Draft your own simple dolman sleeve top

A dolman sleeve top designed for knits is maybe one of the simplest types of tops to draft for beginners.Draft a dolman tee shirt to your OWN measurements.

There are no armholes to fiddle around with, and it’s basically just a simple box to draw, with a few added curves.draft a dolamn tee shirt to your own measurements

I made this top with a bit bigger neckline than I’m using in my tutorial. I think  it’s a little to wide here, so I made it a bit more narrow in my tutorial. This fabric is a linen knit, super thin, and really drapey. The hem looks sort of wavy here, too. workout2This is the same top in a thicker fabric with a turtleneck from last week.

This post is part of a group effort to honor and thank my blog buddy Anne Weaver, sewing editor from Craft Gossip, who has been a great supporter to so many sewing bloggers, including this one. Thanks, Anne! You can see all the participating bloggers tutorials today on this Pinterest board!

Today I’ll show you how to draft your own easy to sew dolman sleeve t shirt. I like a bit of definition in the waist of my tops, so I’ll be shaping the waist with four inches of ease. The bust and hips will each have two inches of ease, giving this top a semi fitted and more flattering look than the straight dolman top. If you’re busty , those types of tops can be unflattering if you don’t bring them in a bit at the waist. You can also omit the waist shaping if you prefer a more boxy look which looks great on a more straight up and down silhouette. It’s totally up to you.

This pattern drafting tutorial can be used for both children and women, since it’s drafted to the wearer’s measurements. Although it might not work well if your waist is larger than your bust measurement.

Once you have your basic dolman top sloper drafted, there are lots of variations and designs you can create from this basic pattern. I’ll be posting tutorials for those designs for you to build on in the coming weeks. From this basic sloper you can create a simple elastic waisted dress, a cute A line mini dress, lower the armholes for a  batwing top, add long sleeves for dolman top like in the drawing below, create a turtleneck, etc. Here are few tops drafted off of a the dolman sloper:workouttoppDolman top with added turtleneck. Here is a link to my DIY turtle neck tutorial.

lovedress1-copyYou can lengthen your dolman block, add an elastic waist and create a tunic to wear alone if you’re a youngster like her, or over jeans like I would. This would also make a cute tennis dress! Link to my dolman dress tutoriallovedressMake a dolman pattern for a child and lay it over an adult’s t shirt to make a dress. You don’t even have to sew a neckline this way. Link to tutorial.meredtop1

And if you are ready to get more adventurous you can start adding style lines to your dolman sloper. This top I made has an added seam. Then I slashed and opened the bottom piece to add a little fullness. Link to post ( not a tutorial) here.

And here are some more advanced designs based off a dolman sloper.




Take your measurementsdressformmeasurements


You’ll need some plain paper. I use pattern drafting paper, but if you don’t have any, freezer paper works great. Or that brown wrapping paper used for packages.

A clear 18 inch drafting ruler.

Take measurements:

Full bust



neck measurement

Length from the shoulder/ neck intersection to the hipline

Length from shoulder neck intersection to waist

Draw your pattern

dolman1dolman2Once you’ve drafted the pattern, add 1/2 inch seam allowances.

Lay out and cut your pattern.

This sewing tutorial is designed for using a plain old sewing machine. No sergers or cover stitchers needed. Or a twin needle, which I hate, because they always tunnel. 1/ 2 inch seam allowances.

One of the most important things to remember about cutting out knits is that the fabric is often slightly off grain to the selvage.layoutjpg

This means those tiny lengthwise rib lines aren’t necessarily running parallel to the selvage. In fact, they can often be a few inches off grain. But you have to cut out the pattern along the fold by finding one of those tiny lengthwise ribbed lines, and then follow it straight down. THAT will be your fold, or the lengthwise grain where you lay your pattern. You may find that the folded fabric does NOT run parallel to the selvage and that’s OK.

Sew shoulders together with a straight stitch to prevent stretching. I like to add a little piece of seam biding on top of the seam when I’m sewing to prevent the shoulders from stretching out after a few times worn. Press shoulder seams flat.

Sew side seams to sleeve notch. Press seam allowances open and then press edges of arm openings open 1/2 inch as well.sleeve

Hem arm opening a and bottom hem with a zig zag sticth. of course you can use your cover stitcher or twin needle but I didn’t want to change the threads on mine. This just a plain old t shirt, after all. Except it’s linen knit which makes it  wee bit nicer.

Measure sewn neckline and cut a 1 inch strip of self fabric along the lengthwise grain. It’s less stretchy. Cut the piece to be 2 inches smaller than finished neckline but then add 1/2 inch seam allowances. It will then be 1 inch smaller than finished neckline. Here is a link to my to my knit neckline binding tutorial. KnitfabricNeckbandTitleSew neckline than you are done!

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  1. says

    What a great post! I’m going to have to try this sometime. I haven’t ever drafted anything for myself and this would be a great place to start 🙂 Also, I am pretty sure that I bought that exact linen knit at The Fabric Store when I was with you! Watch out, we might have matching tops one of these days 😉 xo

  2. Brenda Kimberlin says

    I’m so excited to try this — and I’m glad you mentioned that about the double needle. I just bought one for a project but it sounds like they’re not worth the trouble.

  3. says

    I’ve been wondering for ages about making my own clothes, with absolutely no idea where to start. Now I know! These are very cute. I bet they’d make a good statement tee with a washed out transfer on the front.

  4. says

    Thanks for this very helpful tutorial! I’d love to make some tops and dresses with this method:)Totally my style!

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