Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Versatile Tee Pattern

Good Morning!  While I am lusting over other bloggers talking about FALL and sewing for FALL,  I am still sweating and sewing for SUMMER.  One day, 6 or 7 weeks from now, we will wake up to a chilly morning, and I can't wait.  But for now, I'm still thinking warm weather wear.

I purchased the J. Stern Designs Pattern No. 0041, "The Tee" recently, and made it up this past weekend.  Jennifer is most gracious with all of the information she provides on her website(s) regarding fitting and alterations, and included a note with the pattern to email her if I had any questions or needed help.  Great perks to go along with Jennifer's patterns.  Just as an aside, I think we are all programmed to wait for pattern sales on the Big 4 pattern companies to make our purchases.  J. Stern's patterns aren't available for $1.99 or $4.99 pattern sales, but I found the pattern and the plethora of information Jennifer has out there to be a good value.

This was my first experience with one of Jennifer's patterns, and I look forward to trying her other patterns.  My review from PR follows the pictures.  Keep in mind that this is a wearable muslin, and I will discuss fit issues below the review.

A hint of tugging at full bust, too big at high bust.

Side seam pulling to front indicating more room needed at full bust.

A little too big at upper back/shoulders.

Seated pic shows more pulling at bust, and too much fabric above.

I think it looks too wide at the upper back.

Again, tugging at bust, too much fabric above.

Pattern Description: Fitted tee with unique seam detail above the bust. Sleeveless, short sleeve, and 3/4 length sleeve options. Shirttail hem.

Pattern Sizing: XS - XXXL. I made the XXXL, basing it on my full bust measurement, which is not what I usually do. This pattern also comes in larger sizes.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except I made the sleeveless option.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very easy. The pattern designer, J. Stern, has a video series on Vimeo and on Sawyer Brook Fabrics where she walks through the sewing of a tee. It's great for new sewists, or those uncomfortable with knits. She also has extensive information for altering the tee on her website.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like this pattern a lot. Even though it is a tee shirt, I see it as being very versatile. I made a sleeveless tank to wear while exercising. I also like that it came very close to a perfect fit out of the envelope, which is very rare for my figure. It is also a fast, easy top to make.

My one dislike: The pattern is printed on thin tissue, similar to the big 4 patterns. Since there is such a large size range, it is somewhat difficult to discern the cutting lines and markings on the smaller pieces, most particularly on the side front piece. I felt that this would be easier to read if this pattern piece was printed 2 or 3 times on the tissue, with different size groupings, ie, XS - S - M, L - XL, and XXL - XXXL.

Fabric Used: Poly 'Ponte' Knit from Hancock's

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: No changes made. I wanted to make a wearable muslin to see how this would fit straight from the envelope. The next time, I will do a slight FBA, and take in the neckline front and back, as well as take in the high bust area. I have a 9" difference between full and high bust measurements, and the picture shows where it is too big in the upper bust area, with an ever so slight tug at the full bust.
Alternatively, I could use a smaller size pattern and just do a larger FBA. Six of one, half dozen of the other, I guess. Since I already traced the XXXL, I will likely do the former.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I intend to sew it again, and will likely make several versions. I will definitely tweak the fit for next time. I highly recommend it to others.

Conclusion: This is really a great pattern that I can see myself sewing over and over. I have plans for at least a couple more very soon. It sews up so quickly and easily on either a regular machine or serger, although I mostly used my serger.
Because of all the information that J. Stern has put on her website - basically any and all alterations one would need, I feel that this is a great pattern for new sewers, or those that are not yet comfortable with alterations. It gives added value that one normally does not get with other patterns. 

I wore this tee for an entire day.  While wearing it, I sewed, cooked, cleaned, did laundry, watered and pruned the plants on the patio and rearranged the patio furniture, and ran to the market.  It was very comfortable all day.  I definitely want more!

As I noted in my review, I chose this pattern based on the size closest to my full bust, which is contrary to my usual practice.  This fits me much like RTW tees that I purchase at Target, typically in a XXL or 1X for the bust fit, but too big above the bust, although this is more fitted in the body.  I will tweak the fit for my next version, to include an FBA and to decrease the size of the upper back and upper chest.  On Jennifer's website, she recommends to cut the size of the upper pieces one smaller than the lower pieces if your full bust is > 2" larger than your high bust.  My full bust is 9" greater than my high bust, so I will do that, but also will likely need to take in the neckline more by darting it out of the pattern piece.  Jennifer explains this well on her blog, and includes pictures.  

Jennifer also gives excellent instructions for relaxing the fit of her tee pattern here if you have what she calls a 'happy belly'.  Since my exercise mojo has been nonexistent for the last few weeks, I am quickly seeing the return of my happy belly, so I may need to relax the fit if I don't get busy!  However, I like this tee as an exercise top, and for that I like it to fit snug, happy belly and all.  I think when I make a 'dressier' version, I will relax the belly fit.  ;)

I am looking forward to applying the fit tweaks I need and making another.  And another.  

Hope you all are having a wonderful week, a short one here in the US.  Thanks for stopping by!



  1. This is a great review with lots of detail and tips. It is such a pleasure to read. I have never tried one of Jennifer's patterns. Thank you for the recommendations. Good luck with your tweaking. You are almost there.

  2. Hiya,
    I found your blog from Pattern Review. I think we have similar bodies. I always have to do an FBA. Good to have found someone with the same woes. :)


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