Finished Object: Bow Tie Tee

Yesterday, I set to work on February’s “Hack” of the Blank Canvas Tee– The Bow Tie Tee.  I drew inspiration from two dresses from the 1930’s and the 50’s combined with some navy and white pinstriped jersey I had lying around.  It’s leftovers from a t-shirt I cut for my husband.  A t-shirt I have yet to actually stitch together.

The design draws on both inspiration dresses, and then goes off in its own direction.  I had a ridiculously good time planning the stripe placement.  Would turning the stretch fabric on its side for the lower front piece work, or would I have another Icarus on my hands?  I held my breath during construction, but it works well.  I’m itching to make a quick second version of this with a screaming bright contrast for the yoke…

I wanted an interesting back because all the simple tops I’ve been sewing lately leave me longing for something a little juicy like matching pinstripes along a “bias” seam.  Of course, you could always opt to make a plain and simple back.

I’m happy with this top, but I want to take it into dress territory.  I like the sound of a knee-length skirt with four box pleats (under each apex point…), perhaps in plain navy.  Yes?

I also lengthened this top as so many pattern testers are rather unimpressed by my shorter knit tops.  I don’t mind either way.   If you have any tweaks to suggest for this design, I’m happy to listen.  (Also, if you’ve downloaded my basic BCT and have any constructive criticism about fit, do let me know before I start making a multi-sized Bow Tie Tee pattern!)

I just sort of jumped in with both feet on this year-long Tee project without planning it out or explaining much, so here goes:

I like having a self-imposed monthly design challenge, and I like sharing my process here.  If you’re curious about what future months may look like, take a look at my Hack Ideas board on pinterest.  I’m easily swayed by re-pins and “likes”– I see these hacks a collaborative project between me and you lovely ladies of the online sewing community.

(It was raining when we took photos today, I’m trying to catch a drop)

Without letting this project take over the blog (yawn!), I plan to post the month’s design inspiration in the first or second week of the month.  You all give me thumbs up and/or down, and then I go do some pattern chopping.  I show you my finished garment (a top or a dress or a cardigan or sweatshirt) in the second or third week.  Fourth week- I publish the drafting instructions.  Then I publish a multi-sized pattern on Craftsy- that wasn’t originally part of my plan but I’m pleased to do it.  How’s that for a game of sewing?

Note: I *believe* I am caught up with my emails, but if I owe you one please remind me!  My little girl keeps getting into my mailbox on my phone and re-arranging my universe.


  1. Love the top and your use of the stripes Steph! I think that the way you have placed the stripes won’t make us ‘big’ girls look too large in that area thankfully! You did well to get outdoors for photos today. It is miserable over here and much chillier than normal for February! I would love to see your take on this as a dress. Shall we catch up and have a play with a larger sized kimono top soon? Feel free to inbox me if you like.

  2. I like it a lot. Love the chevron stripe effect across the back. And I’m in favour of a slightly longer length too. Right, off to stalk you on Pinterest….x

    • Well, Jeanna, you have to give me more to go on than that. How about in fushia and white stripes? Or whatever you like, I make for you.

      About time you started commenting…

  3. Simply gorgeous. Love the use of stripes. Love the longer length. Would love it in a dress. Fabulous!

  4. Such a great mod of a basic T. I never tried anything with keyholes etc. before as I feel a little to busty for that, but this looks awesome and I can’t wait for the drafting instructions. Looks like you extended the yoke to the kimono sleeves? Very elegant.

    • Thanks- I’ve made keyhole necklines before on little 40’s blouses, it’s just a matter of making sure the lower part of the neckline doesn’t dip too low… That’s easy enough when you make your own tops, but it’s really hard for RTW to consistently hit that point for everyone, especially underserved body types…

      The yoke does indeed go into the sleeves- I am dying to make this up with colorblocking…

    • The dress is on its way! I’m sort of tempted to make a version with a shocking pink bow, ivory body and yellow skirt (cause I have that lying around) but I think it might be quite… Garish… In the best way possible…

  5. Oooh, I really like how this looks on you, but I think I would be scared to have the opening on myself! Also, no little girls in my house, but one time I came back to my laptop to find that Walnut had randomly messaged about 300 q’s to someone on my gchat…

    • oh no! She doesn’t do that anymore, and I know she didn’t mean to mess up my gmail (she was trying to find her cupcake making game…) but still! Rar!

  6. Love love love it. It has that understated sexy quality which is both demure and provocative at the same time – a very difficult look to achieve. Well done you!

  7. lovely! excited for the instructions. i’m going to attempt to add a cowl to the basic t-shirt at some point using a shirt i already own as a guide.

    • Wicked- let me know how that turns out! There’s a sort of cowly necked 60’s dress I think I’ll turn into a sweatshirt come winter, but I think it would work equally well in a thinner jersey…

  8. Oh, I love it soooooo much! Especially the back with the matching stripes! I’d love a version with a plainer front and that back. I mean, the front is tres adorable too, but that back (swoon).

    So now I’m on the lookout for striped knit fabric – fancy that!

  9. You look lovely!

    Please excuse me asking a quick off-topic question, and feel free to ignore it or direct me elsewhere.

    The fine blue merino material in your latest (wrap) giveaway – did you happen to run it through the washing machine or do you know how it stands up to washing?

    Thankyou very much for the recommendation of the Fabric Shop – I was there today but in the end ran out of time to ask the staff about care instructions, and was too overwhelmed by choice and indecision to buy anything anyway!

  10. What a fantastic top! It looks so great on you.

    I rarely make or wear stretch garments; I have this horror of them stretching out of shape and looking dreadful. (Which, I believe, is from my growing-up years; wearing cheap t-shirts that Mum would hang upside down on the clothes line, dragging the hem out and down.)

    However, your knit top series is changing my mind.

    Thanks for that!

    Also, you’ve done marvellously in matching up the stripes on the back.


    • Thanks! I’m not a t-shirt person myself, but I can recognize that knits have some great qualities (easy to wear, etc) so part of this was to challenge my own feelings about working with knits and wearing them. :) For me, I think the key is a good fabric… I shudder when I think of that kind of t-shirt from my kid years… ;)

      The stripe matching on the binding was a very, very lucky fluke.

  11. I so want the pattern for the bowtie top!! It is stunning! Love the stripes….so fashion forward!! Pls let me know if the pattern is available and where? Kind regards, Vanessa from Africa!

    • Very soon I will have the pattern up on Craftsy! Promise! In multi-size. I’m just testing it on my local guinea pigs first to be sure the instructions work well and the yoke proportions are pleasing. :) Look for it around March 1!

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  13. It’s leftovers from a t-shirt I cut for my husband. A t-shirt I have yet to actually stitch together.

    This made me lol really hard! :D

    I think this is up there as one of my favourite things you’ve ever made! I can’t stop staring at how you handled those stripes. Absolutely beautiful. It’s really interesting to look at, from all sides.

    • I’m glad. I lol pretty hard about it, too… It’s funny, we have several “couple” clothes where he wanted a masculine version of something I made for me, or I “stole” the fabric from something I made for him… We try not to wear those clothes together in public…

      Thanks, Heather. :) I’m pretty happy with it, too.

  14. This is fab, can’t agree more with everyone else and bring on the next one whatever it looks like.

    Also, yes yes to the dress idea, not sure about the white/yellow/pink idea ( :o) but like the box pleats knee-length skirt idea a lot.

    BTW I machine wash my merinos in cold (along with everything else) unless it is particularly light weight or I love it too much and it lasts great. I’ve, mistakenly, bunged them in the dryer from time to time, on hot no less, and they were OK too. Amazing fibre.

    • I look forward to seeing what you come up with, Janice! Will you hack or use the pattern?

      Who am I kidding, you’re a hacker… ;)

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