The T-shirt Project: #1 The Cabi Gather Tee knockoff

Dust off your sergers, ladies!!  The T-shirt Project is officially underway.

Lori of Girls in the Garden and the Sew Forth Now podcast turned me onto Cabi.  They have some great designs in such bright happy colors.  Browsing their site, I was drawn to this tee (despite perhaps it just being plain old white and not the aforementioned bright happy colors).


It’s more or less a v-neck with a center panel and gathers right in the bust area along the panel.  It looked simple enough in form, so I thought it would be a good first project for The T-Shirt Project as well as a chance to try out some simple drafting.  Here’s my version:

To make your own, you will be dividing the front of your t-shirt into 2 sections.  Here’s the process:

  1. I traced a front from my TNT t-shirt (Jalie 2921–scarf collar top).  Knowing that that pattern is low without the scarf collar, I raised CF by 1/2″.
  2. Measure between your bust at your full bust line.  Divide this measurement by 2.  For me, that works out to 3/4″ or 1 1/2″ total between the girls.  Make a mark on your pattern at this point.
  3. Make another mark 1/2″ from CF at the top of the neckline.  Connect the two points extending through to the hem.  The curve of the neckline is part of the center panel, so don’t do anything to change that.  You will end up with a wedge shaped piece.
  4. Cut apart your pattern along this line and add seam allowance on either side of the line (I used 1/4″ which is my preference for knits since I serge all of my knits).
  5. Having the benefit of a TNT, I tried one of my previous versions and marked the top of my bust and the bottom of my bust with pins at CF.
  6. On my pattern because of my cheaty FBA that I do of bumping out to a larger size just at my full bust and coming back under it, I know where my full bust level is–I made a mark perpendicular to the grainline at CF along this line.  I transferred the marks from step 4 to the pattern.  These are the points at which you’ll add the fluff to gather in the next step.
  7. From each of the three points you’ve marked (top of the bust, full bust, bottom of bust), draw a line perpendicular to the grainline.  Slash the pattern along these lines, stopping before you get to the side seam seam line.
  8. Spread these lines open vertically as much as you want.  I spread open the top bust line 5/8″, the full bust line 3/4″ and the bottom bust line by 3/8″.  I could have made all of these wider to get more dense gathers, but for this version, I tried this.
  9. Fill in the empty space with tissue and tape away.
  10. True up the line that will attach to the CF panel.
  11. That’s it!  Use your back and sleeve from your TNT pattern* and you’re set.

To construct:

  1. Cut out your pieces as normal, transferring the top, full, and bottom bust points to the CF side of your side fronts.
  2. Run a gathering stitch at 3/8″, 1/2″, and 5/8″.  Pull up the stitches to gather, centering the most gathers around the full bust marking.
  3. Gently lay each side front section against the CF panel and adjust the gathers to fit, but don’t sew yet.
  4. Gently lay some clear elastic in the seam allowance of the gathered area and baste it into place.  Take out the other gathering stitches.  The elastic will hold the gathers in place and it will be easy to take out the gathering stitches, and plus, they won’t get caught up or shift when you’re sewing the side fronts to the center panel in the next step.
  5. Sew or serge the center panels to the side fronts with the gathered side down.  I highly recommend flatlocking this seam–flatlocking is part of the original Cabi shirt, and the flatlocked seam will lay flat wheras a serged seam will be a little more bulky.  To flatlock, you can look over my notes here.  Regardless of how you serge the panel, press towards the side fronts.
  6. Sew the rest of your shirt as usual.  I added a binding.  If you’ve never done that, this is an awesome tutorial.  Sarah Veblen Threads Knit Binding Tutorial (the only optional step in binding is basting it into place.  It seems fiddly to do so, but I’ve found that I get a smoother binding since I’m not trying to stretch it while I’m serging it, and if you baste it first, you can adjust it if it’s too long or short).
  7. If you’d like to add ruching to the sleeves on the inside of the wrists like the original tee, you can do this easily with some clear elastic.  To do this, I drew a line perpendicular to the hem 4″ long on the inside of each wrist on the right side of the fabric.  From the wrong side of the sleeve, I stretched a piece of clear elastic (from Pam Erny–don’t try to use clear elastic from JoAnn, you’ll cry) behind this line and stitched it into place with a 3-step zigzag while stretching it a lot.

*I’m planning a post about finding and getting a TNT for a t-shirt if you haven’t found one to work for you or have no idea what I’m talking about.

I also have a pattern review of this shirt here.

That’s my #1 for The T-shirt Project.  I get extra bonus points too because this white shirt fits into the Wardrobe Basics Sew Along too.  What about you all?  Have a t you’re working on?  Post it to this Flickr group I put together for everyone.

Also, Denver Fabrics has rayon knits on sale this week.  They have lots of good basic solids and the quality is good.  There’s also some fun prints including this one which I almost ordered a couple of weeks ago in another [better] colorway, but it sold out while I was making my order people.  Sad.

14 thoughts on “The T-shirt Project: #1 The Cabi Gather Tee knockoff

  1. oh, it’s fabulous! I never would have thought of the Jalie scarf top pattern as a base for T-shirt designing, as it’s got a specific style to it, but now maybe that’s more of an excuse for me to buy it… hmmm…

  2. The shirt looks great. I am glad you get the bonus for the Wardrobe. Your instructions are well written too.

  3. It looks great. I already pinned it to my t-shirt inspiration board!
    Are you making a page with participants in the Sew a-long, so that we can all go on tour and seek inspiration? 🙂

  4. Oh my gosh! It’s fabulous! I love Cabi, too. I have made many pieces inspired by their styles over the past few years. Lori and I gush together about every blog post they put up!
    Thanks for the tutorial!

  5. Awesome tee! I’m planning to shop for a couple yards of knit so that I can make this top over the next week. Thanks so much :D!

  6. Hi E, I saw your picture on Pinterest and recognized you! I knew that you could sew, but you are so talented! I’d like to try my hand at making little girl dresses. Any suggestions?

  7. What a great t! I will be trying this, as I also love the scarf collar top. I use 2 different Jalie tops as TNT/ blocks, depending on the fabric and amount of ease I want. I can see from your blog, however, that I am not utilizing them to their fullest! I need to branch out a little.

  8. Last weekend I finished my Cabi tee using your process — it turned out great! The only thing I did differently is top-stitch the margins of the front panel using a double needle. Anyway, it turned out great and I’ll get a photo up to share with you soon (need to coax hubs into photographer mode). Thanks, it was a blast to make and I’m excitedly looking forward to the next tee project 😀

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