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Copy Your Favorite Tee

Photo: Jack Deutsch

When you sew your own T-shirts, you can refine the fit, alter necklines and shape to flatter your figure, and make tops in the perfect fabric. What's more, when you've found that favorite T-shirt-the one that makes you feel great every time you wear it-you can reproduce it in every color for every season and add a variety of special details along the way. Once you learn how to make a pattern from your favorite T-shirt, you can copy the fabulous fit and shape into any knit you like. For summer, try a light tissue knit like the one shown here.

What You'll Need:

Foam core
Pattern paper or wax paper
Needlepoint tracing wheel
French curve
Clear elastic
Fusible interfacing
Tissue knit or other T-shirt knit fabric
Twin needle (optional)

Trace Your Tee

Prepare your favorite T-shirt by first gently pressing it flat. Be careful not to stretch it out of shape. Press in an up and down motion; don't slide the iron over the shirt. Then, fold the front neckline in half from shoulder seam to shoulder seam, and insert a pin vertically at the center-front neckline fold. Repeat on the back to mark the center-back neckline and on the center-front hemline.

1. Lay out the pattern paper and the T-shirt.
Ordinary wax paper makes excellent pattern paper-and you can see through it easily. Lay the pattern paper over foam core. Smooth the T-shirt over the paper so the shoulder seams and side seams are exactly on the T-shirt edge and the vertical pins at the back and front necklines and hemline are aligned. Mark the paper at the pin locations. Hand-press out all bumps and wrinkles, and align the front armhole with the back armhole on both sides. If one layer is wider and won't lie flat, it's OK if the armhole seams don't align. Carefully pin the T-shirt to the foam core.

2.Trace around the tee.
Trace around the sleeves, shoulders, side seams, all hems, and the highest part of the neckline with a pen or pencil. If the seams align, run a needlepoint tracing wheel over the armhole seam. If they don't align, run the wheel over the length of each seamline, tracing its shape. Run the wheel over the neck-band seam from shoulder to shoulder. If you don't have a tracing wheel, you can use a pin to punch the line instead.

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Comments (2)

rekha rekha writes: I would not fold the t-shirt because the thickness at the centre (4 layers of fabric) can cause incorrect estimates
Posted: 1:58 pm on February 13th

Zarzamora Zarzamora writes:
I have to clawn a top and finding Judith Neukan's article, has taught me many details I didn't know, as I have never worked with knit fabrics. For me is going to be quite an experience, hope it works out fine. So grateful, many, many thanks.
Posted: 10:34 pm on September 30th

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