14 things to do with our basic t-shirt patterns

T-shirts are so quick and easy to make. Once you understand the basics, some of which I covered in this tutorial but which are covered in much greater detail in our T-shirt pattern instructions, you’ll be off and running! After you’ve made a few of them you might start to think about interesting ways you can switch them up a bit and customize them.

Here are a few ideas for you to use on the School Bus and Men’s and Women’s Metro T-Shirt patterns.

1. Use our color blocking tutorial to add a second fabric. I love the idea of combining a floral printed knit with a solid, like this:


2. Color block to add a faux raglan sleeve. I love using several tonal colors in one shirt.


3. Add a simple shoulder detail with applique or just top-stitch the raw edges of another knit fabric at the shoulders.


4. Color block with stripes going in different directions, and add a pocket


5. Lengthen the pattern to make a dress. You may also want to make the pattern a bit A-lined when you lengthen it, to give a little walking room.


6. Add stretch lace, either as a applied detail or as sleeves.


7. Alter the pattern to be A-line and add a kangaroo pocket.


8. Color block the A-line and add a hi-low hem tunic. I think I’ll give you a full tutorial for this one–it would be so fun to make, but it deserves full instructions rather than a quick description. Stay tuned!


9. Embellish with fabric, ribbons, jewels, etc.


10. Applique and embroider it.


12. Add applied details. I love the idea of a faux collar and button placket by embroidering or adding topstitched ribbon. Stretchy knit ribbon would work best, but you could also use braid or all manner of trims.


12. Add a peplum.

t-shirt-peplum13. Add a lettuce edge hem. You can do this with your regular sewing machine or with a serger, and it’s a great, easy way to finish the sleeves and the hem.


14. Visit my T-shirt Your Way Pinterest board for much more inspiration and ideas for styling your T-shirts.

How are you planning to customize your T-shirts?


  1. April 11, 2014 at 10:27 am Link

    You do want us to stay busy! Thanks so much for your wonderful inspiration. Can you give me any ideas of where to buy knits good for t-shirts and ribbing for the neck? Since I do not have access to fabric stores I do most of my fabric shopping on line. I do not know a lot about knit fabric. Thanks so much.

    1. April 11, 2014 at 10:41 am Link

      We’ll cover knit fabrics next week, and I’ll have lots of resources for you then. Stay tuned!

  2. April 11, 2014 at 10:47 am Link

    I would love to see a boatneck version.

  3. April 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm Link

    I second the boatneck version.

  4. April 11, 2014 at 2:47 pm Link

    I’d like a V-neck version of the basic T-shirt.

  5. April 11, 2014 at 9:02 pm Link

    …and I second the V-neck version 🙂 It doesn’t seem too complicated when I look at my «made in Asia» t-shirts, but I would like to sew them myself!
    I always complain about the knit fabric quality of the t-shirts or leggings that I buy. Do you think that knit fabrics we buy in fabric stores are more durable?

  6. April 11, 2014 at 11:56 pm Link

    Great ideas! I second the v neck. 🙂

  7. April 12, 2014 at 11:39 am Link

    I also would like a V-neck. Please. Thank you for all you do for your customers.

  8. April 14, 2014 at 6:26 am Link

    Great inspiration sampler! I’ll check through it again when the next shirt must be sewn quickly!
    I’m looking forward to the tutorial with the colorblocked A-line and high-low-hem. Hope, I won’t miss it!

  9. April 15, 2014 at 4:17 pm Link

    I just went through my closet and discarded some beloved but well-worn t-shirts with v necks and 3/4 length sleeves. I saved one to use as a guide on my new t-shirt pattern that I ordered today from Oliver +S. Happy times.

  10. April 21, 2014 at 10:58 am Link

    This is very helpful and yes please to variations on the neckline! And also different short sleeves, please (puffed, capped etc). Many thanks, Liz

  11. July 23, 2014 at 4:34 am Link

    Yes, please! I echo your other fans. One of my darling Grandkids is Autistic, and loves comfy loose fitting T’s. I usually makes one or two sizes up as she is miserable in snug fitted things. I adore the variations available with your pattern! But she has a sensory thing about needing a roomy neckline, so please DO add boat line, scoop, v neck and other neck options. May I also suggest bell, cap, flutter and other sleeve options as well? P.S. Your hi low color block A line tunic looks like a winner! Crossing my fingers for a tutorial!!

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