Completed: Some Tshirts!

26 Sep

Oh hey, head’s up – this post is all cake and no frosting. No apologies, though! Lord knows I can never have enough Tshirts.

Rather than bore y’all with a bunch of posts featuring patterns I’ve made before, though, I’ve compiled a trio of 3 different tshirt patterns – ranging from Free to You Gotta Pay For That Shit – for science and comparison purposes. Who doesn’t love a good Tshirt debate, amirite? Also, I took these pictures before I redyed my hair, fyi. Just in case you were curious, haha.


Plantain Tee

First up is the Plantain Tshirt, from Deer & Doe Patterns. This is that free pattern I was telling y’all about. This is a great beginner tshirt pattern – there aren’t a lot of pieces, it includes some new techniques for beginners (such as sewing the neck binding), the instructions are very clear, and the fitting is quite loose at the bottom. I was initially afraid that I wouldn’t like this shape on me AT ALL, but I’m surprised at how much I love it!

Plantain Tee
Plantain Tee

Even though it’s a free pattern, I think it’s far from being a “crappy” pattern, if that makes sense. The sizing is perfect – I sewed up a straight 34, with no tweaks. I used the last scraps of my black merino wool from Organic Cotton Plus to sew this up – I like how the wool gives the bottom some structure (and the wrinkles? Not as much a fan of those, but I’ll live :P). And it’s SO COZY. Cozy tshirts, FTW!

Plantain Tee

I did make a couple of changes to the design of the pattern itself – the main one being that seam that runs down the front and back of the top. This was done out of necessity, as I didn’t have enough fabric to cut on the fold. I simply added a seam allowance and created a CF and CB seam. I topstitched the seams so they’d look more intentional, ha. I also added cuffs to the sleeves – because, I dunno, I like them! There’s a bit of piecing at the neckline binding as well. Since I was making this out of leftover scraps, I didn’t have a long enough piece to cut continuous binding. I don’t think it’s that noticeable, and hell, I’ll deal with some seams if that means I get a merino wool top out of it amirite.

Stripey Renfrew

Next up is my tried-and-true tshirt allstar – the Renfrew from Sewaholic Patterns! I LOVE this pattern, a fact that I believe is pretty well documented. Renfrew is favored by me because I think it most resembles what we think of when we think of a tshirt – slightly fitted, set-in sleeves, and 3 neckline options (in addition to the scoop, there’s also a cowl and a v-neck), as well as sleeve length options. The pattern is written to have a band of self-fabric at the sleeve cuffs and hem, in addition to the neckline. I’ve found that I prefer to hem my tshirts (rather than use the fabric band), and some of the more casual ones I like to hem the sleeves as well. One thing to keep in mind – should you decide to join me in my tshirt anarchy – is to add that length to the sleeves and hem before you cut them out. Otherwise, they might end up short! Ask me how I know about THAT πŸ˜‰

Stripey Renfrew

Fitting-wise, this is a great pattern, although I did make a lot of tweaks to get to the point I am now. It’s been a long time since I tweaked, but if I recall – this is a size 0, with additional ease removed from the waist. I also shortened the shoulders a smidge and made them slightly narrower. All those tweaks paid off, because this is a pattern I reach for again and again when I need a tshirt. At any given time, if you see me in a tshirt – ask me if it’s a Renfrew, the answer will probably be yes! Seriously! Oh, and my fabric is a striped ponte from Mood Fabrics (the store, not online).

SJ Tee

The last top in this trifecta is the SJ Tee from Papercut Patterns. Another new-to-me top, and I admit this is more like a sweatshirt than a true tshirt (but mostly due to fabric choice). It’s kind of like a sexy sweatshirt, tbh – raglan sleeves and WHOA SCOOP NECK. Forreal, make this in something too stretchy and you’ll end up in boobie city. Again – want to ask me how I know about that? πŸ™‚ haha!

SJ Tee

I’m surprised at how much I like the fit of this, considering that I don’t normally go for things so loose. I did end up taking the CB in by about 1″ – I’d already sewn the neck binding in at that point, so the seam runs clear from the bottom to the top of the binding, oops. But that made a HUGE difference in the fit, especially at the back. I used the size XXS and – other than the chunk taken out of the CB – it’s relatively unchanged. Oh, and I did shorten the cuffs so they’d look more like a sweatshirt. The fabric I used here is the last of my wool knit from Mood Fabrics (the same knit I used to make my grey Jenna cardi), and I had JUST ENOUGH. It’s amazing how much I love such a simple sweatshirt, by the way – I’ve been wearing it every night. It’s so cozy!

Here are the three patterns as modeled on my form:
Plantain Tee
Plantain Tee

Stripey Renfrew
Renfrew Top

SJ Tee
SJ Tee

I think it’s really interesting how something so simple as a damn tshirt can yield such different results, based on pattern and fabric choice. These are all pretty basic designs in the grand scheme of things, but they’re different to stand on their own. Obviously there are many, many more tshirt patterns out there (off the top of my head, these come to mind: Ensis, Briar, Bronte, Coco, and Lord, don’t get me started on dresses that can be hacked into tees), but I stuck with these three because I feel they’re the most basic/versatile. Also, let’s be real – if I fall down a tshirt rabbit hole, it might be months before this post sees the light! Ha!

Stripey Renfrew

Out of all these, I think my favorite is the Renfrew, just because it’s so damn versatile and I love how it fits (not to mention, the slim fit is ideal for layering). It might also have something to do with the Renfrew being my first love – can’t ever abandon her now πŸ˜‰

I can’t stop thinking about that SJ tee too, though – I already have some future plans for her, including camel-colored boiled wool. Yum!

Plantain Tee

What’s your opinion on tshirt patterns? Do you have a favorite – and if so, dish please!

(psst! Don’t forget to enter the Sewtionary Giveaway, if you haven’t already done so! Entries close on Monday morning!)


63 Responses to “Completed: Some Tshirts!”

  1. rosepear September 26, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    Thanks for this, really timely for me since I just bought a serger and I’m about to dive head first into the world of tshirts. I’ve accumulated some patterns and I don’t know which of my collection to try first – which would you say was easiest to make happen?

    • LLADYBIRD September 26, 2014 at 8:54 am #

      I think they’re all pretty easy, but I think the #1 easiest is the Renfrew πŸ™‚ That pattern doesn’t include any hemming (all the edges are finished with self fabric bands), so you can focus on getting to know your serger and being comfortable with sewing up knits. The other two patterns have you hem the knits (either with a zigzag or a twin needle), so I’d save those for the next step up πŸ™‚

  2. onejolie September 26, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    As I sit here in a Renfrew… I’ve gotta agree with your top choice πŸ˜‰ Very nicely done on that neck band!!

  3. knitmo September 26, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    I have to admit I bought the Renfrew based on how frequently you wore them/talked about the pattern here. I’ve made six and three more are cut out and will be sewn up this weekend. As I type this, I’m wearing a Renfrew. It is everything I want in a T-shirt and it is so easy to make up.

    It also helps that I know a size 10 in the shoulders, grading out to a 16 in the bust down to a 12 in the waist/hip makes it fit my ubber large bust with no other adjustments. I love that.

    • Brianne September 26, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

      Knitmo- possibly a dumb question, but I need to adjust the fit of the Renfrew in the bewbs too – do you grade only the front piece out to a 16 and if so, does everything still match up ok when you sew it together? Thanks!

      • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

        I don’t grade out for bewbs on my Renfrew anymore, but when I did – that’s exactly what I did. Just grade out where you need the room on the front piece only, and keep the back/shoulders/etc to the smaller size. Everything should match up fine, but if it’s slightly off, no biggie πŸ™‚

        • Anonymous September 28, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

          Ok that helps. Thanks!

  4. Alicia @ Pandora Sews September 26, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    I am a plus size gal, and a lot of the great t-shirt patterns out there just don’t fit me. I started with the Connie Crawford Butterick B5215, but I have really and truly bastardized it to come up with my perfect t-shirt pattern. I am having problems modifying it for a raglan though, so now I am in search of a good pattern for that purpose.

    I thought I was the only one who ended up with seams down the middle of my shirts to make the fabric work! πŸ˜‰

    • heather p. September 26, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      I don’t know what size you need, but GreenStyle Creations has a raglan that goes up to a 3xl. I’ve made it in xl and it’s very flattering.

      • Alicia @ Pandora Sews September 26, 2014 at 9:52 am #

        How have I never heard of this company? Looks like that raglan would work well for me. Thank you so much for the suggestion!

      • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

        Damn, that’s a nice raglan pattern! Thanks for the head’s up!

    • Anonymous September 28, 2014 at 2:37 am #

      Also try the Tonic tee by SBCC. It’s pretty damn near perfect in my book.

      • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

        Another tshirt pattern that I need to try!

    • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

      Haha no way! I’ll take a center seam if it means I get to use a tiny piece of fabric :B

  5. mahlicadesigns September 26, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Gotta admit I’ve never sewn a tee. They’re so inexpensive to buy why make, right? Now I’m editing my closet before a core wardrobe makeover and I’ve realized I don’t own a tee that fits great. Not one! I’m so tired of pulling too tight tees out of my armpits. Time to make one that is awsome.

    • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

      I totally know what you mean with not wanting to sew tees bc they are so cheap to buy. I’ve found that I have to alter everything I buy anyway, so it makes sense to just make it from scratch. Plus, then I can make it any style/fabric that I want πŸ™‚ But I also really like making plain and boring basics, and I absolutely get that’s not everyone’s cup of tea! You should try making them! You will be AMAZED at how much you hate RTW tshirts after you’ve whipped up a couple me-mades πŸ™‚

  6. sometimessewist September 26, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    I really, really love the fit of the Plantain; I downloaded it when it first came out and have 3-4 versions kicking around. It has quickly become my go-to T pattern. I tried Renfrew 3 times and think it could be great, but I don’t wear those very often and definitely need to make some more armscye adjustments (which is not something I usually need to do).

    • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

      It sounds like a few people need to do armscye adjustments with the Renfrew! At least there are lots of other patterns to choose from – and Plantain is free, can’t beat that!

  7. Jen September 26, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    Oh Lauren, I don’t know how i would get through my afternoon slump with a cup of tea at work without you! I’m all about the Renfrew personally – I’ve got some teal stripey jersey in my stash just asking to be turned into a cowl Renfrew ready for the chilly British autumn!

  8. Kelly September 26, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    They all look great. I wasn’t convinced by the shape of plantain either, but the fit looks good on you. I haven’t really branched into t-shirts yet. I make one cowl neck renfrew (after lusting over for it forever), but I think my fabric was possibly a bit too drapey, and so it’s not as fitted as I’d like. Also, my sleeves somehow ended up different lengths! I need to make another one, as I really want to love that pattern! Think I’ll omit the hem band in favour of hemming as well – also not a massive fan of that feature!

    • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

      Honestly, I don’t think I’ve used the hem band since my second or third Renfrew (which was MANY Renfrews ago, haha!). It’s an embellishment that I’ve found I just don’t really care for. I like a smooth hem much better πŸ™‚

  9. LinB September 26, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Ann Person’s Stretch and Sew #333 T-shirt Collection is my go-to for women’s tees. (It’s older than you are, I do believe, I know that I first started sewing with it in the mid-1980s.) It is the first pattern for a knit tee (that I ever saw) which includes waist shaping as a matter of course. Multiple sizes, multiple necklines and finishing treatments, multiple sleeve lengths — all on heavy paper to be traced off. ANYTHING by this company is worth snapping up when you see it at a thrift store or consignment store. Instructions are clear and thorough. Their bathing suit patterns are also marvelous.

    You can still buy them new at some fabric stores, or order through Amazon or The Rainshed on the west coast. Also there are plenty of vintage patterns for sale through the usual channels. I am not selling mine, nor will I give them away, ever. Their version of the 1980s “Units” line of rtw is one of my favorite wardrobe builders of all time. I still drag it out for those knit pants, and for the loose top/jacket/dress, every now and again. My MIL’s 1960s and 70s sweater, skirt, and knit trouser S&S patterns also see use at my house, especially for sewn cardigans.

    • LinB September 26, 2014 at 10:28 am #

      Forgot to mention: the illustrations on the envelope were pretty awful even in the 1980s. And misleading, the fit is closer than the illustrations would lead you to believe. And, personally, I wear no shoulder pads. There should be no shoulder pads in tee shirts, unless you are exceptionally lopsided. That is all.

  10. justineabbitt September 26, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Cute versions! I’ve tried a couple but wouldn’t recommend them. I did try one with pleated sleeves by Lekala, a company where you send in your measurements and they send you a customized pattern that I liked. I drafted my own shirt block a few years ago and have also done rub off of store bought.. Much simpler than fiddling with expensive patterns.

  11. maddie September 26, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    Camel boiled wool? Yes please!

  12. Mary September 26, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    ….I thought the short ones were intentionally cropped πŸ˜‰ Liesl + Co just released her Bento Tshirt that I can’t get out of my mind. Maybe this weekend!

  13. symondezyn September 26, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    You know what? I totally thought the CF seam on the Plantain pattern was a design feature, and it actually made me take a second look at this pattern!! Normally I don’t bother sewing tees because I have a hard time finding knits locally, and tees are the one thing I can actually find RTW that fit me but for a design feature that’s unique like that I would make the exception – way to sell ice to an eskimo, lady!! ^__^ haha!

    • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

      haha yess! I win! πŸ˜€ lol

  14. Kelly September 26, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    The Plantain has been my favorite t-shirt pattern so far…I’ve made a couple without the flare at the bottom and it makes a really great fitted t-shirt too! I made a couple Renfrews but can’t seem to get the fit right in the arms/shoulder area.

  15. Mem September 26, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    I really like pieced t shirt , I have found that piecing works best when you make it a FEATURE and emphasise it by having exposed seams etc . You did a great job of all of them

  16. Rachael-Lynn September 26, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    I’ve made up several Grainline Scouts…I’m a big fan. And the City Girl Frock from SeeKateSew, made up a second one of those last night (but its not a true t-shirt I guess). I have the Renfrew pattern but have yet to make it up. I don’t know why. Tasia’s patterns have thus far been my favorite!

  17. gillian September 26, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    I’m sure someone else will have mentioned this by now, but just in case – it’s worth noting that the Sloppy Josephine tee was resized and released as the SJ tee. I made the original version, and woah, you wanna talk boobtacular? I measured as L, but sewed S, and it it still indecent. It was designed to fall off the shoulder AND plunge at the same time. Kinda odd to have two versions floating around the blogosphere – especially if someone with the old version sees a new version and wants to make it! They will not turn out the same.
    All you tees are grrrreat.

    • Lola (lovelola) September 27, 2014 at 2:41 am #

      maybe i chose the wrong size and the wrong material..but even as the SJ.. if i bend down.. hello boobies… but i really love the SJ tee.

    • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

      Oh, I didn’t realize that Katie actually resized the pattern. It was my understanding that she just added a few different length options (for both the body and the sleeves) and a couple more sizes. You may be right, though, as I have a really bad memory for stuff like that. However,I think the rename to SJ is there to keep things from getting *too* confusing πŸ™‚

  18. essiaN September 26, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    Thanks for the round up Lauren. Tshirts were the first thing I learned to sew, and posts like this made it much easier to pick a pattern.
    Briar is my favourite, no question! It fits me perfectly, and I love the hi lo. I’ve never got renfrew to fit well around the shoulders but I suspect that’s my shoulders rather than the pattern.

  19. Jo September 26, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    My love for the renfrew is reflected in “the big list of renfrew mods” post I made… I can’t stop hacking it, it’s so much fun! You should try one πŸ˜‰
    I love renfrew the best for it was my first knit garment. Also a big fan of a fitted silhouette over a sloppy one πŸ™‚
    These all look great but renfrew for life! Lol πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      Renfrew is the BEST pattern to mod! The possibilities are endlesssss!!

  20. sewbusylizzy September 26, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    I really love the ‘design feature’ of the seam down the centre of the tshirt – looks totally deliberate and breaks up the solid without being distracting.
    I’ve just made the tshirt out of the Sweet Casual Clothes book that you reviewed recently. While I thought the massive capelike sleeves would not be ‘my thing’, I actually really really like the top. Blog post coming up soon as I can get some pictures!

  21. JP September 27, 2014 at 8:51 am #

    I just found your blog this week and love it! You sew the most beautiful clothing! Love the tees, I’ve started to really evaluate me sewing lately and I’ve be trying to make clothing that I would actually where from day to day. So this post really came in handy! I’ll have to try these patterns

    • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      Yay! So glad I could help πŸ˜€

  22. Katie September 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    Your post has me so wanting to try one of these patterns but alas I don’t have a server and I don’t see one appearing in the near future. What do you think about trying any of these patterns with just a plain old sewing machine?

    • KathV September 27, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

      Katie – I only use a sewing machine as my overlocker is dead. It works fine and you can zigzag seams if you want, but personally I am lazy and don’t bother. The tip is to use a stretch or ballpoint needle and a narrow zigzag. Give it a go – you’ll be surprised how easy it is!

    • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

      Oh, you can sew pretty much any of these with a sewing machine πŸ™‚ I would recommend using a zigzag stitch (esp the narrow if your machine has that option) and a ballpoint needle. It won’t look as pretty on the inside – but who cares? It’s a tshirt! πŸ™‚ Start with a more stable knit (i.e., not something super stretchy/drapey) so you can get a feel for the techniques and handling knits with your sewing machine, but yeah, you can totally do it πŸ™‚

  23. Sue Leassner September 27, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    I’d like to see the set in sleeve patterns laid out on top of each other. How different are they in the body excluding details?

    • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

      That’s a good question; I’ve never thought about comparing the sleeves! If I ever get the patterns all out at once, I’ll snap a photo for ya πŸ™‚

  24. Margo September 27, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    Great tees Lauren! I have only made the Renfrew and love it. I think I’ll take your lead and make it without the bands. I think I would like it made up that way….as long as I remember to add the length before I cut it!!!

  25. missjoiedevivre September 28, 2014 at 1:37 am #

    This is great, I love seeing the different tee shirts made up! I was talking with The Dreamstress the other day about what makes tees so different in fit, as the side seams are so easy to adjust, and she said the arm scyes and the comparative width of the back to the front, which kind makes sense. It is really interesting seeing these all side by side! I was looking for a free tee to try, and have done a mock-up of the Tonic 2 tee by SBCC patterns, and so far I’m really liking it, the waist curve is actually in the right place for a high-waisted shape like me, so I’m looking forward to trying it for real! I find the Renfrew can look really boxy and dowdy on some people, but you really rock it, as does Jo, so I will try that as well sometime as well and compare the too.

    A question for you about sewing them up with your overlocker. How do you keep track of where the stitching line is? Because the blade cuts the fabric off before the fabric gets to the needles, I find it really hard to figure out where to line up the fabric so that the inside edge of the overlocking is on the seam line. I am sure there is a super easy way to do this that I’m going to be embarassed when I figure it out!

    • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

      I actually took in quite a bit at the waist of the Renfrew, so that’s why it’s a little more fitted πŸ™‚ I think the original is supposed to be a bit more boxy.

      I dunno about your overlocker, but mine has guidelines for all the seam allowances! I just match my fabric edge with the line and that’s how i know I’m sewing things at 5/8″ (or 3/8″, or whatever). If you’re a tiny bit off at the beginning of the seam, it’s not really a big deal (we are talking about knits here – so forgiving! Ha!). But yeah, if you’re overlocker doesn’t have those guidelines, maybe draw them on with a sharpie or even just use a piece of tape? You could also mark the seamlines on the fabric itself, although that sounds way too time-consuming to me πŸ™‚

      • missjoiedevivre September 28, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

        Ahh, that explains your Renfrew success! I might try that.

        My overlocker sort of has them, but they’re marked in the most unhelpful of places (overhead!) and I don’t trust my eyeballing! And yeah, drawing the stitching lines on ain’t ever gonna happen. I’ll try marking the seam allowances on it in a more useful place. Thank you!

  26. sewcookgardenrepeat September 28, 2014 at 8:27 am #

    I’ve been thinking of hacking Nettie into a T shirt and know you’ve done that. How does it stack up in comparison to your Renfrew?

    • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

      I like Nettie as a tshirt hack, but it needs a loooot of adjustments before I can wear it 😦 My shoulders and back are too wide for the pattern, and I haven’t gotten around to fixing it. I also found the underarms way too high, which makes sense since that pattern is designed for 4 way stretch knits with a high stretch percentage. Unlike these patterns, it doesn’t work quite as well with a stable or 2 way stretch knit.

      • sewcookgardenrepeat October 10, 2014 at 9:34 am #

        That TOTALLY makes sense why my Nettie dress is all up in my pits! HA! Maybe I’ll just have to end up getting the Renfrew after all. I needs me a decent t-shirt pattern. :\

  27. Estela September 28, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    Love the little sweater already got my pattern too , but I have to ask cus uhh our jeans look amazing u made those if u did wat pattern u use ? Thx so mutch .p.s .love sll hour work πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD September 28, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

      I did not make my jeans – they’re one of the few new pieces of RTW I own πŸ™‚ They’re from Imogene+Willie – this particular pair is the Imogene cut πŸ™‚

      • estelanunezz September 29, 2014 at 12:12 am #

        …….well those jeans look amazed I might get a pair for me πŸ˜‰

  28. Teetz September 28, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    I really like sewing hook and eyes by hand. It’s so satisfying.

  29. rycrafty September 29, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    I just made both a Plantain and a Renfrew! I liked them both, but the Renfrew fits so nicely, I have to make one out of EVERYTHING now!

  30. jumliana October 2, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    this is such a great post, thank you for your insights!

  31. Kara October 6, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    I personally prefer the SBCC Tonic Tee. I seem to be the lone person on the planet who does not love the Renfrew, and I haven’t yet tried the Plantain (but you all keep enticing me).

  32. Elizabee September 6, 2017 at 10:11 am #

    That seam up the front of the Plantain t shirt is brilliant. It looks fabulous. If I ever try this, I’m going to eventually do a seam like that on purpose!


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