How to Make Hawaiian Shirt

Updated November 22, 2016

Hawaiian shirts are a popular look for summer weather, but you don’t have to go to Hawaii (or even the mall) to get one. You can make your own Hawaiian shirt using any loosefitting shirt pattern with short sleeves. Many fabric stores sell bright cotton prints with the palm trees, tropical birds, flowers or surf boards you need. By making your own Hawaiian shirt, you’ll have a shirt that is the right size for you and in a print that is just your style. Read on to learn how to make a Hawaiian shirt.

Pick a loosefitting short sleeve shirt pattern with a collar for a classic Hawaiian shirt, or use a different kind of shirt pattern to suit your personal style.

Buy fabric with a Hawaiian print, or bright, tropical colours. You can often find such fabric in the novelty cottons section of the fabric store. Use the guidelines on the pattern envelope to figure out how much fabric you need.

Buy buttons that go with the fabric. The pattern envelope should list the size and number of buttons you need, but you may want to use one or two fewer buttons for a Hawaiian shirt, since they typically don’t button all the way to the top.

Buy thread that goes with the fabric (you won’t be able to match every colour, but you can at least match the background colour), as well as any other needed materials listed on the pattern envelope, such fusible interfacing.

Cut out the pattern pieces for the shirt, using the cutting line for the size you need. If the pattern has several different sleeve or collar options, make sure to use the short sleeve and pointed collar patterns, or the pattern options you want.

Follow the cutting guide in the pattern directions to pin the patterns to the fabric and cut out the pieces.

Follow the directions that came with the pattern to sew the shirt together. When you are ready to make the buttonholes, you may want to skip the area of the shirt near the collar, so that you can leave the top of the shirt open and cool.

Sew the buttons on by hand, making sure to line them up with the buttonholes.


You can customise your Hawaiian shirt by adding or leaving off front pockets, by using a different collar style, or by using novelty buttons, such as palm trees.


Use caution when working with scissors, pins, irons and sewing machines.

Things You'll Need

  • Shirt pattern
  • Hawaiian style fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Buttons
  • Scissors
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Hand sewing needle
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