Graphic Sweatshirt Tutorial

Right now, most of us are living almost exclusively at home. Cue hours sewing & comfy clothes.

Time to make yourself a graphic sweatshirt.

Make a simple loop-back jersey pullover embellished with some famous (or your own) artwork.

Here is how to make it completely from scratch, sweatshirt an’ all with a pile of fabric, thread, transfer paper + printer (sewing machine, scissors etc too!). You may instead like to add the design on a pre owned one or use your own sewing pattern.

My design: The Great Wave Off Kanagawa’ by Japanese artist Hokusai (because in my head this is The wave, it even has its own emoji 🌊).

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai

Warning! Although this process is fun and opens up a whole new world of designs I need to warn you that my sweatshirt has little tears and rips in the transfer paper after wearing and folding quite a bit. The paper I used is designed for non stretchy T shirt fabrics. The less stretchy and smoother the surface of your fabric, the better. Vinyl designed to stretch is the upgrade.

Process:
1. Photoshop artwork of your choice to remove background. Note – you can do this on any photo editing software – even Word if you want!

If you want to use The Wave you can download my background removed version here:

2. Print on transfer paper, ensuring you follow the instructions with the pack. The paper I use is clear and requires you to flip the image horizontally before you print it (option in printer settings). Since the front base of my sweatshirt was a bit longer than the length of A4 paper, I split the design in two (I have not uploaded this version as it gets a little more complicated with ironing).

3. Cut sweatshirt pieces using a pattern or freehand using a top as a guide for the armhole shapes and hump on the sleeve. Make sure you factor in the length of the cuffs. Also cut a neckband – about 80-90% of the length of the head hole. Want more detail on this? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do a tutorial!

Top tip – if you are guesstimating you may like to cut the neckband after you have sewn the front and back together so you can use a tape measure to determine the circumference. Ensure you measure about 1 or 1.5cm (or whatever you choose your SA to be) away from the raw edge of the hole.

4. Before you begin sewing it together, get the iron plugged in & heating up. Now turn off steam. Yup please learn from my mistakes and ensure you turn off steam, it causes the ink to run! Follow the manufacturer’s instructions about placement + timing. Silicone paper can help fix the design in place.

5. Sew the sweatshirt together as normal. Assume instructions are for RHS and LHS.

  • Sew/overlock at shoulder seams right sides together
  • Open out and place right side up. Pin head (tip of hump) of sleeve to armhole side of shoulder seam, right sides together. Pin + then sew around.
  • Match short edges of neckband right sides together and sew along.
  • Fold circular neckband over along long edge WRONG sides together. Divide in 4, marking with pins. Also divide head ‘hole’ in 4 with pins. Match pins of neckband and head ‘hole’ ensuring raw (cut) edges align. Sew around
  • Bring right sides together (sleeves will fold on themselves) + pin along from cuff position of sleeve to base of sweatshirt. Sew in one seam on each side

  • Repeat neckband process for the cuffs (except you probably don’t need to divide in 4).
  • Hem the bottom of the sweatshirt.

6. Stay at home in your beautiful sweatshirt (maybe even take it on your daily excursion) and protect the amazing NHS/healthcare workers in your area!

Mona Lisa hoodie anyone??

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