There is nothing the sewing community loves more than a free pattern. Releasing a free t-shirt, specifically, is a go-to method of attracting new customers to a pattern line. It allows people to easily try out a designer’s aesthetic and size range without a financial investment, plus it gives a nice PR boost on social media.
For years now, the Tessuti Patterns Mandy Boat Tee has been the one free t-shirt pattern to rule them all. A deceptively simple tee, the Mandy has a wide, boxy silhouette and dropped shoulders, giving it an on-trend modern vibe. There are thousands of versions on Instagram, popping up in closets of sewists all over the world. No surprise, except that–until very recently –it only came in one freaking size. While I love a free pattern, grading up is a chore I hate. With all the other t-shirt patterns in the world, why spend my time on one with absurd sizing? Luckily, Tessuti heard the complaints and recently released an updated version of the Mandy Tee in four sizes. Still not stellar, but the largest one covered my measurements, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about!
Pattern Name: Tessuti Patterns Mandy Boat Tee
Size Range: As designed, it now goes up to 116-104-126 cm (45.6″–41″–49.6″), but the actual finished measurements go up to 140cm (55″) at the bust and hip.
What Size Did You Make? I made a Size 4, which is the largest size. Tessuti gives a range of suggested measurements for each size and I was squarely in the largest size, except for my waist measurement. Since it’s such a drapey, wide silhouette anyway, I just went with that larger size.
What are your measurements? I’m 5’8″ and my measurements are 46″-37″-47″ with a bra size of 38F. (A soft hourglass shape.)
What adjustments did you make and how long did they take? Since the pattern is supposed to be a loose, modern shape, the only adjustment I made was to quickly add 2 inches in length to the front and back bodice pieces. I wanted to see if the new sizing actually worked for larger bust sizes without an FBA, since the pattern pieces looked dubiously straight. (Spoiler: It worked-ish)
What fabric did you use? I have tried the Mandy in four different types of knits, all with pretty good stretch, but different levels of drape and recovery. The only two that are wearable were made in very drapey knits (one a striped bamboo jersey, one a floral cotton/rayon blend jersey) with a ton of stretch in each direction. When the fabrics had strong recovery or didn’t stretch evenly in both directions, the pattern didn’t work. It always fit in the bust/hips, but the shoulders and arms would be uncomfortably tight. If you decide to make this in a more structured knit, I would size or grade up through the arms.
What was the construction process like? Did the instructions make sense to you? Like pretty much every t-shirt pattern, the Mandy is a quick and easy project to make. If you’re comfortable sewing knits, this will be a walk in the park for you. There are only a handful of seams and the hems are simple turn-and-stitch finishes, nothing fancy or complicated here. The instructions are perfectly adequate–not overly hand-holding, but easy to navigate if you need them.
I used my overlocker for the seams and a lightning bolt stitch on my sewing machine for the hems. Overall, each top took about an hour to make, which is always fun. I love a quick sew!
How do you like the pattern’s fit? Do you think the design works well for your particular body shape? I actually have a beloved ready-to-wear sweater with nearly identical design lines as the Mandy, so I knew that I like this style on me. When made up in the thin, drapey knit that the Mandy requires, it’s not quite as swingy as that RTW top, but I still like the finished product a lot. It’s a nice variation on a simple t-shirt and both of mine get a ton of wear. They’re perfect for throwing on with skinny jeans and cute sneakers for a casual weekend look.
Fit wise, it works pretty well, though the armscye/shoulder area is very dependent on your fabric choice. The drapier the knit, the nicer the fit. You can see in these photos that the floral knit has a bit of pulling under the arm that is missing in the striped version. That’s entirely due to flexibility differences in each fabric. I’m glad I lengthened the top and recommend doing the same, if you are tall or have a large bust.
Will you make the pattern again? If so, what fit or design changes will you make? Yes, definitely! I won’t make any fit changes, unless I decide to make it in a sturdier knit fabric. I’ve also thought about making a few summer versions without the sleeves, giving it a dolman cap sleeve instead. It’s a quick little pattern that works as a really great wardrobe builder, if you like this silhouette.
Do you have any advice on this pattern for other curvy sewers? Are there any resources (blog posts, fitting books, tutorials) that helped you sew this piece up? This is a pattern worth trying, if you like the design. Grading up wouldn’t be hard, but I wish it came in a wider size range. Four sizes is better than one, but still not ideal, no matter how loose and forgiving the fit. If you do decide to grade up, because hooray for free patterns, Tanya has some excellent tutorials in her blog archives on different methods:
Size Range (1-5) — 2.5 – This pattern is written for sizes up to a 45.5″ bust, though it has finished measurements ten inches larger than that. I think the functional size range is a bit larger than stated, but it could still be vastly improved.
Instructions (1-5) — 4 – There’s nothing earth-shattering about the instructions, but they’re clear and straight-forward. It’s such an easy pattern that you won’t need much help.
Construction Process (1-5) — 5 – Quick and easy! It doesn’t get better than making a whole garment in one hour.
Final Fit (1-5) — 3 – While I like the finished tops a lot, this pattern is very particular about what kind of fabric will give that fit. There’s a lot of room for failure in the way the shoulder and armscyes are designed.
Overall Rating (1-5) + Explanation — 3.75 – If you are in the size range and have the right kind of knit fabric on hand, this is a fantastic wardrobe building pattern and a good way to try Tessuti Patterns. Plus, it’s free! Hooray! Points were docked for a limited size range and persnickety fit, however.