Spoonflower Ambassador Michael Gardner has been making clothes for his daughter Ava for years. This Father’s Day, Ava is returning the favor with a shirt she not only sewed for her dad, but self-drafted, too! Continue reading to see how Ava makes a brand new T-shirt out of Spoonflower’s Cotton Spandex Jersey using one of her dad’s favorite shirts. Michael also shares tips on self-drafting so that you too can sew new garments using your much-loved clothes as a guide!
Michael: I’m a proud Father, self-taught sewist, life-long crafter and DIY enthusiast. I’m also known as “Ava’s Dad.” I can usually be found exercising my creative abilities and spending quality time with Ava. My online platform Daddy Dressed Me by MG is my expression of love for my daughter. I utilize my creativity to teach her about self-love, confidence and I share our beautiful bond.
For eight years, I’ve had the pleasure of creating clothes for Ava. Seeing the expression of joy on her face and observing her strut with confidence has always made this journey worthwhile. Teaching her to sew has been a great bonding experience and I love the pieces she’s made for herself. When she first mentioned the idea of sewing something for me, it warmed my heart. I knew she wanted to return the favor for all the work I’ve done to create for her. Now, I know the feeling of having a one-of-a-kind garment made with love especially for me, and honestly, I need this feeling more often.
Many of the garments I make are self-drafted, so I prefer to cut directly into the fabric. Being self-taught, this technique is how I began my sewing journey and it’s how I’ve taught Ava as well. Using my favorite T-shirt, Ava created a well-fitted and comfortable shirt in Cotton Spandex Jersey that I want to wear every day!
A note on self-drafting: I’m a big believer in always having a little extra fabric, rather than running the risk of running out. I usually go by the width of the fabric and my/Ava’s measurements to gauge how much fabric I’ll need. I also like to cut bigger and take the piece in if I need to. Completing a garment and it’s too small is one of the worst experiences so I learned to overestimate and upsize to get the fit that works. Plus, it’s always nice to have some scraps for other projects!
DIY T-Shirt Tutorial
- Cotton Spandex Jersey fabric
- Matching thread
- Sewing clips or pins
- Measuring tape
- Your favorite T-shirt (for use as a pattern)
- Scissors or a rotary cutter
- Marking pin or chalk
- Magnetic seam guide (optional)
- Seam allowance: 3/8” (.95 cm) unless otherwise stated
- Recommended stitch: zig-zag stitch
Step 1: Fold, Trace and Cut the Body of the Shirt
Double fold the fabric in half (lengthwise) with right sides facing and the selvage centered.
Fold the T-shirt in half, lay it on one of the folds and tuck in the sleeves.
Trace around the neckline, shoulder, side seam and bottom hem to create the front and back pattern.
Cut out two pieces in this shape with a rotary cutter or scissors for the front and back parts of the shirt.
Step 2: Fold, Trace and Cut the Sleeves and Neckline
Fold the fabric (widthwise) with rights sides together, the fold should be at the top.
Add 1/2” (1.27 cm) seam allowance to the pattern.
Lay the T-shirt sleeve on top and trace.
Cut out the sleeves with a rotary cutter or scissors.
Measure the T-shirt’s neckline and cut a strip of fabric that is a) 2” (5 cm) wide and b) the length of the neckline minus 2” (5 cm).
For example, in inches, if your shirt has a 21” neckline, you would cut a piece of fabric that is 2” wide and 19” long for the neckband, as 21” minus 2” = 19”. In centimeters: If your shirt has a 53 cm neckline, you would cut a piece of fabric that is 5 cm wide and 48 cm long for the neckband, as 53 cm minus 5 cm = 48 cm.
Cut out the neckband using the dimensions for your shirt using the formula above with a rotary cutter or scissors.
Step 3: Sew the Shoulder Seams and Neckband
Place the front and back shirt pieces together at one of the shoulder seams, right sides facing and sew with a zig-zag stitch.
Open the seam and press with an iron.
Leave the second shoulder seam open, lay the two pieces flat and pin or clip the neckband, right sides facing, to the front and back neckline.
Sew with a 5/8” (1.59 cm) seam allowance using a zig-zag stitch, stretching the neckband only while sewing.
Trim the seam allowance, press and top stitch the neckband to make it lay flat.
Sew the other shoulder seam with right sides facing.
Step 4: Sew On the Sleeves and the Side Seam
Lay the shirt flat, right side up and clip the sleeve right sides facing along the curve.
Sew with a zig-zag stitch.
Sew the side seams from the end of the sleeve to the bottom hem of the shirt.
Repeat for the second sleeve.
Step 6: Hem the Sleeves and Bottom of the Shirt
With the shirt inside out, fold the sleeve back 1/4” (0.6 cm) two times, then hem.
Bottom of the Shirt:
Turn up 1/2″ (1.27 cm) and hem the bottom of the shirt and you are done!
Ava’s Thoughts on This Project
Ava: Making a shirt for my dad was such a fun experience. It’s the first time I’ve ever sewn him something. All I could picture was how he would look in the shirt. I loved the fabric, it’s so soft and stretchy. My dad is such a great role model for me. He’s so loving, caring and encouraging. I love him so much, he’s the best and I’m so happy to be his daughter and proud I made this shirt.
Leftover Fabric Can be Twice the Fun!
Michael: Anytime I have the opportunity to create matching daddy-daughter outfits, I go for it. With the remaining fabric, I self-drafted Ava a maxi dress and she loved it. I lengthened a sleeveless tank that I traced for a pattern and used the same process in above for Ava’s neck and armbands. There is nothing better than twinning with your best friend.
Self-Drafting Frequently Asked Questions
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