Pop Quiz: Fitting the common women’s t-shirt

womens_tshirt_fittingHere’s today’s challenge, it seems relatively straightforward. What is wrong with this tee?

Some questions to consider:

Is it particular to this form (or a given body) or would a manifestation of the problem be evident on other bodies? Why?

What problems does the fit represent if this figure had arms?

Is the vast majority of what is wrong with it, fixable without darts?

If you need them, more pictures are here.

As a reminder, the answers to quizzes are usually counter-intuitive or not obvious. That’s why I pick them.

Dare I provide a hint? Okay. That would be here. Don’t look if you want to answer the question without any help.

Apologies I couldn’t put this on a human. Illustration of the difficulty is magnified with arms. I can’t get this tee on my Alvaform (which has arms).

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  1. Seth Meyeirnk-Griffin says:

    It looks like the sleeve is canting backwards; I assume that this is a combination of both incorrect sleeve cap shape and armhole shape? It also looks like the shoulder seam stops exactly on the shoulder of the form; that seam should be farther out. I’m wondering if the too-narrow shoulders (if I’m not imagining it/delusional) would be distorting the neckline, which might be causing both the fold of fabric in the front of the arm, as well as start causing the diagonal stress lines that are radiating down/back from the bust.

  2. dosfashionistas says:

    I see two problems that are obvious, so what am I not seeing? I am going to go look at the cheat site in a minute. What I see is that 1. there is no ease for the bust, and 2. the armhole and sleeve need to be reworked, with fullness taken out of the front armhole and the sleeve reshaped and rotated.

    Now I am going to go look at the hint and hit myself on the forehead.

  3. Marilynn says:

    I think it’s merely that there’s little to no bust depth – it’s really a “flat” pattern. If we could see the front hem we might see it’s shorter too.

  4. rob keller says:

    Shouldnt the line going across the shoulder and the side seam line up?Looks like their is at least an inch difference. That tells me the bust has insufficient room? That tells me the arm hole is cut wrong? Just a guess, I make jeans and have never made a shirt in my life.

  5. Renee says:

    This body was not drafted from a knit block. The front and back panels appear to be the same size, so the side seam is too far forward on the body; about an inch, I’d guess. A knit block would have the darts “smashed” out, so you wouldn’t have all the excess fabric under the bust. Those are the things that look worst to me. Darts aren’t needed.

  6. Libby says:

    I am not familiar with a knit block? It looks like this shirt was made from the basic bodice sloper and instead of transferring the dart from the bust to the shoulder the line was just trued for the seam and otherwise ignored?

  7. Jen in NY says:

    Not sure how to phrase this but… I think that the front and the back were cut very similarly. It really looks like its on backwards. So, there is insufficient ease for the bust and then too much fabric below. The sleeve looks like it was sewn on backwards and intrudes too far on the front. The shoulder seam has shifted forward because there is not enough length over bust. There’s also too much fabric in the front of the arm-which also suggests that the front is too flat. Darts do not need to be added to the final product–but in my unprofessional opinion, the upper front should be narrower, and the front armscythe should be more curved and moved back. Probably some shaping on the sides too…

  8. Sarah says:

    To me, this looks as though the back neckline has been cut too low, so to get the T-shirt to sit on the correct place at the back of the neck on the dummy, the back has to be hitched up. This sends the shoulder seam forward, the armhole twists and the side seams swing back. As well, the T-shirt looks like it was made from the sort of block I was taught to draft. Front and back exactly the same with the only difference being the the neckline depth!

  9. Jasmin says:

    It looks, like Marilynn says, it is a ‘flat, pattern. The front and back are probably very similar, and that results in a ‘flap’ on the side of the mountains because the body mass distribution is not even. So the central line of the arm drifts backward from the shoulder to elbow, and the body line drifts forward from shoulder to waist. I’d be tempted (with a total lack of expertise!) to do what I think Renee suggests with mashing out the ‘dart’ flap which would rotate the position of the shoulder outward and down a bit from the centreline, and reshape the front armscythe to be tighter, reducing the length of the seamline (I know this is a bit unclear, it would be a sharper curve, more contained?) The sleeve would need to be a tighter curve on the cap at the front, with more ease at the back cap for movement, correcting the drift to a natural body elbow slightly forward of shoulder.

    Prepared to be very wrong!

  10. Rosie says:

    Not enough fabric at the front armsyce causing pulling at the bust. Side seams look a bit forward…I agree with most, looks like the back and front are the same size.

  11. Donna says:

    Since I never like the way knits fit on my large busted figure I recently made a new T shirt block. I started with a close fitting block with a side bust dart and moved half the dart to the arm hole and half to the neck edge. The amount at the armscythe just increased that area and is not used as a dart. The neck amount was trimmed off at the shoulder/ neck edge tapering to the shoulder/arm edge sort of like when you move a back shoulder dart to the armscythe edge. I don’t know how this would get around the problem with the puzzle shirt but it worked for me.

  12. Kirsten says:

    The back of the sleeve has been stitched to the front of the tee shirt. I have done this numerous times before; that is why there is excess fabric above the left of the bust.

  13. Carol says:

    The diagonal line pointing down to the center back, as well as the lower hem on the side seam drifting foward indicates that the center back lenght is long is relation to the length required by the center front. I would bet that the shoulder slopes on front and back have been cut identically, which would look fine if the dress form were a paper doll. The excess back length needs to be removed and leveled out at the shoulder. This will change the slope on the back in relation to the front and improve the hang of the garment. Also I suspect that the armholes have been cut pretty much the same front and back. The back should be a bit longer (higher) than the front and the front should have a deeper curve.

  14. Grace says:

    The shoulder and the side seams don’t sit in the same plane. The shirt pulls to the front. The sleeve needs to be asymmetric F and B. Actually, the shirt needs to be asymmetric F and B. This is a t-shirt
    designed to lay flat on display, not be worn on a 3D body.

  15. kenna says:

    I have not looked at the hint, but I see a few issues: 1. front body and back body are probably the same width, so side seam is pulled forward. 2. Sleeve is rotated to the back – maybe the center top of sleeve cap was set to the forward shoulder seam? Is there even a forward shoulder seam? 3. Sleeve cap looks too tall. 4. Based on the tenting under the bust, I assume the front hem is hiking – making it look too short in front.

    I am curious to see what the actual answer is, but these are my guesses.

  16. Well, I don’t see more than people here. I have no experience with knits, but here is what I’d do :

    – front is too short. A woman’s bust needs length.
    – front needs more cross width. Same reason.

    Traditionnal way to create the required length and width is to have a bust dart. This is something we don’t wat on a tshirt. So I’d use the “stretch” of a knit to “hide” a dart in the (fortunately low) collar, using the collar piping to control its length so that it doesn’t gap, or in the armscye. As easing a big armscye in a smaller sleeve wiuld be a bad idea, some of the added length would be taken back by lowering the shoulder point (not too much or it will mak other problems). Maybe use both, to gave smaller, more manageable “hidden darts”.

    The reason why this is frequent in tshirts is that they are sold folded flat on a shelf, and a “busty” tshirt won’t fold well. It is the shelf version of the hanger appeal problem.

    Now, this is the obvious answer, I wonder what is else to say.

    The sleeve is not nice either, but fitting a sleeve on a not-fitted body is useless, there is an order to do things.

  17. Cheryl Evans says:

    I think this is an example of a deisn made to cut sewing production costs. I think the bust dart has been rotated into the armscye and left unsewn. The sleeve pattern has been lengthened to match at the corresponding area. This “look” drives me nuts! Bust darts on a knit? Yea baby!

  18. Sherry says:

    This T-shirt looks like one of those two-dimensional numbers – just like the letter T itself! The front and back are probably the same except at the neckline, and the sleeves are probably the same front and back too.

    To fix – the balance needs correcting both vertically and horizontally, and the armhole and sleeve head require reshaping. You shouldn’t need a dart on the average figure if the stretch factor is used to effect.

  19. Sheri Williams says:

    When the wrinkles point or originate at a certain point, that is indicative
    of stress line. The cut of the front needs to be wider at the armscye.

  20. Kathleen says:

    Sheri: not always. That prescriptive is my favorite one to debunk :). I learned that in school too but what it did in practice, was send me on rabbit trails fixing symptoms rather than root causes. See the fix in part two and the wrinkle disappears -but you’re right, it’s a problem with the front armhole.

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