Right off the top – I have a confession to make. I posted this shirt at the end of April for Made by Rae’s Spring Top Sewalong. I still love the shirt, the problem is I called it a “Wing Sleeve” shirt which is totally NOT what it is… this shirt is a Dolman/French sleeve shirt – so I apologize if I totally confused anyone! Now that is corrected (whew…) I feel better and we can get on with the tutorial.

Dolman Sleeve Tee

Oh, before I forget – If you have not signed up to win some fabric from the Friday’s Off giveaway yet, click here to enter! Alanna from Friday’s Off Fabric Shop is giving away an 8 fat quarter bundle! Giveaway ends June 21st, 2013.

I love how comfy these shirts are. Not having to set a sleeve in when sewing them is also a huge bonus! Adding sleeve bands and a hem band also helps the sewing process to speed along and minimizes any tendency for the knit material to stretch and ruffle when you don’t want it to.

This tutorial can be used to draft any size of tee, so long as you have a sample tee in the size you would like to make. You could even make one for a child or even a toddler – how cute would that be?! All you would have to change is the height of the arm and hem bands.

Will you be trying this tutorial?

You will need:

  • sample Tee – a tee that fits you well
  • knit fabric, must have the same amount of stretch (or more) than your sample shirt
  • paper to draft your pattern – freezer paper, large roll paper etc.
  • pencil/pen, ruler, paper scissors (NOT your fabric scissors!)
  • ballpoint needle
  • other sewing gear
Before we begin:
As I made the drafting instructions for this I kept referring back to the original dolman sleeve shirt that I used as a sample. I thought it might be helpful for you to be able to see the differences between how your tee looks laid out with the dolman sleeve. In this tutorial I trace the original shirt in blue marker and draft the new pattern in pink marker.

Here we go:


 Step 1: Pattern Paper & Sample Tee Tracing – (1) Make sure your paper is large enough to draft your pattern. You will need a piece that is as wide as half of your sample tee. You may want longer sleeves than your the sample tee, so keep that in mind. (2) Fold your sample tee in half, front side out. Place the front centre fold on the edge of your pattern paper. (3) Trace around the sample tee. When you trace the sleeve portion make sure that the top edge of the sleeve is laying flat to the paper. Don’t worry about making the underarm flat while you are tracing it, this part will change drastically from the original sample tee anyhow. (4)  Trace and label both front and back necklines. (5) Mark where the shoulder seam ends and the sleeve begins (red circle).

Step 2: Mark Neckline – (1) Put on your sample tee and measure where you would like the edge of your neckline to be. I like mine to be a bit wider, more of a boat neck type neckline. (2) I marked a place roughly an inch over from the original neckline edge and freehand re-drew the neckline in pink.

Step 3: Draw (most of) the New Sleeve – (1) Draw a long line that follows the neck-to-shoulder seam at the top of your shirt. (2) Beginning at the mark where the sleeve seam begins (Step 1-5), draw a (roughly) 15 degree line to the edge of your paper. I used the 30 degree line on my clear ruler to estimate the 15 degree angle. It is not important for this to be exactly 15 degrees – don’t stress over it! (3) Measure the width of your sample tee’s arm opening, mine is 5″ OR Measure around your upper arm and divide the number by two to get your width. (4) Decide how long you want your sleeves to be. Remember you will be adding a 3.5″ arm band to the sleeve length you choose. Measure along the top of your shoulder to the ending spot for your sleeve. Try to keep your arm on the same angle as the pattern (15 degrees from the shoulder). This will help – but you may need to try on the shirt-in-progress later on to check the sleeve length. (5) Draw a line the width of your sleeve opening at right angles to your (last) line from Step 3-2.

Step 4: Draw the Bottom and Side Seam – (1) Decide on the length of your new shirt based on the hem length of the sample tee. Remember you will be adding a 3.5″ hem band to the shirt length you choose. Mark this length with a straight line. I wanted my new shirt to be a bit longer, so I straightened the sample tee length. (2) Measure the length between your sample tee under-arm seam and the new length marking. (3) Mark the halfway point on your shirt at the side seam (red circle). (4) Draw a straight line (at right angles to your tee length line) up from the bottom of your tee to the halfway point marking you just made. Continue to freehand this line to draw the curve so that you finish the underarm seam and the bottom of the sleeve. Refer to the “Before we begin” photo if you need to know how the curve looks in relation to your sample tee tracing.

Step 5: Finishing the Pattern – (1) At this point I cut out my pattern, but I wish I had not. It is best at this point to draw in your seam allowance. I didn’t and I forgot to add it when I cut out the pattern (boo me!). Thankfully it still fits, but the arms are a bit tight. (2) Cut out your pattern. Cut the back neckline and leave the front neckline on the pattern. When you cut out your fabric you can cut one of each. (3) Mark the centre front/back of the pattern as a “cut on fold” line (again, I should have done this) and the size and type of pattern on your piece so you know what it is later.


Step 6: Cutting out the Main Shirt – (1) Fold your fabric and cut (with your pattern piece on the fold) one each of the front and back main shirt pieces. Your knit fabric should stretch the most in the direction that goes around you, from side to side on the shirt – NOT from top to bottom.

Step 7: Cutting the Hem Band – (1) Open up the shirt front and measure the width of the hemline. Your hem band should be cut to a few inches less than double this measurement + 1″ for seam allowances. Example: My hemline width measurement was 18″. I decided I wanted the band to be 3″ smaller than this (15″), doubled it to be 30″ and added 1″ for seam allowance to make the band 31″ long. (2) Cut the hem band 7.5″ high by the length you measured in step 7-1. Make sure the stretch in your knit goes along the width of this piece, not the height.

Step 8: Cutting the Arm Bands – (1) Refer back to the arm width measurement you used for step 3-3. (2) Same as the Hem Band, the Arm Bands should be slightly shorter than double the arm width measurement + 1″ for seam allowances. Example: My arm width measurement was 5″. I made that slightly smaller at 4″, doubled it to be 8″ and added 1″ for seam allowances to make the band 9″ long. (2) Cut two arm bands 7.5″ high by the length you just measured in step 8-1. Make sure the stretch in your knit goes along the width of this piece, not the height.

You should now have these pieces:

Step 9: Sew Side and Shoulder Seams: Place your front tee piece over your back tee fabric right sides together. Using a ball-point needle and a stretch stitch (or a long, narrow zig-zag) stitch the side seams and the shoulder seams. (marked in red). Use whatever seam allowance you added to your pattern in step 5-1.

Step 10: Hem the Neckline – Note: This seems a bit unconventional, but it worked to keep the neckline from stretching and ruffling when I hemmed it… does anyone have another way to do this? (1) Measure around the entire neckline. (2) Cut a piece of your fabric that is aprox 1/2″ wide and as long as your neckline measurement. Make sure the stretch goes in the opposite direction of your main fabric. I used the selvage, it was about 1/2 as stretchy as my main fabric. We’ll call this the neck band. (3) Stitch the neck band into a tube. Check to make sure it fits over your head. (4) Fold the neckline under 1/2″, pin the neck band under the folded edge as you go. Pin the seam allowances at the shoulder seams towards the back of the tee. (5) Stitch the neckline hem close to the edge of your folded hem with the neckband hidden inside. Stitch with the right side up and use a double needle or a long, narrow zig-zag.

Step 11: Arm and Hem Bands: (1) Fold all of your bands right sides together and stitch along the 7.5″ height with a 1/2″ seam allowance, make sure they are right sides together before stitching! (2) Fold all the band tubes in half with right sides out, so all of the long raw edges are matched up. The bands will be roughly 3.5″ high after folding. (3) Pin each arm band to the sleeve opening, right sides together, matching the seam on the tube with the underarm seam on your tee. Stretch the band slightly as you pin to match the length to the sleeve opening. (4) Mark the hem band and the tee hemline in 4 equal lengths with pins. Pin the band right sides together with the tee hemline, matching your marking pins and the band tube seam with a side seam on the tee. (5) Use a stretch stitch or a long, narrow zig-zag to stitch the arm and hem bands to your tee.

Congratulations! You have another piece to add to YOUR wardrobe. Go show it off!

Are you happy with how your shirt turned out? We would all love to see your tee, come on over and post a photo to the Thread Riding Hood Facebook page!