A good friend of mine teases that when we go shopping she can guess what I will pick out before we even enter the store. “Anything that’s cut like a square or a rectangle,” she says. The thing is, she’s right! I always make a beeline for clean lines and simple silhouettes, and this usually means a box.
But boxy doesn’t have to mean boring or unflattering. When working with a shape this simple, it’s all about the details. A pop of color, a pretty side slit, and a well-shaped neckline make all the difference, turning a boring box into something worth wearing.
I made my Boxy Tees in Kokka’s lightweight and beautiful Fine Solids with fun, electric bursts of Michael Miller’s Neon Solids. Loose fitting and airy, but with all the right details, this Boxy Tee is just my style. And since I designed the pattern to mix and match three arm lengths, color blocks and a back tie detail, it can easily be just your style too!
When I showed my collection of tops to my good friend, the first thing she said was, “Oh! I want one!” Ha! Now I know just what she’s going to wear too! –Corinne
For Version A
For Version B
For Version C
For all versions, you will also need the Boxy Tee Neck templates available for free download here, printed and cut out.
Measurements are shown for sizes XS (S, M, L, XL)
Prewash all fabrics before starting. If you are using Michael Miller’s Neon Solids, be sure that it is completely unfolded when you put in in the washing machine and wash it separately.
For the sake of clarity our instructional photos show a fabric with a clear right and wrong side. If you are working with the Kokka Fine Solids and Michael Miller Neon Solids, or similar fabrics which don’t have a clear right or wrong side, choose either side as the right side for the first seam and follow this precedent for all subsequent steps.
Note: When cutting simple rectangular shapes for patterns such as this, straight, clean cuts are key. The best way to make these cuts is with a rotary cutter and a non-slip quilting ruler on a self-healing cutting mat. If you have limited experience using a rotary cutter, I recommend visiting our Rotary Cutting Tutorial.
For all Versions you will also need to cut a 26 ¼-inch by 1 ½-inch piece on the bias.
Use the charts below for help with the layout of the pieces on the fabric.
Fold one of the Shirt Top pieces in half, lining up its two short sides.
Place the prepared Back Neck template on the fold of one of the Shirt Top pieces, lining up the top edge of the template with the raw edge of the fabric. Cut along the dotted lines. This is now the Back.
Repeat with the second Shirt Top and the Front Neck template. This is now the Front.
Piece the Back and Front
Lay out the Back with the wrong side facing up and the long straight edge at the top. Place a Shirt Bottom piece on top with the right side facing up, lining up one long side of the Bottom with the top edge of the Back. Pin in place.
Sew along the pinned edge with a ¼-inch seam allowance.
Fold over at the seam so that the right sides are now facing and press. Pin along the fold. Sew along the pinned edge with a ½-inch seam allowance.
Press the seam allowance toward the Shirt Bottom.
Repeat with the Front and the second Shirt Bottom piece.
Sew the Shoulder Seams
Lay out the Back with the wrong side facing up and the Neck opening at the top.
With the right side facing up and the Neck opening at the top, place the Front on top of the Back. Line up all the straight edges.
Pin along the two top straight edges. Sew along these pinned edges with a ¼-inch seam allowance.
Fold the garment at the seams so that the right sides are facing. Press flat and pin along the folds. Sew across the pinned edges with a ½-inch seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.
This is the Shoulder Seam.
Press the seam allowance toward the Back. Sew the Shoulder Seam hems down with an edgestich. At the Neck edge of the Shoulder Seam, sew past the end of the hem until you reach the raw edge of the Neck.
This is now the Body.
Attach the Sleeves
NOTE: The 13 ½ (14, 14 ½, 15, 15 ½)–inch side of the Sleeve is the Shoulder Edge.
Fold each Sleeve in half at the center of the Shoulder Edge, press to create a crease and then unfold.
With wrong sides together, pin the Shoulder Edge of one Sleeve to a raw shoulder edge of the Body, lining up the center crease of the Sleeve with the Shoulder Seam (be sure to line up with the Shoulder Seam, not with the edgestitch).
Starting ¼ inch before the Sleeve and ending ¼ inch after, sew along the pinned edge with a ¼-inch seam allowance.
Make a ¼-inch cut into the Front and Back pieces at the edges of the Sleeve. Do not cut past the seam line.
Now, fold the garment at this seam so that the right side of the Sleeve is facing the right side of the Body. Press this fold flat and pin.
Sew with a ½-inch seam allowance.
Unfold the garment and press the seam toward the Sleeve.
Repeat with the second Sleeve on the other side of the Body.
This is now the Shirt.
Attach the Back Tie (Version C)
For Version C you will attach a Back Tie. If you are working on Versions A or B, skip this step and continue on to Sew the Side Seams.
Cut the cord into two pieces at least 25 inches each.
Tie a knot at one end of each cord. At the other end, lightly singe the cut edge with the flame from a lighter or a match. This will seal the threads and prevent fraying.
Lay the Shirt out flat with the right side of the Back facing up. Line up the singed end of a piece of cording to the raw side edge of the Shirt, 12 ¼ (12 ½, 12 ¾, 13, 13 ¼) inches down from the Shoulder Seam. Pin in place.
Sew the cording to the Shirt with a ½-inch seam allowance.
Repeat with the second piece of cording on the other side edge of the Shirt.
Sew the Side Seams (All Versions)
With the wrong side facing out, fold the Shirt at the Shoulder Seams so that the raw edges of the Sleeves, as well as the long sides and bottom edges of the Front and Back, meet.
Pin all the sleeve and side seams, making sure the Front and Back Shirt Bottom seams line up.
At one side edge. measure 4 inches up from the Shirt’s bottom and mark with a double pin. Repeat on the other side edge.
In the underarm, measure ¼ up from the raw edge of the Sleeve and 1 ¼ inches in from the raw edge of the Body. Make a small mark. Repeat on the other side.
Starting from the end of one Sleeve and working toward the underarm, sew along the pinned edge with a ¼-inch seam allowance.
Right before you reach the mark you made in the previous step, backstitch, then insert the needle and pivot the Shirt. Backstitch again and continue to sew down the side of the Body with a 1 ¼-inch seam allowance.
When you reach the spot marked with a double pin, end the seam with a backstitch. The unsewn space at the bottom of the Shirt will become the Side Slit.
Repeat on the other side.
Make a cut into the seam allowance of one side of the Body: start at the raw edge directly across from the end of the side seam and cut diagonally up, ending ¼-inch before the seam line.
Make a small, horizontal snip into the seam allowance at the end of the diagonal cut, making sure not to cut past the seam line. Trim the remaining seam allowance of the side and sleeve seams to ¼ inch. Repeat on the other side.
Cut a small notch into the underarm, making sure not to cut past the seam line.
Repeat on the other side.
Sew along the trimmed seam allowances of the side seams with a zigzag stitch. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seams. Repeat with the sleeve seams.
Fold the bottom edge of the Shirt Front up ½ inch towards the wrong side and press. Now, fold the edge up 1 inch towards the wrong side, press and pin. Sew the hem down with an edgestitch.
Repeat with the Shirt Back.
Sew the Side Slit
Following the line of the side seam, press open the two flaps at the Side Slit so that their wrong sides face the Body’s wrong side.
Fold the raw edges of the two flaps in towards the wrong side so that the raw edges meet the creases. Press flat. Sew the folds down with an edgestitch.
Repeat on the other side.
Hem the Sleeves
Fold the raw edge of one of the Sleeves in ½ inch towards the wrong side and press. Now, fold the edge in 1 inch towards the wrong side, press and pin. Sew the hem down with an edgestitch.
Repeat with the other Sleeve.
Finish the Neck
Fold the bias strip in half lengthwise with wrong sides together and press. Unfold.
Fold the bias strip in half widthwise with right sides together so that the two short sides meet. Sew along the short side with a ½-inch seam allowance. Press the seam open and refold the strip along the lengthwise crease.
Pin the bias strip to the right side of the Shirt, lining up the two raw edges of the bias strip with the raw neck edge of the Shirt and the seam of the bias strip with one Shoulder Seam of the Shirt
Sew the strip to the neck edge with a ¼-inch seam allowance.
Fold the bias strip to the wrong side of the Shirt along the seam line, press and pin. Sew the strip down with a ¼-inch seam allowance.
It’s all done and ready to wear!