Jenny Rushmore of Cashmerette is one of my sewing heroes. She creates patterns and tutorials for bodies and fit issues that aren’t well covered in other places. She even has a calculator to help you get a starting point for your sizing (I love calculators), and clearly cares deeply about every sewist who is coming to her for help.
So, when I needed a good tee shirt pattern for my everything-fits-differently-now postpartum body, I bought Cashmerette’s Concord T-Shirt pattern. It took me a couple tries, but it’s definitely a pattern I’ll keep making.
Because I’m always up for trying new methods, I started with the Cashmerette size calculator and adjustment tutorials. After a couple tries, I went back to trusting myself and my math, and had great results with a couple very simple adjustments.
The Journey Begins: First Try
First, I did what the pattern suggested, and made a version “as is,” just grading between sizes according to the calculator (8 C/D, graded to 12 at hips). Well, and I lengthened the sleeve because I wanted a non-cuff version and have long arms.
I love calculators, and I believe in the math wholeheartedly. However, I also know that my bust size does not measure normally, as evidenced by almost every bra fitting I’ve ever had. The poor salesladies measure me into a smaller cup size, and won’t accept my word that it’s not right until I try on the sample and prove that I cannot fit my volume into a C cup. So although the calculator is almost certainly correct for 95% of women, I fall into that 5%. And I know it. And I still didn’t take that into account. This one’s on me.
The Journey Continues: Second Try
On my next attempt, I chose the cup size I actually wear, and it went much better. I love the bust shaping on this shirt (when I choose the correct size). I also went ahead and added half an inch to each shoulder, because I could already tell that it wasn’t fitting my sometimes-broad shoulders great. This was a guess, however, because it can be hard to tell which is taking up the space when shoulders are warring with bust for fabric. This is part of why I prefer working with measurements instead of muslins whenever possible.
I also took in the hips, for the first time in my life, but that’s just a personal preference—the lower shirt fit just fine as drafted. In this case, it means I cut one size instead of grading out two sizes larger at the hips. I love alterations that make things easier!
This time I cut an 8 E/F, with half an inch added to each shoulder. Conventional wisdom says to only do one alteration at a time, but I don’t always agree. Attempt #2 was MUCH better, and made it into my closet. It’s sometimes hard to tell how knits will really fit until you wear them around, but after a day I knew I needed even more room in my shoulders.
The Journey Succeeds: Third Try
I could have made another adjustment from my already ragged-looked pattern, but I decided to start again from scratch and make the adjustments I normally would. I ended up adding a full inch to each shoulder, which is a LOT, but hey, I’m trusting my math this time. As with the hip change, though, some of that width is a style preference. I don’t like the feel of the tighter shoulder look.
Here is a drawing of the shoulders of all three attempts, so you can see the difference.
On my “trust the math” version, I also used my preferred method of widening the shoulders, which lowers the armhole as well. Because shoulders are sloped, a wider shoulder ends lower than a narrow shoulder. By not lowering the armhole, especially when making such a huge adjustment, I usually find that it comes too high under my arm. For more on shoulder width adjustments, see my Sewist’s Guide to Shoulder Width.
Other than the shoulders, however, the other measurements were all within my “probably okay” range for knit fabrics, so I didn’t alter the shape otherwise (other than the hip adjustment I mentioned earlier, which actually ended up just meaning I cut the same size throughout, rather than grading up a couple sizes at the hipline). And here’s the result! A new pattern favorite, for sure! And ultimately, super easy adjustments. If I hadn’t been in an experimental mood, I would have had a winner on the first try, instead of the third!
Overall, from the original pattern, here’s what I changed:
- Omitted the cuff.
- Lengthened the sleeve about 2” (to compensate for omitting the cuff and my long arms).
- Shortened the hemline by 2”.
- Widened the shoulders by 1” each.
- Went up a cup size from the calculator, using the cup size I actually wear.
- Did not grade up two sizes at the hip like I usually would.
For construction, I mostly followed the pattern instructions, with a couple exceptions:
- Omitted the cuff, instead treating it just like the bottom hem (all versions).
- Instead of clear elastic to stabilize the shoulder seams, I used a fusible stay tape (second and third attempts).
- Used fusible web to hold the hems in place before coverstitching (second and third attempts).
- I sewed the arm seam and side seams separately, then attached the sleeve (third attempt). I find this less bulky under the arm.
- I serged the seam allowances, and coverstitched the sleeve and bottom hems (all versions).
For sizing, here’s what I ended up with:
- My sizes (by the end of the experiment):
- Bust: 36.5”
- Shoulders: 15.25” across
- Waist: 31”
- High Hip: 34.5”
- Shoulder-to-Wrist: 24” or thereabouts. I was measuring myself, soooo…
- Bra Size: 32E, 34E, 34D….it really depends. You know how bras go.
- Pattern size and alterations (successful version):
- I cut a size 8, E/F cup.
- I lengthened the sleeves a couple inches (I would have needed an extra inch even with the cuffs).
- I widened the shoulders by an inch.
Other helpful Concord T-Shirt reviews
In no particular order, here are some of the reviews I found helpful.
- This is a post from one of the pattern testers, who liked it so much she just kept making them. She includes her measurements and sizes for comparison, and makes notes about the fabrics she used. You can click on the pictures to see them larger, and really see the detailed fit (and her awesome work).
- This one shows great details of how the tee shirt fits for those on the narrower side of the shoulder width spectrum. She also includes her usual sizes for comparison, which is so helpful.
- Another one for the narrower-shouldered crowd, with good advice on adjustments.
- The final one on my list is a video from TomKat Stitchery. Warning: it’s pretty long at 19 minutes, but you can always watch it double speed, or skip through. What I love about this one is that you can see the shirt on a moving body, which is so nice when you’re trying to figure out fit!