Welcome to another sewing tutorial. I didn’t have much time for sewing (or anything else) in the second half of last year. I am currently on a welcomed break and knew I just had to make this tutorial.
Today I will be showing you how to make batwing shirts in only half an hour. That’s right, half an hour! If I’m in the zone I can get about 3 done in an hour actually. The speed at which these can be made comes from it’s simple design and cut, they are all overlocked and finished – no cut corners. These also work for those who don’t dress in a vintage style but want a relaxed but stylish top!
You will need:
- Knit/Jersey Fabric – amount specified below
- Tailor’s Chalk
- Fabric Scissors
- Pen and Paper (to work out your pattern on)
- Measurement Tape
- Sewing Machine
- Overlocker (or alternative method of finishing e.g. pinking shears, zig-zag stitch, french seaming)
The amount of fabric you need will be:
- 50cm(23”) of 150cm(60”) wide fabric, or 110cm(44”) of 110cm(44”) fabric for bust sizes up to around 40” and 3/4 sleeves
- Or 150cm(60”) of 150cm(60”) wide fabric for larger sizes and full length sleeves.
Today I am using this beautiful piece of merino/bamboo/cotton blend I bought from Levana, a fabric store and manufacturer located in Levin. I took a very long trip out there especially so I could buy some of their amazing quality knits. You can find this fabric on their webstore!
First off the pattern has to be worked out. The first time this might take a little longer but once you’ve done it you won’t need to bother again! Below is a picture of my full working for this shirt. Also I hope it isn’t too difficult to understand, feel free to ask me any questions by commenting on the bottom of this post.
On the top left I have worked out the amount of fabric I have, so my fabric is a total of 64” wide and I have 23.5” of it. This means my top from sleeve end to sleeve end will be a maximum of 32” across (not including seam allowance, so about 31”-30”)
Then I have the following measurements: Bust, Waist, Shoulder to Shoulder, Shoulder to Waist and the circumference Above my Elbow as I know this is where the sleeves will hit. You can figure out how long your sleeves will be by halving the sleeve end-sleeve end measurement and measuring this down your arm from your centre back neck.
My sketches to the right show the cut that I will be using with an elbow length sleeve and a slight scoop neck. The others show variations – a short sleeved boat neck version and a long sleeved v-neck version.
So here are the measurements I know my garment will be cut at. The red line of 16” indicates my sleeve length and 1/4 of the full width of fabric I will be using. The blue line indicates the width of the waist, this is 1/4 of your full waist measurement so for me 7”. The green line indicates the length of fabric I had, which will also be the total length of the garment. The yellow line indicates my sleeve opening length, so half of my above elbow measurement roughly. If this was a full length shirt then this would be half the wrist measurement.
The general shaping you go with is up to you. I personally like to shape the shoulder and then slant the sleeve down slightly but a lot of vintage patterns leave the sleeve straight from the neck opening. Since I shaped the sleeve down I marked the shoulder point at 1/2 my Shoulder to Shoulder measurement.
For the hips just shape them out a little. You don’t need to do any measuring as the stretch of the fabric will be able to accommodate them.
First I placed my fabric right side up and then folded it in half. I made sure to align the stripes of my fabric so it would come out nicely lined up. Next I folded it in half again giving it 4 layers of fabric. If you are using two separate pieces then lay them right side to right side and fold them in half.
Here I’ve marked out my fabric with tailors chalk. Make sure to mark it on the double folded side. If you don’t you will end up with one piece for the front or back and then two separate halves.
For the neckline, mark only the shape of the back neckline. For the neck shapes I usually just wing it, an inch below the shoulder line for the back and then 4” at the front for a higher neckline and 8” for a deeper scoop.
And cut out! As you can see it is a bit of an odd shape right now but it will get there.
Next I took one of the folded pieces and traced and cut out my front neckline, from memory I think this was about 6” below my shoulder point.
And here are my front and back pieces! Now it’s all cut out and ready to sew! Don’t worry if this seems like a lot of steps, if you just stay confident and throw caution to the wind it will be done in no time.
And finally onto the sewing! For all of the seams I just overlocked them and then finished with a straight stitch. If you don’t have an overlocker feel free to stitch the seams however you like then use a zig-zag stitch or pinking shears to finish them. If you’re feeling extra fancy you could also go for a french seam.
First sew the shoulder seams, right sides together. If you are overlocking then overlock with the front side facing up, this means the seams will naturally fold to the back.
Next lay the garment flat with the right side up and finish the armholes with whatever method you like. Remember to make sure the shoulder seams are facing to the back for a more professional garment.
Fold the top back right sides together and close the sleeve/side seams. Also finish the bottom edge of the garment on the right side.
Now finish around the neckline. If you are overlocking or zig-zagging then remember not to stretch the fabric so you don’t end up with a baggy neckline.
Already we are on the home stretch!
Stitch the armholes, bottom edge and neckline down. As you can see here I am using a 5mm straight seam. I was sewing on the wrong side as this machine and knit fabrics don’t agree too well so I wanted to make sure I caught everything.
Here is a close up of the neckline as an example of how mine looks.
That’s it! The sewing is so easy and fast since there aren’t any sleeves to set in and it’s all stretchy.
Here’s how mine looks with both pants and a high-waisted skirt. It’s such a flattering design it works with so many styles. I do usually wear skirts but for my studies I sometimes have to work in busy environments and skirts just aren’t ideal.
Here are even more examples of ones I’ve made using this same cut but with different sleeve lengths and neckline variations. I find them to be so veratile as you can make them lightweight and short for summer, then long and thicker for winter. If you are feeling daring you could even make them in a non-stretch fabric and have them zip or button up – something I am considering doing soon.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and give it a go! The more you practice the faster you will be able to make them! If you do make them let me know in the comments or tag me on Instagram! I’d love to see different variations people come up with.