As a guy who is just getting into making my own garments, I feel kind of lucky that there are a limited number of garment styles for men for me to choose from. I don’t have a seemingly endless variety of blouses, dresses, & skirts to choose from, and while that may seem like a negative thing, it has allowed me to really experiment and have fun with how you can mix things up when you make basic garments with different fabrics. After maybe going a little overboard and making 5 different Strathcona Tees in a whole variety of knits, I realized that a change of pace and a new challenge was due. Enter the Merchant & Mills pattern The Tee Shirt, a basic woven tee shirt that not only taught me new and different things about garment sewing, but also some new things about how to adjust patterns for my own figure, the importance of making a muslin to try fit, and just how different fabrics can change a garment.
Pattern: The Tee Shirt by Merchant & Mills
Materials Version 1: 2.25 yards Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Homespun in Pepper + 1/4 yard Medium Wight Organic Rib in Black
Materials Version 2: 2.25 yards Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer in OD Green 1/4 yard Medium Wight Organic Rib in Black
The Tee is a fairly straightforward pattern. Since I had already completed The Strathcona by Thread Theory, I was pretty confident with the basics of the construction. Because it does call for a woven fabric, I wanted to make sure the fit would be good since it wouldn’t have the same flex as the knit tees I had made. I started with a muslin and I sewed together the front and back pieces and the sleeves. I started with the UK size 46, the largest this pattern has. This practice was great to see how the Tee came together as well as being able to see the great details like the edge stitching on the seams. The fit on the size 46 was also pretty close to what I needed.
The main adjustment to the pattern I needed was in my shoulder/underarm. Since I was planning on wearing this to work, I needed a little more flexibility for arm movement since reaching and stocking things is a part of my every day. To help with this range of movement, I cut the underarm 1” deeper on the front and back pattern piece, and graded it up to the shoulder. This then required me to lengthen the arm pieces by 1” on each side, but it was very straightforward to extend. I also lengthened the front and back by 2” to adjust for my fuller torso. Without that increase, the hem on the muslin was just a little too high.
With my pattern adjustments completed, I was ready to cut into my real fabric. I decided to make my first Tee out of the Yarn Dyed Homespun Essex in the color Pepper. For the neckband, I used the medium weight organic rib in black from Spiritex that comes in as a tube knit! I ended up using this same black rib for both the neckbands I made. The Tee pattern has great illustrations that made things like putting in the ribbed neckband easier. For fun, I also did my edge stitching in a red thread. It ended up almost hidden in the Essex, but up close it added a fun detail.
For my second Tee, I chose Brussels Washer in O.D. Green. Because it’s just a little lighter weight and has a bit of rayon in it, sewing it required a few more pins and paying closer attention, but it was still straightforward I’m thrilled with how it came out! The Brussels Washer makes a lightweight shirt that is perfect for summer. I added the pocket on this one and black detail stitching.
I have plans for a couple more Tee’s to round out my summer wardrobe, and I’m hoping to start tackling a button up next!