DIY Tutorial: Off-the-Shoulder Shirt

Alrighty ya’ll. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve been on here (and in the meantime I was in Nova Scotia, New York, and now am in LA – more about this to come!). But I’m back! And I’m bringing you this tutorial for an off-the-shoulder shirt. This style of shirt has been very popular this year, and it’s a super easy DIY. For my version I made it slightly more difficult by using fabric with a scalloped edge and an open crossed back.


  • 1 1/2 to 2 yards of fabric
  • Scissors, pins, sewing machine – all the standard fare.
  • An Iron
  • Elastic – 1/2″ or 3/4″ is best

First up, the pattern. It’s super easy, as you’ll be able to see below. You’re going to want to use your own reference, but the measurements I used are below for reference. You’re going to be adding elastic to the arm and the bust so these measurements need to be bigger than your body because the elastic is going to cinch the fabric in. How much bigger is entirely dependant on preference and fabric type. Keep in mind that the bigger the measurement the more gathering you’re going to get, and adjust accordingly. I made a muslin of this pattern first to get the amount of gathering I desired. Otherwise, it’s a really simple pattern. Remember to add seam allowance – I used 1″ on the top of the sleeve and bodice, and 1/4″ on the other seams.

The pattern pieces

Step 1: Prep your fabric

My fabric was actually a tablecloth with a scallop edge. This shirt would work with any type of light cotton.  Whatever your fabric, wash it and iron it to be ready for pattern cutting!

My Fabric

As you can see below, I instantly ran into a problem. Because I was using a circular tablecloth my straight-edge pattern pieces wouldn’t line up with the scallop edge. The dotted grey lines in the photos below represent my new pattern piece. Because the scallop edge is already a finished edge I don’t need to add any seam allowance there. Altering a pattern like this works in this case only because it ends up being gathered and because the back is crossed. If you aren’t using a tablecloth then feel free to just cut the pattern normally.

Lining up the pattern
Remember to add seam allowance.


Step 2: Bodice Construction!

Take your front bodice piece and your two back pieces and line them up right-sides together at the side seams. If you have a scallop edge you’re going to want to make sure that the scallops at the bottom line up nicely.

Making sure scallops line up

As you can see in the following photo, my tablecloth issue came up again. Since the front bodice piece is so much wider it ends up being taller as well, in order to accommodate the scallops. Again, ignore this problem it’s probably unique to me – and the easy fix is to just cut it off and even it out!

make sure the scallops line up
Sew where the pink line is!

Here is what it should look like once your pieces are all joined at the side seams:

Finish your raw edges in whatever way suits your fabric best.

Step 3: Create Elastic Casing

Next we’re going to create the elastic casing. I left 1″ seam allowance on the top. I folded the top over 1/2″, ironed it, and then folded it over 1/2″ again, leaving a 1/2″ elastic casing. If your elastic is wider than 1/2″ you’ll have to leave more space for it!  Top stitch it down as close as you can. I stitched about 1/8″ from the edge.


Pink indicates stitching

Once your casing is finished, measure your elastic. You are going to want to hold the elastic tight against where your shirt is going to sit – remember that this is what’s holding the shirt up so you want it to stay!

I’m sure everyone knows this trick by now, but attach a safety pin to your elastic to help thread it through!

Start threading your elastic through

Once your elastic is all the way through, pin the elastic to both sides and stretch the shirt out to make the gathers even.

Once the gathering is in a position you’re happy with stitch the elastic down and overlap the two back pieces

As shown below, you’re going to fold the ends under, and then pin down where the two back pieces meet. This is going to be wherever you’re happy for the scallop placement. Straight stitch vertically (where pink line in photo is)

And that’s the top done! Now for the sleeves.

Step 4: Sleeves

For the sleeves, we’re going to essentially recreate the same steps but in a slightly different order.

For the sleeves we’re going to create the elastic casing first. I repeated the same steps as the shirt.

Once the elastic casing is finished, sew down the side seams. Make sure to leave a space in the casing so you can thread the elastic through.

Then thread the elastic through!

Step 5: Attach sleeves to shirt

Line up the top of the shirt and the top sleeve elastics and pin. You’re going to straight stitch about 1/2 to 1″ down, but don’t stitch too far down that it restricts your arm movements. You just want to securely attach the sleeves to the shirt.

Make sure your side seams match up!

And that’s it! You just put it on over your head and put your arms through the sleeves!

Back View
Front View

I love how the scalloped back turned out. You can easily dress this shirt up, or wear with jeans & sandals for a cool casual look.

Toodles! xx

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