achievement unlocked: an army of black t-shirts

are you ready for a black t-shirt parade? I realized instantly upon starting me-made may that self-made black t-shirts were a major hole in my wardrobe. it was something i had been planning to correct for a while, but i kept getting sidetracked by sewing brighter, more colorful things. i finally bought a few yards of black jersey & rectified the issue.


deer & doe plantain tee, which is a free pattern! the size range is a little bit limited. i sewed the largest size here with no alterations & as you can see, the fit does not match the technical drawing. it’s supposed to be a little looser & more flowy around the waist & hips. the fit is okay with me because i prefer more fitted tees, but you know. full disclosure & everything. i suspect i could achieve the intended fit with a bit of an FBA. i also had some problems sewing the neckband. i think it was a combo of uneven stretching & not topstitching close enough to the seamline. it’s just a little bit bumpy.


renfrew tee. i cut the largest size & did a 2″ FBA, rotating the excess into the hem. this shirt is super-comfy & i love it. i wish the neckband looked a little better. i stabilized the neckline with clear elastic, like i always do with knits, but it caused some issues with turning & topstitching. alas. this shirt also feels hotter than the other black tees i made, even though they were all cut from the same fabric. maybe because of the waistband hem?


brontë tee. i think i cut a 12 in the shoulders & graded out to a 16 at the waist? i like the fit pretty well. the thing is, my measurements fluctuate like crazy. i added three inches to my waistline during the month of may, & i’m sure by july i will have lost three inches. so a t-shirt that fits perfectly one day is putting my belly button on display the next. i don’t know why this happens. i’m just trying to explain why i say i’m okay with the fit even though it looks tight (& a little blurry–sorry) in this photo. i really love this shirt & wear it all the time. i’m especially pleased with the pink buttons, which add a little color & coordinate with a lot of my skirts.

& lastly…


the dastardly anne tee by bluegingerdoll. i was so excited about this shirt! i thought that cut-out was going to be so cute! best of all, bluegingerdoll drafts for a D cup (that’s me!) & my measurements are well within the size range!

i think i cut a straight size 16, but i bumped into problems right away putting together the PDF print-out. the shoulder yoke piece is spread over two pieces of paper & they did not match up at all. they seemed to be missing a big chunk of shoulder curve. i estimated the placement, taped the paper together, & drew in the missing lines. as you can see, the shoulder yoke is all saggy & baggy on me compared to the body of the tee. i don’t know if that’s because i didn’t estimate the missing lined correctly, if my shoulders are proportionally smaller than my torso, or if the fabric was over-worked in the process of sewing. honestly, it could be all three.

the reason the fabric may have been (ie, almost certainly was) overworked is because i could not figure out how the yoke & top of the bodice were supposed to be finished. there are band pieces you cut for them, but you just sew them on unfinished. then it says to turn them under & topstitch, & i was confused about whether you turn the whole thing under (like a facing) or just the unfinished edge of the band or what. the illustrations for this middle part of stitching seemed to indicate that the entire band is turned under, but the later illustrations (for hemming & finishing) seemed to show a band with just the unfinished edge turned under. i was also confused about where exactly to topstitch. should i be aiming to catch the edge of the band? should i stitch close to the seamline? the directions gave no guidance, & hardly anyone has sewn this pattern up yet (it’s relatively new), so i couldn’t find any info online.

i took a chance on treating the bands like facings & turned them all the way under. spoiler: i was wrong. it seems like i’m always wrong when i have to guess how to do something. i should just start identifying my instinct & then do the opposite. the result is that the peekaboo opening was super-enormous. like, there’s no way you weren’t going to show your bra. if i pulled the bodice up a little, it helped, but then the shirt was a hair too short to cover my belly. i tried stretching the yoke toward the middle & sewing it down, but that created all kinds of draglines across the shoulders. i must have sewn & picked out this thing five times, no lie. it would have been a billion times faster to just cut out & sew a whole new shirt from scratch.

the finished result is pretty *sad trombone*. the yoke is all ripply & baggy, the peekaboo cut-out is still too wide (yes, that’s my bra you see here), & although i’m not posting close-up photos so you’ll just have to take my word for it, my topstitching is the stuff of nightmares. i also feel weirdly self-conscious in it, because i feel like it shows more than it does. from my perspective, you can see right down my shirt, but if you’re facing me, it’s reasonably modest. (i mean, not mormon modest, but i’m not actually flashing anyone.)

such high hopes! so cruelly dashed! i’m thinking about trying this shirt again & being really careful to avoid over-working & making my topstitching on point. because i really like the idea of it. but if the problem is that the pattern piece is just misshaped from the start, i don’t know how to fix that. i’m also not exactly sure how to proceed if the problem is that i need a smaller size in the shoulders. just cut a smaller yoke? hmmm.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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