How to Relax the Fit of the Tee Pattern Below the Bust

Here’s the original Tee pattern–very fitted…

Here’s the relaxed fit tee…still fitted in the bust, but with some room for my happy belly!

Alright, I have to confess that when I originally designed this tee, I was impossibly skinny (due to some huge stress balls) …..Now, my little pattern company is on it’s way (thank you) and I’m going to be getting married to the man of my dreams. So, now I have a little happy belly. When I’m wearing a cardigan or v-neck, I like to have a fitted tee for layering (or when I’m in a yoga class and I don’t want the hem on my top to flip over my face in “down dog”!) But, because of my happy belly, I’m more comfortable running around in a looser fitting top than the original tee pattern.

This tee is tricky to adjust to get a looser fit–cutting out a bigger size isn’t the answer, because the top bodice will be too big, and it’ll look yucky. So, here’s how to do it.

Here’s a quick suggestion to help you figure out what size to make. First determine your high bust measurement–Wrap a tape measure around your chest, under your armpits, straight across your back and above the bust. Then measure around the fullest part of your bust (straight through the apex). Compare these two measurements. If your full bust is more than 2 inches bigger than the high bust, cut out the upper bodice pieces one size smaller than what the full bust measurement corresponds to. Cut out the lower front and back pieces to match the full bust measurement–If your full bust 2 or less inches bigger than the high bust, cut all the pieces out in the size the corresponds with the full bust measurement.

Once you’ve got the right pieces cut out, layout the front pieces as show below:

The big “dart” between the upper and lower bodice pieces is what creates the snug fit. The first step to relaxing the fit along the waistline is to fill in some of this dart.

Tape some pattern paper to the bottom edges of the center and side front pieces. Add 1/4″ of length to both pieces where they meet.

Use a curved ruler to draw a line parallel to the original bottom edge of the pattern piece, filling in some of the dart.

Use a straight ruler to add a small wedge of paper to the center front (1/4″ wide at the side edge and zero at the center point of the pattern piece.)

Add a piece of pattern paper to the top of the lower front piece as shown. Add approximately 3/4″ at the side seam, blend to zero as you trim the extra paper to meet the original curve of the pattern piece. –You can play with how much of the dart you fill in, the more you fill in, the less fitted your tee will be.

When you’re happy with the amount you’ve added to the lower front piece, stick a piece of pattern paper on the opposite top edge. Fold the pattern piece in half. Transfer the adjustment to the other side by trimming it to match as shown.

The second step to a more relaxed fit is to add some more fullness to the lower front and back pieces. (We’re going to slash and spread the lower front pattern piece.)

Lay the lower front pattern piece out flat. Draw 8 vertical lines, spaced 2″ apart as shown. Also draw a 1/4″ seam allowance across the top edge. Cut 8 pieces of pattern paper that are 1 1/2″ wide and the length of your pattern piece. The trick to spreading the pattern is to keep the center line straight. Start spreading the slashes closest to the center and work out towards the side edges.


An easy way to manipulate the tissue paper is to anchor one side of the slash before you start to spread. I added 1/2″ at each slashed line along the hem. Tape the right side straight onto a strip of pattern paper when you’re working with the left side of the pattern. Spread the left side 1/2″ and then tape it in place on the strip of pattern paper as well. (Work in reverse on the right side of the pattern piece.
Once you’ve spread all the slashed vertical lines, the lower front piece is done. Repeat this procedure to the lower back piece as well–I spread each slash a little less in the back, about 3/8″. When you’re happy with these adjustments, go back and check to make sure all the pieces still match up. Test your new relaxed pattern on some inexpensive knit….

I used this funky tie-dye/paisley print that I had hanging around my sewing room–I fussy cut the pieces so that the strips would match up. I’m surprised how much I like it!

I have a feeling I’m going to be making a lot of these relaxed tees! Please let me know if you have any questions about this adjustment.

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