The Great Woven Tee Sewing Pattern Search

Do you ever find yourself searching for the perfect basic pattern?

I do. A lot. I sometimes get an image or idea in my head and just /need/ to find the perfect pattern to bring that dream to fruition. I’m a fan of woven tees: Simple shape, but just ever so elevated from a knit tee to make me feel a bit more put together. Great for spring and summer and fall. But I think this particular obsession with finding the ‘perfect’ woven tee pattern all started with some fabric. Ahhh…beautiful fabric. The kind of thing you run across when you’re not looking to buy anything like it, but it’s just so pretty that you can’t leave the store without it. (C’mon, you KNOW what I’m talking about, right?). So I found this fabric and thought – oooh a nice basic woven tee. My first thought was the Seamwork Akita, which I’ve made a couple times already (here and here). Then I realized that the print on this particular fabric was directional, which wouldn’t work with the Akita. So, my choices were: (1) hack the Akita to make it into 2 pattern pieces instead of one, (2) try a new pattern, or (3) hack the Akita and try a new pattern…or two…or three.

Right, so I opted for (3).

There are tons of woven tee patterns out there. In the Indie scene alone, there’s the Seamwork Akita, Colette Sorbetto, Grainline Scout, Imagine Gnats Bess Top, Made by Rae Beatrix, and the list goes on… There are some slight design differences between each of these that are worth considering, so I’m doing a bit of a round-up here to summarize the features of each pattern. This is certainly not a completely comprehensive roundup, but these are a few of the patterns that were on my radar, so here goes!

The Woven Tee Round-up: Features of Indie Patterns

In alphabetical order, here are some of the basics on the basic woven tee:

Akita (Seamwork Patterns)

sw3020-akita-flats-89579212af2873fb1b55c561d1a80661a1535176ad0fe830951b2fa258b7dfef
line drawing from Seamwork

The Akita uses just one pattern piece which wraps over the shoulders. It has little cap-like sleeves built into the main pattern piece and side slits at the hips. There is minimal shaping in this top, aside from the bust darts. The neckline is moderately wide. It has a shaped hem and is a bit longer than most other patterns, hitting at the mid to low hip at the sides.

Here are some inspiration pics: pretty eyelet from @les.cousette.de.julie and a blue floral from Blogless Anna.

Beatrix (Made by Rae)

line drawing from Made-by-Rae

The defining feature of the Beatrix pattern is the button placket down the back, but the buttons are not necessary to get in and out of the top – it can slip over your head. There are two views featuring short or three quarter length sleeves and a curved shirt tail hem or banded hem. The Beatrix has bust darts and moderate shaping at the side seams. The neckline is high – similar to the Akita, but not as wide as the Akita. The Beatrix is finished with facings instead of bias binding.

Inspiration: buttonless plaids from Lisa Clarke and modern color-blocked from @rachelwcole

Bess Top (Imagine Gnats)

The Bess Top is another simple woven tee with a twist – or in this case, with a pleat. It’s got an easy loose fit and no darts. The sleeves are formed by wrapping the back piece over the shoulders – great for color-blocking, not great for directional prints. The Bess Top comes in shirt, tunic, or dress length with a scoop neck or higher neckline. It has a hi-low hemline.

Inspiration: pretty purple double gauze from Sing All You Want and dreamy popsicle color-blocked version from Imagine Gnats

Scout Tee (Grainline Studio)

line drawing from Grainline Studio

The Scout Tee is a true basic woven tee – you can’t get much more basic than this. It has a simple A-line shape, straight hemline, scoop neckline, and set-in sleeves. This one definitely falls into the ‘boxy’ category. The hemline hits higher on the hip than any of the other patterns. If you want to fancy up your basic tee, Jen has a tutorial for a Madewell version on the blog.

Inspiration: bold red from Little Home by Hand and rayon Madewell version from Lily

Sorbetto (Colette Patterns)

cp1037-sorbetto-flats-bd17b12e59def98bb11999448b97e650a78c0b64917be7106942c9d300589638

line drawing from Colette Patterns

The (free!) Colette Sorbetto pattern has been updated with their new block and a couple of new options. It now includes set-in sleeves and a tunic-length version with a split hem in addition to the basic sleeveless version. The neckline is scooped and the hem is straight, hitting at the mid-hip. There is a big box pleat running down the center front, which is super easy to remove if you like. The Sorbetto has bust darts and minimal shaping at the waist.

Inspiration: sparkly linen tunic version from arunningstitcher and pretty Liberty tee by lazystitching

My Woven Tees

I tried out all of these woven tees except for the Beatrix (I’ll get you next time, Beatrix!). Let’s get into some details on each of them…

Bess Top

I’ve had the Bess Top pattern for a while and finally got around to sewing it. I love how the back wraps over the shoulder and I love that little pleat detail on the shoulder – so cute!

Bess top-5

linen jersey Bess top_pleat detail

I like the length and style of the sleeves on this pattern too. I suppose that I cheated on this pattern because I didn’t make it (completely) out of a woven fabric – I used a stretch cotton jersey for the front and a remnant woven linen from my stash (maybe a cotton-linen blend?) for the back. The color and fabric combination works so great with this pattern. I also used the jersey as a way to finish the seam allowances on the linen – I simply trimmed the linen side of the seam allowance, then folded the jersey side of the seam allowance over the linen side and topstitched it down – simple and functional.

Bess top-1

Bess top_side-2

Bess top-3

Bess top_back

Bess top_side-1

This top comes with a scoop neck and a higher neckline option – I used the scoop neck, but I think I might have preferred the higher neckline. The scoop neckline looks fine, but since it’s such a loose fitting top, the neckline hangs open if I lean over and shows off everything (ahem). The neckline binding is also a bit loose – I should have shortened it a bit since half the shirt was made from a knit fabric. I was between a 14 and 16 according to the size chart and cut out the 16, but it ended up a bit looser than I was expecting. In general I like the fit, though it could be a bit slimmer below the waist, so next time I would grade to a 14 at the hips or maybe even cut a straight size 14.

The Verdict

I like this pattern and would make it again (with a higher neckline and a smaller size). But it wasn’t quite right for the fabulous flamingo fabric. The directional print would be weird on the sleeves and shoulders because of how it’s constructed. On to the next one…

Scout Tee

Ahhh…the scout tee, the quintessential woven tee. I loved that red lawn version from Little Home by Hand so much that I decided to just flat out copy it.

Grainline Scout tee-5

Grainline Scout tee-1

Grainline Scout tee_back

It is quite striking in red and super cute from the front. But I just don’t feel very comfortable in this top because it’s shorter than I’m used to. I feel like I can’t raise my arms without showing off my belly, even when I’m wearing high-waisted jeans (I am wearing the highest waist jeans I own in these pics). And I don’t love the tent-look you get on the side-view – not the most flattering look for me.

Grainline Scout tee_side

Grainline Scout tee-3

Granted, the tent-look would probably disappear almost completely in a different fabric, like a rayon crepe (which is exactly what the fabulous flamingo fabric is).

The Verdict

I’m not sure if I would make this one again. Maybe? The fit in the shoulders is nice and the neckline is good. If I did make it again I would probably lengthen it a bit and use a fabric with more drape. It just didn’t blow me away enough to use with my special fabric.

Sorbetto

I made version 3 of the new Sorbetto pattern in another cotton lawn – this time a magenta berry colored lawn.

berry sorbetto pleat-3

berry sorbetto pleat-1

berry sorbetto pleat_closeup

I like the pleat on this top, at least in theory…however, my fabric is so prone to wrinkles that I can’t get the pleat to look nice and crisp since I washed it. And I have given it quite the beating with the iron! I sewed this one with french seams, but otherwise with no adjustments. I liked this versatile pattern enough to make a few fit adjustments and make another version.

berry sorbetto eyelet-2

berry sorbetto eyelet-3

For the second one, I eliminated the center pleat, raised the bust darts a bit, lengthened the bodice 1/2″, graded to a size 14 at the hips, and shortened the sleeves to make them more of a cap sleeve style. Oh, and also hacked the front piece into a separate yoke and body so that I could incorporate this little bit of berry cotton eyelet fabric.

berry sorbetto eyelet_closeup

berry sorbetto eyelet_side

I really love how this turned out – the eyelet fabric is a sweet touch and the fit is almost perfect – I might want to lengthen it a bit more for next time. I’m sure I will make it again!

The Verdict

The Colette Sorbetto is a nice basic woven tee – a great building block for hacking or just churning out some basics. After the fit adjustments I made, I can totally see myself making this one again. I’d like to try out the long tunic length version as well.

Akita

So after trying all of those patterns, I ended up back with my trusty Seamwork Akita. I guess there’s a reason we call them tried n’ true.

flamingo Akita-2

flamingo Akita-1

flamingo Akita_side

flamingo Akita_back

Why the Akita? Well, it turns out that I like (a) long shirts, (b) short sleeves, and (c) a slim, but straight fit (with darts!). Bonus? It’s super easy to sew – no setting in sleeves here. It was also easy to hack this pattern to work with a directional fabric. I simply cut the pattern along the shoulder line (this corresponds to the widest part of the ‘sleeve’ on the pattern) to create a separate front and back and added 5/8″ seam allowances to each. Then you just sew the front and back together at the shoulders and continue per the instructions.

I did have a few issues with the fabric – it’s shifty and drapey (yes, I know drapey isn’t really a word, but it should be), which resulted in a super wide neckline and a wonky uneven hem when I sewed it up. To fix the neckline, I just went back and sewed the shoulders with a larger seam allowance – I think I took close to an extra 1/2 to 3/4″ out of that seam. To fix the hem, I just carefully recut it to even the whole thing out. The result is perfect – the neckline sits nicely (not dropping off my shoulders or exposing bra straps) and the length is just right too.

flamingo Akita-3

flamingo Akita and Blackwood cardi_closeup

Oh, and it goes perfectly with my Blackwood cardigan too!

The Verdict

What can I say? Tried n’ True, people. I will be using this pattern again – you could totally hack it (front yoke, back yoke, add some gathers or pleats, or make it into a knit tee)! I love my flamingo Akita – I wear it all the time and it easily dresses up or down.

Spring is here! Our backyard smells of sweet jasmine, flowers are blooming, our blueberry crop is plumping up, and it’s warm and lovely outside. And I’m so ready with a pile of woven tees! Happy Easter!

Details

Akita Top

Pattern: Akita Top by Seamwork
Size:
Adjustments: added shoulder seam to make separate front and back pieces
Fabric: rayon crepe (with flamingos!!) from Stonemountain

Bess Top

Pattern: Bess Top by Imagine Gnats
Size: 16
Adjustments: none
Fabric: blue linen (maybe a blend) from Fabric Outlet, grey cotton-spandex from Girl Charlee

Scout Tee

Pattern: Scout Tee by Grainline Studio
Size: 16
Adjustments: none
Fabric: red cotton lawn from Fabric Outlet

Sorbetto

Pattern: Sorbetto Top by Colette Patterns
Size: 16
Adjustments: pleat version: smaller hem to make it 1/4″ longer; eyelet version: created separate front yoke for eyelet fabric, removed pleat, graded to 14 at hips, raised bust darts 3/8″, lengthened bodice by 1/2″, shortened sleeves
Fabric: berry cotton lawn and eyelet, both from Fabric Outlet

One thought on “The Great Woven Tee Sewing Pattern Search

  1. Hey, Patricia…they all look great. I especially like the red on you. I agree though that longer is better.

    You are really developing as a seamstress and making bold choices. I’m glad you enjoy it.

    Denise

    Like

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