How to make a draped t-shirt

This cowl neck top is quite easy to make. It has only four seams and you can create the pattern yourself.

The cowl neck comes from making the neckline of the shirt wider at the front  than the back – this extra fabric hangs down creating the drapey neckline. The folds in the sleeves come from extra fabric as well, which is added by angling the shoulder seam upward.

You will need:
Measuring tape
⅔ yard stretchy fabric (I used a cotton/lycra jersey)
Matching thread
Sewing machine
Chalk (or pencil and large paper to make a pattern)
Pins (optional)

The first step in making this top is to measure yourself. You will need four horizontal measurements and the vertical distance between the shoulder measurement and each of the others. These measurements are:

1. Shoulder: measure across from the edge of one collarbone to the other
2. Bust: measure all the way around at the largest part of your chest
3. Waist: measure all the way around at the smallest part of your upper body
4. Hem: measure all the way around at the point where you want the top to end (I recommend at your hips)
5. Bust height: measure from shoulder to bust
6. Waist height: measure from shoulder to waist
7. Total length: measure from shoulder to hem

Before you start, wash your fabric the way you want to wash the finished top.

I like to draw the pattern directly on the fabric with chalk, but if you prefer to make a paper pattern the steps are just the same. If you draw directly on the fabric, make sure to draw on the back!

Drawing the pattern for the front:

Beginning about 4 inches from the top of your fabric and 6 inches from the right side, draw a line 4 inches longer than your shoulder measurement. This will be the neckline.

Mark the center of this line.

From each edge of the neckline, draw an angled line five inches long up to the top of the fabric. This is the shoulder seam/top of the sleeve.

Measure down from the center of the neckline to the bust line (this is measurement 5) and mark this point.

Mark the sides of the shirt at the bust – you can do this by measuring ¼ of the total bust measurement (measurement 2) on each side from the point you just measured.

To make a fitted shirt, measure down from the center of the shoulder seam to the waist line (this is measurement 6) and measure out the width at the waist. Mark these points. Skip this step if you want a simpler, loose fitting shirt

Measure down from the center of the shoulder seam to the hem line (this is measurement 7). Mark the sides of the shirt at the hem and draw a line connecting the two sides.

For a fitted shirt, draw a curve up along each side connecting the hem, waist, and bust marks, and continuing 2 inches above the bust mark. (Note: none of these measurements are all that important – the fabric will stretch if it’s a bit tight and drape in if it’s a bit loose. So if you need to move the points around a bit to connect them easily, that’s fine.)

For a looser shirt, just connect the sides of the hem with the bust marks. Continue this line for two inches above the bust.

Draw a three inch line out from the top of the curve you just completed. This will be the bottom of the sleeve.

Draw a curve connecting the top of the sleeve to the bottom of the sleeve. It will end a bit further in than it began. This is fine.

Cut out the front of the shirt.

Drawing the pattern for the back:

The back of the pattern is a lot like the front, only without the extra length added to the neckline. In fact, you can save some time by just tracing the lower half of the pattern for the front – everything is the same bellow the armpits.

Beginning about 4 inches from the top of your fabric and 6 or more inches from the left side (depending on your size), draw a line the length of your shoulder measurement.

Mark the center of this line.

From each edge of the neckline, draw an angled line five inches long up to the top of the fabric. This is the shoulder seam/top of the sleeve.

At this point you can place the front of the shirt on top of the pattern you are working on, lining up the neckline centers, and trace the lower half of the pattern up to the armpits and along the lower seam of the sleeve.

Draw a curve connecting the top of the sleeve to the bottom of the sleeve.

Cut out the back of the shirt.

Sewing directions

Sew the front and back together along the shoulder seams, up the sides, and under the arm. Use a slight zig-zag stitch, or something else with a bit of stretch to it. If the seams can’t stretch with the fabric they’ll break when you move.

You’re done!

Edit: I recently made another of these shirts. My sister also made one.

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