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Filtering by Category: Design & Style Tips

Sewing a shirt-tail hem tee shirt

Christine Jonson Patterns

By Ann Siegle

UPDATED! Get the FREE downloadable Shirt Tail Hem Extension and trace your own!

The example tee shirt is an open scoop neck tee with a drop shoulder and a wide band for the sleeve and sleeve hem. The bottom of the tee has a shaped shirttail hem and the tee is boxy/loose fitting. To recreate this look, we need to look for a tee that has the drop shoulder and the loose fit. Three Tees from Christine Jonson Patterns is a perfect starting point for a basic tee alteration. This is a beginner project for pattern alteration and requires only a piece of kids’ chalk and a ruler. You can do it!

This is our tee inspiration. Key details: dropped shoulder, wide band at sleeve hem and a back shirttail hem, loose fit.

This is our tee inspiration. Key details: dropped shoulder, wide band at sleeve hem and a back shirttail hem, loose fit.

Three Tees has both a front and back tee pattern piece. The difference here is the neckline in the back. To create the wider scoop, we will be using the front pattern piece for both front and back of the tee and making a slight alteration to the width and depth of that neckline. If you’re using a drapey sweater knit, you won’t need to alter the front neckline at all – the soft stretchiness of the sweater knit will do this for you. If you are using a firmer knit, you will have to alter it slightly. (see example)

Making a shirttail hem:

Lay out your front pattern piece on the fold. Using your ruler, measure from the bottom of the hem of the tee cut off length marking. Making a graceful arc (you may use a French curve for this, or draw it freehand as I have done) up to the sideseam, creating the shirt tail hem. Note, you are not creating a new pattern piece or altering your pattern. You are simply drawing right on your fabric the appropriate curve.  Cut this pattern piece out. Lay this newly shaped pattern piece again on the fold and cut out a second. Voila! Front and back pattern pieces!

DIY Shirttail Hem on a Tee Shirt Sewing Pattern


Construct the tee as indicated in the directions – shoulder seams and sideseam. Do not finish the neckline just yet.

Finish the shirttail hem with an edge serge, turn the hem under once and press, and again and press. Topstitch the whole shirttail hem.

Create a banded sleeve hem:

Measure the sleeve width of your cut out pattern piece. Measure out a rectangle the length of your pattern piece x 8”. This, when folded and sewn to the sleeve edge like a band, will create a 3.5” wide band on the sleeve+hem, similar to the example shown above.

Sew the short ends of the sleeve band together. Fold the band in half, wrong sides together. You now have a tube the width of your sleeve opening. Line up the underarm seam of the tee with the band’s seam, right sides together. Serge the band on to the sleeve end, fold down and press.

Creating a banded neckline:For a cool banded neck shown in the example tee, you will measure your neckline of your tee. Subtract one inch from this measurement. Cut a rectangle this length x 2”. Serge the short ends together, right sides together. Fold the band in half, wrong sides together to create a narrow 1” band. Place the band’s center back seam against the WRONG side of the tee (yes!) and pin the band ‘s center front to the center front of the tee. Pin the band evenly around the tee neckline. The WRONG side of the tee is against the RIGHT side of the band. This is correct.

Serge the band on to the neckline. Now, turn the tee right side out and flip the band right over your serging and press. You will enclose the serged edge AND have a neat folded edge of the band. Pin and topstitch the band (it will need to stretch slightly as you go, covering the serged seam). Voila! A neatly finished neckline band.


For more details about this tee, click on over to Ann's blog post: Sewing a mixed-media shirttail tee.





Length and Proportion in Fashion

Christine Jonson Patterns

How to make yourself look taller, slimmer and better proportioned by playing with length when sewing clothes

by Christine Jonson

Is it possible to develop a discerning eye?  Is it intuitive? Or can it be learned? Learning through experience is a long process. Is there a shortcut to “seeing” exactly how long your skirt, sleeve length or jacket should be to be most flattering? Proportion in garment making is the same as perspective in a painting. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not great for most sewers. For some it is best to follow the designer’s lead and just make small adjustments according to the pattern directions, but for others these decisions are opportunities to develop a critical eye for design.

Jackets should hit the fingertip length and sleeves should meet the wrist bone. Shown here on Isabelle, our mannequin, this boyfriend jacket, an oversize style, still has good proportion and fit even though it's designed with casual, relaxed ease.

Jackets should hit the fingertip length and sleeves should meet the wrist bone. Shown here on Isabelle, our mannequin, this boyfriend jacket, an oversize style, still has good proportion and fit even though it's designed with casual, relaxed ease.

Cutting garments longer than necessary is the only way to have enough length to play with. Trying to make a length and proportion decision at the time of cutting is not possible. Expecting that you can shape a garment to perfection in tissue will only be disappointing.

On your next garment cut it longer than you would normally, even if you think it is fine as is. You may find that you don’t use the extra length or that you use every inch of it. Sometimes the extra length will make you see an entirely different outfit possibility. Make this a normal cutting process. 

In my pattern making and designs my aim is to make you look taller, slimmer and better proportioned. I can be in control of the design of the garment but you are in control of the lengths and proportions. For example, the Boyfriend Jacket, Boatneck Shell and Cuff Pant suit has 6 length decisions to be made and each of them is dependent on the other to give the perfect look. Stand far back from a full-length mirror and keep pinning the hems until you find the perfect combination. If you don’t have a full-length wall mirror buy an inexpensive freestanding mirror.

First of all the length of the jacket should be at your fingertips and the sleeves at your wrist bone. More importantly is the button placement. Because it is a loose fitting, straight cut jacket the distance between the shoulder and button should be shorter than from the button to the hem. The jacket should hit the pant leg below the widest part of the thigh and the cuff should just bend on the top of the shoe and be even with the top of the heel in the back. If the jacket is too short and the button is too high it throws off the proportion and shortens the torso.

The Shell untucked should just hit the seam where the waistband is sewn to the pant so when the jacket is open the eye sees the body divided not in half at the waist but higher so the hips and legs appear longer.

If you were making the Fitted Jacket you would want it to hit just below the widest part of the hips to hide them and because it is a fitted jacket, shape it enough to give definition to the waist so how you actually see the proportion of the suit is determined by the distance between the shoulder and the waistline and the waistline and the jacket hem and the waistline and the cuffs. Note that it is not the jacket hem and the cuff but the waistline. Interesting.

The Three Tees tunic length should hit your thighs at their narrowest point so that one would assume that they are that narrow all the way up! This is my favorite length for my tee because I have heavy thighs and no one would know it ;)

 Keeping the underarm area from the armpit to the waist open gives needed definition at the bust line.

To practice seeing the right proportions just look around you at what others are wearing. Think how you could improve the outfits you see by simply lengthening or shortening their proportions. Try on some of your finished garments and look at them critically with a sewing friend and ask if they could be improved by changing their proportion.

The Easy Coat – DIY/Sew Your Own Winter or Spring Coat

Christine Jonson Patterns

This is the easiest coat you'll ever sew.

Sherry, in our Easy Coat, Maxi Length Wool/Cashmere Unlined version. Sherry's own boots and Scarf provided by Ann, our Stylist

Sherry, in our Easy Coat, Maxi Length Wool/Cashmere Unlined version. Sherry's own boots and Scarf provided by Ann, our Stylist

It is truly what we say it is, an EASY coat to sew! With patch pockets and our easy jacket construction methods, including stitched down facings (no floppy facings!), lining or not (optional) and easy fit, this coat is perfect for even beginners to make.

The Easy Coat has both maxi and knee length versions, or you can customize the length for yourself. It’s a great spring, fall or winter coat – make it in a coated linen or cotton print for spring, sew it in a home dec brocade for fall or a gorgeous cashmere and wool coating for winter. Our Styling Tips at the end of this article will give you a lot of great ideas of how to sew, style and wear your new coats. 

Click on the photographs to see them larger and in greater detail

Coat Options

The Easy Coat, Maxi-Length Unlined Version in Charcoal Gray:

This coat is made long, a maxi coat, in a gorgeous wool and cashmere coating fabric. It's not lined, and it's amazing to wear! It feels as soft as a bathrobe.  Some of the highlights of this coat are that it's constructed on your serger, for easy, fast and clean finishes on the inside. All of the facings are stitched down from the top side, leaving the inside clean and stable. Christine hates floppy facings, so all the jacket and coat patterns in the collection feature stitched-down facings that don't buckle or pucker. The coat has deep patch pockets and a wrap and tie belt. As you can see in the charcoal cashmere, there are no buttons and buttonholes; this version simply wraps and ties. 

The Easy Coat, Knee-Length Unlined Version in Taupe:

The lighter taupe cashmere Easy Coat is luxurious and fun. This coat is also unlined, and is made in a heavier weight coating fabric than the maxi version. Unlined and without a belt, it's a perfect toss-on-and-go coat. The Hollywood glamour of a thick brushed coating fabric, an open front and a shorter length works very well over a dress.

The Easy Coat, Knee-Length Lined Version:

The Easy Coat has an optional lining. The denim knee-length version has a printed cotton lining (made from old curtains!) The Easy Coat is versatile as both a winter coat, as you can see from the wool and cashmere coating versions, and a spring/fall coat. The denim version is a spring / fall coat. This coat would look wonderful in a bright print, a leopard print or even a dramatic red or turquoise, to shake away the rainy spring blues. For spring showers, try a coated cotton or linen, or even a Supplex nylon, as the coat still needs some drape. We've used buttons and buttonholes on this version. 

Go ahead, even you can sew this coat!

Coats are one of the 'big scary projects' that many sewists have. Right up there with sewing your own jeans, blazers/jackets, swimwear and wedding gowns. Have no fear! Even a beginner can sew this Easy Coat, and it's a perfect canvas for embellishment for those sewists looking for a challenge.

Have an entire wardrobe of coats. Here are some possibilities

  • Coating weight wool, cashmere
  • Coated, printed cotton and linen
  • Supplex nylon
  • Denim and canvas
  • Home decorating textured and printed fabrics (including brocades and jacquards)
  • Tartans and directional prints will need extra fabric to match their directional motifs, but offer a relatively easy canvas upon which to learn to sew matched plaids or prints. 

Getting Started:

If you're new to coat sewing, choose a good coating fabric for a winter coat. If you want it lined, you can use satin-backed flannel (known by the brand name Kasha in North America). There are even Thinsulate fabrics you can use to interline the coat. The Easy Coat's roomy and forgiving shape (cinched with a belt) means fitting challenges aren't going to be a challenge. 

Styling the Easy Coat:

Classic and Elegant:

This coat goes over everything, but we especially love the Easy Coat maxi over wide leg dressy trousers in a wool jersey and a classic fitted turtleneck. Trousers in a camel wool (try the Trouser Pant #1010) with a cream funnelneck turtleneck (Travel Trio Two, sleeve lengthened to long sleeve) with heeled boots. You'll need a big scarf, so try an oversized infinity cabled cowl in a contrast color. A cozy slouch or beret hat will finish the classic look. 

Youthful and fun:

The Easy Coat in a leopard print coated cotton over skinny jeans and ballerina flats is a look that coeds across the country were sporting this past spring. The youthful combination of a fun print and slim leg jeans with a flat rings of Audrey Hepburn in Paris in the spring. Wear this over a striped bateau neck tee (the #1010 Keyhole tee without the keyhole is the perfect style)

Hollywood Glamour:

For evening, make the Easy Coat in a brocade or brushed cashmere and omit the closures. Over the Pleat Front Dress (knee length) in black, with your fanciest jewelry and heels, you'll be ready for the opera or music concert, holiday party or work event. 

Weekend Casual:

The Easy Coat, sewn knee-length in a canvas is a perfect weekend coat. Over jeans and Wellie boots, with a chunky plaid scarf, this coat can go to farmer's markets and antique shops. If you're looking for a classic weekend look, try a Fisherman or cable sweater knit made into a slouchy turtleneck (Three Tees turtle) over rolled boyfriend jeans and hiking boots. Make the coat in a neutral taupe canvas with metal buttons. For an edgier look, try it in army green canvas, slightly above the knee, with faux leather and ponte leggings (BaseWearOne) and a printed knit tunic (Cowl Neck Tunic e-pattern) with ankle booties. Finish the coat with metal or toggle buttons. 

Patterns featured in this article:

Easy Coat 122
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Print Track/Jogger Pants

Christine Jonson Patterns

The fashion world glommed onto "track" or "jogger" pants a couple of seasons ago, and they continue strong, as an alternative to the super-skinny designer looks of the last decade. The jogger pant is a relaxed but tailored pant that has room through the hips (usually elastic, or yoga/gathered waist or pleats), and tapers to a narrow cuff or sometimes even stretch band hem. It blends the slim leg with a full hip and is perfect for dressing up with a blazer and a unique blouse for work, or dressing down with a simple tee and sandals on the weekend. 

The print jogger pants trend picked up last season and continues strong. It's a youthful look but easy to wear for casual weekend looks for almost anyone. If you're unsure, try a tone on tone print (like gray on black) or a small print that, when you stand back several feet, almost looks like a solid color. For those of you who wish to go bold, tropical prints are big, as are animal prints like zebra and leopard. 

Here are some ideas for print jogger pants. You can find delicious prints in ITY, Rayon/Lycra and other knit fabrics that are perfect for the Cuff Pant. 

Pair the cuff pant with a canvas jacket, such as a field/safari jacket or denim jacket,  for days off, and wear it with wedge sandals. For casual Friday workplaces, try a tailored blazer, a georgette blouse and printed jogger pants with wedge open toe heels or ballet flats.

The Cuff Pant with the cuff at the hem dresses up the pants considerably. If you're leaving your blouse untucked, a printed pant with cuff in an ITY knit looks just like a dressy fabric and can pass as dress trousers with even a fairly close inspection! If you want absolute luxury, you can try a silk knit.

For a completely unique look, try dyeing your own in a twist-dye variation on batik, bamboo/rayon knit for dyeing is available by the yard from Dharma Twist dyeing is similar to tie dye, without tying the fabric. Simply grab the fabric and begin twisting it around on itself - you can twist in several spots or just end to end. Then dip the twisted sections into various colors of prepared dye, letting them bleed into each other (creating unique and interesting ombre patterns.) 

Pattern Design alternations needed for this look:

For this slim leg look, take 1.5" away from the inner leg seam at the hem tapering to 0" at the crotch seam, this will make the hem and pant leg narrow. Crop the cuff at the ankle bone so it shows off your awesome shoes! 

Dance and Yoga to Street Wear

Christine Jonson Patterns

Our pattern features this week include an elegant dancer's version of our popular wrap top. If you've sewn wrap tops before, you've never sewn one like this - the bodice is completely double-layered so there are no tricky wrap neckline hem finishes required - you simply serge (or zigzag) the layers together, wrong sides together, and turn the top to the outside for perfectly sewn and stable neckline finishes! The sleeveless version of this top is reversible, too! 

Go dance inspired in a ballet-pink soft knit like rayon/lycra and wear it over a cap sleeve tee from our #1010 Keyhole Top and Pants for Wovens (the tee is also constructed two-layered and is reversible in the sleeveless version!) Top the whole outfit over boot cut knit pants from our #1010 Keyhole Top and Pants for Wovens in ponte knit for a dance or yoga to street outfit. You don't need a zipper if you make these pants in a stretch knit fabric. 

DIY Dance wrap top and boot cut dance pants