Back to Basics

Pattern: modified McCall's 6164
Fabric: 1.5 yds jersey knit
Cost: $18

Everywhere I looked this winter, turtlenecks were back in style. I'd see them at professional events, running around town, and in ads of people snuggled up at home. At first, I resisted. I still remember wearing them in elementary school, when they were for keeping warm instead of making fashion statements. But the more I saw them, the more enticing they looked. And I did need some more not-so-basic basics. So finally, finally (now that it is almost summer) I managed to make my first one.

I took this as an opportunity to refine my t-shirt pattern block using McCall's 6164 as a base. If you click on the link, you'll see that the pattern is horribly out of date. Like early 2000s when big 80s shoulders were circling back in style sort of out of date. Literally, there are six views wth different versions of puffy shoulders. But underneath it all is a really solid basic pattern that I've found fits me really well. The indies have proliferated basic tee patterns in recent years, but once you've found one that fits you're set.

To make it a true block for me, I made a few small tweaks. First, I did a sloped shoulder adjustment, which eliminates a lot of the bunching under the underarm. There are still a few small drag lines around the bust, which I think I could eliminate by shortening the front at the side seams and stretching as I sewed, but it's just a t-shirt after all.

The other adjustment I made was a swayback adjustment. It could probably go a bit further, but it helped to eliminate most of the excessive drag lines in the back. I used this method.

Finally, I threw in some neckline variations, along with sleeve cutlines. I created separate templates for just the top of the pattern including boatneck, crewneck, and turtleneck. I also considered doing a cowl neck but I decided I don't even like cowl necks that much and it would require redrafting more of the front than I cared to do. I also threw in a piece for a ruffle at the shoulder from the original pattern just for fun.

I spent a weekend day drafting these all out, and then cut out the fabric for two turtlenecks, plus this Mandy boat tee and a Presto! popover top. I'm really excited to have this in my arsenal now, as it makes it really easy to crank out a few more tops whenever I want.

The fabric is this great ribbed knit I got at Stone Mountain. I was looking for something that wasn't a solid color but also wasn't a wild print. I'm not so in to the wild prints. It's got great recovery and has a little bit of substance to it so that it's not opaque.

After the cut-out pieces sat in a basket for a few weeks, I finally sewed this up last night and have been wearing it ever since. It is perfect for running around town, will be a good option for work and, oh yes, it is great for snuggling. This will be making it in my suitcase for our Europe trip this summer. Now to plan the rest of my vacation sewing...


  1. yesss to turtlenecks! There is no such thing as too many basics!

  2. Great idea preparing a go-to knit top pattern - once the pattern work is done it is so quick to whip up one in every colour you need for the season ahead. And speaking of colour - this one is gorgeous on you!


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