Change muslin, acknowledge original – raglan tee

This is my second post on whether to acknowledge the source of a pattern. Again I had no intention of making a different style, but had to make so many changes to the pattern to get something that fit and flattered, it looked very different.

My previous post on this topic was about a casual drop shoulder dartless pullover. One of many simple pullover tops that are so similar I didn’t feel obliged to mention the original designer. I felt my version was one variation on a very generic style. But commenters felt strongly I should acknowledge my starting point !

This post is about a raglan knit tee. It has a key feature I think the original designer does deserve credit for.

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A knit tee

Here’s a photo and line drawing of the original – The Sewing Workshop Trio Tee by Linda Lee.



I didn’t notice when choosing this pattern that it’s close fitting, which isn’t for me.  The hips have negative ease, the last place I need stretched fabric.  The sleeves are so tight I couldn’t bend my average size arms, and the neckline was too small for my head.  Debated whether to use another pattern, but this is the only pattern I have with 2-piece raglan sleeves – extra seam along top of sleeve.  Which makes it possible to get a good fit over the shoulders without all the strain and drag lines at the armhole of a 1-piece raglan sleeve. 

Other people love the out-of-envelope fit of this tee pattern, so you may well not agree with me 😀 I’m a shirt rather than a tee person, for reasons of climate, body shape, and personal style. I only wear knit tops as loose over-layers.

So I’ve changed nearly everything except the armhole seam shapes.  It does still have the original general style elements : raglan 2-piece sleeve, near jewel neck.  But it is now a loose fitting top, not a close fitting one.  A different spirit.  So I wondered if the designer would be peeved to be linked with it if I said ‘derived from’ or ‘inspired by’.

Here’s the back of my ‘muslin’ (actually made of swedish tracing paper).


‘Looks like a dog’s dinner’ as we say. I greatly prefer this slash-and-add method of working, and do it in a fabric test garment too. Some people make a new muslin every time they make a pattern change, but I would find that very tiresome. Of course sometimes things get such a mess I have to start afresh, and make a new ‘muslin’ for where I’ve got to so far.

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Changes made

Parallel slash and spread strips in the sleeves. That solved 3 problems for me :
– wider sleeve,
– bigger neckline,
– bigger armhole.

Changed shape of the upper sleeve seam to match my sloping shoulders.

For pear-shaped ease, I had already traced from M size at bust level to XXL at hips, but wanted more. So there’s a wedge added down CB.

All that extra width at shoulder level meant the neckline dropped. But that solved a lot of lumpiness in the armhole area, and I need a big armhole to be comfortable. So I filled in the neckline rather than pulling it up. Then added a neckline the right shape and size for me.

The armhole is now low. If I wanted a version with higher armhole I would have to re-work this – pull up and re-shape at the shoulders and scoop out the armhole curve.

When I made the ‘muslin’ I thought the major issue would be how to make a high round back adjustment on a raglan style. That was the least of my problems ! – dealt with by the neckline fill-in and a small change to the back raglan seams.

Obviously I give comfort much higher priority than a close fit, however fashionable that may be 😀

Greatly changed ease and proportions from the original. But this isn’t a generic one-piece-sleeve raglan style. I specifically chose the starting pattern to meet my fitting needs. So the original designer should be acknowledged.

– – –


Yes, my tee ‘muslin’ is in swedish tracing paper – open down the front for trying it on. I think I remember the late Shannon Gifford suggesting you use a woven for your first test of a knit pattern. To be sure you’ve got rid of sags and strains. Instead of avoiding fit issues by depending on the knit fabric to deal with them. Which doesn’t always give a comfortable line-free garment.

Many people will be horrified by using this material to test a knit pattern. But it works for me. The knits I’m attracted to usually have little lengthways stretch. Of course using a non-stretch trial garment isn’t possible if you like body-fit or negative ease in your knits. And not sensible if you’re using a very stretchy fabric. (Pattern making books develop different blocks for fabrics with different amounts of stretch.)

– – –

Moving on with the pattern

Despite all the added ease, my version of this tee is too tight for me to wear in a non-stretch woven. I’m planning an enlarged version for wovens. Perhaps then make a top mimicking designer Koos’ triangle dress, see Vogue 1301.


And an even larger version for woven casual jackets. I like the look of the Cutting Line Butterfly and Bees oop jacket, also with upper sleeve seam. Though that’s a semi-raglan style – probably a better look for my sloping shoulders. [More pattern adapting needed to get that right for me, but I’ve now done enough raglan pattern work to feel confident about it.]


– – –

I acknowledge the original for my raglan pattern was a named style from a named commercial designer.

For my fitting efforts in general – so far I have a raglan top and a dropped shoulder ‘dartless’ top. I still need to finalise a fitted top with fitted armhole. Yes, I know in proper personal pattern making you’re supposed to make the fitted bodice block first. But the casual and raglan blocks are easier – I don’t need an FBA, so just the shoulders and loose armhole to fit. When I’ve done the fitted block, I’ll have the key upper body patterns-cum-blocks. For a complete set of upper body basics I also need a dartless top with cut-on sleeves, but so far haven’t managed to get a good result for that style over my high round back and sloping shoulders. Though I have found a pattern making book which gives the guidance I need. No hurry, it’s a shape used for many easy patterns but isn’t essential. Skirt and pants are also well on the way. Then hopefully I can move on from focus on getting a good fit.

Would you enjoy doing all this, or would it not be at all your idea of a fun part of sewing 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available January 2013

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Explore posts in the same categories: fit of clothes

6 Comments on “Change muslin, acknowledge original – raglan tee”

  1. Lynn Says:

    Thanks for sharing this detailed process! I like the tip of using a woven to test a knit pattern.

  2. I enjoy reading about your fitting pattern process… I am also gradually working to have an assortment of TNT patterns. I’d not heard about using a woven to fit a knit fabric pattern before, that seems very sensible, thank you for the tip. My personal struggle is to find the elusive “fitted top with fitted armhole”… one of these years I will succeed. Whether or not I enjoy doing this kind of thing, if I want to sew clothing that fits, it is needful, and once I actually have TNT patterns, it is easy and fun to use them to create variations

  3. Jill Says:

    I had the exact same problem with this pattern – my daughter told me it looked like I played football, as the bottom was tight and the shoulders were loose. I always use the textile studio santa monica pattern, and thought this might make a nice change. I’m thinking of transferring the sleeve design over to that pattern as I know the rest of it will fit well.

  4. Louisa Says:

    I so feel your fitting woes! I have similar problems except I usually need smaller armholes and sleeves rather than larger. Thanks for sharing your efforts. It’s very helpful.

    If you’re looking for a simple top with a cut-on sleeve (short, but you could easily extend it), I’ve had luck with Maria Denmark’s Kirsten Kimono Tee. (Free download, NAYY) For my forward rounded shoulders I just moved the shoulder seamline forward at the outer edge and sloped it down a little to fit. There’s still some wrinkling under the arms but that’s normal and unavoidable with this sleeve style. Of course I had to adjust the side seams for my “Botticelli belly” as well. I’ve made several variations so far so I guess it’s a good TNT!

  5. sewingplums Says:

    Thanks for the very interesting pattern suggestions. Here are the links if anyone wants to try them :

    Textile Studio Santa Monica tee

    Maria Denmark Kirsten kimono tee download (pattern plus instructions with photos)

    Click to access KirstenKimonoTee2.pdf

  6. Chris Says:

    I always mark your posts to be read thoroughly (& sometimes take notes) – I learn a lot from the clear way you explain things. Thank you!

    PS Happy New Year

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