Short version: I sewed a new shirt. See pictures below.

(Note: the pictures are lousy. That’s because I’m too eager to post about my successful sewing project to wait for daylight photos, and because there was a big smudge on my mirror that I was also too impatient to clean.)

Long version: For well over a year now, I haven’t been able to find t-shirts to buy that are comfortable and flattering. I’ve always had this problem, to an extent, because clothing designers assume that a larger circumference also means larger shoulders, and since this isn’t my case, when I find things that have enough fabric to go around me, the shoulders tend to hang and give a boxy/frumpy look. Also, since t-shirts lately are made of rather drapey fabrics and are cut small, it’s hard to find shirts when you don’t like your clothing to cling to every curve.

So in the last year or two, I’ve tried on fifty gazillion t-shirts and even purchased a few, but haven’t found any I like much. It’s been very frustrating, since I live a very t-shirts-and-jeans lifestyle, and get tired of ironing shirts just to do housework in them.

The other day I even got the idea to try on shirts at Motherhood , since I remembered that their styles would have more fullness and length without the big shoulders — but I didn’t have luck; out of the 30-or-so tops I tried on, I only found one shirt that was flattering — and it wasn’t a tee. (Also, I hated having to tell the cashier, when she asked my duedate, “I’m not pregnant right now.” It’s so tempting to answer all their questions with “That’s none of your business,” but I did learn that if you don’t give them a phone number, you can’t do returns. Not that they’ll let you do returns there anyway — just exchanges, and only within 10 days. For that privilege, you receive a whole tree’s worth of baby-themed junk mail.) (That was a long tangent, but this is my blog, and anyway I warned you that this is the long version.)

So, the night before we went to Zion’s, feeling desperate for something new and comfortable to wear when hiking, I sewed a shirt. I started it at midnight, sewed until 2:30, and then worked on it again for another hour or two the next day, after we’d mostly finished packing for our trip. I thought it would be easiest to make something from a woven fabric, and I aimed for a loose-fitting tunic-type top, choosing a nice loud fabric I got from a Congolese-run shop last time I was in Belgium. The top turned out just like I wanted — but unfortunately, it’s not flattering, and although I kept putting it on and trying to convince myself that I liked the way it looked, I ended up never wearing it. I might still try to cut it down into something else — or I could just start over, since I do still have more of the fabric.

Even though that shirt was mostly a failure, it did get me in a sewing mood. Since good quality knit fabrics are hard to find, a few months ago I’d bought a couple of men’s XXL t-shirts to cut down. Here’s one of them in its original form:

Last night I decided to try transforming one of these XXL tees into something more flattering. I used a Pattern Master Boutique pattern and did all the seams using the 4-thread overlock stitch on my serger (I only used the sewing machine to topstitch the neckline) and only kept the hems of the original tee — all the rest of the seams are new. And here’s my result (remember that the smudge is on my mirror, not the shirt. And yes, the neckline of the shirt gaps a little — that’s because I did a hack job of it (again with the impatience. But it was a test tee and not worth investing too much time figuring out how to do a nice bound neckline on a V-neck, especially since I only had tiny scraps of the fabric to work with for a binding. So far the sewing police have not shown up.) The shirt could still use some tweaking, but it’s better than any of the tees in my closet, and I’m excited to try making some more tops.

Here’s about all that was left of the original shirt:

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8 Responses to Tees

  1. Sue says:

    I discovered two years ago that it was easier to buy XXXL Tees & cut them to my pattern! Although after the 1st one I began keeping the original necklines & shoulder seam & re-cut the armhole & sleeves & hem to suit me. And like you never bothered cleaning the mirror for the first photos!!

  2. zstitches says:

    I did think about keeping the neckline and shoulders, but neither was how I liked it. And I am going to look for XXXL tees next time; they are cutting men’s shirts smaller now, too, and these had barely enough fabric.

    I just looked at your sewing blog, et c’est une idee tres interessante de faire tout un blog en francais. Bonne idee. Vos projets sont impressionants, aussi. Et ta fille est jolie. (Bleh — j’ai oublie presque tout mon francais.) 😦

  3. That is awesome. It’s good to see the solutions you have come up with!!!! If only I had that much sewing ability!

  4. the MomB says:


  5. Lili says:

    Yeah–wow! Quel difference! The first one? SO not flattering. The 2nd? Totally flattering!
    -Lili, stating the obvious 🙂

  6. Jennette says:

    Amazing! I’m still waiting for that trade on me cooking food and you doing the sewing! Actually, I do know of an opening in UD’s Chemical Engineering Dept. (actually, it’s kind of sad because our neighbor didn’t get tenure).

    Anywayzzzz, you’re one impressive woman. How do you have time for all of this?

  7. zstitches says:

    Besides staying up too late, I’m afraid to reveal my other methods for finding sewing time, for fear of incriminating myself. Let’s just say that for every sewing project I complete, five other important homemaking/parenting tasks go undone.

    That’s too bad about your neighbor. Are they going to sell their home? Can we buy it? (Just kidding.)

  8. Helen Hall says:

    Who is that sexy woman?? The black outfit is awesome! What talent and beauty!

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