boatneck tee drafted from ready to wear

Boatneck tee drafted from ready-to-wear

contrast yoke boatneck tee from JCrew painter tee |

original ready to wear boatneck tee
The J.Crew boatneck tee that I used as a source

There’s one short-sleeve tee in my wardrobe that I depend on as my go-to tee. It’s a boatneck tee from J.Crew from several years ago with sleeves that come just above the elbow, a flattering shape, interesting overlapping shoulder construction with buttons, and the perfect color. Whenever I put it on I feel more put together yet still comfy and casual. It works with all of my pants and shorts, it’s not too thick or too thin.

Sadly, it won’t last forever.

Happily, I know how to draft a pattern from ready to wear.

boatneck tee drafted from ready to wear
My version of the boatneck tee, with side vent and contrast yoke

The previous patterns I’ve made from some of my favorite clothes have gone very well. The 3/4 sleeve white tee and linen drawstring shorts are not without room for improvement, but the fit is pretty good because I started with something off the rack that already fit. Fit has been my biggest challenge by far when it comes to sewing my own clothes.

Project features

  • knit binding on stabilized neckline
  • twin needle hemming
  • side vents
  • contrasting yoke
  • button detail on neckline

Process notes

  • used a reclaimed tee for the striped lower portion of the shirt
  • added a contrasting yoke
  • for the neckline, used techniques learned in Sewing on the Edgestabilized the neckline with fusible tricot and stay stitching, then sewed on the binding by aligning one raw edge with the stay stitching line, trimmed off the excess along the neckline, folded the binding over to the back, and topstitched in place with a twin needle.
  • flipped the sleeves around so the flatter slope was in the back and the sharper curve was in the front
  • added vents in the sides
  • even though the pattern was drafted for 3/8″ seam allowance, I reduced it to 1/4″ for closing up the sleeves/side seams because the striped fabric didn’t have much stretch


I love this color combo! My only regret is that the striped fabric isn’t very stretchy, making the tee rather snug and difficult to put on. If the bottom were as stretchy as the top, it wouldn’t be a problem. I also used a straight stitch to attach the yoke to the bodice, which was a mistake. The first time I put it on, that seam ripped, so I had to go back and use a stretch stitch and pull out the original stitches.

The neckline finish is awesome, and I’d like to use that technique again — as long as it doesn’t need to stretch over my head. The boatneck worked fine, but since the fusible tricot prevents that edge from stretching it wouldn’t work if it were a typical crew neck. I think it’s going to be an improvement on the original tee because that one gaped at the back of the neck and this one appears to be sitting closely against the back of my neck nicely.

boatneck tee drafted from ready to wear
Neckband detail, with overlapping shoulder seam and button

Switching the sleeves from front to back appears to have worked just fine. It bunches up a little radiating from the under arm, which would be nice to remedy, but I haven’t yet found the trick to that.

Pipsqueak getting in the picture
Pipsqueak, dancing for attention while we were shooting the photo

Next time:

  • make the neckline binding 1/4″ wider
  • use a stretchier fabric or increase the size of the pattern to accommodate
  • attach yoke with stretch stitch
  • lower armhole at side seams about 1/4″