Pattern Hacks · Sewing

Pattern Hack: T-shirt Pattern to an A-Line Dress

Gorman T-shirt Dress
Gorman T-shirt Dress

In my last post I really admired this simple A-line, T-shirt dress from Gorman and went looking for a sewing pattern to make it. I couldn’t find one, so I’ve decided to illustrate how to do a pattern hack of a basic raglan, T-shirt to turn it into an A-line dress.

It may seem like a good idea to just take a ruler and add some flare to the side seams. You can do that, but you end up with a sort of side-wing effect.

flare added to side seam.

It looks great in the picture above, but she is slim with broad shoulders. It just makes me look really wide.

So I recommend adding the flare to the body. This is very simple to do and shouldn’t take long.

What You Need

  • basic raglan T-shirt Pattern designed for stretch fabric (see below)
  • large pieces of tissue paper
  • transparent tape
  • straight ruler
  • scissors
  • pencil

Some Suggestions for raglan T-shirt patterns:

New Look 6230, McCall’s 7286, Aeolian Tee Shirt Dress by Pattern Fantastique, Centrefield Raglan T-shirt by Green Style Creations or Lane Raglan by Hey June.

Pattern Hack: Raglan T-shirt to A-line Dress

Step 1
step 1

Step 1

Your pattern could have some waist shaping, long or short sleeves and any sort of neckline. The pieces will look something like the illustration above.

Measure the circumference of the bust to make sure it fits well with either negative or 1-5cm ease. How much ease, will depend on your taste and the kind of stretch fabric you are working with. If you use a stable knit such as a velveteen, or ponte, you may want more ease than if you use a drapey knit with rayon or bamboo. I’ll talk more about fabric choice in another post.

Trace your pattern pieces onto tissue paper, leaving the seam allowance off.

We won’t be using the sleeves at all. You can crop them shorter if they are full length. There will be some shape change to the raglan armhole of the bodice but it won’t affect our sleeves, so set them aside.

Step 2
step 2

Step 2

Mark the underarm, bustline and waistline on the front and back pattern pieces. We aim to add little or no width to the bustline and flare out gradually to the hem.

Step 3
step 3

Step 3

Extend your hemline the amount you desire and mark in your hipline. The hipline usually falls about 20cm/8inches below the natural waistline. Make a note of your hipline width at it’s fullest. We have marked the hipline so that we can be sure there is plenty of ease around it.

Step 4
step 4

Step 4

Working on the front piece, draw a line from the neck to the hem, down the centre of the pattern. Slash up this line until there is only the tiniest hinge of paper holding the pattern together at the neckline. Spread the pattern apart, until there is about a 6cm gap at the hem.


Pattern Hack: Step 5
step 5

Step 5

Draw two more vertical lines on your pattern, about 5cm in from the side seams. I like to keep well away from the fullest part of my bust (aka BP; the Bust Point) as too much flare there means all the fabric hangs from my boob. I want the flare to hang from where the armhole starts to curve under my arm.

Slash and spread these lines. You can add a little more flare to these. This will cause the armholes to change shape a little bit.

Can you see how our pattern is only growing the tiniest width at the bust, while getting wider at the hem? Measure the new pattern width around the hem. Does it give you enough flare or do you want to spread them a little more?

Step 6
step 6

Step 6

Retrace your slashed-and-spread pattern to a fresh piece of tissue paper. You will need to smooth the lines of the hem, and around the neckline and armholes.

Pattern Hack: Step 7
step 7

Step 7

Repeat the same steps for the back of the pattern, spreading each cut by the same amount as the front. Retrace and smooth (known as truing) all lines.

Don’t forget to add your seam allowance and any markings.

I usually finish with a tissue fit before sewing up my first version in an inexpensive fabric. Marcy Tilton does a good video tutorial of tissue fitting that I recommend if you have never tried it before.

That wasn’t difficult, was it? Please let me know if you found this helpful and if you have other patterns you would like simple hacks for.


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