Zulilly Knockoff Shirt

I’ve been lusting after shirts I’ve seen in online ads for Zulilly. These tunics are comfortable, casual and colorful with an updated Bohemian look that’s perfect for the summer months. I rarely am happy with the fit of clothes ordered online so I got out my computer and sewing machine and set out to create my own Zulilly knockoff.

The catalyst for designing my shirt with a drop shoulder was paint. The floral designs on Zulilly shirts are sometimes painted at the hemline, sometimes at the top and often all over, including the sleeves. If you enjoy embroidery, you could replace the paint with needlework.

 
 

I wanted to air brush my project with a design across the upper back that continued onto the upper front. A shirt back with elongated shoulders that seamed in the front was the perfect solution for avoiding a seam running across the shoulder through the painted design.

Here are three steps I took to alter my pattern. I will share them in detail in this tutorial:

  • Converted the pattern’s shoulder line to a drop shoulder
  • Added tuck pleats
  • Planned the shirt design using my computer

Of course, the critical element to starting this project is having a simple shirt pattern. Another is the right fabric. I found rayon challis at onlinefabricstore.net. While the cost per yard with shipping is on the upper side of what I might normally pay at my local fabric shop, it was worth every penny. The fabric is luscious and a generous 58 inches wide. It has an important ingredient too – weight. It drapes beautifully, making it a good choice for a shirt with front pleats. Because it hangs well, it won’t make you look heftier than you are. Who needs that! Please read the caution about ordering fabric from this company at the bottom of this page.

Directions

step 1 - Converting The Shoulder Line - Pin the front and back shirt pattern pieces together at the shoulder using the standard seam allowance.

step 1 - Converting The Shoulder Line - Pin the front and back shirt pattern pieces together at the shoulder using the standard seam allowance.

step 2 - Set tracing paper or gift wrap tissue paper on top of the joined pattern pieces. With a pen, trace the neckline and upper armhole (red). Be sure to also mark the center front and back.

step 2 - Set tracing paper or gift wrap tissue paper on top of the joined pattern pieces. With a pen, trace the neckline and upper armhole (red). Be sure to also mark the center front and back.

step 3 - Draw a line across the pattern’s seam line to mark the natural shoulder.  Draw another line three inches away on the front piece.

step 3 - Draw a line across the pattern’s seam line to mark the natural shoulder.  Draw another line three inches away on the front piece.

step 4 - Add a 5/8” seam allowance to the front line.

step 4 - Add a 5/8” seam allowance to the front line.

step 5 - Place a second tracing paper over the first. Trace the new 5/8” line (purple) then continue tracing the center front, armhole and the rest of the entire front pattern piece.

step 5 - Place a second tracing paper over the first. Trace the new 5/8” line (purple) then continue tracing the center front, armhole and the rest of the entire front pattern piece.

 
step 6 - Remove the second paper. This is your new front pattern.

step 6 - Remove the second paper. This is your new front pattern.

step 7 - Trace the outline of the entire back pattern piece (gold). Slice across the last line added to this piece. This is your new back pattern.

step 7 - Trace the outline of the entire back pattern piece (gold). Slice across the last line added to this piece. This is your new back pattern.

step 1 - Adding Pleats - Create the pleat template. On a sheet of copy paper draw a line .50” from the edge of the page from top to bottom. Mark this line “Center Line”. Draw another line .50” away from the center line. Add 5 more lines, each with one inch between them. Create a mirror image of this page. Tape the two templates together at the center front line. Using this template will add 10” to the width of the completed shirt front.

step 1 - Adding Pleats - Create the pleat template. On a sheet of copy paper draw a line .50” from the edge of the page from top to bottom. Mark this line “Center Line”. Draw another line .50” away from the center line. Add 5 more lines, each with one inch between them. Create a mirror image of this page. Tape the two templates together at the center front line. Using this template will add 10” to the width of the completed shirt front.

 

step 2 - Roughly cut a piece of fabric to the width and length needed for the front pattern piece, adding 10” (or 12” for safety) to the width.

step 3 - Center the template on the vertical center of the fabric. Mark the top and bottom of all 12 lines on the fabric with a disappearing ink pen. Singer Company makes a good one.  Remove the template and use a ruler to connect the top and bottom marks. The vertical lines should end at approximately 11” from the natural shoulder. Tall people may need to lengthen the lines.

step 4 - Fold on each drawn line and sew ¼” from each fold.

step 5 - After the pleats are all sewn, place the blouse front pattern on the pleated fabric with the center lines matching and cut it out. Immediately topstitch across the top of the pleats at the neckline to keep stitching in tact while handling.

step 1 - Planning the Design - Create a full size back pattern piece on your computer screen by scanning the actual paper pattern and importing it into a graphics program. I use Silhouette design software, which allows me to create any size page.

step 1 - Planning the Design - Create a full size back pattern piece on your computer screen by scanning the actual paper pattern and importing it into a graphics program. I use Silhouette design software, which allows me to create any size page.

step 2 - Import a design you find online or elsewhere. Do not use copyright protected images. There are many free, appropriate images available if you search using the words drawing, sketches, stencils, etc.

step 2 - Import a design you find online or elsewhere. Do not use copyright protected images. There are many free, appropriate images available if you search using the words drawing, sketches, stencils, etc.

step 3 - Once the image is on your screen along with your pattern, experiment with a variety of placements to find one that appeals to you. You will no doubt have blank spaces that need filling. Ways to do that include rotating the design, copying and pasting different sizes, and breaking apart the design to only use portions. I took the original square design and rotated it, positioning it on the center back.

step 3 - Once the image is on your screen along with your pattern, experiment with a variety of placements to find one that appeals to you. You will no doubt have blank spaces that need filling. Ways to do that include rotating the design, copying and pasting different sizes, and breaking apart the design to only use portions.

I took the original square design and rotated it, positioning it on the center back.

step 4 - Next I copied the original design and deleted parts to bring it to a more manageable size for the portions that would be visible on the drop shoulder section.

step 4 - Next I copied the original design and deleted parts to bring it to a more manageable size for the portions that would be visible on the drop shoulder section.

step 5 -  From there it was a matter of filling in. I angled two more copies of the design to flank the center back one.

step 5 -  From there it was a matter of filling in. I angled two more copies of the design to flank the center back one.

step 6 - While I liked the result, I felt it needed a little more. I took apart two more design copies leaving images that I spaced between the center and side designs.

step 6 - While I liked the result, I felt it needed a little more. I took apart two more design copies leaving images that I spaced between the center and side designs.

step 7 - With my placement complete I saved portions of it that would fit on 8.50” x 11” card stock (it required 3 pages) then cut the design with my Silhouette machine. If you don’t own a machine, you could print out the design and cut it with a craft knife. Apply stencil adhesive to the backside of the card stock and press it onto the fabric. Position it away from edges of the fabric keeping the seam allowances in mind.

step 8 - When saving only portions of the design, I included a couple of little shapes that would belong to the next adjacent stencil. Doing this eliminated guesswork as to the placement of the three stencils on the fabric.

step 8 - When saving only portions of the design, I included a couple of little shapes that would belong to the next adjacent stencil. Doing this eliminated guesswork as to the placement of the three stencils on the fabric.

step 9 - Airbrush the stencil with Turquoise paint. Add shading with Copper Pearl paint on only small areas of the design.

 

 

Sleeve Tip

Most sleeves patterns are much narrower at the wrist. To produce the gathered sleeve for this shirt, just cut straight down from the under arm.

Use the same copying and editing technique to find the best parts to add to the bottom of the sleeves. It may require shrinking the design slightly to fill the width of the sleeve.

 

Painting Tip

If you're not experienced at airbrush painting and would like to give it a try without a heavy investment, look for Testors Amazing Airbrush set. It's inexpensive, simple to use and will allow you to achieve close to anything a professional airbrush can. 

Quality Control At The Online Fabric Store

The rayon challis fabric is the only order I have placed with this company. I ordered six yards of white and two yards of magenta. I planned to make a magenta shirt first but when I ironed the fabric I could see what looked like water stains in several places. I took pictured of the stains, contacted the company and they replaced the fabric. They told me all fabric was inspected before shipping. They did not require me to return the damaged magenta. While waiting for the magenta to arrive I made the shirt on this page and was very happy with the results. When I started cutting out another white shirt, I noticed stains which ran through the remaining four yards. I contacted the company again because there is obviously an issue with quality control. This time they said they would not replace the white fabric because I had cut into it. Oddly, they never asked if I had cut into the magenta fabric before replacing it. I'm not happy with this experience and will not order again. But what I will say, is the fabric is beautiful and if you want to take a chance on ordering it, please be sure to check out every inch before cutting into it. The stains are much easier to spot when you iron the material so be sure to inspect it carefully as you iron.


Supplies

At Amazon

  • Silhouette Curio or Cameo 
  • Aztek Turquoise paint
  • Aztek Copper paint
  • Testors Amazing airbrush

Online Fabric Store

  • rayon challis fabric 

Miscellaneous

  • sewing notions
  • tracing paper
  • card stock
  • craft knife 
  • repositionable stencil spray
  • Singer disappearing ink pen

 


Recommended Items