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Dream Tee - Gathered Shoulder Hack

One of my favorite things about basic tee patterns is how many ways you can fancy it up for a little something extra. For this top, I wanted a subtle gather at the shoulder seams, to add some elegance to a solid tee. The Royal Heavyweight Rayon Spandex was exactly what I needed. Sew along with me for a Gathered Shoulder Dream Tee of your own!

To do this, first I measured my pattern piece. For this top, I wanted the short sleeve length, but I made sure to print the elbow option as well, so I had more pattern to work with. The sleeve length for my size was just under 9.5".

I measured from the short sleeve hem line to the neck.

I calculated an additional 30%, so I would need to add an extra 2.75" to my shoulder piece. Which I would gather up to meet the existing back sleeve. I wanted a subtle gather, so 30% was the perfect amount for me. You could easily increase the % for a more dramatic gather - 50%, 75% even 100%.

I moved my tape measure to add the 2.75" for gathering.

Once I knew how much more I needed to add, I marked the spot on my pattern piece. I used my curved ruler to match the curve from the short sleeve hemline. If you don't have one, a small dinner plate would give similar results!

I used my curved ruler to match the same curve from the hem.

I drew a new line from the mark I made to the end of the short sleeve piece on the pattern.

This will be my new front sleeve.

I cut out my front and back pattern pieces on the fold, but added an additional 1/4" to the seam allowance only at the shoulder seam. I wanted to make sure I had enough room to do my gathers. Not going to lie, I sort of eyeballed this part, using my straight clear ruler.

This is my new longer sleeve piece, with the extra 1/4" SA

This is the back piece with the extra 1/4" SA

Once I had my pieces, I was ready to start sewing. I used the longest straight stitch allowed on my sewing machine (5.0) to sew two rows of basting stitches along the front shoulder seam. I like to use a contrasting thread for this step, in case I need to pull them out later.

Make sure both rows of basting stay within the seam allowance.

Then, I pulled my bobbin threads to gather the front sleeve. I pulled the gathers as tight as they could go, then eased them back out until the front piece was the same length as the back.

Try to keep your gathers as even as possible, and pin/clip well to make sure it doesn't shift while sewing.

For best results, baste the front and back together to make sure your gathers stay put.

Now, sew your front and back shoulders together with your new 1/2" seam allowance. I added some 1/4" elastic to this seam to help support the gathers, and reduce the likelihood of the rayon spandex growing throughout the day.

Make sure to use the new 1/2" SA.

To do this, I threaded the elastic in the first hole in the thread tree, and then through the little hole at the front of my presser foot. Pull the elastic under towards the back to get started.

Press well, with your seam allowance to the back.

Then I continued following the pattern tutorial for the remainder of my tee. I used Brittanie's cuff hack to anchor the gathers, and give a polished look to my sleeve. Since I was using rayon spandex, I measured my cuff at 80% of the sleeve opening.

And that's it! Now you have a great fitting tee, with a little va-va-voom sprinkled in.

What do you think? Grab your copy of the Dream Tee here, on sale for $7.99 until Tuesday, 11/5.

Don't forget to check out all the other hacks we're featuring this week in the Dream Tee Hacks category on the blog.

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