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Knit T-Shirt

I recently learned that the first T-shirt was born in the 19th century when someone decided to cut in half his one-piece union suit, the undergarment of choice in those days. To the wielder of those scissors, I say thank you.

Since then, the T-shirt has become a truly universal garment. From its beginnings as an undershirt for miners, farmers, longshoremen, and troops to its celebrity-inspired mass appeal as the uniform of cool (a la Marlon Brando, James Dean, even Marilyn Monroe), the T-shirt has always fit right in.

Every modern decade has integrated the T-shirt into its trends. Sure, slight alterations have been made here and there (in the 80s it was all off-the-shoulder Flashdance; in the 90s it was all down-to-the-thighs Snoop Dogg ), but it always comes back to the basic, ever-so-classic, white, "T"-shaped shirt.

While of course T-shirts are typically made of cotton, I couldn't resist the brillant white and lustrous sheen of Habu's fingering weight 100% Bamboo. It's magically cool to the touch and has a drape that's both casual and elegant. I also couldn't resist adding my own little alteration: an optional breast pocket that provides an opportunity for a POP of color, knit here in Koigu's intensely saturated hand-dyed Koigu Premium Merino.

I know I'll wear this piece for years, since there's no chance of it going out of fashion. Perhaps one day paired with jeans, the next with a long, flowing, fanciful skirt. The T-shirt, it's lasted the test of time, it knows no bounds! -Laura

Materials

Gauge

6 1/4 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch

Sizes

Small (Medium, Large, XLarge, XXLarge)

  • Finished Bust Circumference: 34 1/2 (38 1/2, 42 1/4, 45, 50) inches
  • Length from Underarm to Bottom Edge: 16 (16 1/2, 16 1/2, 17, 17) inches
  • Sleeve Length from Underarm to Cuff: 2 1/2 (2 3/4, 3, 3 1/4, 3 1/2) inches
  • Sleeve Circumference at Cuff: 11 1/2 (12 1/2, 13 1/2, 14 1/2, 15 1/4) inches

Pattern

Body

Using the 24- or 32-inch circular needle and MC, cast on 216 (240, 264, 288, 312) stitches.

Place a marker and join for working in the round, being careful to not twist the stitches.

Knit 1 round.

Purl 1 round.

Knit 4 rounds.

Purl 1 round.

Continue in stockinette stitch, knitting each round, until the piece measures 16 (16 1/2, 16 1/2, 17, 17) inches from cast-on edge, or desired length to underarm.

Divide for Front and Back

Bind off 12 (16, 20, 24, 28) stitches, k95 (103, 111, 199, 127), place previous 96 (104, 112, 120, 128) Front stitches on hold using an additional needle or scrap yarn, bind off the following 12 (16, 20, 24, 28) stitches, knit to end of row. [96 (104, 112, 120, 128) stitches for Back]

Back

Shape Back Armholes

You will now be shaping the Back, working back and forth across the stitches in rows rather than in the round. The stitch counts in the following two sections do not include the Front stitches on hold.

Row 1 (wrong side): Bind off 4 stitches, purl to end of row. [92 (100, 108, 116, 124) stitches]

Row 2 (right side): Bind off 4 stitches, knit to end of row. [88 (96, 104, 112, 120) stitches]

Row 3: Purl.Row 4: K2, slip, slip, knit (ssk), knit to last 4 stitches, k2tog, k2. [2 stitches decreased]Repeat Rows 3 and 4 three (four, five, six, eight) more times. [80 (86, 92, 98, 102) stitches]

Continue working even in stockinette until armhole measures 6 1/2 (7, 71/2, 7 3/4, 8) inches, ending with a wrong side row.

Shape Back Shoulders

Row 1 (right side): Bind off 7 (7, 9, 9, 10) stitches, knit to end of row.Row 2 (wrong side): Bind off 7 (7, 9, 9, 10) stitches, purl to end of row.Row 3: Bind off 7 (8, 8, 9, 9) stitches, knit to end of row.Row 4: Bind off 7 (8, 8, 9, 9) stitches, purl to end of row.Repeat Rows 3 and 4 once more. [38 (40, 42, 44, 46) stitches]Next Row: Bind off remaining stitches.

Front

You will now be shaping the Front, working across the stitches you had previously put on hold. With wrong side facing, rejoin MC.

Shape Front Armholes

Row 1 (wrong side): Bind off 4 stitches, purl to end of row. [92 (100, 108, 116, 124) stitches]

NOTE: Row 2 begins the Inset Pocket (optional); if you wish to work a pocket, go to "Row 2 With Pocket". If you prefer not to work a pocket, go to "Row 2 Without Pocket".

Row 2 With Pocket (right side): Bind off 4 stitches, k7 (10, 13, 13, 13, 16), p21 (21, 21, 23, 23) to create pocket turning row, turn work. Go to "Make Inset Pocket".

Row 2 Without Pocket (right side): Bind off 4 stitches, knit to end of row. [88 (96, 104, 112, 120) stitches] Go to "Continue Shaping Front".

Make Inset Pocket

You will now be working the Pocket on the 21 (21, 21, 23, 23) pocket stitches, using two double pointed needles. Leave the remaining 67 (75, 83, 89, 97) stitches unworked on the circular needle.

Row 1 (wrong side): Working on pocket stitches only, and using double pointed needles, p21 (21, 21, 23, 23.Row 2 (right side): K21 (21, 21, 23, 23).

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until the pocket measures 3 (3, 3, 3 1/2, 3 1/2) inches, ending with Row 2.

Cut working yarn, leaving a 6-inch tail.

With CC, repeat Rows 1 and 2 until the pocket measures 6 (6, 6, 7, 7) inches, ending with Row 2.

Cut CC yarn, leaving a 6-inch tail.Slip the pocket stitches onto the right-hand end of the circular needle.

Rejoin MC, leaving a tail long enough to sew the sides of the pocket, and continue working in stockinette across to the end of the Front.

Continue Shaping Front Armholes

Row 1 (wrong side): Purl.

Row 2 (right side): K2, ssk, knit to last 4 stitches, k2tog, k2. [2 stitches decreased]

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 three (four, five, six, eight) more times. [80 (86, 92, 89, 102) stitches]

Continue working even in stockinette until armhole measures 3 (3 1/2, 4, 4 1/4, 4 1/2) inches, ending with a wrong-side row.

Next Row (right side): K30 (32, 34, 36, 37), bind off the next 20 (22, 24, 26, 28) stitches, knit to end of row. [60 (64, 68, 72, 74) total stitches: 30 (32, 34, 36, 37) stitches for right side of Front, 30 (32, 34, 36, 37) stitches for left side of Front]

Shape Right Side of Crewneck

You will now work the right and left sides of the Front separately, starting with the Right Side. Stitch counts below are per side, not total.

Row 1 (wrong side): Working on Right Side stitches only, purl.

Row 2 (right side): Bind off 3 stitches, knit to end of row. [27 (29, 31, 33, 34) stitches]

Row 3: Purl.

Row 4: Bind off 2 stitches, knit to end of row. [25 (27, 29, 31, 32) stitches]

Rows 5 and 6: Repeat Rows 3 and 4 once more. [23 (25, 27, 29, 30) stitches]

Row 7: Purl.Row 8: K2, ssk, knit to end of row. [1 stitch decreased]

Row 9: Purl.Repeat Rows 8 and 9 once more. [21 (23, 25, 27, 28) stitches]

Continue working even in stockinette until armhole measures 6 1/2 (7, 7 1/2, 7 3/4, 8) inches, ending with a right-side row.

Shape Right Shoulder

Row 1 (wrong side): Bind off 7 (7, 9, 9, 10) stitches, purl to end of row.

Row 2 (right side): Knit.

Row 3: Bind off 7 (8, 8, 9, 9) stitches, purl to end of row.

Row 4: Knit. Repeat Rows 3 and 4 once more.

Shape Left Side of Crewneck

With right side facing, rejoin MC to stitches on hold for left side.

Row 1 (right side): Knit.

Row 2 (wrong side): Bind off 3 stitches, purl to end of row. [27 (29, 31, 33, 24) stitches]

Row 3: Knit.Row 4: Bind off 2 stitches, purl to end of row. [25 (27, 29, 31, 32) stitches]

Rows 5 and 6: Repeat Rows 3 and 4 once more. [23 (25, 27, 30) stitches]

Row 7: Knit to last 4 stitches, k2tog, k2. [1 stitch decreased]Row 8: Purl.

Repeat Rows 7 and 8 once more. [21 (23, 25, 27, 28) stitches]Continue working even in stockinette until armhole measures 6 1/2 (7, 7 1/2, 7 3/4, 8) inches, ending with a wrong side row.

Shape Left Shoulder

Row 1 (right side): Bind off 7 (7, 9, 9, 10) stitches, knit to end of row.

Row 2 (wrong side): Purl.

Row 3: Bind off 7 (8, 8, 9, 9) stitches, knit to end of row.

Row 4: Purl.Repeat Rows 3 and 4 once more.

Sew Shoulders Together

Sew left and right shoulders together.

Neckband

With right side of Back facing and using shorter circular needle, join MC to pick up stitches for the neckline. Starting at the right shoulder and working across the Back neck stitches first, pick up 109 (114, 118, 121, 125) stitches around the entire neckline.Purl 1 round.Bind off very loosely in knit.

Sleeves

Beginning at the center of the 12 (16, 20, 24, 28) stitches that were bound off for the underarm and using shorter circular needle, join MC and pick up 84 (92, 100, 108, 116) stitches around the armhole.

Shape Sleeve Cap

You will be working in short rows, back and forth, turning the work part way through each row, rather than continuing to the end of the needle. For a tutorial, click here.

Row 1 (wrong side): P51 (56, 61, 66, 71), wrap and turn.

Row 2 (right side): K18 (20, 22, 24, 26), wrap and turn.

Row 3: P18 (20, 22, 24, 26), purl the wrapped stitch together with the picked-up wrap, p1, wrap and turn.

Row 4: K20 (22, 24, 26, 28), knit the wrapped stitch together with the picked-up wrap, k1, wrap and turn.

Row 5: P22 (24, 26, 28, 30), purl the wrapped stitch together with the picked-up wrap, p1, wrap and turn.

Row 6: K24 (26, 28, 30, 32), knit the wrapped stitch together with the picked-up wrap, k1, wrap and turn.

Row 7: P26 (28, 30, 32, 34), purl the wrapped stitch together with the picked-up wrap, p1, wrap and turn.

Row 8: K28 (30, 32, 34, 36), knit the wrapped stitch together with the picked-up wrap, k1, wrap and turn.

Continue in this fashion, working up to the wrapped stitch, working the wrapped stitch with the picked-up wrap, working 1 more stitch, then wrapping and turning, until you have a total of 4 (6, 8, 10, 12) stitches unworked at the center of the underarm (between wrapped stitches), ending with a right-side row.

Next Row (wrong side): P78 (84, 90, 96, 102), purl the wrapped stitch together with the picked-up wrap, purl to end of row.

Next Row (right side): Knit, remembering to knit the wrapped stitch together with the picked-up wrap along the way.Place marker and join for working in the round.

Shape Sleeve

Change to double pointed needles.Round 1: Knit.

Round 2: K2tog, knit to last 2 stitches, ssk. [2 stitches decreased]

Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 five (six, seven, eight, nine) more times. [72 (78, 84, 90, 96) stitches]

Purl 1 round.

Knit 5 rounds.

Purl 1 round.

Bind off loosely in knit.

Make a second sleeve the same as the first.

Finish

If you made the insert pocket, turn the T-shirt inside out. Using the tail, whip stitch the sides of the pocket together.Weave in all the ends and gently block your tee.

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37 Responses to Knit T-Shirt


  1. Izabelka says:

    Simple and beautiful :)

  2. Monica says:

    At last, I have decided on a next project. For those not using Habu Bamboo, could you tell us how much of the second skein you had left so that we can approximate yardage?

    Thank you!

  3. Petra says:

    Lovely, very lovely… I am thinking of using Louet linen yarn… that should also give nice drape.

  4. Sara says:

    Hi! Really love this. Did you use all of both skeins? I am thinking about using Anzula Sebastian and don't know if I should get 3 or 4 skeins. Thanks!

  5. westies says:

    Absolutely love the t-shirt. Would make and wear it in a heartbeat EXCEPT the pattern is not sized for plus size people. We like pretty thing too. Your patterns are wonderful. Please take "us" into account when you make them.
    westies

  6. I'm not by nature an envious person but, at the moment, I'm green with envy! I cannot seem to get past "knitting and purling" and you have created this gorgeous garment! Beautiful! And, you're right, it will be fun dressing it up or down as you wish…

  7. Krisha says:

    Beautiful! I am currently knitting a T – shirt and cardigan twinset in alpaca. I agree that a T will always come in handy!
    Thanks again for a great pattern! I was wondering do you have your own blog as well?
    Best regards from a Oslo pining for real spring.

  8. Kathleen says:

    Can you come up with an addendum for long sleeves? I have to keep my arms covered. Thanks.

  9. poodles2 says:

    How can I expand this for an extra extra large size?

  10. Joan says:

    Can you be more specific on yardages needed for those of us using another yarn? 2skeins if bamboo would be 1400 yes which seems like alot for small and/ or medium

  11. Wow. I can't even imagine being able to make this. It's gorgeous and looks like something I'd buy in Anthropologie. Well done!!

  12. Sokol says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! I would love to see a v neck pattern too!

  13. purl bee says:

    Hello ALL (interested in yardage),

    We will have yardage requirements to you all ASAP!!!!
    Sorry for the delay.
    Laura

  14. Anne says:

    This is lovely! Could you recommend another yarn in your inventory for this tee? Even though I love it and I'm sure this yarn is gorgeous, the cost is considerable. Thank you.

  15. purl bee says:

    Hello All (interested in larger sizes),

    We will are currently working on sizing this up and will update the pattern ASAP.
    Thank you all for your interest in the pattern.
    We will keep you posted, right here in the comments section.
    Laura

  16. purl bee says:

    Hello ALL (interested in alternative yarns),

    *Anzula's Sebastion, Koigu's KPM or KPPM, Madeline Tosh's Madeline Tosh Light, *Spud & Chloe's Fine, *Cascade's Ultra Pima Fine, *Louet's Euroflax, Alchemy's Silken Straw

    The yarns with an * next to them will behave the most similarly to the Bamboo.

    At 6.25 stitches = 1 inch, you are looking to knit a sport weight yarn on the dense side or a fingering weight yarn on the loose side.

    Here is a link to our fingering yarns:
    http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/3-knitting-crochet-yarn?filters=3

    Here is a link to our sport weight yarns:
    http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/3-knitting-crochet-yarn?filters=4

    If you have any additional questions regarding yarns for this project, please do not hesitate to write back in. Thank you all for your interest in this project.
    Laura

  17. purl bee says:

    Hello Kathleen,

    Unfortunately, we do not have the resources at this time to adjust the pattern for long sleeves. We will definitely keep your request in mind though as we plan our future projects. I do adore long sleeve, light weight tops.

    For a very quick and loose guidance on making this shirt into a long sleeve shirt, you could…

    Figure out the circumference you would like your sleeve to be at its end (your wrist or around there) Take that measurement and multiply it by 6.25. This number is the number of stitches you will want to end will.

    Figure out the length you would like the sleeve to be from the underarm to the cuff. If you are working at the same gauge as I did, you should get 8 rows to the inch.

    With this information you can figure out how often you need to decrease in order to have the appropriate amount of stitches at your wrist.

    Give it a try!!!
    Feel free to ask me questions along the way.
    Thanks.
    Laura

  18. purl bee says:

    Hi Krisha,
    I used to keep a personal blog, but I have to say, most of my efforts are happily put towards the Purl Bee these days.

    Thanks for asking.
    What a compliment.
    Best,
    Laura

  19. purl bee says:

    Hi again ALL interested in yardage requirements!

    The Small (Medium, Large) requires approximately 765 (880, 990) yards.
    This information has been added to The Materials section of the post.

    Thanks for your patience.
    Laura

  20. purl bee says:

    Hi again ALL interested in larger sizes.

    Directions for an XL and XXL have been added to the pattern… Please see above.

    Thank you again for all your interest in this pattern.
    Laura

  21. Lori says:

    This is wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing!

  22. Angel Lego says:

    I think that the knitted shirt looks pretty cool. I am going to try to make it myself.

  23. Ellen Williams says:

    I love this sweater.
    I bought sport weight yarn by mistake.
    Is there a way to adjust this pattern to use sport weight yarn or do I need to rebuy?
    I have my fingers crossed that there is.

    Thanks, Ellen

  24. purl bee says:

    Hi Ellen,

    Have you swatched yet? If you tell me how many stitches to the inch you are getting the inch you are getting and which size T you were hoping to make, we might be able to figure out if following a larger size will do the trick.
    Laura

  25. Paul says:

    I absolutely love this idea, and since I can't discern any bust shaping I'm going to assume it's worth a try as as a man's shirt. Thank you yet another inspiring post.

  26. Cassi says:

    I have some 100% Merino Lace yarn I have that I'm itching to use! I've never altered a pattern before, so I'm a little lost, especially since the gauge is wayy off. I'm getting 19 stitches to the inch. I was looking to make a Medium. Would this be at all possible to alter? I'm hoping so! Thanks for the help.

  27. Cassi says:

    Sorry, actually 12 stitches/inch!

  28. purl bee says:

    Cassi,
    Thanks for writing in. If the gauge was slightly closer, I could try and see if following the instructions for the XL would work, but the gauge is so far off, it starts getting more complicated. I am sorry, but unfortunately we don't have the resources at the moment to re-work this pattern in another gauge.
    Thank you again for your interest!
    Laura

  29. Emily says:

    Gorgeous pattern :D only problem is the small (34-inch bust) is not really a small, it's a medium, and I'm trying to alter this for my sister-in-law, who's probably between a 30- and 32-inch bust. Altering for the bust size is easy enough, but what about all the other measurements? Got any tips on shrinking those down?

  30. purl bee says:

    Hi Emily,
    This piece is not intended to be skin tight, so if your sis-in-law has a 32-inch bust, the small only provides 2 inches of ease. But if you do decide to shrink down the body and bust… just be sure to center the neck. if you keep the armhole height the same, you will be picking up for the sleeves as instructed.

    As you work, keep me posted if you have any specific questions!
    Thanks,
    Laura

  31. paul says:

    I love this pattern and am making it for myself – I'm at the part where you pick up stitches for the collar and I think the pattern is missing a couple extended size numbers for how many stitches to pick up. Might you be able to advise?

  32. purl bee says:

    Paul.
    THANK YOU !!!!
    Will fix ASAP.
    Laura

  33. Lee says:

    HI Laura,

    I love your pattern, and would very much like to complete this, but I think your pattern is missing some instructions. The pic shows tapering for the body, and a border at the bottom of the t-shirt and sleeves. This is the 1st time I am trying to knit a shirt, i have only done scarves, hats and socks thus far. I appreciate any assistance you can provide.

  34. purl bee says:

    Hello Lee,
    Thank you for your interest in this pattern.
    There is no shaping at the waist. After six or so rounds, it is knit evenly to the underarms. The pattern includes instructions detail at the edges of the body and sleeves (it's simply two spaced out purl rounds).

    Let us know if you have any other questions.
    Laura

  35. Paddy says:

    yummy. Always on the lookout for patterns to form the basis of my summer "uniform". I love hand knits because they last for ever, and give pleasure in the making. Also really easy to extend sleeve lengths for those of us whose upper arms are not our greatest feature.

  36. Kau'i says:

    I plan on using Line Weight for this project and get 8 sts/in using size 1.5 needles. Do you think following the L or XL pattern (instead of the M) would work? Thanks!

  37. purl bee says:

    Hi Kau'i,
    What a great idea. I would love to see this worked up in the Line Weight; it's such a beautiful yarn.

    At 8 stitches to the inch, the cast on number for size Large (XLarge) would give you a finished chest circumference of approximately 36 (39) inches. For a piece like this which is designed to be worn with a few inches of positive ease, a 39-inch bust sounds appropriate for a "Medium".

    When modifying, be mindful that your row gauge will be different than the one here and therefore you may need to pick up a different number a stitches when it comes to the neckband and/or sleeves.

    Reach out to us if you have any questions along the way.
    Laura

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