After making about eighty thousand different versions of my free easy tee pattern, I decided it was time for a new free t-shirt pattern. This one is just as easy and simple to sew as the original easy tee, but it’s even better because it has longer sleeves. I love a nice little cap sleeve, except when I have to wave my arms around for any reason and I can feel them jiggling and then I get distracted wondering if everyone else is watching my arms jiggling and then I wish I had a cardigan on except it’s the middle of summer and who wants to wear a cardigan, right? For those of you who can relate (and maybe even some of you who can’t), I give you the breezy tee.
Same loose, flowy construction as the original easy tee, same quick sew time (about an hour), new and improved sleeves to cover whatever might need covering. But don’t worry, they’re not set in sleeves, which means there’s no gathering or easing or anything remotely complicated.
The shirt isn’t really snug anywhere (which is a bonus for some of us), but as long as you use a soft knit fabric it will drape nicely and still look flattering.
The pattern is 6 pages long. Please BE SURE TO PRINT at 100% or actual size. On page 5 there’s a test square which must measure 1 inch by 1 inch – if it doesn’t, you probably have “scale to fit” or something like that checked, and will need to uncheck it and reprint. Here’s what it looks like:
Please note that I have no fancy pattern making skills, which means this free pattern is not as cool as the PDF patterns you are used to purchasing. So don’t trim anything off the pages. Just butt the pages together as you see in the photo above and tape together.
Remember, you must use a knit (stretchy) fabric for this shirt. The direction of the stretch is marked on the pattern pieces. You’ll cut out the main pattern piece twice, both times on the fold, once using the neckline marked “back” and once using the neckline marked “front.” Cut two sleeve pieces, both on the fold. Cut a pocket piece if you want one (I did not include a pocket on today’s shirt, but I’ll show you how to add that next week). Finally, cut a neck band piece. This is not on the pattern. It should be 1 3/4 inches tall and about 28 inches long, with the stretch going the length of the piece. You’ll be able to cut all the pieces from one yard of 56-60 inch wide knit – wash it before you cut because some knit shrinks quite a bit.
Begin by prepping the sleeve pieces. Turn up the bottom of each sleeve piece (the slightly more narrow edge) half an inch and hem with a stitch that will stretch. I always use a double needle for hems on knits – it’s super easy to use and gives a great, professional looking hem. Google it if you’ve never tried one. You can also use a zigzag or stretch stitch.
Now lay out the front and back pieces, RST, and sew across the shoulder seams.
Press the shoulder seams open. Lay the shirt out flat, right side up. Match up the raw edge of a sleeve piece with the shoulder area of the shirt, stretching the sleeve piece slightly to fit. Sew together, again using a stitch with some stretch (I use a serger, but on a regular sewing machine you can use a zigzag or stretch stitch).
Once both sleeve pieces are on, turn the shirt back inside out as shown below. Starting at the sleeve hems, sew sides together.
Next you’ll want to bind the neckline. Fold the neckband in half lengthwise and press:
You’ll need to trim your neckband down to the right length. 24 inches long is probably right for most knits, but if your knit is super stretchy you might want to use 22 inches and if it doesn’t have much stretch 25 might be better. I usually pin the neckband to the neckline, stretching the neckband as I do so, to get an idea of how long the neckband should be, then trim it to that length. Sew the short ends of the neckband together, then sew the neckband onto the shirt using a stitch that will stretch. For more photos and explanation of this step, see this post and this post.
Finally, you’ll want to turn up the bottom of the shirt 1 inch and sew to hem. Again, using a double needle will give you the most professional looking hem, but you can also use a zigzag or stretch stitch. And done!
I really like the loose, comfortable style, but if it feels too roomy for you, just take in the side seams a bit before hemming. The knit I used for this shirt isn’t terribly stretchy, but I made another one with a super soft, stretchy knit which I’ll show you next week so you can see how fabric choice affects the final look.