Today on the blog I’m going to talk about tees. Now, raise your hand if you don’t like wearing t-shirts. If you raised your hand, get out of here. Just kidding, don’t. But seriously, I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks t-shirts suck. Of course, with my newfound love for all things sewing, I thought, “New Project??”
So…I go to my Pinterest site and do a “tee sewing pattern” search, and I swear, the majority of pins for tee patterns are for “Boxy Tee.” Now, good thing for me, I already know what a boxy tee is. It’s in the name, so you can’t miss it. Basically, what sets it apart from a regular t-shirt is that it is usually cropped in length, and constructed with a much roomier box shape at the torso. This lends to the upper body to take on that “boxy” look.
Now, while I’m not such a fan of the cropped shirt, I am a big fan of the boxy tee. I noticed for a while now that a lot of style trends today tend to lean toward that “relaxed & airy” look. I actually don’t mind it too much because, gosh, it’s hecka comfortable…when I don’t like the look is when it just get’s downright baggy, saggy, and well, lazy looking. Y’know what I mean?
Anyway, so back to my tee search. Another thing I noticed was that a lot of the DIY boxy tee Pins seemed to have a name in common: The Hemlock Tee. Ok. Now I’m intrigued. I narrow my search to “hemlock tee,” and lo and behold, all kinds of variations of this thing pop up. So I scroll through, and then I land on a Pin showing the Hemlock done in linen.
As far as boxy silhouettes in apparel go, linen is an ideal textile for that look. It holds it shape well, but depending on the weight used, linen can still be very airy and flowy at the same time. Plus, I already had a few yards of linen in my fabric stash, just waiting to be used. PERFECT!
In order to make the Hemlock Tee you will first need download the pattern. The great thing about this pattern: its FREE! All you need to do is subscribe to the Grainline Studio newsletter and you will receive the pdf pattern in your email. Easy Peasy!
Well, not quite. If you are already familiar with standard clothing patterns and how they work, then you are well aware of the “prep” period that comes before actually using them—the pinning, cutting, tracing, transferring symbols,etc. When it comes to pdf patterns (or any kind of “digital” pattern that you download onto your device), you can expect the same prep period, but also a little bit of extra work.
You see, since digital patterns are meant to be downloaded and printed out, the patterns themselves will be in pieces that you will have to print out and put together to make up the one individual pattern piece. Get it? It’s like a puzzle. The reason for that is because for most of us, our home printers don’t have the capability to hold anything larger than a standard size piece of paper in the paper tray. Usually, digital patterns will consist of several 8.5×11 pages that have the pattern lines on them. Your job, once they are printed, will be to cut and tape them together in the order specified by the directions. Now, you do have the option to get it printed out for you as an already finished pattern, but this would involve finding a printing place that will do that for you. That, and you will need the $$$ to pay for their services. The choice is yours, whatever works best for you. I like the print-at-home method.
Sound like too much work/effort? Don’t worry, it’s actually really easy and more simple than it sounds. here is an example of what a finished pdf pattern will look like:
See how it’s all taped up? Now I can treat it like a regular standard pattern and do all prep work for it before sewing it together.
Ok, so I actually sewed this tee months ago, which means that, unfortunately, I do not have a personal tutorial to show you how I made it. I’m sorry. 😭 BUT, I will make sure to link the Grainline Studio Youtube video sew-along for this tee at the end of this post if you want to make it yourself. Also, I know for sure I will want to make this tee again in the future, so if you are willing to wait for it, a personal tutorial could soon be in the works at a later time. But for now, here is my finished Hemlock Tee:
First of all, don’t laugh at my background and lack of modeling skills. I’m usually really awkward in front of a camera/on video, which is most likely why you won’t see me doing any videos on this blog. But don’t quote me on that just yet, because I am slowly trying to get out of my comfort zone and be more relaxed in front of a screen. Also, remember that I did this sewing project smack in the middle of Quarantine Lockdown, which meant that I couldn’t go out somewhere photo-worthy to showcase my finished product. So in the meantime, my porch is my backdrop.
Anyhoo, to be completely honest, if I saw this top at a store, I would have most likely walked right by it. On the hanger, it looks very large and not really my taste at all. However, when I put it on, I loved it right away. I definitely did not want to crop it, so I opted for mid length. I am a very short person at 5’1”, so this top may be shorter on a taller person. But for me, I thought it was a good length.
Another thing I love about this tee is the neckline. I am not a fan of the high necklines that typical t-shirts have. I dunno. I think it has to do with the feeling of restriction at having the fabric around my neck, like it’s about to choke me. Does that make any sense?? Usually, whenever I buy a standard t-shirt, I will rip into the neckline and turn it into a v-neck or distress it into a very cool, off-shoulder top. It drives my husband crazy when I do that to my clothes, but hey, that’s just how I do…
The off-white/cream linen fabric I used is so light and airy; perfect for warm SoCal Summer days! It’s not too light to be see-through either. The fit is indeed quite boxy, but I don’t think it’s too much that it disfigures my short frame. I still have some leftover linen, so I think I’m going to try making matching shorts to go with it.
Let me tell you, I learned soooo much from this project! This top was the first piece of actual clothing that I ever made. From doing this pattern, I learned how to sew my first sleeve, and finish a neckline with bias tape. I learned from doing lots of research how different fabrics behave, and how to pick the right ones for my project needs. This was my first time working with linen, and I cannot stress how much I love it! I already made a dress with linen and I’ll go into the details of it in another post. It is sturdy, and runs through my machine so easily. I’m really happy that I chose it for one of my first clothing projects.
I want to highlight one very important thing sewing this tee taught me that will definitely stay with me in every project I do here on out, and that I will frequently advise in my tutorial posts now, and in the future: and that is the value of FINISHING YOUR SEAMS. I mentioned this in my mask tutorial, and I’ll say it here as well. Whenever you sew anything, if you want it to last for a long time, make sure you finish any raw seams. I learned this the hard way.
Hey, did I mention that the top I showed you in the picture is actually the second one I made? I knew I said it was the first, and it is the first kind of apparel I’ve made, but prior to that, I had made the exact same top. The reason why I didn’t show the first one to you is because it became a complete disaster. Actually, it turned out fine in the beginning. It was sewn per directions and looked beautiful afterwards. I wore it proudly all day on an outing with my family and it held up marvelously.
Then it got tossed in the washing machine.
I didn’t plan on using the washing machine to clean this top. I had every intention of hand washing it the first time to “test” how it would hold up before deciding on the best course of action. Well….needless to say, when I discovered that the top was in the washer and pulled it out to inspect it, I cried. Nah, I didn’t actually cry. I was totally fine on the outside. It was the inside that was the problem.
I am so mortified to show you guys this. But, you know…I always tell my kids, “You won’t ever gain wisdom if you don’t ever make mistakes.” So I’ll swallow my pride and show it anyway. I guess this makes me real wise now, eh?
This. This is the reason why I will always tell someone seeking any kind of sewing advice to Properly. Finish. Your. Seams. Just look at that mess! All my hard work down the washing machine drain… In my defense though, I did attempt to finish the seams. The problem was using pinking shears to do it. And I didn’t do a straight stitch through the hem first before cutting the edges with the pinking shears. What a rookie mistake! Friends, just please, do yourselves a favor and never skip finishing hems when you sew, mmkay?
So that was a lesson learned, obviously. On a brighter note, it did prompt me to research and learn different hemming styles, and now I know how to French seam. 😊 (Which I did to finish all my seams on the second Hemlock tee in order to prevent former inner meltdown).
So there goes my adventure with the Hemlock Tee.
- Was it easy to do? YES!
- Is this suitable for Beginner Sewers? YES!
- Would I sew this again? YES!
- Will you properly finish your seams? YES!!!
Oops, I almost forgot. Here is the link for the Hemlock Sew-Along! It’s in parts, so click/tap on their playlist section, and you should see the whole series there. Hope you have fun sewing!
Elbow bumps & Air kisses,