T-shirt Showcase and Pattern Sourcing with Intention

With so many t-shirt patterns available, it can be hard to choose a favorite. Katie from Sew Altered Style highlights four of her favorite patterns.

As Mac introduced in her post on Wednesday, the concept of minimalism and intentional living has been at the forefront of our minds lately.  Mine in particular.  I recently discovered the wonderful world of podcasts and I’ve been binge-listening to a fantastic podcast on minimalism called The Practical Minimalists.  I feel like this concept of intentional living is something for which I’ve been searching for a long time but couldn’t quite put a name to.

But when Mac and I had our weekly phone call last week, and I started excitedly telling her about this podcast that was helping me define the direction I want my home and life to take, her response was “Oh my gosh, me too!!”  We had a great conversation about how we both want to work on being more intentional in all aspects of our lives, and in particular in our sewing lives — what we buy, what we make, who we meet.  And if two little magpies like us, always drawn to the next shiny thing, are feeling this way, we know that some of you must be too!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

    Clockwise from top left: (1) Deer & Doe Plantain Tee; (2) Alina Sewing + Design Co. Panama Tee; (3) Hey June Union Street Tee (aff); (4) Grainline Studios Lark Tee

    Which brings me to the point of this post — my t-shirt showcase!  One thing that Mac and I want to do is help our readers choose the right patterns for them, and we’re starting with t-shirts.  It’s really easy to fall into the trap that I fell into when I first started sewing for myself — not knowing which pattern is the right pattern for what you want so instead buying all the patterns.  If you do that, like I did, you very well may end up with 10 t-shirt patterns in your stash when you really only need 1-2 carefully chosen patterns.  Even if those 1-2 patterns cost $14 each, that $28 spent on the right two patterns is much cheaper than spending $70 on ten $7 patterns that aren’t quite what you want or need.

    For this showcase, I chose four t-shirt patterns from my prodigious collection to make up and show you.  I made all four shirts in different colorways of the same fabric — a nice rayon spandex jersey knit from Imagine Gnats (affiliate link).  I have made, wear, and would recommend all four of these patterns.  The point of this post is not to pick a “winner” but rather to help you choose a great pattern with the fit and features that you need.  If you want to know which of these is my personal favorite, though, read to the end 🙂  (Also, as I mentioned earlier, there are many great t-shirt patterns available — if I didn’t select your favorite to showcase, please don’t be offended, but definitely leave a comment sharing it so others can consider!).

    Deer & Doe Plantain Tee

    First up, we have the Plantain Tee from the French company Deer & Doe Patterns.

      The Design:

      The Plantain is a basic tee with a moderate scoop neckline and an option for either short or long sleeves.  It’s fitted at the shoulders and bust, but then flares slightly at the waist and hips.  As a result, it skims over the tummy area.  I think it hits that sweet spot of fitted at the bust but loose at the waist.

        The Fit:

        The Plantain Tee is drafted for an hourglass figured with a C sewing cup.  I have moderately broad shoulders, and the Plantain feels comfortable in the shoulders for me.  As you’ll see, this pattern has the widest shoulders of the four.  The seams hit right at the edge of my shoulders, and maybe even a little too far down.  I have a little bit of bunching in the armpit, but I do want to move so I know I can’t eliminate that entirely.  I probably need to remove just a little bit of length above the bust, which is a very common adjustment for me.  But overall, I’ve always liked how this pattern fits.  I’ve made at least half a dozen since the pattern released a few years ago and they always get a lot of wear.

          Shoulder fit.

          The Price:

          This is what makes the Plantain different from the other patterns featured here — it’s free.  The Plantain Tee was Deer & Doe’s first PDF pattern, and its only free pattern.  Because it’s free, it doesn’t have as many views and features as the other three patterns I’m showcasing here, but it is well-designed, thoroughly tested, and an overall quality pattern.

            Alina Sewing + Design Co. Panama Tee

            Next up is the Panama Tee from Alina Sewing + Design Co.

              The Design:

              The Panama Tee is designed to have a slim but not tight fit.  It is fitted through the shoulders, and the sleeves are tighter than on the Plantain Tee.  It is cut straighter through the waist and hip than the Plantain and does not skim the belly in same way.  That said, however, there is shaping through the waist and hip, which continues down through the dress version of the pattern.  The neck is closer to a crew neck than the Plantain, but not so high that I feel like it’s choking me.

                The Fit:

                The Panama tee is drafted for an hourglass figure.  The shoulder seams hits perfectly on my shoulders, and it feels great through the shoulder — not tight at all.  The shoulders on this one are a little narrower than the Plantain but a little wider than the next two.  It fits really nicely through the bust and shoulders with a little more looseness at the waist and hip.  This pattern isn’t as loose on my hips as the Plantain, but it’s also not tight to where I feel like it’s pulling in funny way.

                Once again, I have some wrinkles under my arms, which allow for movement, but also indicate that I could stand to take my usual adjustment and remove 1/2″ ish of length from above the bust.

                  Black is so hard to photograph, but I really needed a black tee!

                  The Price:

                  This pattern is $12 in Alina’s shop.  This is well within the price range that I gladly pay for a quality pattern.  This pattern also comes with two dress lengths included as well as various sleeve options.  All-in-all, if this pattern has the fit and design that you want, it is a good use of your $12.

                    Hey June Union Street Tee (aff)

                    The Hey June Union Street Tee (aff) is a great pattern that I think has been misunderstood for a long time.  Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat — this is not a slim tee!  The Union Street is the most relaxed by far of the four t-shirt patterns that I’ve showcased here.  It is designed to be slightly more fitted, but still relaxed at the shoulders and bust, and then relaxed through the waist and hip.  It kind of fits like that perfect vintage concert tee that you see all over style blogs these days.


                      The Design:

                      The Union Street is a relaxed fit tee with multiple options for necklines and sleeves.  It is intended to fit with little to no ease at the bust and then fit loosely through the rest of the body.  The shirt is cut straight down from the bust to the waist and then flares for some additional width at the hips.  It is definitely the most relaxed of the patterns I’m featuring.  I love having both relaxed and slimmer tees in my wardrobe, but you need to know what you are shopping for.  If you want a slim fit, this probably is not it.

                        The Fit:

                        The Union Street has bust options!  The basic front piece is designed to fit up to a C sewing cup, but the pattern comes with an alternative front piece that has a built in FBA.  So if your full bust is more than 3″ larger than your high bust, Adrianna has done some of the FBA work for you.

                        Surprisingly I have more pull lines on the shoulder of this pattern than any of the others, and the shoulder seams are narrower.  I can tell you that the shirt is still quite comfortable and I really enjoy wearing it, but the shoulders might work better for me if I use another one of these patterns to help me mash and widen the shoulders just a bit.  Good news for those with narrower shoulders, though — you probably won’t have this issue!

                          The Price:

                          The Union Street is $10 for a PDF pattern, which IMO is a great value for a well-drafted t-shirt with options.  While the Panama offers various dress options, the Union Street’s options come in the form of necklines and sleeves.  The pattern includes both the V-neck I made here as well as scoop and crew neck options and 4 sleeve lengths.

                            Grainline Studios Lark Tee

                            Last, but certainly not least, is the Lark Tee from Grainline Studios.

                              The Design:

                              The Lark Tee is specifically designed as a slim (but not tight) fit layering tee.  It’s designed to mimic a basic tee from someplace like Target or the Gap that you can wear with jeans or under a sweater or cardigan.  It is relatively straight  with a little shaping at the waist and a little width at the hip.  It also comes with more options than any of the other pattern showcased here.  The Lark has 4 necklines (V-neck, crew, scoop and boatneck) and 4 sleeve lengths as well as two variation packs for cardigans and dresses.

                                The Fit:

                                The Lark is definitely a little slimmer through the hip than the other patterns I made.  It is intended to fit slimmer throughout, with no ease at the bust and only 1″ of ease at the hip.  The Lark is drafted for a slight pear shape and a B sewing cup.  I really like how the Lark fits on me, but I have heard some people complain about issues getting the sleeve to fit them right.  The Lark definitely has a taller sleeve cap than the other 4 I made.  That doesn’t make much of a difference on my body, but if it does on yours, that is something you should be aware of.  Again, I need to remove a little length above the bust and then I’d eliminate most of that wrinkling I have.

                                Like the Union Street, the shoulders on the Lark are a little on the narrow side for me.  I don’t have the wrinkling on this one that I do on the Union Street, but I could still stand to add a little width at the shoulders.  Regardless, it’s comfortable and I wear it!

                                  The Price:

                                  This pattern comes in both PDF and paper format.  The PDF version is $16, which is in line with Grainline Studio’s pricing though on the higher end for PDF patterns.  That being said, this is a well-drafted pattern with tons of options and I have never regretted the $16 I paid for it.  It also has the most options of all the patterns I’ve listed here, as well as a series of hacks for additional looks on the Grainline blog (there’s also a couple of variation packs that you can pick up for $10 if you don’t want to hack and would prefer to have someone do the work for you).

                                    So which is my favorite?

                                    Well, I hate to choose one since I have made and loved all 4 of these patterns, but I did promise to tell you which is my personal favorite.  And that would be:

                                      The Panama Tee!  It hits my personal sweet spot for a slim t-shirt.  It fits me perfectly in the shoulders, and the neckline is high enough that I can wear a statement necklace but low enough that I’m not choking.  I’ve also made the dress version previously and I love the shape of it.  If it just had a V-neck option, I wouldn’t need anything else!

                                      I hope that this showcase will help you find your perfect t-shirt pattern.  A great tee pattern is a staple for any serious apparel sewist, but you don’t need 10 t-shirt patterns.  One or two really are enough to get pretty much any look you want!

                                      Did I miss your favorite tee?  Share in the comments!

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