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?


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  1. carol

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

  2. Lisa

    I would love to see a boatneck version.

  3. Jennifer

    I second the boatneck version.

  4. pal

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

  5. …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. Great ideas! I second the v neck. 🙂

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

  8. 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. Freddi

    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. Buratti

    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. GrammaSews

    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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