Draw a Top Pattern With a Shirt You Already Own

Pekgee Peggy
by Pekgee Peggy
9 Materials
2 Hours

Today I’m going to be making a more basic project than I normally make. This season, I wanted to add a stretchy t-shirt in a neutral color to my wardrobe so I can mix and match with more of my clothes. I used a shirt I already own for my stretchy top pattern, and I’m going to show you how you can create patterns with different designs using the items in your closet.

Tools and materials:

  • Shirt (to trace)
  • Paper
  • Ruler
  • French curve
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Fabric
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
Make a top pattern

Trace the front

I folded my shirt in half with the front side facing out. Then I laid the shirt on my paper with the fold against the edge of the paper. I’m only tracing the bodice of the shirt, so I folded the collar and sleeves up at the seams and traced around the seams.

How to make a top pattern


I traced over the lines with a ruler and French curve and marked where the fold should be. 

Pattern for a top

Trace the back

To trace the back, I folded the shirt in half again, this time with the back side facing out, and followed the same steps as I used for tracing the front.

Stretchy top pattern


Then I cut out my pattern pieces.

Stretch top pattern

Trace the sleeve and mark

Next, I laid the sleeve of my shirt on the paper, and traced around it, being careful to trace the curve of the seam as closely as possible. I went over the lines with a ruler and French curve and marked the fold, just as I did with the previous pieces.

Stretchable top pattern


I measured the shoulder seams of my front and back pattern pieces and saw they were not the same length. 

I marked where the shoulder should end, and used the French curve to adjust the line. Then I cut it to size.

Cut fabric

I used my pattern to cut fabric pieces for my two new shirts. For one shirt, I used the square neck of a shirt I already owned to trace a new neckline. 

For the second shirt, I decided to make it double-layered, so I cut two of every pattern piece.


To begin construction, I sewed each front piece to each back piece at the shoulders. 


Then I laid one set of pieces flat and pinned the sleeves along the edges of the armholes.

Add second layer

Then I laid the second set of pieces on top of the first set with the sleeves sandwiched in between. 

Pin and sew

I pinned everything down and sewed. 


I flipped the fabric so the openings at the neck were parallel with each other.


I pinned the two outermost edges of the necklines together and sewed them down.

Then I turned the shirt so the inner layers were on the outside, and sewed the second layers of the neckline together.

Pin and sew

Next, I pinned the side seams and down the sleeves, and sewed.


I hemmed the bottom of the shirt using the same method for the double layers as I used for the neckline.

Finish the sleeves

For the sleeves, I tucked the raw edges in and topstitched around the ends of the sleeves.

This is such a great pattern because I can always change the neckline or the length of the sleeves for so many different looks. 

I love the style of it and think it will work well with many items in my wardrobe. 

I hope this tutorial helped show you how to make a top pattern. What style of shirt will you be making with this pattern?

Suggested materials:
  • Shirt
  • Paper
  • Ruler
See all materials

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