Tees Galore

mariner tee | Cloth Habit

Nearly every year around the holiday season I tend to take on some big creative project. I think this has to do with my introvertedness; for every extroverted activity I need about twice the amount of introverted time to recuperate. There was the year I spontaneously decided to sew a red cashmere cape a mere three days before we left for Christmas travel. I seriously believed that even with all its hand-sewn lining, slip-stitched pockets and bound buttonholes I’d be able to finish in it time for actual Christmas day. Y’all, I’m not a fast sewer.

This year I got a wild hair to draft and make up a bunch of knit tops. I’ve actually been in need of some basics as part of my wardrobe curating plan, and while I’m not opposed to buying these basics it was about time I used up some of my knits.

First I cleaned up my basic fitted tee pattern so it was a little more form fitting. Finally I have something to layer under jackets and cardigans!

Basic Tees | Cloth Habit

I also made a white cotton knit version but already spilled coffee down the front… that’s fairly de rigeur with me and white clothing!

Then I cut a couple of basic tanks…

Basic Knit Tanks | Cloth Habit

For the tank on the left I used a very light metallic gold rayon jersey. I wish I could get a good photo of this because it’s very pretty. For that pattern I added some ease for a flared style since it’s going to be layered and I knew that a tissue weight knit wouldn’t look so hot in a fitted top.

Then I decided it was time to try something completely different, and give myself little bit of a challenge. I had a go at drafting a cowl neck tee, which I thought would work beautifully for this metallic striped jersey:

Cowl Neck Tee | Cloth Habit

I make an effort to line up stripes when cutting but almost never get them lined up with sleeves—this was an unintentional surprise!

Cowl Neck Tee | Cloth Habit

The reason why this stripe match worked has to do with the shape of the armscye. In some cowl neck alterations the front armscye can almost end up as a diagonal line, which can help with lining up stripes in the sleeve cap. I used this Threads tutorial for the alteration, where you can see how the armscye changes direction.

Since I was on the stripes bandwagon I cut into this luscious cotton knit that I saved up for a boxy mariner-style top. For this top I added about 4 inches of ease to my t-shirt pattern and drew in a wider neckline.

mariner tee | Cloth Habit

Oops, I forgot to cut a thread down there!

I did these all assembly-line style so that I was cutting everything, then serging, and finally hemming all the tops with my coverstitch at the end. And clearly I took the photos assembly line style, too! After all this I’m a little worn out on knits and I think my serger needs a trip to the spa. I’ve been working on shirts (I made an Archer!) and a new trouser pattern that I”m hoping to have done in January.

Have you ever made a bunch of similar garments at once?

Patterns: self drafted
Fabrics: cotton and rayon jerseys from my stash. All of them are a few years old except for the blue and white striped sweater knit from Emma One Sock (still available!)


  1. Sara says:

    Great job–all your tops fit and look good on you! I totally relate to the white shirt always gets a stain syndrome (in my case sometimes all it has to be is a new shirt, and of course the stain never comes out!). I can see cutting a bunch of projects out at once, but if they all use different thread colors, I would end up sewing them individually to avoid all the thread and bobbin changes. Just me. Love your posts and look forward to more!

  2. francesca says:

    These shirts look great! I am still a baby to sewing, but this series of shirts was totally inspiring. I was planning on doing a bevy of tailored collared shirts as a way to learn and practice my technique. So, this has encouraged me even further. I was hoping to get the hang of it by the last one. Great job—these look fantastic!

  3. crab&bee says:

    Yes, yes, yes, I also need twice the recovery time from all the holiday socializing. If I don’t get it, I’m in a foul rage through most of January! So nice to feel all stocked up on tees – love your stripes!

  4. maddie says:

    For not being a fast sewer, you made a lot! I’m not the speediest seamstress either, so I sympathize with you!

    I still drool over your red cape. That thing was fabulous!

  5. Wendy says:

    I often assembly line sew–cut out 3 or 4 of something, usually with different details–then put them together. The biggest hassle with working that way is changing thread, especially with the serger–I prefer my serger thread to go with the project rather than using a general grey. I also often make groups of garments that use the same color thread–maybe a tee, sweater and skirt in royal blue. It’s fun, and satisfies some sort of compulsive time-saving impulse.

  6. Ines says:

    Awesome! Look at all the tops you got!!! T’s are so very necessary it seems its on everyone’s mind lately I just read a blog on Lladybird about her making T’s , I love especially your mariner and the glitzy top!

  7. Amber says:

    I’ve got basics on the brain as well. I tried your Lady Shorts and loved them, I’ll definitely be making a few more pairs. Maybe I’ll try your assembly line idea!

  8. Michelle says:

    Amy, these are all lovely. T-shirts are on my list to work on too. And I understand about not sewing quickly. I prefer taking my time and actually enjoying it rather than racing through a project. The metallic gold T is so lovely showing just how these humble garments can be dressed up too.

  9. Evie says:

    I especially love the grey and black tees, and the fancier cowl neck. I really want to start attempting my own tees once I’m out of maternity wear next summer. Kudos on the fantastic (although accidental) stripe matching!

  10. Rebecca says:

    For not being a very fast sewer, I would say you kicked these killer T’s out pretty quick! Haha! Love them all thank you for sharing 😉

  11. Amanda says:

    Hot diggity dog you are on fire! I love a good assembly line but always make sure I have my pattern down pat. There is something so satisfying about getting things done post haste- especially great tops like this!

  12. sallie says:

    Yay!! Look at all those tees!! Call me crazy, but I have such a soft spot for wardrobe-basic-sewing like this. So practical, and these will get so much love and wear. You look spectacular. And I couldn’t agree with you more regarding the extra introvert time for all the extrovert-ness of the holiday season. Sewing is great for that. We’re road-tripping to visit family this year and I’m really looking forward to the quiet car intervals with my knitting to break up the family socializing.

  13. Lucinda says:

    Tees are the ultimate instant-gratification project! I need to try assembly line style sewing to crank out a bunch at once, great idea. Looks like you now have a wardrobe full of great layering pieces!

  14. Nayla says:

    Wow! Beautiful tops! I think I need to make me some. Oh and being an introvert myself I know what you mean about needing personal time to recharge. Other people don’t seem to understand this.

  15. Ginger says:

    Dang girl! That’s some serious sewing! These all look great, and how awesome to have so many tees to choose from when you’re getting dressed in the morning! Wonderful! I rarely sew multiples at once (I find it hard to stay organized and motivated), but right now I’m in the middle of a family Christmas turtlenecks… it’s very easy to make multiple, similar projects when they all use the same color thread!

  16. Carolyn says:

    These look great! I love the variety in your tops – both in style and the various colors/fabrics you chose. That metallic striped knit is gorgeous!

    I just made a bunch of basic long-sleeved t-shirts… and then bought more jersey to make a bunch more! I can always use more of them, especially in the winter for layering. Basic pieces aren’t all that exciting to sew or blog about, but I find that they get the most wear. Hooray for an everyday wardrobe!

  17. lkcv says:

    This site is new to me and I love it! But, I must ask: where did you find those jeans? I can’t find any that are a higher rise like those!

  18. Meliors says:

    Oh yes, I love to sew assembly line with a batch that can use the same thread. I do a bunch of stitching on all the garments, then all the ironing at once, then back to the sewing machine for another batch of stitching. Its such an efficient and productive way of sewing that now I have trouble motivating myself to sew just one garment at a time- it seems like a lot of wasted effort in comparison.

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