This Ottobre T-shirt sewing pattern, from their summer issue 2007 (3/2007), has been my daughter’s favorite style for a few years now. She requests this style more than any other T-shirt. This issue has a lot of really cute styles. But for my tween, it’s all about her t-shirts and skinny jeans. Of course, she has her preferences and I have to sew her clothes according to her specifications, so I did change a couple things.
Some styles look way more tricky to do than they actually are. And with Ottobre’s sparse instructions and absence of illustrations, I thought a tutorial may be helpful. Sew along with me and see how easy it is to make the cute style with cut out sleeves at the shoulders.
Here we go… I have made this top in many different knits. A stable jersey knit is easiest to work with, so if you are just beginning to sew with knits, then stay away from those thin, flimsy knits (at least for now). This yellow is a medium to light weight cotton lycra.
Remember you can click on the photos to get a better view of each step. Make sure you are using ball point or stretch needles in both traditional sewing machine and serger.
If you don’t have a serger, then make sure to use a narrow zigzag or stretch stitch for all the seams and hems.
Get started: Cut all the pattern pieces out of fabric (front, back, and 2 sleeves). You’ll also need 3 binding strips at 1 1/2 inches wide. 2 for the sleeves: between 3 1/2 and 4 inches long. I use 3 1/2″ long x 1 1/2″ wide. One binding for neckline-you can use the pattern page for the lengths of the bindings.
Sew the shoulder seam (s) right sides together.
Ottobre instructions say to sew 1 shoulder seam, sew binding on, then sew up the 2nd shoulder seam. I don’t like this way, because it creates a lot of bulk at one shoulder. My daughter dislikes the way it feels, so I do all my bindings in the round. My tutorial will show you my way of doing things.
I watched this video tutorial by Threads Magazine and practiced a lot on how long to make a binding strip for a t-shirt neckline. It also shows binding in the round. For this shirt, I am doing a self-binding technique, which is a bit easier than the one showed in the video.
Sew binding into a loop. Use a regular sewing machine, instead of a serger to reduce the bulk.
Mark both the neck opening and the binding into 4 equal parts. (remember that video? she goes over this step)
Pin the binding to the neck opening at the quarter points, right sides together, making sure the seam in the binding is in the back of the shirt.
Sew the binding to the neckline, stretching the binding to fit each section between the pins. Be careful not to stretch the neckline, just the binding. And remove pins before sewing over them, or when they get close to the knife of you serger (if serging).
Pin the short binding strips to the upper edge of sleeves, with right sides together.
Serge the binding to the upper edge of the sleeve, stretching the binding to fit the curved edge of the sleeve.
Put the fabric under the presser foot of your serger and remove the first pin. Sew a couple stitches and once you’ve started sewing the binding to the sleeve, then you can stretch it to fit. Again, be careful to only stretch the binding and not the sleeve. And make sure to remove the pins before they are close to the knives or presser foot.
Press the seam allowances toward the bindings on both the sleeves and neckline. Then press the binding onto itself. All three-both sleeves and neckline.
Use a twin stretch needle to sew the binding down on both the sleeves and the neckline.
Carefully trim any extra binding fabric on the inside.
If your neckline looks wobbly or stretched–sometimes all it needs is a nice press with a hot iron.
Sew sleeves to the shirt, right sides together. Begin pinning at the under arm on one side and pin it up until you reach the cut out (binding).
Then do the same to the other side of the sleeve, pinning the under arm first.
I like to pin. My pins are parallel to my stitching line, since I will be serging the seam. You can use wonder tape instead of pins. I’ve also heard people use glue sticks, but I don’t care for that method.
When you serge the sleeves to the shirt, you’ll need to also serge the opening part. Just keep serging past the first binding and over the shoulder seam, and continue serging to the next binding and the underarm. Make sense?
Repeat for second sleeve.
Press seam allowances and raw edge at the shoulder seam toward the bodice and wrong side.
Top stitch (or edge stitch) seam allowance along the sleeve, sewing past the binding, so you sew the raw edge at the shoulder toward the inside and thus hemming this edge.
You’re in the home stretch now. Sew up the side seams.
Hem sleeves and bottom edge of shirt.
My daughter likes the look of the twin needle and does not want the lettuce ruffle edge as the pattern called for, so that’s how I hem the sleeves and shirt-with the twin needle.
One key to hemming with a double needle is to have the left needle right on the raw edge of the fabric as you sew. Press your hem precisely and follow that raw edge. This encloses the raw edge and prevents it from flipping to the right side while wearing your t-shirts. Sometimes you can see the raw edge, or you can feel it with your finger, as you sew the hem.
That’s it. A clever sleeve design with only sewing a few extra steps.
I should mention the other step that I don’t do is to add the clear elastic tape at the shoulders (above the cut out in the sleeves). The Ottobre instructions say to do this before adding the sleeves to the bodice, but I have not found it necessary. My daughter doesn’t like the feel of the clear elastic tape or the extra bulk there, so I left it out. Her shirts have not lost their shape at all.
I hope you give this pattern a try. It is super easy and a fun style for tweens. Happy stitching!