Friends, sometimes you make something, and you’ve seen others make it too, and it’s an easy enough project, and you’re fairly confident it’ll look pretty cute once you’re done.
This was not one of those times.
Oh no, because I didn’t make the above. I mean yeah, I eventually did.
But what I actually made first was this. I think the faces sum it up.
That white thing was my initial attempt at the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top. And photos cannot possibly convey just how lousy this looked in person. (I say “looked” because this t-shirt is now past tense.)
The neckline was absolutely giant on me, and somehow baggy to boot. It could pretty much fall off both of my shoulders, while fitting another half of me inside above my chest. The neckline came so low, you were nearly looking into the center of my bra, so forget adding elastic to ruche it. The neck band seemed a bit too long and was therefore a tad wavy, but there was no point in trying to fix that since the rest was so terrible. I took a bunch of photos and they’re all basically the same… I don’t think it looks as bad in the pictures but it. was. BAD.
Everyone I’ve seen who’s sewn this up looked cute and sassy in their fitted tees with ruched necklines. Damnit, I wanted that too! Just a plain fitted t-shirt pattern that I could sometimes add a ruched neckline to. I have a RTW tee like that and it’s always one that I’ve thought “I could really do with 10 more of these!”… but of course it doesn’t come in all the colors I want, and the fit is a little over-sized for my taste.
So I really really wanted a pattern like that so that I could make a whole armload in different colors, not only with the ruched front but plain and probably other necklines once I got to tinkering. I realized that was a huge hole in my closet. I opted against Renfrew because I knew I’d never make the cowl neck and likely never the v-neck so it seemed a bit lost on me, and I wanted something a bit more fitted than most of the versions the Tonic tee (or long-sleeved, crew neck Tonic 2) I’d seen. I didn’t use the Grainline Lark tee because ummmm oops, it fell under my radar, although it’s possible with the quite fitted look I was after, I’d have been off the size chart. I tried to look for Big 4 or other non-indie patterns but is it just me, or is it really hard to specifically look for stretch knit patterns?? Ugh. I’ve been trying but I’m having a hard time. Maybe I need to be spending more time on Pattern Review? Anyway, I went with Agnes. It had the body fit I was going for and the ruched neckline, too.
But my first attempt had me seeing red, so I stuffed that bad boy in the corner for a couple of weeks.
When I wasn’t steaming, I tried it on again. The sleeve, albeit too long (easy fix), hung really nicely. Not only did they not twist, they actually fit my arms, which is more than I can say for every other knit pattern with set-in sleeves I’ve sewn to date, and most of my RTW tees, too. They usually have deeper armholes and wider sleeves. Agnes has a higher armhole, and I like the fit of the armhole and sleeve. So those were wins.
Below the bust fit exactly like I wanted, too, other than again, being too long (and another easy to fix). And I’d pre-emptively raised the waistline 3/4 for my short torso, which was a good call and put the waist in the right place on me. So those too, also wins.
But that upper body… man, that was just sooo bad. I am a petite person with narrow shoulders but by no means am I unusually narrow (sometimes I need a narrow shoulder adjustment but not always). I just felt like there was a lot of tinkering needed, and so instead of trying to raise the neckline and do a narrow shoulder adjustment and all that jazz, I decided to do a little marrying of patterns. I remembered that I liked the fit of the shoulders on my Lady Skater dress, so I tried that on again. Other than the sleeves being too wide, the shoulders fit great. And so I fussed. In the end, this is what I ended up with:
I first had to remove part of the Agnes seam allowance (5/8″) so that it would match the Lady Skater seam allowance (3/8″), and then merged the two a bit. Which sounds effortless but that took hours and hours, especially since I originally removed too much of the Agnes seam allowance (hi, math, I do love you even when I’m making mistakes with you!) so I had to effectively do it all twice.
I wanted to retain the sleeve and as much of the armsyce shape from Agnes as I could, and the shoulders from Lady Skater as much as I could. It doesn’t look like a huge difference in the pieces above, but man, it was a dramatic difference on my body. (For reference, both of these fabrics are almost the same, about 10-11oz. cotton/lycra blends.)
And the result I’m calling my Lady Agnes tee. Lady Agnes is basically exactly what I’m looking for: a truly fitted, basic t-shirt. The sleeve hangs great and doesn’t twist. The shoulders fit. The back isn’t gaping. The armhole is comfortable, doesn’t feel too high or too low. There’s a tiny bit of wrinkling under the armhole, but I’m not concerned. I’m still not entirely convinced it is an issue. Which Nicole from Manic Pop reminded me of on Instagram: sometimes we can get so caught up in thinking every little wrinkle or fold is wrong is a problem. Hell, this is a stretchy fabric. I’m not sweating it.
Right now, I’m just so damn freaking happy to have nailed down a basic, fitted, tee. It seems like a really weird thing to be excited about. But over the last several months I’ve realized I dislike the fit of the majority of the plain tees I own (which aren’t many, because hello, I can’t find ones that fit right). The sleeves are too big, or the torso too long, or the fabric rolls up because it’s too stretchy (and too long), or the necklines are too wide, or they’re baggy. Yet I always open up my drawers looking for tees that don’t exist, so it prevents me from wearing skirts more often which I really like doing, and it’s an annoying cycle.
So, expect to see me in a lot of Lady Agnes tees. Like, a lot a lot. I’ve already sewn a second, and there will be many more. No apologies: I need fitted tees yesterday, and I fully intend to make up for lost time!
Lady Agnes tee – made by me
skirt – made by me (started like 5+ years ago and only finally hemmed it!!)
shoes – BAIT Footwear Idas
Bakelite bangles – Brighter Bakelite
resin earrings – made by me
Absolutely gorgeous! I have the same problem with just needing some basics to make other things work. I read a book once that described it as too much icing & not enough cake!?
Oh yes, lots of people make that analogy and it’s true! For me I don’t do a lot of “fancy” sewing, I sew everyday kinds of dresses and shirts and skirts and pants and whatnot, but there’s even still a level of “cake” for those items, too. T-shirts definitely in that bunch! 😀
First of all, the styling of this whole outfit is just really cute. You’ve managed to get your greens and reds together in a way that doesn’t feel “Christmas-y” which is kind of an accomplishment in and of itself.
Anyway, it’s amazing that such “small” adjustments (haha, I know hours of math and retracing isn’t small in reality) in the pattern pieces made such a huge difference in the finished product.
Thanks! Technically the shades in the skirt are pinks! But I definitely pair a lot of green and red together in general since they’re two of my favorite colors, so I’m always conscious of not looking Christmasy. lol
It really is true, what looks like small adjustments to a couple of pieces of paper– wow, it sure can make a difference!
Your lovely green tee is so very different than the white one, it’s amazing!
The shoulders fit you so much better on the green T, too. And your sleeves just look perfect, Tasha.
I’ve figured out how to modify my Renfrew so much this past year, boatneck renfrew – yep! It’s my fav. I just keep taking other (woven) patterns and laying them on top of my renfrew to modify the neckline to suit my mood. 🙂 Not pushing for you to change to Renfrew by any means – it’s just the T that works for my pear shape is all.
Looking forward to seeing more Lady Tee’s. 😀
Isn’t it?! Just a few small changes, hard to believe how different it can be! I was beyond frustrated when I made the white one, and I’m so glad I pulled it out awhile later to re-assess it. Boatneck tee is definitely on my list, thank you for the reminder! It feels so great to have a basic staple like this now in my arsenal. I don’t think I truly realized how much I needed it until I made this green one and started looking at knit fabrics… it was like a whole new world opened up for my closet! 🙂
Gorgeous tee. Sometimes you just have to hammer it out with a trial garment to get it all right and you did!
By the way, have you ever done a tutorial on your cast resin jewelry? I’d love to see if it’s something I want to try.
Very true, sometimes you do! I think I was shocked just because it seemed so… plain… I mean how do you get more plain than a t-shirt. So there was definitely some hubris involved. But once I hammered it out, it was so worth it!
No, I’ve never done a tutorial on resin casting and I don’t plan on it. But there’s lots of good sites to check out if you’re tempted to try it! Resin Obsession is one nice starting point.
Your revised Agnes top looks great! Thank you for showing how you thought it through step by step and made this the perfect top you were looking for. I often feel it is me when I have a failure and loose heart. Thank you for your inspiration.
Thanks! Sewing can be wonderful but it can also be frustrating. I like to sometimes show both sides of the coin. Especially when the result really makes me happy. 🙂
Rochelle New says
Isn’t it incredible how a few seemingly small changes can make such a gigantic difference?! That’s definitely THE perfect tee for you! Kudos for sticking with it! I’m currently on the hunt for the perfect tee for myself, and I hope my end results look as nice as yours 🙂
Thanks! And yeah, when you look at the pieces it’s hard to believe such small things can make such a big difference!!
Looks fab on you, Tasha! I’ve got a narrow shoulders and torso too, so made a similar adjustment to my own Agnes. Once you’ve made one that’s right for your body, you’ll be churning them out!
Thank you so much, Tilly! It’s good to hear I’m not alone in my shoulder adjustments. 🙂 I am going to very happily sew an armload of these now!!!
What a great idea! The Lady Skater fits me really well around the neck and shoulders and I’ve often been tempted to convert it into a. T shirt – your post has just made me want to do it immediately! It looks lovely Tasha! x
Thanks Jane! I saw someone who did just that, and converted the whole Lady Skater bodice to a tee! Definitely an “aha” moment in sewing with knits for me!
Always love your outfits! Such great style! What about gertie sews vintage casual? She has a great tee shirt pattern looks similar to the Agnes though so may be redundant at this point but she has a few other great patterns in there as well.
Thanks! Yep at this point I feel set in the basic tee department and plan to do lots of riffs on this! But I definitely plan to use other necklines and such so that one might be a nice option to look at!
Such a cute little top. And those shoes are incredible! I wish they sold bait footwear in the uk !!!
Thanks! I hope they do someday for you! 🙂
Pat R says
I love your posts because you always show us ‘in progress’, and how you got to the ‘wow’ – the green T is definitely a ‘wow’! If you are still on a quest for T-shirt patterns, the Lark has lots of options (I got the pdf and it was really easy to put together). Right now I’m making the basic T-shirt from the Alabama Chanin Sewing Patterns book (with modifications, after reading comments). It seemed weird to sew knits by hand but it fit perfectly first time! Happy Stitching
Thanks, Pat! I feel very pleased with the tee pattern so I don’t plan to seek out others, I’ll just modify this one (unless of course I’m looking for a totally different fit). I always enjoy seeing Alabama Chanin projects!
Great save! This definitely looks like a great go-to tee pattern now that you’ve worked out the kinks.
Interesting. It looks like such a smallish alteration in the neck (maybe one inch), but it looks like so much more in the real garment. Must be that you pulled the shoulders in too. I love to puzzle out things like this.
I adapt it to my knitting also. I prefer to knit in flat pieces, and I treat them like sewing pattern pieces. Helps me get better fit.
Line / @alleelskeragnes says
You look great in that green Lady!
I love your detailed posts about considerations, choises, fabric and techniques. It’s just great.
Have a nice day over there!