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Make your own cutsew- Tutorial 
13th-Apr-2009 12:47 am
A bunch of people asked if I'd make a tutorial on how I made those shirts a few days ago, sorry if it's awful.

Please keep in mind I'm in no way a professional seamstress, I just kind of figure stuff out as I go and what's the best way for me may not be the best way for you to do something. Feel free to share if you have feedback/construction criticism.

In case you're sewing for your first time: unless the instructions say otherwise (like on the sleeves) always turn everything inside out before sewing it (unless you like the unfinished seams on purpose thing that's been pretty trendy recently) and don't forget to sew back and forth a couple times any time you start and finish sewing, that way your stitched won't unravel.


You want to start with making your pattern pieces. The easiest thing to do is a trace a shirt you already have that fits well. Keep in mind the measurements I listed are just what fit me well and won't necessarily be the same for you. P.S. They're in inches, but I'm sure you figured that out-




If you like a normal tshirt type neck and your design in high enough you can line your pattern up with the very top of your shirt and not cut the neck hole at all. My design was too low for that and I didn't plan on keeping the neckline like that anyway.

It's easiest for me to cut the front of the shirt off, line up my pattern with the design and then cut it out (that way I don't accidentally make any cuts on the back part).

I didn't include seam allowance on my patterns so I made sure to leave about 1/4 of an inch all the way around the pattern.

Front piece ready to go:

Back piece:

Sleeves are tricky. If you like yours puffier then you should make your pattern longer, if you like your sleeve to go farther down your arm then you need to make the pattern wider.

Fold pattern in half if you're going to use original sleeve or leave pattern open if you'll be cutting it out from a flat piece of fabric (say extra fabric from the bottom of your shirt, if your original sleeves were not 'tall' enough to use)

Now for the ruffles at the bottom you're going to want to cut out 3 to 4 long strips of two inch wide fabric from the extra fabric at the bottom of your original shirt.

Yay, now you have all your pieces and you're ready to start sewing. I used a regular sewing machine for all of this but there is no reason you couldn't use a serger (would probably be even better) or hand sew it (except I have no patience for hand sewing).

I start by sewing up both sides, then the shoulders and then carefully sew the neckline area. Be careful to not accidentally sew closed your arm holes or neck holes. If you want to do a regular style neck hole check out option 2 down at the bottom of this post. When I make girlier styled shirts I like to just fold over the edge of the neckline sew it down.

Sewing down the edge of the back of neck hole:

You can also use two "front" pattern pieces if you'd rather have the neckhole be rounded all around, mine is rounded in the front, straight in the back.

When you sew on your sleeves your shirt will be inside out and you'll tuck the sleeve into the shirt but the sleeve part with need to be right side out. If you're not sure you have it right- pin it into place all around, flip the shirt right side out and make sure you don't have any seams showing.

Xray vision= It looks like this but remember that the sleeve should be inside your shirt at this point.

But when you sew it, it will look like this (keep in mind, sleeve should not actually be on the outside of your shirt at this point)-

I sew the bottom part straight and then some largish pleats in as a sew the top part together. You put tiny pleats all around if you'd prefer. To be exact, I sewed up the front part of the sleeve 5 inches straight, added two pleats and then went back and did the same to the back part of the sleeve. That way I can just an an extra pleat if I guestimated the sizes wrong.

Pleats at the top of the sleeve:

When you flip everything inside out it should look like a big fluttery sleeve at this point:

Time to make it a puff sleeve. You'll need some narrow elastic:

To figure out exactly how much- measure around your arm where the sleeve would be. Mine was about 10 inches long.

I mark the middle of my elastic, that way while I'm sewing I know if I get to the halfway point of my elastic and I'm not yet at the halfway point of my sleeve that I wasn't bunching the fabric enough as I went.

You can either sew a channel at the end of your sleeve and then feed your elastic through, or what I did was sewed the edge of the sleeve right onto the elastic. Place your elastic far enough from the edge of your sleeve that you'll be able to fold the rest over and cover all of the elastic. While you sew you need to punch/squish your fabric AND pull the elastic tight (which helps it bunch/ruffle up even more).

When you're done the inside of the sleeve should look like this-

and the outside of the sleeve should look like this-

Almost done- ruffle time! You'll want to take your strips of fabric and sew them together so you have one super long 2 inch tall strip of fabric. Fold over the edge and sew that down (unless you like the unfinished look, since it's tshirt material it's not like it will fray)-

To make the ruffles/pleats I just folded over the fabric a bit every inch or so.

Flip your ruffles down so they're now faces the right side up and you're all done, although you might want to iron the ruffles, it helps them lie flatter.

Neckline Option 2
If you like a regular tshirt collar but weren't able to keep the existing one because of the placement of the design then you can just sew it back on.

Cut the collar off the original shirt.

Your tshirt should be right side out at this point, your collar should be upside down and inside out. I only pinned it halfway around because I knew I wasn't going to keep the collar on, you'll want to pin it down all the way around.

This is what it would look like when you're done-

13th-Apr-2009 07:52 am (UTC)
That's a good tutorial. My only suggestion is to do more of a gathering with the ruffle as opposed to the pleating, but it looks nice either way.
13th-Apr-2009 07:55 am (UTC)
Yeah, I don't actually know how to gather. :( Aperantly I have a special foot for my sewing machine for gathering but haven't figured out how to use it yet,
13th-Apr-2009 07:59 am (UTC)
Well I usually do a weird thing where I stuff fabric into the foot as it's sewing, but the common way is to run a basting stitch along the top, and then pull the thread to gather it. Hopefully that made sense, but I'm sure you can find some simple instructions somewhere online if my description isn't good haha
(Deleted comment)
13th-Apr-2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
same here, it's quite easy and doesn't take much time! you just need a feeling for how much gather you want at certain places!
14th-Apr-2009 02:09 am (UTC)
I third this method XD I'm glad that I wasn't the only one doing it this way lol. I always thought I was doing it wrong, but I guess there's never really a right way or a wrong way (but rather an easy way! :D)
13th-Apr-2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
Lol i do the same thing, I always thought my ruffling method was weird XD I just bunch up the fabric as I sew and kind of eyeball it to get the right amount of gather. It's worked out great for me so far!
13th-Apr-2009 07:56 am (UTC)
Great tutorial, thank you for your hard work!
13th-Apr-2009 08:04 am (UTC)
This needs to be in the memories, it's a great tutorial :D
14th-Apr-2009 02:29 am (UTC)
thanks :)
13th-Apr-2009 08:21 am (UTC)
Well done! :)
(Deleted comment)
14th-Apr-2009 02:30 am (UTC)
Yeah, actual patterns kind of hurt my brain ;)
13th-Apr-2009 12:21 pm (UTC)
;_; it says bandwith exceeded for all the pics
13th-Apr-2009 01:30 pm (UTC)
copy that. :(
14th-Apr-2009 02:31 am (UTC)
sorry guys, my bandwidth exceeded while I was sleeping. :( I fixed it once I woke up. So the pictures are back up now. :)
14th-Apr-2009 06:05 pm (UTC)
I great tutorial. Simple, well explained and completely undaunting to first time sewers. great stuff. many many thanks. :D
13th-Apr-2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
Exceeded bandwidth. Try uploading them to
13th-Apr-2009 02:12 pm (UTC) * XP
14th-Apr-2009 02:36 am (UTC)
sorry guys, my bandwidth exceeded while I was sleeping. :( I fixed it once I woke up. So the pictures are back up now. :)

Thanks for the suggestion, I have never heard about before. I don't think it's right for me though:

"How long do you keep the images?
As long as images are getting at least 1 view a month, they will stick around forever. After that, your image may be removed create more space for newer images."

I like to have all of my pictures up forever on my journal, that way I can go back and look at them months or even years later no matter where I'm at. I also like knowing that they're all saved online just in case something happens to the files on my computer.
13th-Apr-2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
What happened :( I can't see any of the pictures
13th-Apr-2009 02:47 pm (UTC)
me nether
13th-Apr-2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
Pictures gone. ;__;
14th-Apr-2009 02:37 am (UTC)
sorry guys, my bandwidth exceeded while I was sleeping. :( I fixed it once I woke up. So the pictures are back up now. :)
13th-Apr-2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
This tutorial is fantastic-- thanks for sharing!
13th-Apr-2009 04:10 pm (UTC)
omg love you! thanks sooooo much!
I really wanted to take an old shirt and do what you did to your AP shirt but I had no idea where to start
13th-Apr-2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
Nice tutorial!
13th-Apr-2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
Adding to the memories. ^_^
14th-Apr-2009 02:37 am (UTC)
yay, thanks :)
13th-Apr-2009 05:08 pm (UTC)
Awesome! I was wondering how you made your cutsews.
13th-Apr-2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the tutorial! I love it, and I will certainly use it in the future. =D
13th-Apr-2009 06:49 pm (UTC)
Omg thank you so much for this! I can't wait to try it on some of my own shirts.
13th-Apr-2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
Nice tutorial! I did a similar thing with a too big t-shirt, although instead of using a pattern I just put on the shirt, pinned it so that it fit properly, and resewed along those guidelines. And instead of using a pattern for the sleeves, I just sewed the original sleeves back onto the new armholes I had cut.

Might be an option for people like me who are too lazy to use patterns. xD
14th-Apr-2009 02:39 am (UTC)
I'm all for lazy sewing! :) It looks great. Am I just terribly clumsey for thinking if I did that I'd get a pin stuck in my side while taking it off?
14th-Apr-2009 10:40 pm (UTC)
Haha, I did poke myself a couple times...
12th-Dec-2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah that happened to me too. I had to get my flatmate to "extract" me from the shirt.
13th-Apr-2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks a lot for this tutorial. :D *adds to memories* I will sure try this. :)
14th-Apr-2009 06:27 am (UTC)
Wow! Thanks so much for this! It's a great tutorial! :D
15th-Apr-2009 05:16 am (UTC)
OMG you are like the answer to my prayers!! I needed a nice easy tutorial for a cutsew for a casual outfit I'm working out and this is fantastic! I'm adding it to my memories.
16th-Apr-2009 05:27 am (UTC)
Thank you for taking the time to write this! I've been sewing for years, but really adore this style of tutorial. (Plus, as weird as it sounds, I've never ever done the tee shirt reconstruction thing yet, and have been daunted by the prospect of chopping up the jersey knit... this is EXACTLY what I want to do! Yeah! Tomorrow I'm just gonna do it! XD)

Sorry for the deleted comment; my keyboard is having serious issues.

Re: the ruffle discussion -- I was going to buy a ruffle foot once, and a costume professor (!) kind of physically taught/showed me the "just smush the fabric into the feed dogs" method, which, if you get the hang of it, is really easy... not super accurate, and you can't really make and sew ruffles at the same time, but I don't mind making ruffles. (The basted/pulled thread method sounds like a pain to me! Although way more accurate with spacing.) I eventually bought a ruffle foot, but I still kind of prefer just smushing it. I wonder if there are video tutorials...
28th-Dec-2009 09:57 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, it's just so amazing how simple it could be (kinda) to make a cutsew! I am definately adding this to Memories. Now, where is my large tee-shirt? :P
27th-May-2010 12:38 pm (UTC) - Thank you
Thank you very much for sharing!
13th-Jul-2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
That cutsew is really pretty! I kind of want to make one now XD But I have wayy too many projects I'm doing right now. 2 completely different dresses and 1 purse + other little accessories and bits that will go along with each.

Thanks for posting the tutorial, dear!
13th-Jul-2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
I'm glad people still see this and feel inspired. :) Make sure you share if you do get around to making one at some point.
13th-Jul-2010 09:10 pm (UTC)
But of course! :D
29th-Dec-2010 06:19 pm (UTC)
Halfway through the tutorial I went back up and looked at the pattern again, and where you cut out the pieces from. Do you think you could use this pattern on any type of knit fabric that stretched like a T-shirt?

Thanks so much, this is great.
30th-Jun-2011 02:15 am (UTC) - cutsew
Very cool, I posted on my blog only in Portuguese (Brazil) right! Do not worry, I gave due credit.
30th-Jun-2011 02:37 am (UTC) - Re: cutsew
Awesome. I didn't really think people would still see this. If you try it out let me know how it goes! :)
18th-Jan-2012 07:39 pm (UTC)
Hi. Love the turtorial but I did have a question. I've been wanting to reconstruct my favorite tee into a cutsew for quite a while so I can incorporate it into my new-ish style. It's a tee for the Japan Football (soccer) team and I want it to be cute and loli but I also don't want to mess up the kind of sport jersey look it has. Do you think there would be a way for me to add the red bands similar to the collar band back on to the sleeves after I puff them? I think that would go a long way to retaining the shirts original look while still making it very cute and loli.
18th-Jan-2012 10:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah you should be able to include the red trim but it would be a slightly different process. You would want to carefully remove it with a seamripper (not scissors) so that it stays intact and then instead of using elastic you can sew it on as a sleeve cuff. Keep in mind that you will most likely not end up using the entire band & will need to trim off the excess before sewing it closed. Like the first example in this tutorial-
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