boatneck t-shirt

Boatneck T-shirt Finish

Today is the last day of May, which means it is also the last day of Me Made May for this year. I had hopes of making one new garment each week.  While I didn’t quite get there, I am close!  I made a mauve t-shirt, a black and white t-shirt dress, a boatneck tank top and almost finished a pair of pants.  Not too bad!  I also cut out a pair of shorts but didn’t get farther than that. It was really a fun series of projects and I feel like my rusty garment sewing skills are improving.

Let’s take a look at the simple tank top I made.  In actuality, it wasn’t as simple as I had hoped!  Combining a McCall’s pattern (M7322) with a great piece of knit fabric called Morse Dot Blue, I cut out a boatneck tank top. The knit is from Art Gallery Fabric (it is available in my shop) and is just lovely – great quality and feels so comfy.  I chose to make a size large because I thought it would be easier to size down than up and my measurements showed me to be between a medium and a large. I also skipped cutting out neck and armhole facing pieces as I don’t like having that extra fabric to tuck into place. It is a cleaner, simpler, finish to bind the arms and neckline with bias tape.

It became apparent right away that the shirt was going to be too boxy in shape.  I decided to cut in the armholes to give it more shape at the shoulders.

Yikes, the armholes look terrible!

When I did this, it made the armhole openings too big.  Look at the photo above and you’ll see they are cut too deeply.  Somehow I didn’t notice how far off the fit was until taking photos! The camera doesn’t lie.  🙂

Ugh, at this point, the armholes and shoulder seams were sewn with a stretch stitch and then a zig zag beyond that. Determined to fix this, I decided I would need to take a wider seam at the shoulders to lift the shirt and then tighten up the underarms. This photo is a close up and you can see how tiny the seams of the stretch stitch are.  I couldn’t unpick these without damaging the fabric, plus it was taking forever to rip out the seams.  Instead, I decided to cut the shoulder seam off completely and restitch it.  The seam binding finish wasn’t as clean but it worked.  For the underarm, I cut a narrow strip out of the first three inches of the seam and sewed it back together on an angle.  Not pretty but at least it was served the purpose of closing up that armhole a bit.

boatneck t-shirt

Looking back, I should have taken a picture with my hand on my hip again so you could compare, but it does fit much better.

boatneck tank

The fit is so much better with those two alterations. The shape of the armhole is what I was going for in the first place.  Side note, looking at the pictures, one has to wonder how on earth did my hair get so gray!? When Julia took the photos for me, I specifically asked her to make me appear taller, less gray and about 35 years old.  She promised to do her best but I am pretty sure I look at least 57 and barely 5’4″ in all of these shots.  (It is so weird to post pics of myself – Sigh…)

As I made these changes to the shirt, I pondered why I was willing to spend the money and more importantly, the time, to make such a simple shirt.  I can pop into Target or Ross and pick up a tank top for not a lot of money and no time at all.  Sewing something for myself is satisfying and I enjoy the challenge.  It makes me so happy to see a resurgence of interest in sewing, both in quilting and garment sewing.  Seems like the high school Home Ec classes I took are a thing of the past (unfortunately) so it is nice to see the hobbies being taken up.  Hopefully this means they will be taught to others and passed along to new generations of kids and grandkids.

The pants I made are pretty cute.  Once I hem them, I will share them with you.  The shorts will be set aside but not for too long.  I want to have them to wear this summer.

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15 thoughts on “Boatneck T-shirt Finish

  1. Shirley Totos

    Looks good Bernie, a nice save. I don’t know squat about sewing, but could you have used some of the white fabric to extend the arm hole? I know that’s probably easier said then done. Just a thought, but really
    you did good and it looks nice. My mom would have added tissue paper to the pattern for the next time.

    Happy Sewing!

    p.s. more piggy pictures!

    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Shirley, The white fabric is actually bias tape so that wouldn’t have worked. But yes, that does sometimes work, especially for trying to make something larger in size. Like adding a gusset.

      I will be sure to share pictures of the piggy on my next post!

  2. Wendy

    It’s so much fun to see you in these photos, but I understand what you are saying about taking photos of yourself. I really dislike seeing pictures of me, so my poor family isn’t going to have many (don’t expect any of me on my blog soon, either – ha!). Your top turned out really nice, even with the angst over the armhole. I think you fixed it well. It looks great on you!

    1. Bernie Post author

      There are not as many pictures of me either but that is partly because I am often the person taking the photos. I have pictures all over the house. Thanks for the sweet comment on the t-shirt. It’s cute and comfortable so I am happy with it.

  3. Linda

    Nice save on the armholes Bernie! Very pretty and nice fit. You look very young and cute!! “When Julia took the photos for me, I specifically asked her to make me appear taller, less gray and about 35 years old.” Literally laughed out loud – still laughing!! 😀

  4. Deb from Frugal Little Bungalow

    You look great in both pics and interesting to learn from you how you saved the armholes 🙂

    I had to laugh. When my boys were young I wanted to learn to sew. Now back then it was just books with confusing diagrams or the pattern / no internet tutorials, etc.

    So after spending about a WEEK trying to make some shorts for them ( which DID turn out ok ) i realized that maybe I should use my grandmother’s quilt as an inspiration and try to learn THAT instead 🙂

    I DID manage ( with the Internet and tutorials ) to challenge myself and make little skirts and tops for my twin grandgirls a few years ago and they turned out great. Yet that was enough for me for the moment. I DID try to knit after that. HA! Never mind / that went off of the bucket list asap.

    But you are multi talented; you grew up with that atmosphere and learning so it is fun to see your various sewing / quilting /etc. 🙂

  5. Carole @ From My Carolina Home

    You have the same problem as I do, you are a petite size. I find that I have to take one inch out of any pattern between the top shoulder and the bust line to get things to fit right. This makes armscyes higher and the fullest part of the pattern hit where it should.

  6. Rebecca Grace

    First of all, your top is really cute on you. We are our own harshest critics. If you still feel overexposed in the underarm/sideboob area, consider that a lightweight, gauzy summer sweater cardigan in white would look great with your top, and would be a welcome layer when you’re blasted by excessive air conditioning in a restaurant, theatre, etc. I took a series of fitting classes at the Atlanta Sewing & Quilting Expo a few years back and learned that, if you have a full and/or prominent bust (anything larger than the B cup that pattern companies use as a fit model), you are better off using your HIGH bust measurement to pick a size, by wrapping the tape measure around your upper chest right in your armpits and adding 2″ to whatever that is. So for me, my full bust is 38″ but I’m a D cup. When I measure my upper chest right at my armpits I get 34″, and I add 2″ to that to get what my full bust measurement WOULD be if I had pattern-industry-standard size B boobies instead of D boobies. It is so much easier to do a full bust adjustment to add in the extra room exactly where it’s needed versus complex alterations in the upper chest, shoulders, and armscyes if you start with a pattern that ONLY fits your boobs and is too big everywhere else. Of course, with a loose fitting T shirt pattern like this one and depending on the stretchiness of your chosen knit fabric, sometimes you can go with the size matching your upper chest “imaginary breast reduction” full bust size and not need to do any further alterations at all. Again, I think this top looks great on you and you are INSPIRING ME to sew some me-made garments of my own! I’m off to check out the post about your T-shirt dress next…

  7. Anja @ Anja Quilts

    It looks great on you. Good thing you were able to adjust the armholes to suit your preference. I, too, hate having my photo taken. I want to be thinner and taller LOL

    1. Bernie Post author

      How funny – we both just posted a garment project! I love the fuchsia color of your t-shirt. It is fun to mix things up a bit between quilting and garment projects.

  8. Leanne Parsons

    It looks great, Bernie! Good save on the armhole issue 🙂 I’m still scared to try sewing with knits, but I really, really want to tackle it. One of these days, lol.

    1. Bernie Post author

      I think you would fare nicely with knits. Buy some ball point needles and don’t pull the fabric as you sew. A little spray starch before you hem anything is helpful as well. Good luck!

  9. tehachap

    I had to chuckle when you stated that you asked for your photo to show you taller and with less gray hair! LOL I think your top looks great, and although I don’t show my upper arms anymore (I’m far beyond 54!), I love the neckline and the simple drape of the top. Good job! And what you’ve done is to show that nothing is a complete disaster that can’t be fixed with a bit of thinking, some fabric and effort.


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