Drafting a shirt pattern


Once in a while, my fashion design degree actually comes in handy. I find that on Halloween especially, I actually end up using some of the skills I paid tens of thousands of dollars for.
I have talked before about how my kids have very specific requests about the kinds of things they imagine, which i think is great…Here is Samantha’s costume last year…she wanted to be a combination of a pumpkin, Cinderella, and a super hero! So we came up with Super-Cinder-pumpkin-Ella….

This year, she wants to be a magic monster… Yeah I know. But… The monster is also a girl, has to have long purple hair, and a horn and one eye…. Little did I ever think in university that I would be drafting a pattern for my daughter to be a girl, magic monster!
Anyways, we went to fabricland and value village and picked up a few odds and ends. A black furry hat with horns, a few different sparkly fabrics, some tulle for a tutu and some purple Halloween socks.

The first step in making a costume was to make the body. So I thought it would be easiest to start with a shirt we already have. I laid the shirt flat on a big piece of brown paper, and traced down the sides. I do want the shirt a little bigger as she might be wearing a shirt or sweater under it. Then, I added enough for the seams, with a dotted line.

Then, I marked the shoulder line, and folded the arm of the shirt back so I could trace the approximate shape of the armhole.

Then, I added the neckline. Note that I am only drafting half of the shirt. There’s no point in doing the two sides, because it is almost impossible to make them the same. If you do want the pattern to be the whole shirt front, fold the paper and cut out both sides together when it is folded.
I also use the same piece for the front and back, I will just cut out a little more neck for the front. For the purpose of this costume, I am going to use the same pattern piece for the front and back. If this was a really fitted piece, you might want to draft the front and back separately.

Then, I cut out the pattern piece…

Now for the arms…flatten the arm out and trace the sides. I am not going to add a seam on the top of the arm, because it will be cut on the fold. And, I added extra to the cuff of the sleeve so I would be able to roll it under to finish it.

Now for the tricky part, the cap for the sleeve. I kept lifting the shirt up then laying it back down to sketch a rough line of the armhole.


But the trick here is to get it to match the bodice piece we have already made. Because I have added on to each of the pieces, I am going to have to make sure they fit together. The only way to do that is to almost pretend you are sewing the two pieces together. I do it like this…I fold down the seam allowance on the bodice like this…

Then I lay it on the cap of the sleeve and rotate it on the stitching line to see if it fits.



As I got to the arm pit, I realized that my sleeve pattern was a little too too big. If I take away the seam allowance, the seams would meet like this…

So I could do one of two things; cut the pieces as is and gather the shoulder seam on the arm when I sew it together, or make the shoulder cap a little smaller like this…

Which makes it line up perfectly…

But, because it is a costume, I think it’s better if I have a little more room, so I am going to gather it a little. So I drew a dotted line where it will be stitched, and then drew a solid line where I will cut.

Here is how I extend the pattern piece so it is a full piece and I don’t have to cut on the fold of the fabric. I fold the paper on the fold line then cut around.

Then you open it up…

Time to get out the fabric. Lay the pieces on the fabric, pin, and cut out.

Like the fabric? Before I sewed it together, I wanted to add a few details to make it look more monster like. I used glitter glue, a glue gun and some gems, and another glittery fabric to add details…
Here is what the shirt looks like finished…sorry, I will post a better picture when the costume is done…



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