Completed: My Perfect Tshirt

18 Dec

One neverending sewing quest of mine (that is admittedly quite stupid, to be honest) is the lifelong search of my perfect tshirt fit. Nice and fitted with good scoop neck – you’d think this would be easy to find, but nooo. I haven’t really found a tshirt pattern that was 100% exactly what I wanted, through and through. There have been plenty of “almosts” – you know the kind, you wear them around for a day, perform a little machine surgery in the evening, and after a couple of tweaks, they’re pretty spot-on. Those are nice. Sometimes, though, you want it to be right the first time. And therein lies my problem.

Heart Sweater

I do love the Renfrew pattern. Loooove it! It’s a really really good beginner tshirt pattern, and I love all the options it comes with. My only complaints are that it’s a bit too loose for my tastes (I think you guys have figured out by now that I prefer my clothing to be painted on), and I feel like the scoop neck sits a little too high. As far as super basic tshirt patterns go – that’s about the only option I’ve tried. Other patterns (Plantain, Briar, SJ, Coco, Bronte, etc etc) are lovely, but they’re a bit more specialized than what I’m going for (aka, PLAIN. Plain tshirt!). Nettie was real close, but it’s just a smidge too tight (I mean, that makes sense – it’s a bodysuit ffs) and I couldn’t get the shoulders and back to work with my body, no matter how much I tweaked them.

The really stupid part about this is that once I started my ~Tshirt quest~, it got harder and harder (or I got pickier and pickier). I admit, I even tried some RTW shirts to see if maybe I should just suck it up and buy them from now on – but those are even worse, not to mention most of them require some kind of tweaking (taking in the side seams, cutting off length, shoulder seams in the wrong spot, *something*). Which, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to pay $30 for a fucking tshirt that I have to then ALTER. That’s just dumb. So I kept looking for a pattern, kept not finding exactly what I wanted.

Heart Sweater

Soooo I *made* my own pattern. Before you get too excited – I didn’t draft this thing (I don’t want to say I’ll never draft a pattern ever, because I know things change – but, right now, I don’t ever want to draft patterns. Nope.). It’s a Frankenpattern that combines my favorite elements of my favorite patterns, and is now my favorite tshirt pattern. Yay for Frankenpatterns!

To make this baby up, I started with the Lady Skater bodice, because I really love the way it fits. I then compared the neckline to the one on the Nettie bodysuit, because, seriously, Nettie has the best neckline options. This resulted in me scooping the front neckline of the traced pattern just a bit more, to get that nice deep scoop (the kind of scoop that would show cleavage, if I still had cleavage to show off. Wah, I miss my boobs!). I kept the back neckline high, like a normal tshirt. I measured the length of the Lady Skater against the length of the Renfrew and some of my favorite finished tshirts, then adjusted accordingly (if you’re curious – I added the length via relatively straight line, aka, did not flare out into an hourglass shape. I don’t wear my shirt hems around my hips, so having the extra room there just looks silly. A straight cut looks better on me). Finally, I traced off the sleeves and bindings for the Lady Skater – this isn’t completely necessary, but I’ve learned that when I steal my pattern pieces from the envelope, sometimes they don’t make it back. It’s easier to just give the Frankenpattern it’s own pieces so I don’t end up digging and hunting later down the line, you know?

Heart Sweater

Heart Sweater

I think the resulting shirt is pretty close to being perfect for me! I probably need to redraw that neck curve – it looks a little square – and maybe add one more inch of length. The length here is fine-ish; I hemmed it that long so it would work with the skirt I’m wearing. But I sort of hate how it looks with pants. Or maybe I should just make higher-waisted pants? That would totally be easier, right?

Heart Sweater

Isn’t this fabric so fun? It reminds me of some of the ridiculous shit I wore in my early 20s – lots of cutesy patterns, hoodies, and hearts (I used to buy a lot of my clothes on the sales rack after Valentines Day and/or Halloween, because those are the best prints haha). I found it on the remnants rack at one of my local fabric shops, Textile Fabrics. There was a yard and a half waiting for me, and the price was something crazy good (I think it was around $11? Yay for the remnant rack! Too bad the normal prices at Textile aren’t that awesome πŸ˜› haha). It’s acrylic, which is kind of lame and not at all warm (and honestly doesn’t wear toooo well – it’s already starting to pill a little), but at least I can throw it in the washing machine and not worry about wool shrinkage! It’s also fine for layering, as evidenced by my silk georgette button up underneath.

Oh yeah, I should add – if this outfit looks eerily similar, that’s because I took these photos on the same day I took the photos for my last blog post. HAHA. Whatever, my hair looked good that day and I had to take advantage of that.

Heart Sweater

Heart Sweater

Here it is without the under layer. I used a black rib knit for the neckband and cuffs (originally from Mood Fabrics, but it appears to be sold out on their website now), and assembled everything on my serger. The hem is finished with a twin needle. That’s it! Pretty sure this whole thing from start to finish – once I made the pattern, that is – took less than an hour to make.

Heart Sweater

Anyway, it’s nice to have a go-to pattern now that I know I can whip up and not have to fiddle with fitting! I think this particular pattern could use a couple more small tweaks, but it’s definitely on it’s way πŸ™‚ I’ve already made a few lightweight undershirts with it, and those are great in this cold because they are fitted enough to keep the heat around my body where it belongs.

What about you? Do you have a perfect-fitting tshirt pattern (either one I’ve mentioned that just ~does it~ for you, or maybe you have a new love that you want to introduce me to!)? Have you ever Frankenpatterned something to suit your needs, or are you the sort of lucky person who gets their TNT from a purchased pattern? Are you sick of me talking about tshirts? Man, I love tshirts.

deal with it

53 Responses to “Completed: My Perfect Tshirt”

  1. BeckyLeeSews December 18, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    Looks amazing! Great job!

  2. Frances Wentworth December 18, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    I love frankenpatterns! Sometimes it’s because they help you get exactly what you’re looking for (after much trial and error) and sometimes I make them because I hate the instructions for the original pattern. More than once I’ve said out loud “who wrote this? That is not how pants go together!” And then there are the ones that come out of “well, how do I fix this mess?” But regardless of how they come about, they always make a project memorable.
    Also, I really like the square-ish neckline on you. πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:04 am #

      Hahah the “how do I fix this mess” Frankenpatterns… I know those toooo well! πŸ™‚

  3. R December 18, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    It looks lovely on you. I’ve fallen for Maria Denmarks Birgitte t shirt – perfect scoop next depth for me, just fitted enough but not so much lower down to skim over all the post baby lumps.

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:09 am #

      Oh, that is nice! I’ve seen a lot of people make up that pattern, seems to be a pretty popular one πŸ™‚

  4. Sally December 18, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    I have all the hey June tshirt patterns and I love them. Congrats on the Perfect-for-you frankenpattern!

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:11 am #

      Ahh, I love their raglan tee! Very nice!

  5. Alicia @ Pandora Sews December 18, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    The whole reason I started sewing was in search of the perfect t-shirt. Mine ended up all kinds of frankenpattern (and I am STILL tweaking it). I really like the fabric, too bad it is already starting to pill.

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:12 am #

      Yeah, that’s why I tend to stay away from acrylics and other synthetics – the cheaper ones don’t wear too well (I’m sure the higher-quality ones are fine, but I don’t care much for the feel of the fibers so I’ve never made it a point to seek them out). Oh well, at least I’ll have my heart sweater for a little while, anyway πŸ™‚

  6. mahlicadesigns December 18, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    Well, if they patterns right I wouldn’t have to Franken them. So, heck yeah, I franklenpattern.
    I’m liking Maria Denmarks Kirsten Kimono, it was almost perfect on the first try. I also had pretty good success with SBCC Tonic 2 Tee, but I prefer a bit looser fit than you.
    I just started sewing knits, even with the learning curve, its been worth the time to get a good fitting tee .

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:13 am #

      I agree – I think the tweaking and learning curve of sewing knits is totally worth the time and effort to get a tshirt that looks good. Just something as simple as having it fit correctly with the seams in the right place can really make a huge difference in your entire outfit πŸ™‚

  7. June December 18, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    I love t-shirts, too. I think I’ve got the bodice of my perfect t mostly nailed, now to establish 3 different sleeve lengths and a couple of neckline variations… I based mine on a Jalie pattern but redrafted the sleeve cap, did a swayback adjustment, added a dartless FBA, etc.

    • lizziebups December 18, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

      How do you do a sway back adjustment on a t-shirt? I thought you had to have a waist seam to be able to do that. I’m new to sewing knits. I tried 10 years ago and gave up in frustration, but now I’m back because I don’t think RTW knit shirts fit well enough nor are made of good fabric. But I’m still working on getting the fit on my t-shirt correct.

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:16 am #

      Ah man, sounds like a lot of work but it also sounds like it fits great!

  8. Ines December 18, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    By George I think you’ve nailed it! It fits you perfectly. I’m with on finding the perfect T. It’s not just us I’ve read in plenty fashion mags celebrities giving their praises to some brand called Perse something or other and C&C etc… They run for like 100.00 something absurd. Since I can’t sew as well as you Ill just have to be content with what I can find off the rack 😦 . Yours looks terrific!

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:21 am #

      Haha I’m not opposed to a $100 tshirt – if the fit is good, with a nice fabric and it was produced with decent ethics, $100 really isn’t that crazy of a price – but since I can sew, a $100 tshirt really isn’t something i need to buy πŸ™‚

      That being said – you should learn how to sew! If anything, do it for the tshirts πŸ™‚ haha

  9. tworandomwords December 18, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    I’d love to make more t-shirts (Because the two plain ones I own are getting rather ratty, and I need more singlet tops too) but I find it tricky to find suitable knit fabric for them. I probably need to buy a crazy amount of yardage to just play around until I get the exact right fit.

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:23 am #

      Oh yeah, buying knit fabric can be a beast at the beginning. Honestly, I buy crazy amounts of yardage every time i find something good – it’s worth it! Otherwise you’ll make something out of it and be sad that you didn’t buy more (and can’t find any again haha). I don’t think you need to make multiple muslins or anything to tweak a tshirt fit, though. The stretch of the fabric usually forgives most fitting issues, and other than needing to add fabric (to make it bigger, to add a FBA, to raise a neckline, etc), most anything on a knit can be tweaked after the fact πŸ™‚

  10. Lisa | Paprika Pat. (@paprikapatterns) December 18, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    Your shirt looks great! I don’t have the patience to try out a lot of patterns for just a Tshirt. I’ve started with the SJ and kind of stuck with it. At this point I’ve gotten too far into it to draft my own from scratch. I’m not finished with it yet but it should come pretty close next time.

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:24 am #

      Ah, I love the SJ! And I love tweaking patterns (if only for the amazing end result you get out of it eventually haha), so double win! πŸ™‚

  11. hannah December 18, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Well if you ever want to give pattern drafting a shot, I highly recommend the Bunka series (in English), especially if you’re on the petite side, since their designs are based on the average measurements of the people who attend the Bunka school. It’s a nice hybrid between drafting yourself and using a pattern, since all the patterns are drafted from your own slopers. If you’ve ever used Japanese patterns before, you’re probably already familiar with it. The sewing instructions that come with it are also very good.

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:25 am #

      Good to know! Honestly, my time doesn’t really allow for drafting, and there are so many great pre-made options out there already that it really seems like a moot point since I’m not interested in the design aspect of it (I always say, I’m a seamstress… not a designer haha). However, I do like the sound of what you’re describing so I’ll keep that in mind should I ever decide to move to the drafting world πŸ™‚

  12. Melissa C December 18, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Your post has popped up in my feed just as I have been messing about trying to cobble together my own perfect t-shirt pattern. So far I’ve got a mix of Lady Skater, two Jalie t’s, and bits I like from a RTW top…
    Love yours, it looks fab!

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:26 am #

      Yay Frankenpatterns! Lady Skater is such a good base, yeah? Man, I LOVE that pattern!

  13. onejolie December 18, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    I love that you’ve been after the perfect t-shirt. I swear, that’s my current goal. I’m working on using a Renfrew-Linden frankenpattern! I like the hips and waist of Renfrew, but I prefer the sleeves on Linden… We shall see πŸ™‚

    I think the neckline looks great, BTW.

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:27 am #

      Oooh, Linden! I’ve seen some really great versions of that pattern floating around, really want to try it!

      And thank you! πŸ™‚

  14. carlalissa December 18, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    Love the fabric. I am glad you are almost there with your perfect T!. Have you tried the tonic T from SBCC… I think it has the scoop on the neck band that you are looking for!
    Merry Xtmas.

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:28 am #

      I have not tried the Tonic T yet, but now I have to look into it! Thanks for the suggestion πŸ™‚

      And Merry Christmas! β™₯

  15. Ellen December 18, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    I make lots of t-shirts and drew 2 slopers ( 2 different styles) that are very spot on to my liking. however, I have to tweak every t-shirt a little due to the different stretch of the fabrics.
    I think that necklines are the hardest part. and if they are not to my liking I don’t wear the t-shirt. but practice makes perfect isn’t it? I really like to read your t-shirt posts, it’s like we go through the same process! and btw this t-shirt looks very good!

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:29 am #

      Ooh, I love doing necklines though! I think they’re so fun and satisfying πŸ™‚ My breakpoint for tshirts is the side seams – if I feel like it’s even *slightly* too big, I wont’ wear it (on the flip side, that is a super fucking easy fix haha).

      That’s such a good idea on having two slopers! Might have to try that for my next round πŸ™‚

  16. Suzie December 18, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    Great shirt! The line of the scoop neck is great! IΒ΄m working on my perfect t-shirt pattern, too. I took the Jalie 2105, which is a gymsuit and made it into 4 shirts so far. ItΒ΄s not perfect yet but I really like the scoop neck and the back seam. ItΒ΄s VERY fitted and so comfortable πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:32 am #

      Oooohhhh, why did I look that pattern up? Now I want it (or maybe I just want to be a ballerina haha). The scoop neck is lovely!

  17. skaapie December 19, 2014 at 12:28 am #

    The Lydia t-shirt from Burda is mine. But I also love Blank Canvas tee with its cut-on sleeves

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:33 am #

      Ohh, I like Lydia! I’ve tried to like the Blank Canvas because I just love Cake, but I can’t with cut-on sleeves. On me, I feel like they look sloppy 😦 I like them on everyone else, though!

  18. Elena (@randomly_happy) December 19, 2014 at 4:58 am #

    I’m with Sally. I’m finding the Hey June series of tops work well. I haven’t quite got round to tweaking them, but they’re pretty good straight off the pattern.

    Quick question: how are you finding rib vs fabric to finish? Do you think it’s worth tracking some down?

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:35 am #

      I like using ribs to finish, but it’s pretty hard to get a good color match unless you want to dye it (or just need black or white). That being said, I do think it looks really nice with fabrics like this one – the sweater knit wouldn’t work well for binding, plus, the hearts would look stupid. So a nice solid black rib knit looks really good here. Of course, a solid black *any* knit would look good, so take that as you will πŸ™‚ I do like the extra touch that a rib knit gives – especially when paired up with a sweater knit – but it’s really just a matter of preference πŸ™‚ Definitely looks a little more RTW, at any rate!

  19. Bethy December 19, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    This quest is NOT stupid.The problem was simple (as in not complex) but the quest was totally a worthy cause. I am completely inspired by this post because it highlights one of the greatest benefits to making your own- that you do not have to accept the status quo of what is out there. You can literally create it however suits YOU. You can have the best of this and the perfect detail of that and not compromise on any of it. The perfect T-shirt is possible. Nice!!! It may be time for the Bethy t-shirt quest in 2015.

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:36 am #

      Ah, I love this comment! Bravo on all points!!

  20. gingerthreads December 19, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    Looks great! I think you’re right about the extra inch of length.
    I just made up the Kristen Tee from MariaDenmark and I love the way it fits.

    • LLADYBIRD December 19, 2014 at 8:36 am #

      Ooh, I’m going to have to look that one up! Thanks! πŸ™‚

  21. LinB December 19, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    Ann Person’s Stretch & Sew tee shirt collection, #333 from 1990 is my go-to pattern for knit tees. It has a wide size range, several collar and sleeve variations. I DO like having waist shaping in a tee shirt, and this pattern has a gentle nip at the waist.

  22. justsewtherapeutic December 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Really pleased you’ve found your holy grail of t-shirts, the scoop neck really suits you. Mine is the Plantain, the fit is just spot on. I’ve just frankenpatterned a red tartan Christmas dress, used the Simplicity 2444 bodice with the Colette peony skirt (with inverted pleats instead of gathers) and I think I’ve found my perfect dress!

  23. Katie December 19, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    Just found your blog through Pinterest and so happy I did! LOVE this top — the heart fabric is so perfect. Thanks for sharing your creativity!

  24. Tanit-Isis December 20, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    I made up my “knit top sloper” about four years ago (and very painfully) from the old Burdastyle Lydia pattern (which was a simple knit tee pattern but intended for a much looser fit than I wanted.)… (also that was back when I was still figuring out my fit changes, especially the part about petiting the upper bodice (a big WTF because I’m 5′ 7″) and the square shoulders)… I think it took me about four tries to get anything wearable, and a few more after that to refine things. But once I had it, I traced it out on Bristol board and I use it both to compare to new patterns and to hack into other styles (cowl-necks, dresses, whatevs.) Or make up as is when I just want a tee that works. Though there’s always the issue of how much stretch a given knit has…

    Good for you for nailing *your* perfect tee—we all have our own bodies so the odds of something like this fitting exactly right out of the envelope are pretty small—the changes you made sound pretty minor, though. πŸ™‚

  25. Kelly December 20, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    Cute Cute!! I love Frankenpatterns. For me the perfect t-shirt pattern is a slimmed down version of the Plantain tee…I just put one on inside out, pinned the side seams to fit, took it off veerrrrrryyy carefully and sewed it. I used the fabric I cut off to alter my paper pattern and voila! Perfect tees forever πŸ™‚

  26. Margo December 21, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    Wow this does look great. I have made the Renfrew and while I do like it…it’s not perfect. I think I need to follow your lead and work something out.

  27. Tomasa December 21, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    Your T-shirt looks great! I love it with the shirt underneath. I drafted a T-shirt pattern which fits me reasonably well. I still need to tweak it but it is so much better than anything ready to wear.

  28. nickeya December 24, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    This T-shirt is so perfect on you! AND LOVE THE HEARTS!!! ❀

  29. elledechene January 6, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    This looks great on you, well done. I thought from the title you might be reviewing Pamela’s T, but no. I like hers as a starting point, but had to make a lot of alterations, borrowing heavily from my favorite Ts. A surprisingly difficult garment to get *right*.


  1. Completed: Some Tshirts, + thoughts on Me-Made-May | LLADYBIRD - May 5, 2015

    […] we are gonna talk about my tshirts! I briefly touched over this pattern in my last post (and also when I made this ~heart-on~ sweater), but I’ve done some more tweaking to my pattern so I thought I would share some […]

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