckline on your back panel.


Tip: To do this easily, you can first mark the centre of your front and back panels with a pin by folding your t-shirt in half and inserting a pin at the centre.


Now attach the neckband to the neckline of your t-shirt. Be sure to use a zigzag stitch or a serger, as this is a part of your t-shirt that is often stretched, and such a stretchy stitch is absolutely necessary! Stretch your t-shirt slightly while sewing to prevent any (visible) wrinkles at the neckline.



  1. Finish the hem of the t-shirt and the sleeves with a zigzag stitch or with the serger.

Mark 2 cm from the bottom all around and then fold the seam inward. You can also press this seam flat.

Now pin those hems in place and secure them with the sewing machine using a twin needle.

Tip: make sure to sew as close as possible to the open edge; this will ensure that your final hem will lie flat and will not curl up.



  1. Fold the seam allowance of the neckband towards your t-shirt (downward) and secure it with your sewing machine using a twin needle. This provides a very neat finish and better wearing comfort. Tip: for the best result, start this from the centre of the back panel as well.



  1. Ready!


* Washing instructions:

When you receive your fabric, you should always wash your fabric, to prevent it from shrinking once it has been cut and sewn.

Make sure to wash your fabric (preferably in a washing net, to prevent discoloration from abrasion in the washing machine). Use a mild detergent. Make sure your washing machine is set to 800 Rpm or less. Do not tumble dry your fabric, but hang it open to dry.

Once your fabric is washed and dried, make sure to iron it (on the reverse side of the print), so that, when you cut it, the fabric will be nice and flat.

After cutting and sewing, keep washing and drying your finished piece the same way. This will keep the colours of your print vibrant for as long as possible.




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