Friday, 6 September 2019

Free Pattern Friday: Women's Mandy Boat Tee

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes a women's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

The free sewing pattern that I'm talking about today has been available for yonks and is already well known around the sewing community. Caroline from Blackbird Fabrics has talked about it many times on the Love To Sew podcast. What I'm saying is, I've haven't unearthed any rare gem here. But a gem it certainly is.

Luckily for those of us who are interested in trying to keep the cost of our sewing addiction down, Australia-based Tessuti Fabrics offer a range of free sewing patterns. I loved listening to the Love To Sew podcast episode which featured an interview with Tessuti founder, Colette Guanta, and hearing about how most (all?) the Tessuti patterns began life as the patterns designed by her mother, which were then made into garments in her clothing factory. I wasn't massively into the Mandy Boat Tee when I first saw it as it was too loose and boxy for my then form-fitting, retro/Rockabilly aesthetic. These days my style has more of a more relaxed look and silhouette, plus Tessuti have met me half way by rereleasing the previously-one-size-only Mandy Boat Tee pattern, which is now graded to four sizes. Thanks so much to Tessuti patterns for sharing this, plus the other free patterns, for us all to enjoy gratis. 

(image source: Tessuti Fabrics)

Pattern type:

The Mandy Boat Tee is a boxy, knit top with drop shoulders and a gently scooped boat neckline. The sleeves are designed to be quite fitted, and a choice of full length or 3/4 length is included. 

Sizing info:

As previously mentioned, the Mandy Boat Tee was originally a one-size-only pattern, but is now available in four sizes. These sizes span 81cm to 116cm bust measurements. I would be interested to know which of the four sizes was the original, one-size-only Mandy Boat Tee pattern. My measurements put me in the size 2 group, so that's what I went for. The fit through the the body is roomy, and what I expected from this style, however I found the sleeves came out uncomfortably tight. More on this in the 'Findings' below... 

Fabric info: 

The pattern calls for two-way stretch cotton, wool or viscose jerseys or knits with elastane, lycra or spandex content. I went with this fantastic red/white/blue striped cotton jersey, kindly given to me by Girl Charlee UK. It's 100% cotton, so no elastane/Lycra/spandex, however this fabric has a good amount of mechanical stretch, and it has proved to be fine for this pattern and the casual knit-top-with-jeans look I was going for. I'd hunt out a slinkier knit, a viscose or bamboo knit possibly, for a Mandy with a more drape-y look.   


Accessing this pattern was easy: you simply make a transaction through the Tessuti Fabrics site but without having to input any payment info. The pattern is comprised of two downloadable PDF files: the instructions and the pattern itself. The instructions were illustrated with step-by-step photos and were very easy to follow. This project does include the use of a twin needle, but if you are up for that, or feel emboldened enough to defy the instructions and swap it for a zigzag finish, this would be a great project for anyone new to sewing with knits and/or sewing generally. 

The pattern PDF itself, as with all Tessuti patterns as far as I understand, is a hand-drawn pattern that must have been scanned. I was kind of surprised that a relatively large independent fabric and pattern company hadn't taken the extra step to digitise their patterns. I'm not complaining of course, this is a free pattern that I'm grateful to be able to access, however, I'd probably be a bit disappointed with this if I'd bought one of their paid-for patterns.

So as I mentioned above in the 'Sizing' bit, at first try I did find that the sleeves were uncomfortably tight. It may be worth repeating that my knit doesn't have any elastane content, and my upper arms are on the full side compared to the rest of me. Therefore, this might not be something that would necessarily effect you, I just mention it so that you may proceed with caution. Aside from feeling a bit tight, I also wasn't keen on the look of the fitted sleeves combined with the loose, boxy fit of the torso. Luckily, I had sufficient fabric left to recut the sleeves. If I hadn't, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have got very much wear from it as it was. In the end, I probably cut the replacement sleeves a little bigger than the largest size of the pattern, and I'm now much happier with both the feel and the proportions of this top. 

Customisation ideas:
  • Shorten the length into a boxy, cropped top
  • Lengthen into a boxy dress (I'm imaging of the proportions of the Tilly and the Buttons Stevie Tunic)
  • Make a seam line just above the natural waist and add a gathered rectangle skirt to make a dress (think I Am Patterns Cassiopee Dress).  
  • Add a ruffle into the seam where the sleeves are attached. (I was actually attempting to do that with this top but when I cut the strips to form the ruffles, I could tell that the edges were going to roll too much to look any good).
  • Add a little ruffle around the cuffs. I think this would look particularly cute on the 3/4 length sleeves.

Would I make it again?

Yes, I think I probably will. I'm wearing this top properly for the first time today, and it was the perfect top to throw on this morning before corralling my scamps out the door for the first day back at school. I have a pair of tight, navy jeggings that I haven't worn for a year or so, but combined with this top, I can see them being brought back into regular rotation. If I were to make another Mandy Boat Tee, I would like to try a really slinky, light-weight knit in a solid colour. Rust, because I'm currently obsessed with rust. 


Fabric Tragic said...

It’s lovely! But yeah definitely need elastane in those sleeves if you’re going as drafted. Every Tessuti pattern I’ve used (and there’s been a few now) has been hand drawn and hand graded. But the drafting is always immaculate, the notches always match up and it’s really just a visual thing once you get used to it! :)

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