You win some, you lose some: a tale of two tees.

Not all of my sewing projects are successful. Not even when they’re as simple and straightforward as a t-shirt. Here are two tees I’ve recently completed-one win and one fail. And by recently I mean one at the beginning of January and one last week. Partially recent, at any rate!

Major photobombing from my cat, Lottie, in these pics, by the way. Sneaky little so and so!

In a Nutshell:

Even the simplest of projects can go horribly wrong. I’ve learnt lots about what sort of tee shirt patterns suit me, though, so it wasn’t time wasted.

Tee #1:

The Hemlock tee, which is a hugely popular free pattern from Grainline Studio (you get it free when you subscribe to their newsletter). I have to admit I’d never really thought the boxy style would suit me, but eventually decided to give it a go after seeing other sewing bloggers looking uber-stylish in theirs.


I used the same striped Hacci Sweater knit from Girl Charlee UK that I used for my kimono last summer. It’s still available in the original colourway, but mine is overdyed with dark brown.

Changes I made:

  • Shortened sleeves a few inches (4, perhaps?)–a necessity to cut it out of my limited yardage.
  • Added cuffs – because the hacci knit is a real pain to turn and stitch. Cuffs give a much better finish and I could squeak them out of some scraps.


Check out my cuffs!




What could go wrong making a tee? Turns out, a fair bit. First up, I couldn’t find my instructions anywhere and couldn’t download again because it was a newsletter signup freebie only. However, I checked the online sewalong just to make sure there were no surprises like an unusual seam allowance, and then set off.

I really wanted to cut my neckband on the crossgrain to have it stripy, but the fabric really wasn’t stretchy enough to make it work (believe me, I tried and then had to unpick it). Luckily I had enough fabric left to make one aligned as it should be. Just enough. Phew!

For my first go at hemming the sleeves I tried turning and zig-zagging, which is my preferred method of late. Turns out this fabric just didn’t want to play ball and it got chewed up by the machine. What a unpicking nightmare that was on this lightweight sweater knit! So I added the cuffs. The overlocker is your friend with hacci, I’ve discovered.

All of that hassle with the sleeve hems had me pondering adding a hem band, but the only way to do so would have been to either use a different fabric (not an option as I didn’t have anything of the same kind of weight and drape) or to sacrifice some off the bottom. I didn’t think there was enough length there to do that, so I ended up having another go at the zig-zag hemming, reasoning it might work better with the larger hem allowance. In the end it worked out okay. Walking foot for the win!

Overall verdict:

I’m really not sure all the hassle I experienced was worth it for what has ended up a pretty ugly tee. Much as I love this fabric on my kimono, I don’t like it up so close to my face. And I think this kind of boxy tee makes me look like a sack of spuds–I prefer a lower neckline and a more figure hugging fit. Looking at the photos it’s maybe not that awful, but still one of my least successful makes so far. Boo!


I was going to try and either take in the side seams or cut it up to use the fabric for something else, then I noticed this tear, right on the centre front:


How the hell did that happen? Oh well. Looks like it will be a gardening shirt for me this summer. Might see some decorating action too. At least it will get some use, and it is incredibly comfortable so there’s that going for it.

Changes for next time:

No, I think me and the Hemlock tee are no longer on speaking terms. If anyone wants a traced out (one size fits all, apparently) copy of this pattern–full size pieces rather than on the fold!–then I’d be happy to send it to them (UK only). Just let me know in the comments. You’d still have to subscribe to the Grainline newsletter to get the instructions, though.


Pattern: £0.00

Fabric: £8.95 per metre. Used 115 cm, so approximately £10.29

Total cost: £10.29

Quite frankly, this seems too much for a t-shirt that’s a big fat fail.

 Oh well, let’s get on to…

Tee #2:

This is the scoop neck tee pattern from the Craftsy Sewing with Knits class. I cut the 3/4 length sleeves because that’s all I could squeeze out of my 84cm of fabric. This does double duty as my March make for both the #dressmakingbloggerchallenge and the #wardrobebuilder challenge (Jeans and tees)



This is the same ancient Vend Fabrics 100% cotton interlock from my stash I’ve been using up recently in different colourways. I used the bottle green for my Wembley cardie and the purple for my Moneta dress.


Nothing particular to report here. It’s a tee and I’ve made quite a few of these now. Also, this interlock behaves beautifully. I did have to shorten the neckband by about 8cm to get it to fit properly, but luckily I’d only basted it on at that point.

One new thing I did do to help the neckband behave better was to use spray baste to keep it folded. This definitely made it easier to sew in, although I regretted a little when I realised I would have to shorten the neckband! Sticky. Ugh.

Time taken: 1 hr 30 mins (excluding cutting)

Overall verdict:

I’m wearing this right now and can happily report that it’s in regular rotation, particularly under my Cleo dress. The colour is ridiculously bright for me–pretty much a Barbie hot pink–but it’s had a few approving comments and right now I’m wanting a bit of colour in my life. It does mean I have to wear stronger pink lippy or I look washed out, but that’s fine. Here’s a few more pics:


I really like the fit of this tee. Although you can see a few creases around the armhole in the pictures it’s really not that bad in real life, and I think these would probably disappear in a fabric with some lycra content. There’s my usual swayback issue, but not too pronounced in this pattern.

My only real regret is that I didn’t have enough fabric for longer sleeves–these bunch up annoyingly under my denim jacket, but hey, it is what it is. I suppose I could still shorten them for a summer tee.

Changes for next time:

I want to work out a swayback adjustment for this tee, and then use it as a base for experimenting with drafting different tee styles. And I think I’ll scoop the neckline a bit lower next time I make this version 🙂


Pattern: £4.33 ($19.99 for Craftsy class, divided by three as this is the third garment I’ve made from the included patterns. $6.66 equates to approximately £4.33 at the average exchange rate back when I bought the class. It would be more these days. )

Fabric: too long in the stash to estimate cost. I’m calling it free 🙂

Total cost: £4.33

Yay, bargain time again! And some more of the stash used up.

Okay, time for the outtakes: my cheesy catalogue model pose and the moment I realised the cat had sneaked into every last picture!


Anyone else found the perfect tee for them? Or had better luck with the Hemlock than I did?

6 thoughts on “You win some, you lose some: a tale of two tees.”

  1. It’s a shame the Hemlock didn’t go well; I always want the free ones to be amazing! Number two does look better (love the colour), and something quick that gets worn a lot is always satisfying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Turns out I have been wearing the Hemlock a bit at home. I even slept in it one night as it’s so comfy! But the pink one is worn out of the house regularly as I’m so happy with it 🙂


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