Idea Log: Pleated tee

Idea Log: Pleated tee

I’m deep into the summer struggle. In need of tops with at least a little bit of sleeve for indoors, but in fabrics that are bearable outdoors. Really, this is the summer I absolutely have to learn to wear dresses (and make said dresses) — more about that coming up — but in the meantime, I just really need something to put on my top half with my trusty wide-leg pants, so I can get dressed in the mornings. And I’ve had this little tee in my head.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve had a fixation for a few years now about tops/dresses with volume stemming from neck pleats or gathers. I particularly love a placket combined with gathers. But as far as something simple to sew, simple to wear, I just want a linen tee made slightly more interesting with neck pleats. Rather than proper set-in sleeves, I’m imagining it as just a two-piece situation — front and back — and believe I can get here by manipulating the same old pattern I’m forever messing with. And if it works, I want it in like a few different weird/bright shades of linen.

I’ve never attempted a mod quite like this one, which makes it both a little daunting and a lot of fun. I just need to make the time to try it! Asap.


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38 thoughts on “Idea Log: Pleated tee

  1. I recently became a complete convert to dresses, and urge you to do the same. Just one thing to put on, and infinitely cooler than any other garment. The short summers in the Twin Cities are hot! I recently got back from a trip to (also hot) Toronto and t-shirt dresses were my salvation. I also became a hat aficionado- the gigantic straw variety.

    You have the mad sewing skills to make your dresses! Get some lovely handloom Indian fabric and you’re halfway there. Meanwhile, your pleated tee concept looks beautiful.

    • I happen to have some Indian handlooms! And India is my main motivation for adopting dresses between now and then. But they also need to be on the longer side and with some sort of sleeve, so it’s a whole rethinking.

        • I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in wide-legs! I’m sure you look stunning.

          • I’m planning to have at least a little bit of sleeve on everything I take. But can I ask you about dress length? I’ll have bare legs and am assuming dresses should come not just below the knee-cap, but more midi length. Is that right?

  2. I am a big fan of mashing patterns together (vs. drafting modifications from scratch). Simplicity 1692, a reissue of a 1940s pattern for a woven short- or long-sleeve shirt with gathers at the neck, would be a good candidate for a mashup if you’d like a template for the mod!

    • I’ll take a look! I’m basically thinking of mashing up the linked pattern with my own neckline I’ve drawn over the years, and then doing a slash-and-spread on it. But it would be good to look at a pattern or two that already has that in place to see what it looks like!

      • I should add, I have a copy of this pattern and it is highly probable that it will languish in my file drawer for years, since that’s about how temporally deep my sewing project queue is. Happy to send it to you if you’d like to use it.

        • Oh, that’s so sweet of you, Claire. If I fail to achieve what I’m after, I may take you up on that!

  3. Hi! Since your modifications are so challenging, will you make a muslin version first? I’ve actually never done that, since you’re essentially making the top twice…

    • For sure, yeah — especially since it’s just two pieces to cut and baste together to see how it’s working out. The thing about muslins is they’re just for fit, so you don’t need to spend time doing any of the detail work.

  4. Funny that you should mention dresses in your post. I’ve just made Grainline’s Wardrobe Tunic dress mod and I love it. It is the sleeveless view, which I can easily layer with short-sleeved sweaters, and I’ve made it in linen, which is also my fiber of choice for summers in the south. Next on my list is the Wiksten dress……also in linen. I’d love to get my hands on that Simplicity tee pattern that you mentioned. It looks perfect. Look forward to hearing more about your dream tops. I’m off to Squam in a little over a week……..I can smell the pines and feel the cool lake waters!

    • Judy, I just got a copy of Simplicity 2472 (that tee) from Etsy. It looked like a few sellers had copies, and none are expensive. I love the idea of pleats!

      • Thanks Martha! I found one and it’s on it’s way to me now!! ;-)))

  5. Liesl Gibson has a class on dart manipulation- I think it’s on Creativebug. Anyway, I have seen that image of multiple darts running up to the neckline. As far as pleats, why not take the Wiksten kid’s smock pattern and size it up? Or a Folkwear pattern (there are many traditional smocks, all gathered into the neckband.

    • I took a bust adjustment class with her a few years ago and then watched here Creativebug video, but it’s mostly lost to me now. Definitely planning to watch it again!

    • Oh, and I am totally scheming about sizing up that Wiksten Smock at some point, having lost hope of the adult size version. But in this case, I need sleeves. But I do think I have a Folkwear pattern I can look at.

    • My most successful bust dart manipulation experiment was moving the bust dart to the neckline, then converting to gathers. I really liked the fit.

  6. I bought a Willow Tank & Dress pattern from Grainline Studios and have made several tops and dresses. The first couple of tops I made with the underarm dart, as per the pattern, but the others and the dresses I made by changing eliminating the dart and adding the fullness to gathers at the neckline. I LOVE the way it fits and looks.

    • If I didn’t already have a pattern to jump off from, I’d be looking at the Roscoe from True Bias to see if it could be done without the front split.

  7. I’m a patternmaker and this is actually one of the first exercises I gave my students when I used to teach! It’s basic dart manipulation — you want to start with a bodice that has bust darts, and then pivot them into the neckline, changing that single large bust dart into multiple small darts evenly spaced along the neck. I liked to teach the exercise with a paper pattern and scissors, cutting one leg the original dart, cutting several new dart lines at the neck, with the new and old darts connecting at the bust point.You then closing the original dart — which gives you the darts to play with at the neckline. Being able to physically move the pattern seemed to help the idea click easier with the students.

    • This is my question about this project: As you describe, it’s straightforward if there is a bust dart. But, this will not have a set-in sleeve, so I think no bust dart? So I wonder how the outcome will be. I guess the flatter your bust is, the less the issue. Can’t wait to see how it comes out!

    • Oh that’s cute! Different but cute, for sure. I’ve never heard anything about their patterns till very recently. Have you tried others?

      • I have done their “Cara” blouse, which is similar to a number of other top patterns with a crew neck, front pockets, and sleeves, except that the sleeves are set-in rather than dolman with extensions. But as a cautionary update, I made the Chelsea in a linen this week, thinking that all was well with the muslin, and boy was I wrong! So now I have to decide if I’m going to remove half of the neckline bias binding and take a dart out of the top of the shoulder to bring the neckline closer, as well as rip out the hem at the side seams and take in the width of the body. (I was also debating making the pinch pleats at the neckline bigger.) I was making this to take on vacation to Portugal next month but just not sure it’s worth the time it will take to make it really fit. Ugh…

        I should mention that I’ve been making numerous tops this summer from Sonbya Phillips’ “Array” top pattern featured in “Making” Issue No. 6. (Very similar to her 100 Acts of Sewing Top No. 1) I had to raise the neckline, lengthen the sleeves and narrow the body a bit, but it’s now my go-to pattern for quick cotton (mostly print) tops.

    • I actually made that one a few years ago and it was terrible on me! But I’ve thought about trying to mod it in a way that might work.

  8. love it! an easy way to play with pleats is to fold (pleat) paper or fabric FIRST then lay the pattern on top! you can work it out with mini versions (i.e. paper doll style) too and then go full scale…

    • I LOVE those pintucks!! Do you know what pattern she is using for the top? Just curious. I know I’ve probably got a few basic ones hanging around…….also have a couple of pintuck feet for my Bernina, which make the process even easier!

  9. Where do you get your fabrics? I used to live near A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland, and they had a fabulous selection. I haven’t tried online yet since I’m pretty new to sewing and like to see drape. But if there is a go to for linen online that’s pretty trustworthy I’m in! I also live near NYC so can make a trip into town. Thanks and hopefully this isn’t the 500th time you’ve been asked this!

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