In today’s post: Learn how to hack my Classic Tee pattern to add a contrast shoulder.
A few years ago when I drafted up my Classic Tee pattern, I so was excited to have a pattern that would yield a t-shirt that fit just the way I like! But you know what? It turns out I don’t actually make most of my t-shirts. It’s so easy to find tees on sale for less than they would cost to make! However, I still get a ton of use out of the Classic Tee pattern, because I use it as a starting point for all kinds of knit tops and dresses. In fact, a quick count shows I have 11 different sewing posts on the blog that all started with the same basic t-shirt pattern. (The Classic Tee pattern is in women’s size large only, as are all the variations.)
Ruffle shoulder tee | Peplum top pattern | Flutter sleeve pattern | Twist knot tee pattern | Cap sleeve maxi dress | Ruffle sleeve dress | Striped midi dress | T-shirt midi dress | Classic tee maxi dress | Classic tee in a relaxed fit | Classic tee with elbow sleeves
And today I have yet another variation for you! I’m calling this the Contrast Shoulder Top.
How to sew a contrast shoulder t-shirt
To make this top, you’ll need to visit the Classic Tee post and download the free printable pattern. Follow the instructions in that post for printing and taping together the pattern, and for prewashing your knit fabric.
For this variation, we are going to add a contrasting panel that goes across the shoulders of the shirt. So you will want a main fabric (for most of the shirt piece and the sleeve pieces) and a small amount of a contrast fabric (for the contrast shoulder panels).
We’ll begin by slicing up the shirt pattern as shown below (sleeve pattern does not get changed). First, cut a diagonal line from the neck to the armscye as you can see in the photo below. Second, cut off 1/2 an inch at the shoulder seam, as shown by the purple dotted line.
Now you can cut out the larger pattern pieces from your main fabric, and the smaller angled shoulder pieces from a contrast fabric. BE SURE to add 1/2 inch seam allowance along the line where the shirt pattern was sliced on both the shirt pieces and the contrast pieces. Also, you will cut the smaller contrast piece ON THE FOLD, which is why we cut half an inch off the pattern at that spot.
Now you will have two shirt pieces and two contrast pieces. Be sure one shirt piece is cut using the front neckline and the other is cut using the back neckline.
The contrast pieces need to use both the front and back necklines as well. Open up the contrast pieces, and they will look like the photo on the left below (only using the back neckline). Cut along one side of each contrast piece using the front neckline so they look like the photo on the right.
Time for assembly! Start by laying the front shirt piece down on a flat surface, with the right side facing up.
Then lay a contrast piece on top of it, matching the areas where you cut the pattern apart and added seam allowance. Be sure right sides match, and be sure you are matching up the part of the contrast piece that was cut using the front neckline. Sew together using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
Repeat with the contrast piece on the other side, and then press the seams open.
Next you’ll attach the contrast pieces to the back main piece in the same way. Once the contrast pieces are attached to the back, the shirt will look like this:
At this point, the rest of construction continues in the exact same way as is described in the Classic Tee post (pick up right after you sew the shoulder seams together).
It’s an easy modification that gives a lot of interest to a plain t-shirt.
Thanks for reading, and I’d love to see photos if you end up using this pattern!