Hello there! So after the success of the Alder shirtdress and Linden sweaters I had a rummage through Grainline Studio’s other patterns. I have the Morris blazer pattern already and fully intend to make it, but this time round the Scout tee caught my eye. Let me be honest: a boxy woven tee with no shaping would not be my natural ally. In fact, I’m really not the shape for Grainline patterns (or they’re not the right shape for me; take your pick), despite some successes. The resulting garments tend to be fairly rectangular with plenty of ease and are probably best suited to those with similar body shapes. It’s been a very popular silhouette in the indie pattern world.
Nevertheless, as I mentioned, I’ve had some success with some of these since a) they’re really nicely drafted – it’s clear to me that drafting a good boxy pattern takes precision and skill (there are some that are, literally, cubes on me) and b) I’ve made sure that I was definitely going for a breezy, easy look in my head before I made the garment. Which brings me back to the Scout tee. A nicely fitting woven tee would be brilliant to have in my wardrobe. I have a number of gorgeous pieces of woven fabric that are not large enough for a dress, but would be shown off perfectly by a simple tee. I saw plenty of lovely Scout pics on Instagram and although, admittedly, many of them were from young, willowy types of ladeez, there were enough from sewers with curvier bodies that I felt it was worth a shot.
If you don’t know the Scout tee, you’ve probably got the gist of what it is already (a woven tee!), and there are lots and lots of versions to check out on IG, blogs and Pinterest. It was a very popular pattern when it was released and still is, from what I saw during Me Made May. I can see why: there’s something about a woven tee that seems a little more put together.
I’ve made two versions so far and welcome any tips and suggestions on any further refinements. It actually didn’t go as badly as I thought it might. I made the first version in a size 16. This was just a touch under than my current bust measurement and the size I used for the Alder shirtdress, which went rather well, given the built-in ease factor.
The construction for the Scout is extremely straightforward and involves sewing the shoulders, side seams, attaching self-made binding to the neckline, hemming and then adding the sleeves by gathering and inserting. There are all sorts of nice tutorials for bits and pieces of the process if there’s anything you’re not familiar with, such as getting nice, flat binding on the neck. I didn’t have an issue with this, but I know some sewers did. I actually just this second found an old Scout sewalong from Kollabora. I didn’t use it, but I’m sure it would be a useful resource if you’re a beginner.
I made this first tee from a buttery soft double gauze. I’ve read a number of blog posts about garments made with double gauze – and those ladies speak the TRUTH. It is absolutely gorgeous on the skin. Light as a feather, but somehow still substantial, breathable, and thus perfect for summer. It has a nice bit of drape too, so I hoped this would help the box shape situation.
It actually isn’t too bad, but the first thing that hit me were the shoulders. I wouldn’t want to hit anyone else with them: they’d make a linebacker quiver. Okay, okay, they’re not that big, but they’re still a good inch too wide. This drops the sleeves down my arms and results in a rather droopy and sad-looking topline. The overall shape is fairly square and there are significant diagonal draglines from my bust to the waist. I will say that, typically, they don’t look as bad in the photos for some reason. I’ve worn this top a couple of days, so maybe they’ve relaxed over time, haha. There’s quite a bit of excess fabric pooling at the back as well. Having said that, it’s so comfy I’ll definitely wear it. I like the length and the armholes fit well. Also the neckline is a great shape and depth.
For my second attempt, I decided to tackle the shoulders and diagonals first. I made this tee in a much more unforgiving cotton from the Gramercy collection for AGF by Leah Duncan. I love this collection and she is one of my favourite designers. Inspired by Gramercy Park in New York, it has lots of great graphic prints based around buildings and landmarks. This one is called Brooklyn Bridge Flare and the colours are amazing. It’s also a lightweight quilting cotton – almost a lawn – so I wanted to try it in order to kind of push the limits of the box effect, if you like.
First I re-traced the pattern a size smaller in a 14.
Edit: One thing I forgot to mention when I first wrote this was that I also looked up my ideal shoulder measurement as per this link from Nancy Zieman. I’ve read several references to this method (from bloggers and in text) and the shoulder issue reminded me to check it out. She explains it better than I, but the idea is basically that your shoulders are the main measurement on which other upper half shaping rests. You measure from one arm crease to the other and work out your pattern size. Mine corresponded to a 14 for Grainline as far as I could fathom. It’s worth a read and I think it makes sense.
Then I did a 1.5-inch full bust adjustment (FBA) with added bust darts for shaping. I hoped this would help with the shoulders and the front diagonal issues at the same time. I did consider a French dart, since the diagonal is that kind of shape, but in the end used a mixture of tutorials, and mostly this one from Cashmerette. It still leaves me with questions though, as it’s a fairly concise explanation. These are mostly to do with how you finish up the pattern after the slash and spread part. For example, I shortened the resulting dart by an inch or so, since it seemed it might reach my apex if I didn’t and I also did something weird with the side seam trying to true it. It worked out okay in the end, but the front ended up being shorter than the back, even though I added extra length. I would like to try it again and see if I can get a more exact finished product.
Despite a few little issues, the resulting tee was definitely an improvement. I would like it to be the original length, so will lengthen it again by half an inch or so, and straighten the hem out, but the fit is much better. Both in the shoulders and around the bust/waist, where the slight shaping of the darts gives a more pleasing silhouette. I’m pleasantly surprised by how this turned out actually, particularly bearing in mind it’s a lightweight quilting cotton. Plus, and this is important, I’m aware that this is the style of this garment. It’s drafted as a square tee and I do want to retain that character, so I’m not aiming to eliminate everything at all. Just make sure it’s not riding up all over the place and has a little shape.
In fact, I would venture to say that I should now move onto the back where there is still a wedge of fabric to be taken out, and in fact even more as the FBA added a little width to the front. I have a swayback issue as well, so want to tackle that next. Now to ask you lovely readers – would you agree? And do you have any resources/tutorials you can recommend? I have the Fit for Real People book and am going to go back and study that some more, but advice on any tutorial you have tried would be gratefully received. Is there anything else you think I should tackle at the same time? Should I have taken the waist in after the FBA? I’m all ears! 🙂
My next attempt will be the third version and I have another piece of gorgeous double gauze all ready for it. I hope this will be the perfect marriage of size, fabric and fit. One can dream, I guess! In conclusion, I feel like this is a worthwhile exercise. Contrary to my expectations, the tee is not totally unflattering and is 100% a useful staple to have. It’s also extremely comfortable and versatile. The mission continues! (But first, a skirt).