The two colour shirt

The following tutorial is a guide to help you make your very own Two-Colour Shirt (which, of course, you have the freedom to turn into a one, three, four or twenty-seven colour shirt if you so wish, as that is what this blog is about, after all).

For this tutorial you will need some basic pattern cutting toolsa transparent ruler, a Patternmaster if you have one, a pencil or pacer, a pair of scissors, a stiletto and some pattern paper.

There are endless possibilities available to you when you make your own patterns and I will try to point out as many as possible in this tutorial, as well as in the other tutorials still to come in the series. You are welcome to make my exact top if you like... 

draft a shirt pattern

But I encourage you to get creative, get experimental and get brave when it comes to making your own pattern.

Go crazy with colour.

Experiment with print.

Shorten the sleeves.

Add buttons.

Make it sleeveless.

Experiment with the shape of the panels.


Remove the panels all together.

Change the shape of the neckline.

Make a dress.

Add pleats.

Add gathers.

Add fullness to the skirt. Or make a circle skirt.

Add pockets - make them square, round, stars, hearts, put them in the side seams, stick them on the front, make them big, make them small.

The options are endless and I could go on and on all day. But I won't, as you are (hopefully) now feeling inspired and eager to get started on your very own pattern.

To start, you will first need to draft a custom basic bodice block. This will take a little bit of time, but you only have to do it once and then the block is all yours, ready to go and be transformed each time you start a new pattern.

To get the boxy silhouette, you will need to eliminate the darts (you can do this by using the pivot technique or the 'cut and spread') from both the front and back of the bodice.

Start with your front pattern - eliminating both shoulder and waist dart.

Next, decide what kind of neckline your top (or dress) will have. I chose a round neckline. 

I lowered the centre front by 2cm and reduced my shoulder width (at the neck) by 3.5cm.

Mark points where your new neckline will intersect with the centre front and the shoulder seam.

Join the points together with a smooth curve.

For a deeper curve (pink line), lower the centre front more. For a flatter curve (blue line), reduce the shoulder by a greater distance.

For my "Two Colour Shirt" shirt I decided to slightly drop the shoulder for a more relaxed look and fit. You could leave the pattern as is and just sew the basic sleeve block straight in if you like, or also drop the shoulder (by a little or a lot - or something in between).

Follow the tutorial to make the alterations to the armhole and the sleeve.

For my pattern, I extended the shoulder line by 3cm and lowered the armhole by 3.5cm. I also widened the pattern by 1.5cm at the side seam (normally to widen a pattern you need to distribute the extra width throughout the whole pattern - using the cut and spread technique - but as it is only a small amount I cheated a little and just stuck it on the side). 

The bodice block pattern only goes to the waist, so for anything longer, you will need to lengthen your pattern.

I lengthened my pattern by 12cm and extended the side seam to 40cm.

Next step is to decide where your panel lines will be (and in what shape).

I decided to keep it simple with a panel line a few centremetres below the bust (5cm to be precise).

Draw in your panel line, ensuring that your panel line is square to the centre front. 

Mark a balance point on the panel line to make it easier when sewing your garment together.

Trace off each of your pattern pieces, leaving enough room around the edge to add seam allowance.

Move to the back pattern piece. As with the front, eliminate the darts in your back pattern piece.

Change your neckline to match with the front (the back neckline is normally not as drastic as front). I lowered my centre back by 1.5cm and reduced my shoulder by 3.5cm (this has to be the same as the front so the seams match). I then extended the shoulder line to match the front (3.5cm). Lowered the armhole the same distance as the front (3.5cm) and added 1.5cm to the width of the pattern at the side seam.

Extend your pattern by the same length as the front.

Decide what kind of closure you will have. Buttons down the front? Buttons down the back? A zip in the centre back? Or a simple centre back placket with buttons like me?

The next pattern to make changes to is the sleeve. If you decided to make the dropped shoulder version, you should have already made changes to the sleeve cap. 

Decide what you want the sleeve length to be. Will it be short? Long? Will it have a cuff? Will it be tapered?

I decided to slightly shorten my sleeve, so that it is three-quarter(ish). I removed 8cm from the length of the pattern. 

As the fit of this shirt is quite loose and slouchy, I also decided to widen the sleeve slightly (by 3cm).

I then added a panel line (24cm down from shoulder).

Once the front, back and sleeve patterns are complete, add seam allowance to each seam. As my fabric was quite lightweight, I decided to French Seam each of my seams, so added seam allowance of 1.5cm to shoulder seams, side seams, armhole, sleeve cap and sleeve underarm seam. I bound the neckline, so only required a 6mm seam allowance. I added a 4cm hem allowance to the sleeve and made a hem facing pattern piece for the hem of the shirt.

Check your patterns.

Add any pattern markings you require - grainline, notches and pattern instructions.

And voila! You are done! Happy sewing.

What next?