achievement unlocked: “the future is female” raglan tee


I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about this shirt yet! I made it back in February, before my hysterectomy, & I wear it all the time. & let me tell you, this shirt comes with quite a story.

I was inspired to make this shirt by a challenge over at the Monthly Stitch. The theme was “through the decades,” ie, sew a garment inspired by the decade you were born. I knew I needed to pick something fairly simple because that was right in the middle of my being sick for months on end & I didn’t have a lot of strength for sewing. I was born in 1979, which added to the challenge: I haven’t completely gotten on-board with the 70s style revival that’s been happening for the last couple of years.

I mulled for a while, & even perused vintage patterns online. I don’t sew a lot of vintage patterns because grading them to my size is a pain in the ass, & my personal style is generally more modern. But color-blocked raglan tees, like your classic baseball tee, were hot in the 70s. A tee would be a quick & easy sew, & it would fit into my pre-existing wardrobe nicely. & I decided to go even further by making my own “the future is female” tee, which was the slogan of the very first feminist bookstore in New York City, in the early 70s. Say what you will about second-wave feminism, but a lot of those ideas not only hold up, but they also form the underpinnings of gender-related policy today. It used to be legal for a man to rape his wife. Women couldn’t get credit cards in their own names. Birth control was against the law–even for married couples. I’m sure some people reading this lived through that era. Feminism is still very necessary now in the year 2017, but a lot of progress has been made in the last fifty years.

I decided to make the Patterns for Pirates Slim Fit Raglan tee. It was my first time using a P4P pattern. They weren’t on my radar until I had already been sewing for a few years. They are all about basics, & generally knocking off Lularoe designs (if you can really call a selection of basic tees, leggings, & sack dresses “designs”). As such, I’d never bothered with them before, since I can get all the basics I want from the Big 4 during the 99-cent sales. But I was too sick to go to Joann, so I had to go with a PDF. One thing I like about P4P is that the patterns seem to come with a lot of options. This one had different sleeve lengths, hem lengths, hem styles, etc, all in one pattern. I chose the classic baseball tee silhouette: curved hem, three-quarter sleeves.


This speckled jersey can really wrinkle.

I also ordered the fabric online–I fell in love with a speckled gray jersey knit by Robert Kaufman, though it is not terribly soft in person, & paired it with the squishiest, most comfy royal blue jersey for the sleeves & neckband. I did manage to haul my carcass out to Michael’s to pick up some iron-on letters, going with the most 70s-licious font I could find.

If you’ve ever sewn a raglan tee, you know that few things are easier. It’s literally like a one-hour project. But I ran into an issue even while I was cutting out my fabric.

Even though I ordered a bit more yardage than I needed, according to the size chart, I didn’t have enough of the speckled jersey to cut both the front & the back of the shirt. It wasn’t available at my local fabric shop. I could have ordered more, but it wouldn’t have arrived before my hysterectomy, & I knew I wasn’t going to be in any fit state to sew for weeks while I recovered.

So I pieced together the scraps to make up the yardage I needed for the back. I was maybe 4″ by 20″ short. But like an idiot, I cut the back BEFORE I pieced the extra fabric, so I was jigsawing scraps into the already-cut shirt instead of doing what any clear-thinking person would do & piecing together the yardage BEFORE cutting, duh. I blame it on being sick.

Results of the jigsawing.

So that whole operation was a major challenge & took forever. The basic construction came together really quickly & easily. The whole time I was thinking, “Huh, this looks really big,” but I always think things look big during construction. I’ve really had to train myself to “trust the process” & accept that things will come together properly & not to start shaving down seams just because they “look big”. I did that a lot when I first started sewing & wound up with garments that were too small.

Thankfully, I tried the shirt on before I hemmed anything. IT WAS ENORMOUS. It hung down halfway to my knees, the three-quarter sleeves were flapping around my wrists, I was absolutely swimming in it. It really took me a while to figure out what was wrong, but eventually I realized that my measurements put me in a size L, maybe XL, but I had cut & sewn a 2XL. No wonder I didn’t have enough fabric! & maybe the stupidest mistake of all: I had intended to buy & thought I had bought the Slim Fit Raglan. But after taking in the side seams several inches & still having a way too enormous shirt, I realized I’d bought the Relaxed Fit Raglan! As was clearly printed all over the pattern I’d print & taped together, cut out, saw very clearly as I was cutting out my fabric…The words just didn’t register. So I bought a pattern with a lot more ease than I wanted, & then a cut it three sizes too big.

At this point, I think most people would have just given up. But for whatever reason, I was determined to fix it. I didn’t want to be bested by a damn raglan tee, even though I was clearly operating at like 15% physical & mental power.

Really shitty dart.

I opened up the side seams & took a big tuck out of the back–like a giant swayback adjustment. I also trimmed a lot off the hem. I still wasn’t liking the fit, so I added some really shitty bust darts to the front. They are different heights & different lengths. Then I realized I had to take more length from the back, because duh–darts reduce the length of the side seam. Hello, Sewing 101.

Giant tuck taken from back.

IMG_1531At least the hem looks nice.

IMG_1526As does the neckband.

By the time it was all said & done, almost all of the extra fabric jigsawing I’d done, which took hours, was trimmed away, & I had a garment that was pretty goddamn jacked up, but wearable. I ironed on the letters, put the shirt on, & went to bed. I think I slept for like 14 hours, seriously. From start to finish, this easy peasy one-hour project took TWELVE HOURS.

pattern: Relaxed Raglan from Patterns 4 Pirates
size: 2XL
fabric: one yard each of speckled jersey knit & blue jersey knit, both by Robert Kaufman, from
notions: jersey needle, gray & blue thread, two packs of fuzzy iron-on letters
total cost of all supplies: around $30
alterations: added 1.5″ bust darts, removed a total of about 12″ from side seams & 4″ from sleeve seams, shortened by about 2″ altogether, took a 3″ tuck from the back
next time: the only way there will be a next time is if I alter this pattern to be slim fit; I have no need for a relaxed fit tee
remarks from the public: “The future is female? *scoff* Okay, then. *rolls eyes*” — female nurse at the hospital while I was in having some heart tests
photos: Jared took the photo of me, I took the rest

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.

7 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: “the future is female” raglan tee

  1. I thought this was funny, yeah you didn’t have your game face on but to be fair, you had a lot going on. Anyway, you’re successfully wearing it and it looks fine from here.

    Ps Sewing from the era you were born feels a bit wrong as I think most peops would relate more to their teenage years. That puts you right into the nineties, New Romantic, punk? I dunno, my heyday was long before, Beatles anyone? Lol

    1. Yeah, I am pretty surprised that I managed to fix it, or that I was even compelled to! I guess I just really don’t want to waste fabric if I can help it.

      Have you checked out the Monthly Stitch. I know I have a lot of readers from there, so apologies if you are one of them! But in case you’re not: every month a new theme is introduced. They’ve done things like “sew a garment inspired by a drink,” “sew a pattern that it seems like everybody but you has made,” & “sew a garment with a bird on it”. & also more basic ones, like, “sew a dress,” or “sew something you’d wear to a party”. So sewing a garment inspired by your birth decade was in keeping with their style. I love participating over there because it always pushes me to think more creatively. I wouldn’t have sought out a 70s-inspired design intentionally on my own.

      & yeah, sewing inspired by the decade of your 90s heyday would definitely be the 90s for me! Lots of ringer tees, overalls, oversized men’s dress pants, baby tees, baby doll dresses…I actually just recently got rid of a t-shirt my dad bought me for my 16th birthday (I’m almost 38, for reference). I held on to it for years out of nostalgia, even though it was absolutely threadbare & had big rips at the underarms. It was a Funky Winkerbean ringer tee from the Salvation Army.

  2. Why thank you, female nurse, who is only able to work because of the advances feminism has brought. Love this shirt and love slogans like this. I actually have a dress from the decades challenge just hanging on my mannequin, where it’s been for months.

    1. I am actually not a big slogan person, but I do like this shirt & I wear it a lot!

      Is your dress for the decades challenge finished? I am honestly sometimes so lazy about taking the photos I need to write a blog post. Though it’s getting easier now that Ramona is old enough to take photos for me. I always feel self-conscious having Jared do it. Someday I will upgrade to a camera with a remote so I can just do it myself!

      1. Yeh, it’s finished, just never worn or photographed! I was going to post it to an amnesty day for The Monthly Stitch but it’s not looking likely. Getting photographs done is hard, and I’m still looking like death warmed up thanks to this never ending virus so I really don’t feel like standing in front of a camera!

        1. I know, I’m the worst at photographs. If I don’t take them the day I finish something, it’ll probably be months before I get around to it!

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