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  • Writer's pictureMingMakes

Simple t-shirts

I attended a beginner’s overlocker workshop at the guthrie&ghani store in Birmingham in March 2022 as I wanted to gain some tips and experience in sewing garments with it. I had only used it for finishing seams as I didn’t feel I had enough control for anything more than that.

The guthrie&ghani store front

We covered the basics in the morning, and then we stitched up a simple t-shirt in the afternoon. There were only 3 pattern pieces - front, back and neckband. It appeared to be drafted just for the workshop, but someone in the Fold Line Facebook Group kindly suggested it looked similar to the Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee, which is free if you subscribe to her newsletter.

Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee pattern

T-shirt 1 - Navy cotton jersey

T-shirt 2 - White cotton jersey

T-shirt 3 - Grey Tencel modal jersey, with clear elastic on shoulder seams

Update 25th June 2022:

T-shirt 4 - Sky blue ribbed jersey with Tencel

T-shirt 1

I used Navy Basics Organic Cotton Jersey Fabric from their store, and although it’s labelled as basics, it’s very good quality and with a decent weight. The workshop gave me much more confidence in using the overlocker, particularly with sewing the neckband by trying to get a feel for how much to stretch it rather than the quartering method.

I was so pleased with the finished result and returned home ready to sew up my Stella Hoodie from Tilly and the Buttons.

Asian female in a colour blocked Tilly & the Buttons Stella Hoodie with grey bodice and kangaroo pocket, maroon sleeves and hood, and white wide flat drawstrings

T-shirt 2

The pattern from the workshop fit me fairly decently so I made another two t-shirts in preparation for a cruise this summer. Here it is paired with the Clemence Skirt.


The only changes I made were:

1. Forward shoulder adjustment of 1cm

2. Coverstitched the hems and neckband seam.

I made the second t-shirt out of the same fabric in Off-White. You can never have enough white t-shirts :)

Close up view of t-shirt neckline showing 2 needle coverstitched neckband

T-shirt 3

My third was using g&g’s grey Tencel modal jersey, my first time sewing with such drapey stretchy fabric. It is so soft that I’m sure I’d want to make more things out of this kind of fabric. It is paired with the Saguaro Set trousers below.

I wanted to sew it on the overlocker but found it to be too shifty under the presser foot. It was almost as if the fabric was too flimsy for the cutting knife, pushing the fabric out to the left away from the knife. I tried using tissue paper underneath which really helped, but I couldn’t hope to pick out all the bits between the stitches.

I therefore used my normal sewing machine with the lightning stretch stitch and a walking foot, overlocking the seams afterwards. This felt much more controlled. The fabric still wanted to wander when finishing on the overlocker, so I used tweezers to help feed the fabric through.

Feeding grey tencel modal jersey into a Janome overlocker, left hand on the fabric, right hand using tweezers to control the feed of the fabric

I used clear elastic (Vilene Framilastic 6mm) on the shoulder seams to stabilise them, since the fabric was so stretchy. I had only used clear elastic on one other garment, the Freya Dress having followed instructions in Tilly Walnes' book Stretch! I found it fairly straightforward to use, only I forgot to pre-stretch the elastic this time, so I wrote a reminder on the pack of elastic to remind me next time!

I used a white Prym Aqua Trickmarker to mark the seam line so I could see where to sew the elastic, trying not to cross the seam line.

Shoulder seam line marked with a white Prym Aqua Trickmarker on grey tencel modal jersey from guthrie&ghani

I attached it to the back of the back bodice using a small zig zag stitch to secure it, with a universal needle to help puncture the elastic.

6mm wide Vilene Framilastic clear elastic on the shoulder seam of a t-shirt on grey tencel modal jersey from guthrie&ghani, attached with zigzag stitch

I then switched to a jersey needle to sew the seams.

6mm wide Vilene Framilastic clear elastic on the shoulder seam of a t-shirt on grey tencel modal jersey from guthrie&ghani, attached with zigzag stitch with the shoulder seam sewn with lightning stitch

I used a 2-needle coverstitch for the bottom and sleeve hems, and securing the neckband seam. I was struggling a little with the coverstitching feeding in evenly as if it wasn’t sliding smoothly against the bottom of the presser foot, and ended up redoing the hem several times.

By the end, I worked out the faster I sewed, the better the result and so I just put my foot down and went for it. I just needed to do one small repair seen towards the right side of the photo below. This worked really well but not on the neckband, so I gently pulled on the fabric at the back to help it feed through and this made a huge difference.

Grey tencel modal jersey t-shirt showing the neckband and hem sewn with 2 needle coverstitch

I absolutely love the finished result and how it drapes. The softness of the fabric is so comfortable to wear and feels luxurious. I will certainly be making more garments out of this kind of fabric. It is paired with my Fiore Skirt below.

T-shirt 4

This one was finished just in time for a cruise. I had my eye on this Derby Ribbed Jersey in Sky by meetMILK bought from SewMeSunshine, and was interested to see how the more stretchy ribbed fabric would change the look of it.

The Tencel again made it very soft and comfortable to wear. Since the ribbing made it very stretchy, I used clear elastic on the shoulder seams and the neckline to prevent them stretching out of place over time. I found it a little more tricky to handle on this fabric and it didn't appear quite as neat on my last t-shirt. However, it was more than wearable and made it into the cruise wardrobe. Here it is paired with the Liberty Zina Wrap Skirt / Simplicity 8606.

This is a lovely simple t-shirt to make for a few quick wins, but I have my sights set on a fitted sleeve t-shirt, perhaps the Grainline Studio Lark Tee with its many neckline and sleeve options. Once I get this fitting well, it is such a versatile pattern.

Grainline Studio Lark Tee pattern

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I have no affiliations, I'm just a keen buyer and user. A UK supplier may be linked, please try to source items from your favourite independent stores.

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I'm Kay, and welcome to my blog where I share tales of my sewing journey, complete with mishaps, mistakes and solutions to help make your journey a smoother one.

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