Favorite Braided Tee Tutorial

I had this great shirt. It was gray, loose fitting, but still flattering, an interesting neckline, in fact, it looked just like this one I found one day while browsing Pinterest:

Image from: http://hernewleaf.com/2011/07/21/diy-banana-republic-braided-neck-tee-shirt/

Except, mine had a single braid, and I got it at Nordstrom. I would  add a picture, but its looking kinda haggard these days! But I seriously LOVE this shirt, so when I saw others were creating a tutorial to make one, I wanted to see if I could too.  Except, I wanted to make the entire shirt (not modify an existing tee), since I love the fit so much and the look of the unfinished top. So, I used the shirt to draw out a pattern, and voila, here is my version of the braided tee!! I’m happy with the outcome, but next time I think I’ll make the sleeves shorter so the braided neckline can be longer. But overall, I’m really happy with the outcome.

I’m not so good at these tutorials, but  I will share what I did. I used one yard of cotton jersey fabric (this particular one is from the April Johnson for Project Runway line). I started by sketching a pattern, using my existing shirt. Here are the dimensions, but I traced mine on a few sheets of computer paper:

There are really just three parts: The back, the front (which is a mirror of the front, except, you leave a piece of fabric attached at the top), and the sleeves (cut on the fold). You will cut two of these, just make sure the diagonal length on the sleeve is the same as the diagonal length on the front/back pieces.  All the dimensions I used are listed. This makes about a size medium (I’m 5’7″ and wear a medium or size 6).

Next sew your side seams using a zig zag stitch (I didn’t have any seam allowances, since it was jersey but feel free to add them!) with right sides together.

Next, you are going to sew each sleeve together at the smallest part (I have a notion on my “pattern”). Then, pin to your shirt. The seam that was just sewn should line up with your side seams, and the diagonal part should line up with the diagonals on the shirt.Sew the sleeves on, but leave about 1″ unfinished at the parts that attach to the back shirt piece, at the top. Here you want about a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Next, create a long strip of fabric to make your own bias tape, about one inch thick and long enough to wrap around the back and sleeves of shirt. Pin this to your back neckline and sleeves, right sides together, then sew. Fold it back onto the wrong side of the shirt, and top-stitch (sorry, no pictures of this part, my kids were playing angry birds on my phone:). The ends of your bias tape can be sewn into the sleeve seams (where you left the 1″ unfinished).

Now its time to do your braid. Cut small slits, about 1″ apart on your shirt where I drew the dotted line (on the front pattern piece). My shirt had 10 slits

Don’t make the slits too big, they will stretch. Then cut a long piece of fabric, about 1″ wide. How long depends on how tight you want your braid, and how wide your neckline is. I actually sewed two pieces together, but just made sure the seam was positioned in the back of the shirt:)  Also notice that I didn’t cut slits in that extra piece of fabric at the top (you need this to hide the holes you just cut).

Now its time to braid. Of course, I didn’t take pictures, but I recreated the process with some scrap pieces of jersey I had lying around. Start by folding your long strip in half, then threat through your second cut, and out your first cut.

Next, loop your end pieces through the loop. Then feed the ends through the third loop, then out the second loop.

Then the ends go through the fourth loop and out the third.

And so on.

At your last slit, feed the ends through to the back, and stitch to close lengthwise, where I drew the black line.

You will also sew on top of the first loop, making sure to catch the first slit you cut (so it doesn’t end up getting any bigger on you!!).

Next fold the top flap down, behind your braid. Sew each side to the inside arm seam, so it stays down. I left my sleeves raw, since I had a hard time creating a hem I liked.

To finish, cut 2  4-5 inch wide strips of fabric, slightly smaller than your shirt width. I think I did mine about 16″. Fold in half then sew side seams together so you have a tube. Pin raw edges (not the folded side)  to the right side of the shirt, matching side seams. Stretch band as you sew to create an even gather. Or, you could sew on some elastic, but I prefer the banded method for comfort. And that is it. I can’t say it was easy, but I am very happy with the outcome!


April 5, 2012. Tags: , , , . Sewing and Crafts.

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