Blank Canvas Tee

The Blank Canvas Tee was an experiment I started before Cake Patterns. I wanted to create a simple, useful multi-size knit top pattern available free for download and tweaking. The original pattern and upgrades have been downloaded over 20,000 times!

I also use this pattern to teach knits beginners. With no sleeve seams, a stretchy hem band, hemmed sleeves, two neckline variations and an optional micro-pocket detail, this is my ultimate go-to t-shirt pattern, and I hope it will be yours, too!

Nº2224 The Tee pdf frontx

Click here or click The Tee.pdf envelope above to download, and check out for sewing tips, vids, and inspiration- more coming soon!

I left the original “hacks” on this page; you can still use them with The Tee pattern, have all the fun, and sew well!

Button for “hackers”

Hacking The BCT:

I like to publish hacks of The Tee, to encourage you to play with patterns and fabric to achieve designs you love to wear.  It’s a fun way to pick up a little light drafting. 

January’s Hack: Sailor Sweetheart Tee

February’s Hack- Bow Tie Tee: Inspired by a 1950’s dress neckline

Finished Object: Bow Tie Tee View A

March’s Hack: Flutter-by Tee- lace insertions, lace fabric, v-neck and flutter sleeves!

April’s Hack: 40’s Charm Tee- Faux bolero seaming, unique 1940’s inspired neckline

May’s Hack: 9 Lines Tee or Sweater- Standaway collar or plain neckline, underarm gussets, long sleeves and optional shoulder button placket.

Share this pattern, hack it up, mess with it however you like.  The Blank Canvas Tee is intended for private or educational use only.  All patterns are copyright Stephanie Cousins, 2012.  They belong to me and the online sewing community.

If you would like to contribute to the cost of my rent and groceries, please feel free to donate using the button below.  I consider the BCT an open-source sewing project, akin to open-source software.  If you have benefited from the pattern and/or the hacks and you would like to contribute, it is greatly appreciated.


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  35. I downloaded your Blank Canvas Tee and then proceeded to sew it up using four different fabrics. I will have to say that this is a fantabulous pattern!! Your instructions are short, sweet and simple!! I made four of them in four hours. Are you the author of the kimono sleeve dress on Craftsy? if so I will certainly purchase it as I know how well your pattern fits together. I’ll be watching your site for future ideas and patterns. Thank you. Gail

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  38. Hi, I found this through Kollabora and I’m in awe of your tee-shirt hacks! Thanks for posting instructions, I’ll definitely try some when I get a bit handier with the sewing machine:)
    Love the blog title too!

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  42. Hi Stephanie – I have just pinned your blog to my pinterest board. I am a middle aged fashion design student living in Victoria, and am really enjoying the generosity of so many people on the web. Thank you for sharing your information, ciao, Tam

    • Awesome, thanks for letting me know. It really makes my day. Internet peeps are indeed very generous, and I think the spread of information will completely revolutionize fashion and design in our lifetimes… I mean- I can watch the latest designer catwalk shows from Paris, I can watch street fashion in Naples and New York and Tokyo, I can access vast libraries of drafting and tailoring and sewing instructions without leaving my comfy chair.. Now what are we going to do with all of that? Seems to me that designers/artists from past centuries would give their left eyes for such access as we have.. :)

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  45. This is going to be my, um… second(?) project using knit fabric (ever!) and I’ve got some cool white with navy striped fabric I got for really cheap at a huge fabric store in Denver. I’m really excited! One question though. The pattern piece for the sleeve binding, are you supposed to cut that piece out of the fabric and then cut it in half (crosswise) to get the pieces for both sleeves? Stupid question, but I’m just always paranoid about cutting into a piece of fabric lol. And I seem to have run out of interfacing, so I’m just using regular bias tape to stabilize the shoulder seams. Worked pretty well on the maxi dress I just finished. I’ll have to put up a picture of the finished shirt.

    I noticed a few issues when printing and piecing together the pattern. I’m guessing it’s drafted for A4 size paper? I’m in America, so I had to mess with my printing settings and kinda just hope for the best in terms of scale lol :) . I really don’t know what all goes into making the pdf pattern, but it might be helpful for some of your readers if you had an A4 version and a U.S. Letter size pattern. Just a thought. If it’s hard to change, I’m sure it’s not a problem. I think I got it scaled right in the end. Oh, and the bottom line of the sleeve binding piece is missing on the second page of the pattern. Not a huge problem; I just lined up my ruler with the lines from the pages on either side of it and drew a line across. I’m not trying to complain at all (you have no idea how happy I was to find a free basic t-shirt pattern like this. You’re an angel!), I just figured you might want to know. :)

    Sarah Richards

    P.S. you are absolutely brilliant! i love the idea of providing a basic pattern and giving instructions for hacking it and leaving it open for other people to share their ideas too! You’ve just made it onto my officially unofficial list of Favorite People on the internet ;)

    • If you choose “print entire image” or something like that (depending on your computer), it should print on the letter sized paper. There’s also a 1″ gauge, if I remember correctly. I am also thinking that the sleeve band piece says “cut 2.”

      I haven’t used bias tape on shoulder seams, so if you get a result you don’t like, it’s probably the bias tape.

      Most of the rest of the world uses A4, my margins are adequate for printing on letter sized paper.

      Hmmmm, I didn’t know page 2 was missing a line, very interesting! I’ll go take a look and update the pattern. How can nearly 4,000 of them be downloaded without someone telling me that? Sigh.

      • haha, it’s no problem. I can’t even imagine trying to take on a project of this scale! you are my hero! and the shirt turned out just perfect on the first try with no alterations! the bias tape worked fine too. my mom just loooved it when I showed her the shirt :) btw, the sleeve band piece is fairly long and says “cut 1”, but it was more than long enough to do both sleeves. I am veeeery happy with this pattern :D

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    • Thanks, Jo! I’m so terribly pleased you like it and it worked so well for you! :D Come back and chat more often… I do enjoy it.

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  57. I just put together the blank slate tee and sewed it up this evening, and I am going to tell you what you already know. This is a wonderful pattern. Perfectly drafted- a 35 fit me with no alteration. This is just what I needed, as I have way too much frosting in the closet and not enough cake. My immediate sewing goal is to make up some everyday items fast, and this pattern will be so helpful. Thank you for sharing your hard work!!!

    • Thanks so much for that. I wish it was better, but I’m working on that… :) I really put a huge amount of work into it and wondered whether it was running into obsession… But knowing it works so well for so many people makes it completely worth it. I can’t wait to get the Cake patterns out there… :)

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  74. I downloaded this pattern a while ago but life happened and I only recently tried it out for the first time. LOVE IT!! Made 2 T-shirts and hacked the pattern to make myself a t-shirt dress with patch pockets. Next up is a long sleeved version, got myself some animal print for it this morning. Thanks for a great pattern

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  78. I’m about to attempt this, but I’m scared because I have never attempted a shirt before, and I just read one of the above comments about troubles with printing. I’m in America, and I just printed the pdf from Craftsy without any changes. It appears ok? I’m about to tape the pattern all together, but there are margins. Is it supposed to have margins? My plan is to trim off a margin from one side and tape down to the next page, and just wing it like that.

    So for now, I’m just going to go for it. “Just going for it” is one reason all my projects turn out really bad, though, so if you get this and are thinking, “Nooooo! You’ve got it all wrong!” please feel free to stop me. :)

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  80. Hi Steph, thanks for the T pattern. I made it up but with an full bust alteration, introducing a dart at the side. It might seem an odd thing to do to a T shirt, but I’m really pleased with the result – the first t-shirt I’ve owned since I was about 14 that nether strains across the bust nor flaps loosely around the middle, I’m gong to try the sailor T next.

  81. I’m putting my shirt together now, and am wondering exactly how to do the neck binding. Forgive me, it’s my first top ever. Are you suppose to sandwich the neck piece between the folded binding strip? That’s how I saw it done on someone else’s neck binding tutorial. I was just confused by your instructions, and I can’t find any really close up pictures of finished shirts made from your pattern, or step by steps with pictures. Maybe someone who has made it can blog a tutorial? that would be helpful to newbies like me. Thanks for your work making this pattern, and your help.

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  85. Hi Steph! Thank you for such a wonderful pattern! I made one in a plain white knit fabric and the 30 fits me perfectly, even better than any of my store-bought tees. And THAT STEP where you sew up one shoulder side first…. BRILLIANT! Now I don’t have to be tugging around circle neck openings which can be persnickety. Ok, now I want to make another one but this time, I want to hack a separate sleeve. But before I do, perhaps you did one already? :) Thank you so much again for sharing this! Love it!

  86. I am going to make my first t-shirt with this pattern. I love all the hacks you’ve made – you’re so creative. First the original and then hopefully, on to copy some of your hacks.

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