I’ve been trying to use up some fabric from my stash, and I thought woven T-shirts would be a good way to use small pieces of fabric. I have not had good luck with woven T-shirts in the past, though. Many years ago, I sewed Vogue 8294, view B with short sleeves. It was nearly unwearable. I only wore it a few times, because when I lifted my arms even slightly (like to type on my keyboard) the sleeves pulled tight and cut into my arms and the whole shirt lifted up. That pattern just exemplified everything that is wrong with big four patterns, and is one of the reasons I hardly sewed anything for many years.
Now that there are many more options for patterns other than big four patterns, I have some patternmaking and fitting knowledge that I didn’t have years ago, and I have a custom dress form, I finally feel like I can sew anything I want, and make it fit like I want it to.
I remembered hearing a podcast where Jen Beeman from Grainline Studio said that her Scout Tee is one of her best selling patterns, so I decided to start with that pattern.
I had draped a sloper pattern on my new dress form, so I compared it to the Scout pattern to check the fit. I started with the back, and it looked like one size up from the size selected from my full bust measurement would be a pretty good fit, with only a length adjustment to fit my petite self. Going up a size surprised me, since I’m larger than a B-cup, so usually I would go down a size or two and then do a FBA. Good thing I checked! Indie pattern companies are great, but you have to figure out what changes you need to make for each company, since their sizing and fit vary.
Then I compared my sloper to the front pattern. I was confused at first because the shirt front was really wide above the bust level. The neckline was so wide it looked like it would gape. I looked up pictures of the #scouttee on Instagram, and saw a quite a few gaping necklines, which confirmed my suspicion. It didn’t gape on everyone, though, so either it works on some people, or they made fit changes.
I think the pattern was designed so that the front is the same width as the back, which is how basic loose fitting knit T-shirts are designed. However, loose fitting knit tees usually have high necklines, which minimizes the gaping problem caused by the extra width in front, and knit fabric is more forgiving of fit issues. The Scout does have a wedge of fabric taken out from the neckline/front shoulder seam to reduce gaping, but it apparently isn’t enough of a solution to work on everyone, based on the pictures I looked at.
I know Jen Beeman likes loose fitting boxy garments, but wide gaping necklines and extra folds of fabric at my front armholes aren’t really my thing, so I re-drafted the front pattern.
In case you are familiar with patternmaking and are curious, here’s what I did: I started with my sloper pattern, and added about 1.3 cm of width at the armholes. I eliminated the below the bust dart on my sloper, then I rotated part of the upper bust dart to become ease at the armhole (I think about 2 cm total – I already had 1 cm of the upper bust dart converted to armhole ease on my sloper, but I added more). This is basically an unsewn dart, and it makes the armhole much more comfortable. Then I rotated another portion of the upper bust dart into fullness at the hem, to give me the same width as the original pattern at the hem. The remaining portion of the upper bust dart I left as an actual dart, angling down slightly from the bust to the side seam. I used the original pattern as a guide for the amount of ease to add at the bust. Then I made the neckline narrower to fit the new pattern. I think I raised the neckline a bit, too, which I usually do since I’m petite.
I made sure my armholes were the same length as on the original pattern, and I didn’t make any changes to the sleeve pattern.
I made up a quick muslin, and wore it around the house to test out how comfortable it was. Even though it was made of quilting cotton, the muslin was pretty comfortable, and it gave me an acceptable range of movement. I wore it two days in a row, so I took that as a sign that this pattern was a success!
My first impression was that the pattern came out perfect on the first try, which was incredible, but then I did notice a couple of things that could be improved. The side seams swing forward slightly, which I think is an indication of too much length in the upper back area (I have a flatter than average upper back – the opposite of the more common round upper back fitting issue). The bust dart was also just a little too low.
I decided not to fix these minor issues. The tee already fit better than most of my clothes, and it was good enough as is. No, it was better than good enough. I’m trying to get over my perfectionism – done is better than perfect, right? I have a tendency to think things to death and then never get anything done.
I looked through my fabric stash, and labeled all of the most likely pieces with their width and yardage. I discovered that a lot of my fabric was in larger pieces than I thought – too large to waste fabric by making a Scout Tee from it, which in my size only takes about 1.3 yards. But I was committed to making Scout Tees, so I dug really deep into my stash, into those leftover bits that I’m not sure why I was keeping, and found some fabric to use.
This first Scout is made from some striped cotton gauze that used to be someone’s curtains. My mother had picked up a bin of fabric at an estate sale and had given it to me. It was mostly ugly quilting cotton that I use for making muslins, but these gauze curtains were included. There were some stains on them, so they must have been kitchen curtains, but I mostly cut around the stains, which don’t really show through the stripes anyway.
I wore this shirt out gardening on a hot day, and it was wonderfully breezy. It’s loose enough to give me reasonable freedom of movement, and it keeps me cooler than a knit T-shirt on a hot day, since it stands away from my body and allows lots of air to blow through. Of the three Scouts I made, this one is my favorite, probably because these colors look good on me.
The second is made from some stripy mustard colored cotton fabric I bought years ago. I had just enough to make a Scout from it. I’m glad to finally find a use for that piece of fabric that I’ve been staring at in my stash for years.
The third Scout is made from the cotton voile lining I removed from a thrift store dress I never wore – one of those “What was I thinking?” purchases. It’s underlined with cotton voile saved from one of my old nightgowns. I just barely squeezed the pattern onto the fabric I had. I ended up with a seam at the center back of the underlining. The fabric already has a couple of tiny holes starting – it wasn’t high quality fabric to begin with. It’s really comfortable, though, and I’ll wear it as long as I can.
This last one wins the prize for scrapbusting. It’s made from two small pieces of fabric rescued from former garments that I was hoarding just in case I needed a scrap of voile for something – and now they are transformed into a garment I will wear!
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