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A Little Black T For Paris

A Little Black T for Paris

The ONE garment I replace every season and for nearly every Paris trip is a black t-shirt. This is the background piece that works to tie other pieces together. Diane Ericson came for a weekend visit and we had a studio day together. This t-shirt had it's start then and was directly inspired by Diane. She works with bits and pieces, stitches things together, drapes them on the dress form and what starts out looking like a hodge podge ends up as beautiful garment. Diane works one piece at a time, is intuitive, goes back and forth from the fabric to the sewing machine to the iron to the draping on the form. She has spent years and countless hours developing her own way of working.

My way of working is simple, started by cutting out the main pattern pieces, using a t-shirt adaptation of my hoodie cardigan, Vogue 9244 as the basic shape. Used a mid weight black jersey from my stash. At that point I had no idea where to go, but when I started to put away the scraps, had the idea to layer them on the garment itself giving the black jersey some subtle interest. I've been wanting to try double layers of knits. Love the Alabama Chanin concept and love the feel, heft and drape of those garments, but just don't have the time right now to commit to that learning curve.

  • Started on the back, played around with the leftover scraps, placed them on the upper back until the composition made sense to my eyes. One by one, I drew a faint outline of the placement with disappearing chalk - this stuff allows you to mark the right side of the fabric and the mark disappears over time or with pressing or washing.
  • Sprayed the pieces with a light misting of 505 Spray so they wouldn't shift when stitched.
  • Using a walking foot, stitched the pieces in rows using a longer stitch so the stitch would show up and not add too much bulk.
  • Left the edges free to roll
  • Initially I left the threads hanging, but it got to be just too much, so at the very end, trimmed them off.
  • From that point I moved on to the front using the same method.
  • In the end I used bigger scraps to cut more shapes
  • Did NOT layer up all the pieces on the garment, it is important to know when to stop!
  • No layers on sleeves or peplum, no layers on the right front piece.
  • I worked slowly on this and it was not a quickie, the placement decisions evolved over several sessions over the period of a week or so.

In the photo below I've lightened the black so you can see the shadows of the curling edges of the fabric and maybe get a hint of the stitching. It is low contrast which is what I wanted.


The line drawing from the pattern envelope shows the style lines. Imagine it as a t-shirt.

  • Eliminate the hood
  • Cut the center front on a fold, placing the fold line at the center front line
  • I opened up the neck, lowered the back neck about 3/8"
  • Matched the front to the back neck at the shoulder seam so the shoulder seams match
  • Used the neckline from a favorite basic t-shirt for the center front neckline


The neck band continues the rolling theme. The black jersey from my stash had a nice rolling selvedge, so I used a single layer of selvedge. I had to play around with the tension on the neckband; basted and ripped a couple of times before it sat smoothly. The raw edges where the band meets are simply tucked under and caught in the final stitching.



The fabric is a mid weight rayon/lycra jersey. A cotton/lycra jersey or light weight ponte would be a good choice too. It is crucial to make tests of this layering technique before you jump into the garment itself. You should know right away if the fabric is right or not. If it gives you fits, stretches or distorts I'd choose something else. This was fun sewing, my favorite kind, which I call 'designing/sewing without attachment to the outcome.'

The final proof is that I've been in Paris only a few days and have worn this several times already. PLUS, it is better than any of the black t-shirts I've seen here in Paris - and this is an item I am always on the lookout to find!

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ALL FABRIC PRICED AND SOLD BY THE 1/2 YARD UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED :)
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© Marcy Tilton