Monday, December 29, 2014

19 t-shirts and counting

Taking stock of both my blog and my wardrobe while I'm on my Christmas break has reminded me that I have now made quite a lot of t-shirts, very few of which have been blogged.

I made my first t-shirt in early 2011, which I made by tracing a pattern off a t-shirt that I'd bought and liked the fit of. Throughout subsequent iterations I have tweaked the fit until I have reached a point I'm happy with.


One thing I have tweaked is the shoulders of the shirt. In the photos above you can see that the shoulders are fairly narrow, which I wanted to fix. To start with I thought that I could fix it by adding some width to the shoulder seam. However doing this ended up with a weird too-wide shoulder happening. Upon closely examining this version, I tried removing some height from the sleeve cap, and that pretty much perfectly fixed the problem (see below pics).


However, as mentioned recently, the shirt with the too-wide shoulders made a great base for screen printing on:


I also modified the neckline to be a round neck rather than a v-neck, and as I alluded in this veeeery old post, there were some hiccups with that process.

The first round necked version I made is shown above. I simply converted the v-neckline into a round neckline and added a band the same width as on the v-neck. This did not work. The neckbands on t-shirts like this need to have the inner folded edge one length, and the outer edge stitched to the shirt a slightly longer length. If not they stick out from the body. Generally the stretch in the fabric accomodates this, stretching into a nice curve.

Now if you imagine a nice narrow neck band, there isn't a great deal of difference between the shorter and longer lengths. However, with a wide neck band there is a great deal of difference, meaning that either the neck band has to be considerably shorter than the neck hole it's going into, or it will stick out away from the body. (this isn't an issue with the v-neckline as the v at the centre front removes a lot of the length difference)

In this version I went with the considerably shorter band, which was very difficult to stitch in, and has led to some puckers in the neckline, and even then doesn't quite sit flat against my chest the way it should.

In future versions I reduced the depth of the neckline and had a narrower neck band (so the finished neckline depth was about the same), which worked very well...


Unless I don't quite stretch the neck band enough when attaching it, as in this version where the neckband usually sticks straight out, or if it sits flat has unattractive folds in it:

I have played around with the sleeve length, making short, elbow and long-sleeved versions


While many versions have been made with "normal" t-shirt fabric (I'm not 100% sure but probably cotton/poly-lycra fabric), I've also made a few out of merino jersey (the green and black v-necked versions above, and the turquoise one with the dodgy neck band, and the ones pictured below).

I am massively in love with merino jersey. Warm in cold weather, breathable in hot weather, and doesn't hold a smell like other fabrics. Perfect for travelling, and to be honest pretty much all other times. And with good quality merino perfectly comfortable to wear against the skin.


It's pretty standard for me to wear a long sleeved black merino t-shirt under my outfits in winter. After making a first one, I made two more for the following winter.

Some other versions of the pattern I've done are to add some looser sleeves (by reducing the taper) and a smidge more ease through the side seams, and making out of a heavier weight knit, to make a lightweight sweater:


And lastly, leaving the sleeves off I have made a great tank-top/singlet. This one is made from merino too, and really is great in summer, including for exercising in. Rather than sewing a normal-tshirt neckband on the tank I cut a strip of the fabric and folded around the edge of the arm and neck holes to finish them. Incidentally, this shirt was a bonus top, as I managed to squeeze the pieces for both the tank and the t-shirt on the piece of fabric that I'd bought

And so that's 19 t-shirts (or derivatives) from my t-shirt block so far (or 21 if you count the wrap cardigans that I made also based off this pattern). And I expect I'll make plenty more as these and my RTW t-shirts wear out.


  1. All that work and tweeking really paid off. Great TNT tee!

  2. This is inspiring. Your tees look great!

  3. Very impressive - tracing then tweaking and creating a TNT pattern. I'm getting almost there with a top too.

    And I love merino too.


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