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How to Make a Men’s T-Shirt: the Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Free tutorial for how to make a mens T-Shirt from scratch - click through for more - tutorial by The Crafty Gentleman
Free tutorial for how to make a mens T-Shirt from scratch - click through for more - tutorial by The Crafty Gentleman
Free tutorial for how to make a mens T-Shirt from scratch - click through for more - tutorial by The Crafty Gentleman
Free tutorial for how to make a mens T-Shirt from scratch - click through for more - tutorial by The Crafty Gentleman

If you’ve ever wanted to make a men’s T-shirt, then you’re in the right place! In this article, I’ve outlined the step-by-step tutorial of how to make a T-shirt, in beginner-friendly language. That’s everything from creating your own pattern, to adding the final touches. No jargon, promise.

I’ve also added my best tips and advice throughout – as well as giving an honest insight into how my first attempts failed! (and what you can learn from my mistakes).

If you just want to jump straight to the tutorial, then that’s cool. I’ve linked to the steps below (so you can pick up where you left off). But, if you fancy hearing a bit more about my journey to T-shirt success, read on!

This post is written in collaboration with Singer Sewing Company, but all opinions expressed are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep me blogging!

Free tutorial for how to make a mens T-Shirt from scratch - click through for more - tutorial by The Crafty Gentleman

It began with a hashtag…

Let’s just get something clear: a month before publishing this blog post, I had never made a T-Shirt before. I’d barely even worked with stretch jersey fabric, other than a bit of dabbling in some smaller projects.

However, back in May my Instagram feed became flooded with #mmmay posts. For those not in the know, this is the hashtag for the Me Made May campaign, which encourages crafters to wear something handmade every single day in the month of May. Anyway, I saw these Instagram posts… and I felt SO inspired!

I’d never really made my own clothes before, other than accessories like bow ties, neckties and scarves. However, since stepping up my sewing machine game earlier this year, I thought it was time to step up my projects, too.

I set myself the challenge of making a wearable T-shirt before the end of the month. And I did it!

And you know what? You can make one too.

Follow along with me on this tutorial. I’ll take you slowly through each step, and help you out along the way. Go slowly, practise, make mistakes, learn… and you’ll be well on your way to a handmade wardrobe in no time.

#mmmay, here we come!

Free tutorial for how to make a mens T-Shirt from scratch - click through for more - tutorial by The Crafty Gentleman
Free tutorial for how to make a mens T-Shirt from scratch - click through for more - tutorial by The Crafty Gentleman

How to Make a Men’s T-Shirt: the Ultimate Guide for Beginners

What you’ll need

  • Jersey cotton fabric for the T-Shirt body (approx 1m x 2m) – more on this below
  • Optional: a strip of fabric for the neck binding (I usually use scraps from the jersey, rather than buying separate material)
  • Matching cotton thread
  • A good fitting T-Shirt to make a pattern with
  • A large roll of plain paper to draw the pattern onto
  • Tailor’s shears (or just some good ol’ sharp scissors)
  • Pins. Lots and lots of pins.
  • Tailor’s chalk or air erasable marker
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Also… a seam ripper. Because you’re probably going to make some mistakes (sorry). This is a part of learning! Embrace it, don’t fear it.

Which fabric to choose to make your T-Shirt?

There are loads of fabrics you can use to make a T-Shirt. Which one you prefer will mostly be down to personal preference. However, I find that a mid-weight jersey cotton is a good all-rounder; it’s stretchy, comfortable and pretty easy to sew with.

Tip: Read my detailed guide on how to sew stretch jersey before starting to make your T-shirt. It’s full of tips and tricks to help you manage it with ease.

Free tutorial for how to make a mens T-Shirt from scratch - click through for more - tutorial by The Crafty Gentleman

What to do: step-by-step instructions to make a T-Shirt

PART 1: Make the T-Shirt pattern

Rather than buying a pre-made sewing pattern, it’s totally possible to make your own! You might not get a perfect fit on the first attempt–but that’s okay. If you get to the end of this tutorial and find that your T-Shirt is a little tight, just add some width to the pattern and try again. Or if the arms are too short, add a little extra length. Basically: give it a go, refine the pattern, and try again. It took me two practises before I got the perfect pattern (but now I have it forever, to use over and over again!).

1. Find a current T-Shirt that you love the fit of. Make sure it fits your body well: not too big, not too small.

2. Turn this T-Shirt inside out and lay it flat onto a large piece of plain paper. Smooth out the wrinkles so it lies as flat as possible (but don’t stretch or deform the shape).

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman

3. Using a pencil, trace around the edge of the T-Shirt. Go along the sides, the shoulders, the back neckline and the bottom. However, do not draw around the arms. Instead, fold the arms up and draw along the line of stitching that connects the arm to the body. You’ll be left with a kind of vest shape.

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman

4. Cut out the body piece that you’ve just drawn. This will form the back piece of your T-Shirt. Use this pattern piece to cut another, identical piece – except this time, cut the neckline a little lower (use your existing T-Shirt as a guide). Cut this second body piece out. This will be the front pattern piece.

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman

5. Lie your T-Shirt flat onto your paper again. This time, draw around one of the sleeves. Go around all three edges of the flat sleeve, and the curved seam line (you’ll need to fold the sleeve out of the way to draw this seam line). The resultant shape will give you half of your sleeve pattern. To complete the pattern, simply draw a mirror image of the sleeve shape to extend it outwards – you should be aiming for the shape you can see in the photo above. Cut out the full sleeve pattern piece.

PART 2: Cut out your T-Shirt pattern pieces

Cutting out your pattern pieces is just as important as actually sewing them together. Trust me, don’t rush this bit. Pay attention. Cut neatly and as accurately to your paper pattern as you can–it will make it so much easier to make refinements later on!

1. Find a large, flat surface (a big table is perfect). Lay your fabric over it, making sure it’s not got any wrinkles, stretched bits or other distortions.

2. Place one of your paper pattern pieces on top. Align it so that the stretch of the jersey fabric is across the width of the T-Shirt. For instance, in my mustard striped T-Shirt in the pictures, the stretch went in the same direction as the stripes.

3. I recommend that you do not pin the pattern in place (I know some sewists like to do this). I find that pinning it can introduce distortions or stretches in the fabric, which is a big no. Instead, use some heavy books or sewing weights to hold it in place. (I removed the weights for the photos).

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman
How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman

4. Very carefully, draw around the edge of the pattern pieces with tailor’s chalk. Try not to tug or pull on the fabric as you draw!

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman
How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman
How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman

5. Cut out the shape with some sharp scissors (tailor’s shears are best). Once you’ve cut them all out, you’ll have a front piece, back piece and two arms.

PART 3: Sew the T-Shirt together

Here comes the fun bit–the actual sewing! For this, it’s super important to sew slowly. Luckily, my Singer Patchwork sewing machine has a speed control, which limits my speed automatically. But if you don’t have this function, just ease off the foot pedal. Set your stitch to a straight stitch and sew approximately 1cm from the edges.

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman

1. Put your two T-Shirt body pieces back to back, so the wrong sides are facing out. Align them as neatly as possible, focussing on the neckline and shoulders. Pin them in place along the shoulders (aim to pin every 1 inch).

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman

2. Sew along the pinned shoulder edges to join the two pattern pieces together. Remove the pins as you go. (It probably goes without saying, but do not sew the neckline closed! Just sew the two shoulders, leaving a hole in the middle for the neck).

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman

3. Next, open out the two pieces so they are only joined at the shoulders (where you’ve sewn them). Take an arm pattern piece and find the centre point of the curved side. Line this centre point up to one of the shoulders and pin it in place, with the right sides facing in. This pin will be at the point that will lie on the very edge of your shoulder.

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman

4. Now you need to pin the rest of the arm to the arm hole. Starting at the pin you have just added, work outwards along the curved edge of the arm and pin it to the body piece. Half of the arm piece will join the front body piece; the other half will join the back. Be very careful here, as it’s a bit tricky to pin curved edges together! Don’t be afraid to go crazy with your pinning–more is definitely merrier!

5. Carefully sew the pinned arm piece to the body pieces, along the curve you have just pinned. Remove the pins as you go.

6. Repeat this for the other arm piece.

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman
How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman
How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman

7. Last up, you need to sew the two side seams (that will go down from the underarm to your hip), and the bottom seam of the arm. Start by folding the T-Shirt back together along the shoulder seam (right sides facing in), so the front and back line up neatly again. Pin the sides together, starting at the underarm and working your way down to the bottom edge. Sew in place, removing the pins as you go.

PART 4: Add the neckline

By this stage, you have the basic T-Shirt completed–woohoo! I’m giving you a virtual high-five for getting this far. 🙂 The next step is to add the neckline (at the moment, it will be unfinished and probably starting to fray a little…). Now, a word of warning: this is the tricky part. It took me several attempts to master this step. But now I’ve got the hang of it, I actually find it pretty easy. Have patience and you will totally master it too. I have faith in you!

1. Cut a strip of fabric, measuring 4cm wide by approximately 45cm long. Make sure you orientate your cutting so that it will stretch lengthwise, not width-wise.

2. With a medium-hot iron, press the fabric strip flat. Carefully and neatly, fold the strip in half along the long edge. Press this fold in place.

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman

3. Find the mid-point of the neck binding strip. Turn your T-Shirt (from part 3) the right way round. Line the mid-point of the neck binding with the mid point of the neck hole, on the front of the T-Shirt. You’ll need to align the raw edges of the binding strip (i.e. not the folded edge) with the raw edge of the neck hole. Pin them together.

Tip: The next step involves pinning the binding to the neck hole. For this, the binding must be at a greater tension (i.e. more stretched) than the neck hole. This will ensure it sits flat when you wear it.

4. Make a mark on the binding strip 10cm to one side of the pinned mid-point. Pin this marked point of the binding to the shoulder seam of the neck hole (i.e. the bit of the T-Shirt that will sit beneath your ear). The length of fabric between the pins should now be shorter for the neck binding than it is for the neck hole.

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman

5. You now have the neck line pinned in two places. Carefully add more pins in-between the two existing pinned points. You’ll need to gently stretch the neck binding as you pin, so that it lines up against the neck hole without any gaps. When finished, you’ll have a quarter of the neckline pinned in place. Repeat this step for the other quarter of the neckline that sits on the front of the T-Shirt. (In the image above, I added the pins in this order: red, blue, white, green).

6. Then repeat this for the back of the T-Shirt, so that the entire neckline is pinned in place.

Tip: We’re about to stitch the neckline. It’s really important to use a zig-zag stitch for this step. This type of stitch will allow you to stretch the neckline over your head, without the thread snapping. If you use a straight stitch, it has no give and will simply rip apart if you stretch it.

7. Set your sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch. (This is another point where my Singer Patchwork comes in handy. It has SO MANY stitch options to choose from. It even lets you customise each stitch with length and width!). Sew along the neck binding, removing the pins as you go. As you sew, ensure that you gently stretch the neckline so that the binding is at a higher tension than the neck hole.

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman
How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman
How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman
How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman
How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman
Free tutorial for how to make a mens T-Shirt from scratch - click through for more - tutorial by The Crafty Gentleman

8. When you get to the back of the neckline, where the two ends meet, stop sewing. Remove any last pins. Unfold the two ends of the neckline and lay them flat against each other, right sides together. Pin them together and sew in place (with a straight stitch). Trim any excess, then fold the neckline in half again (along the line that you pressed earlier). Then simply sew this to the T-Shirt, in the same way that you sewed the rest of the neckline (make sure you use a zig-zag stitch!).

Tip: At this point, it’s a good idea to try on the T-Shirt. Make sure the neckline can stretch over your head. If it’s too tight, simply unpick the neckline and cut the hole larger, then repeat the previous steps. If the neck strap does not sit flat against your neck, it’s probably because the binding was not held at a high enough tension when you sewed it. Unpick the neckline and repin it, but this time stretch the neck binding more tightly against the neck hole.

PART 5: Add the final touches to your handmade T-Shirt

Congrats, you’ve pretty much finished your T-Shirt! These last steps are nice and easy. Before you know it, your new handmade T-Shirt will be ready to wear!

1. It’s now time to put the T-Shirt on. Let the fabric drop naturally, ensuring it’s not bunched up anywhere. Use tailor’s chalk to make a small mark on the waist section, at the length you would like to cut it. Do the same for each of the arms.

2. Take the T-Shirt off and find the three marks you made. At each point, add an extra 3-4cm as a seam allowance. Then cut off the excess fabric.

3. Starting at the waist section, fold the raw edge (that you’ve just cut) over by approximately 1-2cm. Then fold it over another 1-2cm, so the raw edge is hidden. You can fold it either inwards or outwards, depending on the finish you would like your T-Shirt to have. (I folded mine inwards).

How to make a mens T-Shirt -- Tutorial steps -- The Crafty Gentleman

4. Then, starting at the side of the T-Shirt, sew over the folded edge. Keep sewing all the way around the waist, until you loop back on yourself. If your T-Shirt has a slightly loose fit (i.e. you do not need to stretch the arms or body to get it on), then you can use a straight stitch for this step. However, if your T-Shirt is a tighter fit, make sure you use a zig-zag stitch. The most important thing with this step is to ensure you DO NOT stretch the fabric as you sew it! Gently guide the fabric through the machine, without stretching it.

5. Finally, repeat the exact same process for each of the arms.

Free tutorial for how to make a mens T-Shirt from scratch - click through for more - tutorial by The Crafty Gentleman
Free tutorial for how to make a mens T-Shirt from scratch - click through for more - tutorial by The Crafty Gentleman

Your T-Shirt is complete! I knew you could do it. 🙂 And hey–if it doesn’t quite fit perfectly, or if it’s gone a bit wonky in places, then don’t worry! My first attempts were totally unwearable! It’s normal. That’s how you learn. Try again and you’ll soon get the hang of it.

I hope this guide of how to make a men’s T-Shirt has been helpful. If there’s any section that isn’t clear, then please let me know in the comments! I’ll help you as best I can. Your feedback will also help me to make improvements to this guide.

Thanks so much to Singer for making this project possible! Make sure you check out the previous sewing projects I’ve shared with my Singer machine. Find them here, here, here and here.

Good luck with your sewing. And remember: enjoy it!

–Mike.

If you found this tutorial useful, I’d love it if you could spread the word on social media!

The Ultimate Guide of how to make a T Shirt - full step by step instructions with tips and photographs of every step - perfect for beginners
About Author

Hello, I'm Mike! I started this blog in 2013, and it's since become a part-time job for me. I've always been obsessed with crafts (my very first memories are of making things... and I've never grown out of it!). So it really is a dream come true that I can now share this joy with people like you, every single day. Thank you for being here! READ MORE

37 Comments

  • Hosea
    June 27, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    Your tutorial was very helpful,but I’d like to know how much is your sewing machine,i would like to get one.

    Reply
  • Michael
    February 8, 2021 at 2:02 am

    Very interesting, nice one I wish to have a kind of ideas.

    Reply
  • Lydia
    November 17, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks Mike,
    I just finished making this for my boyfriend in black because I knew the neckline would be tricky and didn’t want to mess up my one (haha). I will be making mine next, but in t-shirt dress form. Thanks for the tutorial, it was really easy to follow. Only part I messed up was the neckline.. I cut 40cm like you said but the t-shirt I traced had a wider neckline than yours! (my bad). So I had to recut 60cm for the neckline. That’s all. Other than that I nailed my first t-shirt!

    Reply
    • Mike
      November 18, 2020 at 10:34 am

      That’s so good to hear, Lydia! Well done! Making it as a T-shirt dress is a great idea, too – tag me in a photo on Instagram or Facebook, I’d love to see how you get on 🙂 – Mike

      Reply
  • Ryan Hanson
    October 22, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    Could this be made in such a way as to not have a seam on the shoulders, but rather just on the sides? I have not seen anyone do that, is it an option?

    Reply
    • Mike
      October 26, 2020 at 8:44 am

      Hi Ryan! Hmm, maybe you should look for a raglan style T-shirt pattern? They’re a little more complex than this basic tutorial, I think you’d need to buy a commercial pattern for that.

      Reply
  • Zaff
    September 12, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    Brilliant! I have been struggling to get a neckband to lie flat. Will try your method instead of attaching a “circular band” of fabric. 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

    Reply
    • Mike
      September 21, 2020 at 4:30 pm

      Thanks Zaff! I sometimes use the method of attaching a pre-made circular band, but I generally find my method is a little easier. 🙂 Good luck! – Mike.

      Reply
  • Caesar
    July 31, 2020 at 9:25 am

    I haven’t tried this tip but am sure is the best i have ever seen
    Its very self explanatory

    Reply
    • Mike
      July 31, 2020 at 12:56 pm

      Thanks so much!

      Reply
    • phil
      September 18, 2020 at 10:58 pm

      very good tutorial, HOWEVER the part where you see the sleeve to the arm hole isn’t very well explained and the pictures look like they skip a whole step

      Reply
      • Mike
        September 21, 2020 at 4:34 pm

        I’m sorry you think that, Phil! I’ve not missed a step, so maybe I can help clear it up for you. It’s simply a case of pinning the curved section of the arm piece to the open arm hole (note that the side seams of the body will not be sewn together at this stage). There’s a photo of this in the tutorial, where I’ve used loads of pins to hold it in place. Then carefully sew along this curved, pinned edge and remove the pins as you go. The next photo shows it after it’s been sewn in place – although the photo shows it folded so the side seams of the body are touching (maybe that’s where it seems like I missed a step?). I hope this helps! – Mike.

        Reply
  • Halle
    July 25, 2020 at 12:08 am

    just made my first t-shirt – thank you!

    Reply
    • Mike
      July 25, 2020 at 8:59 pm

      YAY, well done! Hope you enjoyed making it! 🙂 – Mike

      Reply
  • Sremit Chowdhury
    July 22, 2020 at 8:30 am

    Wow, nice article on the t-shirt tutorial. Really loved the blog.

    Reply
    • Mike
      July 25, 2020 at 9:00 pm

      Thank you so much!

      Reply
  • Mickey
    June 2, 2020 at 7:38 pm

    Great instructions – thanks

    Reply
    • Mike
      June 4, 2020 at 9:25 am

      Thanks Mickey, glad they’re helpful! – Mike

      Reply
  • Kate
    March 24, 2020 at 10:27 am

    This is such a great tutorial. I find non video sewing tutorials really difficult to follow, but this was really well done and well explained! I can’t wait to try it!

    Reply
    • Mike
      March 24, 2020 at 11:40 am

      Oh wow, that’s the best feedback I could hope for! Thank you so much! 🙂 – Mike.

      Reply
  • Colin
    January 3, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    If this is your first attempt, you’re a gifted natural, it’s amazing! I like making t-shirts and use an overlocker and top stitch machine. Look forward to seeing your future projects.

    Reply
    • Mike
      January 5, 2020 at 11:05 am

      Oh wow, thanks so much! This was maybe my third or fourth attempt – the first few didn’t fit very well, or the neck wasn’t quite right. I finally got there! I’d love to have an overlocker… I’ve got one on my list to buy one day. 🙂 – Mike.

      Reply
  • Joanne
    September 5, 2019 at 11:07 am

    I am puzzled as to why you didn’t add seam allowance to pattern. I will have a go at this although never seen armholes that are identical front and back, or is that just on men’s garments? Have bought a massive mans t shirt from charity shop so will practice on this to make a small one for me

    Reply
    • Mike
      September 5, 2019 at 7:05 pm

      Hi Joanne! I didn’t add seam allowance as this was already included in the T-shirt I traced (turning it inside out reveals the seams, so adds a bit of extra width). Great idea to practise on the massive T-shirt first! I hope it goes well – let me know how you get on. 🙂 – Mike.

      Reply
  • busayo David
    August 14, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    I love it very easy to learn

    Reply
    • Mike
      August 14, 2018 at 2:11 pm

      Brilliant! So glad you found it easy to follow. 🙂 Good luck with your T-Shirt making! – Mike.

      Reply
  • Sarah Watts
    July 25, 2018 at 3:18 am

    Hi,
    I love the step by step instructions.
    Just wondering about the zig zag at the end for the bottom and sleeves. Which side do you zig zag on? I can’t see the stitching on the shirt.
    Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • Mike
      July 25, 2018 at 9:31 am

      Hello! So glad you’re finding the instructions useful. 🙂
      Okay, so you can actually sew the sleeves and bottom edge on either side (the inside or outside), as it should look almost identical on both sides. However, I’d recommend sewing on the outside – since this will be what is on display. Does that help?
      Also, I’m going to update this post slightly because a zig-zag stitch isn’t absolutely necessary for the sleeves and bottom. If your T-Shirt is a loose fit, you can use a straight stitch instead as it won’t need to stretch. This can look a little bit neater than a zig-zag stitch! (However, the neck band must ALWAYS be sewn with a zig-zag!).
      I hope this helps clarify it a little? Give me a shout if you are stuck with anything else!
      – Mike.

      Reply
  • Anne B.
    June 8, 2018 at 4:15 am

    Nicely done! The t-shirt looks great! I like the way you sew in your neck binding.

    Reply
    • Mike
      June 8, 2018 at 4:06 pm

      Thanks so much Anne! It took me a good few attempts to get the neck binding right, but I’m really happy with the method I settled on. So glad you like it too! – Mike.

      Reply
    • Pernilla Bäck
      November 9, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      Hi, another way to make the bottom and sleaves is to use zig-zag so smal that it looks like straight stich but makes it strechier than straight.

      Reply
      • Mike
        November 9, 2018 at 2:10 pm

        Great idea! Thanks for the tip, I’ll definitely try that next time I use stretch fabric. 🙂 – Mike.

        Reply
  • Matt
    June 3, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    Super interesting read! Would love to have a go at making a tee myself.

    Matt // http://www.theguyontrend.co.uk

    Reply
    • Mike
      June 4, 2018 at 1:54 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it, Matt! You should totally give it a go sometime. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you won’t be able to stop! – Mike.

      Reply
      • frappe
        July 25, 2020 at 1:54 pm

        I needed this tutorial, thank you x1000!

        Best one so far and easy to follow.

        Karma to you!

        Reply
        • Mike
          July 25, 2020 at 8:58 pm

          Oh that’s so good to hear, I’m so glad! Thank you 🙂 – Mike

          Reply

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