A women’s T-shirt pattern is a blank slate for an outfit. You can go from weekend to workplace with a few thoughtful swaps.
A women’s T-shirt pattern also is a blank slate for sewing pattern hacks, which is what this post is all about: modifications to a T-shirt neckline and hem length.
But, instead of pattern experiments with fabric, today we’re evaluating ILLUSTRATIONS of different T-shirt necklines and hem lengths on a misses body and on a plus body.
Body Models for the Win
Placing line drawings of a sewing pattern over a body model is a low-stakes way to play with design. It’s as simple as tracing a photo of your body in a form-fitting garment and then sketching your sewing pattern of interest over your croqui.
RELATED: How to Make an Easy Personalized Body Drawing Template for Sewing
I think seeing a outline/low-detail image of how your body looks lets you be more objective about what shapes of clothes you like to see on your body shape. Fewer body details bring garments to the foreground.
If you’d like to get inspired to do your own illustrated experiments with sewing pattern hacks (or you’re still unclear about what I’m throwing down), please keep reading!
This article is divided into three parts:
- Background on the virtual pattern mods I’m testing and the measurements of the body model drawings
- What the body models look like with different neckline and hem length combos + analysis
- How I think about the “F” word (it’s not what you think)
Details About Body Models and T-Shirts
The illustrated body models in this article are avatars for Sie Macht’s two — count ’em TWO — size ranges: a misses range (B) and a plus range (D).
The “B” and “D” refer to bust cup sizes. In sewing — and this is different from RTW bras! — bust cups work like this:
|Bust Cup||Difference Between Full Bust and High Bust [FB – HB = Bust Cup]|
|A||1 in. / 2.5 cm or less|
|B||1.25-2 in. / 3.2-5.1 cm|
|C||2.25-3 in. / 5.7-7.6 cm|
|D||3.25-4 in. / 8.3-10.2 cm|
|DD||4.25-5 in. / 10.8-12.7 cm|
Sie Macht’s D range has a 4-inch difference between the full bust and high bust. The B range has a 2-inch difference.
These specific drawings are the middle sizes — 6/8B and 26/28D — for each range. I develop my sewing pattern blocks for each range off these body dimensions. Here are the measurements for these body models:
|High Bust||33.75 in. / 85.7 cm||50 in. / 127 cm|
|Full Bust||35.75 in. / 90.8 cm||54 in. / 137.2 cm|
|Waist||27.5 in. / 69.9 cm||49.5 in. / 126.1 cm|
|Full Hip||38.75 in. / 98.4 cm||58 in. / 147.3 cm|
Here are the body models without clothes! Gasp!
In case you’re interested, I have a dress form for each block model, and I wrote an article about sewing a DIY dress form for my D-Range goddess.
T-Shirt Styles That We’re Looking At
On these body models, we’re examining four different T-shirt necklines:
Aaaannndddd three different shirt lengths:
- High hip: Top of your hipbones, covering the waistband of *most* pants.
- Full hip: This length ends at the widest part of the body, usually crotch-level-ish.
- Cropped: At the narrowest part of the body.
The shirt itself is slightly shaped through the waist — not relaxed fit but not form fitting either. In my head, this shirt isn’t so tight it shows bra outline or too lose that you can look down the neckline when you bend over.
The Rest of the Look
Along with T-shirts, the B and D body models are wearing a straight-leg trouser that hits close to the natural (high) waist and ballet flats. I wanted the T’s to pair with garments that weren’t too casual or too dressy.
T-Shirt Style Experiments: Neckline + Hem Length Combos
If you’re antsy to see illustrations of each T-shirt style on the plus and misses body models, here are links to each image:
High hip crewneck
Full hip crewneck
High hip scoopneck
Full hip scoopneck
High hip V-neck
Full hip V-neck
High hip turtleneck
Full hip turtleneck
- The cropped length makes the arms and legs of B and D look longer.
- The full hip length makes the B torso look extra long.
- The scoopneck lengthens the neck of B and D.
- The cropped V-neck on D makes the torso look disproportionately short to the legs and arms.
- The full hip length elongates torsos of both B and D.
- The proportions of the high hip length on D make the torso look almost circular.
Big-Picture Thoughts About Lengths and Necklines
Here are my hot takes, in no particular order:
- When the neckline is high (turtleneck, crewneck), the torso can start to look disproportionally long to the rest of the body.
- When the neckline is lowered (scoopneck, V-neck), the neck and arms look longer.
- The cropped length is pleasing to the eye because it follows the rule of thirds: approximately one part shirt to two parts pants. Your brain/eyes expect a one-to-one ratio; an unbalanced ratio captures attention. Artists and designers use this trick all the time.
- One always could tuck a shirt into high-waisted pants to visually mimic a cropped top.
- Speaking of ratios… the full-hip length often bisects the body models into (basically) equal north and south hemispheres. Plus, the hem hits at the widest part of the body, which gives the whole model an oval shape (narrow at top and bottom, wide in middle).
- And, obvs, the high-hip length is between the expected one-to-one ratio and fresh one-to-two ratio.
The “F” Word and Why I Avoid It
Notice I didn’t use the “F” word when making observations about the neckline-length T-shirt combos.
Flattering is the “F” word I’m talking about here.
“Flattering” clothes help a body look:
- Hourglass shaped
So, on the flipside, “unflattering” clothes make a body look:
- NOT hourglass shaped (pick another shape — triangle, rectangle, circle, etc.)
The implication is that bodies that are short or fat or old or not hourglass shaped need to be dressed in a way that makes them look like something they’re not.
In a nutshell, “flattering” clothes represent the ideal body.
I believe there’s no such thing as the ideal body, and it’s not good for one’s mental health to be dressed in clothes that emphasize body flattery, because that implies that the body you live in is less than ideal.
Now, if you WANT to dress in a way that makes your legs look a mile long or your waist snatched, then by all means, you do you. Clothes are for self-expression, after all.
Think of getting dressed as a grand experiment. Instead of trying to mimic an ideal, ask yourself, “What would happen if I… ?” or “How would it feel to… ?” (Maybe use a body model for a virtual experiment…)
My wish for your is to adorn your glorious bod in garments that make you feel comfortable and confident.
In my book, your body is a bad-ass miracle that deserves respect and tenderness. And, any day above ground with your warm body is a good day.
experimenting with proportion, color, pattern, etc. (I’m low-key thinking about sewing most of the time.)
To kick start your own T-shirt experiment fashion lab, you’re invited to nab Sie Macht’s Cass T-shirt, a relaxed fit T in misses and plus sizes. With only three pattern pieces, it sews up FAST, which makes it an ideal candidate for quick-and-dirty fashion tests.
This article tested a regular-fit T — how might the relaxed Cass look with different necklines and hem lengths?
As long as you’re in a T-shirt sewing mood, here are more articles you might enjoy:
Over to you: What do you make of my thoughts on “flattering” clothes? Which T-shirt styles did you love (or loathe)? I’m dying to read your two cents in the comments.