I’ve had a bunch of t-shirt patterns sitting around in my patterns folder for ages and now that I’ve managed to (hopefully) crack the twin needle hemming issue once and for all, I thought I’d go ahead and try some of them out. All three tees are slightly different in style and since none of them took terribly long to put together, it was a fun experiment. Here are my findings!
Your Honour, I present to you the three t-shirt patterns in question:
Deer & Doe Plantain: This is a free t-shirt pattern from the French makers Deer & Doe. It’s had numerous good reviews online and although on paper it didn’t jump out at me as my ideal shape, I wanted to test the theory. (Spoiler: I’m glad I did). The Plantain has a scoop-neck, is fitted at the shoulders and flares at the hips, and features elbow patches. There are short, 3/4-length and full-length sleeve versions. I didn’t bother with the elbow patches, although if I ever make a tweed t-shirt, I may reconsider.
Liesl & Co. Metro t-shirt: This is a paid pattern and I bought it as part of a family pack. I already made the male version of the Metro for my husband with some success, so I knew the instructions and drafting would be great. The Metro is the most “classic tee” pattern of the three and has short and long sleeve versions. Liesl Gibson has a super blog where she had loads of tutorials on adapting your Metro, including: adding side vents, colour-blocking, making it a V-neck and more.
Fine Motor Skills Elise pattern: This is another free pattern and is the least-shaped/fitted tee: it could almost be called a tank. It doesn’t have separate sleeves but has a wide, deep neckline.
Fit and sizing
Hems: You can see the difference in the hems quite clearly below. The Metro is fairly straight, as a classic tee would be; the Plantain, by contrast, flares out a bit, while the Elise has a slightly scooped hem, but is otherwise very straight. I picked the Elise to try out because I quite like loose, light layered pieces, but as someone with a somewhat rounded stomach, I began to have a few doubts here.
Armholes/sleeves: The Metro and Plantain are fairly similar at the top/armhole area as opposed to the Elise which is rather rectangular-shaped, in line with the tank-like style. The slight difference in armhole angles on the Metro and Plantain is further reflected in the difference in sleeve shape. The Metro is a deeper sleeve with a more rounded shoulder, while the Plantain is a little shallower, with a flatter sleeve.
Neckband: Elise has the deepest neckband, which is also very slender. Plantain has a well-scooped neckline too, with a more generous width, while the Metro neckband is much shorter in comparison, and actually more of a classic length.
Sizing: Liesl & Co provides a wide range of sizes for the Metro tee, which is available in 0-18, or XS to XXL. The Elise has the smallest range with only a S, M and L. I was right at the top of the L and actually probably needed another size up, but with the large amount of design ease, thought I’d give it a go anyway. To be fair, as a free pattern, you can’t really complain about this and I don’t think it’s unreasonable. Which makes the huge 34 to 52 size range from Deer & Doe for the Plantain astounding. It’s also a free pattern and I think it’s really generous of them, in addition to all the sleeve options.
Construction and fabric
I’ll keep this as brief as possible, by saying that all three tees are made in a similar manner, like any tee and will stick to pointing out any particularly positive or negative things that struck me as I progressed. The pdfs all seemed roughly the same to me in terms of pages and sticking together (all small and easy), so I haven’t made any particular notes on those. I finished all necklines on the right side with a zigzag stitch and used the twin needle to finish the hems with the exception of the Elise.
Elise tee: The Elise is the simplest tee with no sleeves. I used the serger for all construction on this t-shirt as there was a 3/8″ seam allowance. The designer suggests leaving the hem unfinished and I did, but this will have to be remedied since it rolls somewhat when worn – mostly due to the type of fabric I guess. This was a really simple, fast make. However, as mentioned above, I made the biggest of the limited range of sizes and it is really too small around the middle. I’d have to size up the lower half of the t-shirt were I to make it again any time soon.
The Elise calls for “the lightest knit you can find”. This makes sense given the layered nature of the tee, so I used a gossamer-thin burnout knit I bought for pennies from LA Finch Fabrics some time ago.
Metro tee: The Metro comes with two pages of concise instructions with great illustrations. The designer recommends stabilizing the shoulders with fusible interfacing, which I did. The seam allowance is the industry standard 1/4″ and this made it easy to zip along on the serger. The order here is shoulders, neckband, arms and then sides. The sleeves are added on the flat before sewing the side seams and fit nicely. The hem and sleeves are finished with a twin needle, but I wanted to echo the neckband, so added sleeve bands instead. Speaking of the neckband, I also took 2.5-in out of the length as I was using a rib knit and probably could have removed another inch, so watch this if you’re using rib or something equally stretchy.
I like the length of the Metro – it’s a good classic length. Really, everything about this tee is classic – in a good way!
For the Metro fabric I used a fun and much more expensive cotton/lycra knit I bought from Jumping June Textiles. It’s great quality, perfect for a classic tee and – come on – those pineapples!?
Plantain tee: Another comprehensive set of instructions for a free tee, but this time using a 5/8″ seam allowance. This meant that I sewed the whole thing on the machine this time since the fabric was a little slippery when trying to use the 5/8″ mark on the serger. In addition, Deer & Doe suggests adding clear elastic to stabilise the shoulders at the beginning and this meant using the machine for at least this part, which set the tone. It meant the construction was slightly more annoying since I had to trim all the seams down with scissors and, to be honest, I didn’t bother finishing the seams. Maybe I will, but probably not. 😀
I really like the length on this tee as it pretty much covers your bum, which can be a very good thing. It’s also very comfortable to wear with all sorts of other garments because of the ease below the waist.
Fabric-wise, I used a modern splash knit from Girl Charlee for the Plantain. It’s very soft and quite spongy, so I think is some sort of rayon/elastane/something blend. Not sure, but it drapes beautifully, which is perfect for the flared hip of the Plantain.
Overall, two of the three t-shirts are hits for me. I like a classic tee and I like Liesl & Co. patterns, so I’m happy that this t-shirt worked for me. The neck is not as high as some classic tees, which I always like, as a too-high neckline can make my boobs look like they’re hitting my knees. The pattern is fairly slim-fitting and Liesl suggests sizing up one size if you like a loose fit. I’m excited to try some of the variations, like my favourite V-neck.
The Deer & Doe Plantain was a surprise hit for me. I wasn’t sure from the line drawing that the shape was for me, but, on the contrary, the top half is quite close-fitting where I need it to be and the lower half skims over lumps and bumps to be both comfy and flattering. This is my favourite sleeve shape, although both this and the Metro sleeve are fine. It’s also my favourite neckline with a nice scoop.
The Elise doesn’t really suit me and is too small. Having said that, if I lost weight it would probably be fine. It would definitely suit a less curvy figure and if you like light layers it would be perfect for you. It’s still a really nice and easy pattern – just not right for my current shape. In any case – it’s free!
This was a really interesting experiment for me. I learned a lot and got a few surprises on the way. I still have a few patterns to try, so I may do a Part 2 sometime. After all, you can never have too many t-shirts!