Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Finished project: SBCC 322 - Tonic t-shirt

I might have just found a new favorite t-shirt pattern!

For my first new project of the year (also a stash project in both the pattern and fabric sense), I finally sewed up the Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick (SBCC) free t-shirt download that's been getting internet raves over the past few months:

Finished garment photo from the SBCC web site
SBCC is a pattern line that was launched a few months ago with a focus on patterns that fit and flatter petite women. The pattern line covers both Misses and Plus size ranges. I love the fact that someone is focusing on this niche; always having to shorten things on the "lengthen/shorten" pattern line (if it exists) and having to guess where the hem of something will hit you can be a pain. It's not as much of a pain as having to do an FBA on everything, but it does add to pattern prep time and take away from actual sewing time.

Note: I know that the pattern company name has sparked some controversy online. I understand not being a fan of the name, but it doesn't bother me. Obviously, I'm aware of the negative connotations of the "b" word, but I guess I've been in enough circles where the word can be used affectionately that I don't really have an issue with it. I hadn't actually given it much thought before I saw the discussion that the name sparked on Pattern Review a little while back.

The pattern is available as a free PDF download (or as a hard copy pattern for $10) from the SBCC web site:

SBCC Tonic t-shirt

As you can see from the line drawing, it's a pretty basic t-shirt with a scoop neckline and some side seam shaping.

SBCC Tonic t-shirt line drawing
I made a few minor changes to my version of the t-shirt:
  • Added 2" to the overall length using the lengthen/shorten line (just above the waistline). I made this change mostly out of personal preference/fear of the back of the shirt riding up when I bent over.
  • Started with a size 1X through the neck/shoulders and morphed to a 2X at the armscye to give myself a bit more room through the bust/waist/hips (aka my "cheater FBA").
  • Used the original sleeve cap as a starting point to draft a 3/4 sleeve. Up here in Seattle, I find that I just don't wear short-sleeved t-shirts much; 3/4 length sleeves are much more practical.
For fabric for this test version, I used a remnant of 11oz rayon jersey from Emma One Sock that was leftover from a previous project.  I had just over 1 yard of this fabric left--not really enough to make anything other than a t-shirt or kids' clothes, and it was the perfect amount for this top.

I'm very happy with the fit and finished t-shirt:

Finished t-shirt - front

And the back:

You can't easily see it because of my black fabric, but the t-shirt is pulling a bit over the high hip fluff of my large rear end. For my next version, I think I'll probably add a little bit to the side seams at the hips, and if that doesn't fix the pulling, I might add a center back (CB) seam or morph this pattern with a t-shirt pattern that does have a CB seam for shaping over my butt.

A few more notes on this project:
  • This t-shirt was the first project where I actually used my Babylock Evolve serger/coverstitch to complete the entire project. Previously, I had played around on test fabrics with the coverstitch, but this was the first time that I felt comfortable switching modes and using it on something that I would actually wear. The neckline, in particular, turned out really nice--none of the wavy wonkiness that I sometimes would get from using a twin needle on my machine for my knit topstitching.
  • After wearing the t-shirt all day, I realized that the neckline is a tad bit low (or a "skosh", as my grandfather used to say). For my next version, I'm raising it about 1".
  • As others have noted, the printing of this PDF runs off the page. To get the correct sizing, tape the pieces with each page edge butted up against it's adjoining page edge. There's no overlap or circles or anything like that on this pattern. 
And yes, there will be a "next version". I've already made my minor tweaks (adding a touch at the hips and neckline), have cut it out, and sewn the shoulder seams. I think that I might actually have a potential TNT t-shirt pattern here for the first time in about five years!

Based on this experience, I would definitely try other SBCC patterns. If I can find a suitable fabric in my stash, I'm considering giving the SBCC knit maxi-skirt a try; I can't think of how wonderful it would be to actually have a maxi-skirt where I didn't have to chop off or otherwise alter inches and inches of length to fit my short legs!


  1. Nice top - love the scoop neck. Funny I have to lengthen all patterns on that line. Don't think a petite line would work for me LOL.

  2. Are these cut for narrow shoulders or wider ones?
    And I take more issue with chick than bitch. At least some feminists have tried to reclaim bitch as a positive term because it connotes images of women who have opinions, don't fear expressing them, women who assert themselves and know what they want. Chick= harmless, juvenile animal. Yuck.

  3. The plus sizes are definitely cut for narrow shoulders.

    I tend to think of "bitch" the way that you described. I am guessing that it comes from working in a totally male-dominated environment for so many years; the women who "survive" in tech tend to have all of the characteristics that you're describing.

    I have to say that "chick" doesn't bother me either, though. It's used pretty ubiquitously in SoCal, so I think I'm just used to hearing it and not associating any connotations with it.

  4. In general "chick" doesn't really bother me that much either. It gets tossed around pretty easily in the midwest too. I guess the issue is so many people have such immense issue with bitch, and I respect the right to dislike the term and not want to reclaim it. But, most of these people have absolutely no problem with infantilizing or animilizing terms for adult females, like girl and chick, and that strikes me as an inconsistency. I use them sometimes as irony to point out how problematic the terms can be when used without thought.

    The shoulder size is good to know. I'm quite broad shouldered so this line might not be well-suited for me. I think I can probably make something for my mother or mother in law though.