Friday, June 17, 2016

Four Steps to Pattern Matching a Striped Tee Top

Don't you just love a stripey tee?

First popularized by Coco Chanel as women's casual wear, a boatneck stripey tee is often referred to as a Breton tee, after the region of France called Bretagne. Sailors from this region sported knit tee shirts in various stripe patterns of the colors red, blue, white and black

I found some gorgeous cotton knit on clearance the other day and scooped up four yards.  I made these tees using the Lark Tee Pattern.

The Lark is a long, loose tee with straight sides and a loose fit.  The pattern provides boat neck, scoop neck, v neck and crew neck options as well as three sleeve lengths.  I did a bit of hacking to create these striped darlings.  From the left we have a shortened, boat neck short sleeve tee, a similar tee lengthened to tee dress length, and a smaller size scoop neck version, slashed and spread to make it flowy and cut on the bias.  (Oh yes, I have been watching The Great British Sewing Bee and the bias top challenge.)

In case you have never made a stripey tee before, I thought I'd put together a quick tutorial on how to cut it out so that the stripes match at the side seams and across the sleeves and bodice.

Four Steps to Pattern Matching a Striped Tee Top

1.  Cut out the tee shirt front  

You can place the pattern piece for the front on the fold if you carefully match the stripes on both layers.  Alternativley, cut from a single layer, flipping the pattern piece over to cut the second half.  If you are new to sewing, it may be easier for you to create a pattern piece of the whole front first, then cut it out all at once.  If your tee is straight across the hem like the Lark, you can place the hem edge on a stripe to keep the stripes straight.

2.  Match the back

Now that you've cut the front out, cut the back of the tee out so that the stripes will match at the side seams.  To do this, lay out your material and lay your back pattern piece on it.  Lay out the cut front next to it, and move the pattern up and down until the stripe pattern matches at the point of the armscye.

Cut out the back.  (Again you can place the pattern on the fold and cut double layer with stripes carefully matched through both layers, or cut as a single layer.)

3.  Cut a sleeve

Next lay out the sleeve pattern on a single layer of fabric.  Match the stripes at the armscye of the sleeve to the armscye of the front.  Cut out your first sleeve.

4.  Cut another sleeve

Use the cut sleeve as a pattern to cut the second sleeve.  Turn the sleeve over, so right sides are facing.  Move the cut sleeve around until the stripes exactly match the fabric underneath, making it seem to "disappear."

Cut out the second sleeve.

Et voila, you are ready to sew up your stripey tee with a beautiful pattern match.

A few additional hints:
  • Baste and check the stripe match before sewing each seam.  This will prevent those stripes from slipping out of place.  I actually hand baste because I have more control.
  • Buy extra fabric when you plan to match stripes.  The larger the stripe, the more you will need to buy. You will also need more fabric if you have stripes of more than one color or a irregular stripe pattern.  
  • I prefer to hem with a darker stripe at the bottom, it makes the pattern appear more grounded
And in case you were wondering if guys can rock a striped tee, too...

Oh yes, they can.

Xx Piper

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  1. Thanks for this post. I bought some striped jersey recently and have been afraid to begin. This was very helpful.


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