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.

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??


4 thoughts on “Graphic Sweatshirt Tutorial

  1. This is inspirational Sasha! I’m going to attempt this one! Even if it’s sleeveless! Your instructions look clear. Well done!


  2. Love this! Thank you for the tutorial! I don’t have any transfer paper, but this looks like it would be fun to try at some point. Just gotta get transfer paper and decide on an image.


    1. The transfer paper can be a bit of an expensive initial investment (about £8 for 10 sheets on amazon UK for PPD brand I use) but it’s so satisfying and freeing to use. The graphic tees are the best!

      Liked by 1 person

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