Boatneck, Ahoy…

Who woulda thunk it…. an image of a little kid in a boat neck t-shirt would inspire me to make one of my favorite tops this summer.

It all started when I saw this pattern designed by Melissa of the blog Melly Sews, for her children’s pattern line Blank Slate Patterns. Since I have no little boys in my life to make the T-shirt for, I selfishly thought this could be translated into an adult look – for myself, please. I bought the same fabric from an online retailer.


That is how this blog post began, but there was a 90 degree turn at this point.

I opened up the sand/yellow knit to prep the fabric before cutting out the boat neck top. Lo and behold, a flaw where it should not be.

IMG_1170After contacting the online retailer, and still waiting for their decision, I decided to go ahead make this project with another striped knit from my stash. It’s not the same without the same fabric, though.  


To continue ….

To draft the boat neck I followed directions in this fabulous book.  Disclosure: I have not devoured this book cover to cover but just used the boatneck instructions therein.  (No affiliation) IMG_1204

Starting with my new BFF pattern, the Renfrew from Sewaholic Patterns, I created a boatneck template. Additionally, I included the facing for the boatneck in the template to make it all one piece.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Trace the top of a favorite T-shirt pattern, not all the way around but just the center front, neck, shoulder, and armhole. The key points are really the shoulder seam and center front. Place the center front on the paper’s edge so you do not have to trace it. Gotta love shortcuts…..IMG_1145
  2. Mark seam allowances inside the traced piece because you’ll be working with the seam allowance rather than the cutting line. that’s the green pencil line in the photo below.
  3. Measure 1” inside the shoulder/neck point, on the shoulder seam line (green) and mark with a slash (red slash mark).  This is really your choice because the more you measure in, the lower the boat neck and the smaller the stitched shoulder seam. If you feel the boat neck will be too high, go ahead and make this mark further in toward the shoulder. Just leave enough for the seam allowance for attaching the sleeve!
  4. Square off this point and the center front as shown; it’s the red line in the photo. Please ignore the blue line until later. The red line is the boatneck and the rest of it is the shoulder seam. At this point you could create a very slight curve to round out the neckline ever so slightly. Then, add an allowance to the red line so you can finish your neckline by turning and sewing .IMG_1155
  5. Continue reading if you want to add a built in facing like I did.
  6. For built in facing: after accomplishing #4, draw a line parallel to the red line 2 inches above the red. That’s indicated by the blue line in the photo above.
  7. Fold the paper at the red line, and draw a dotted line aligned with the armhole seam, ending at the blue line. See picture below. The fold is at the bottom of the picture so you’ll see the pattern upside down. IMG_1218
  8. Turn the paper over and make the dotted line on the other side, from the fold to the shoulder point (on the green seamline) as in the picture below. IMG_1219IMG_1249
  9. Open out the paper, add seam allowances to the dotted line pivoting at the point and ending at the shoulder line. There should be a V shape at the armhole edge. The picture above should make it clear. IMG_1184
  10. Cut out the paper template. It should look like the picture above. Click on the picture to enlarge.
  11. Pin this template to the original shirt pattern aligning the center fronts and original shoulder seams.  IMG_1234
  12. Here are the front and back pieces, cut out on a folded edge and ready to sew. Note the funny shape of the neckline…. IMG_1194
  13. Sew the front and back at the shoulder/facing seam which has a V shape. I started with the facing edge, sewed to the inner dot, pivoted and sewed the shoulder seam. Note that I lowered the inner dot by 1/2″ to lower the neckline a little; and it’s OK to do that. You can see the faint dot in green, as pointed out by my graphic arrow.IMG_1239
  14. Slash this V to within a 1/4″ of the dot. You can either open the seams and press, or turn the seams to one side. I was able to turn each seam to the opposite side to prevent bulk.
  15. Fold over the facing on the neckline, and press. See photo below where you can see the wrong side of the shirt.
  16. Baste the facing/shoulder seams together (the raw edges do not have to be aligned. It is key to let the facing lie flat). (You can see that mine is not lying flat in the picture).  Press the boatneck! Finish the top following the pattern. IMG_1237
  17. Note: it’s hard to tell the front and back apart with this style since there is no zipper or something else to mark the back. One suggestion is to mark the back with a small ribbon loop on the facing. For those with an embroidery machine, you could embroider the words “front” and “back” on the facing only for a fun, hidden feature!!

And, here is the finished top. As always, I do things in multiples, and repeated this in a black/white interlock knit. So I now own three black/white striped t-shirts and a black/green striped t-shirt. Enough already. IMG_1251

Thank you for reading! Have you made a boatneck garment? If not, is it on your sewing list? Does this give off a Jean Seberg vibe?


9 thoughts on “Boatneck, Ahoy…

  1. I felt compelled to finally make a comment on my sis’ blog – that I enjoy reading so much every week. We’re both cut from the same ‘pattern’ – no pun ;)! I choose to design the fabric of our environments (that we live in) and she that we use to surround ourselves in at a more intimate level. I feel they are both similar activities in that both involve many levels of creative genius (that my sis certainly is) while requiring the mathematical precision of putting parts together that are customized to fit the individual; and in my case the user community. Both have to come out as a pleasing addition to our lives … my 2 cents!


    1. Hey, little (architect) brother. That is one insightful comment. Mmwaaah!! Love your analogy about us being cut from the same “pattern”.
      To my readers: I did NOT force my family members to follow my blog. Honest. 🙂


    1. Awww. Thanks, Helen! Maybe another time…..
      Enjoy conference! Actually, my brother who commented above, lives in the DC area not far from the conference venue.


  2. Wow! Small world! I read your comment on my blog so I thought I would look you up. We have talked (via email before) I was part of the CAB that started the LA Chapter of ASG. I was the newsletter editor and you were so helpful in resolving some of the beginning a ASG chapter issues we had – mostly wrong emails/address changes/transferring memberships, etc. Like I said, small world! I probably saw you at the ASG Conference in New Mexico & LA (I’ve only been to two conferences) but was so overwhelmed with all the ‘sewing’ I never stopped to introduce myself. Great boat neck T-shirts. Ironically I have sewn three boat neck T-shirts and have discovered that there is not enough ‘coverage’ for my bra straps in the neck area so I have to modify the neck a bit . . . still working on those.


    1. OMG!! Small world, indeed. Thank you for bringing our ASG connection to my attention, and for following my blog. The LA chapter came such a long way so fast that I was nothing but impressed.
      Love your writing (and sewing). Something in your posts just “connected” with me. Hope you enjoy mine!


      1. Yes, I was at the Albuquerque and the LA Conferences — it was required as part of my job. But I am no longer with ASG so don’t know when I’ll be able to make another conference…..


  3. I love your boatneck top! Interesting pattern design, I’ve not seen that book before, wonder if the rest of it is good? I have sewn a boatneck top only once before out of a woven and from a pattern. But it did not work out, it didn’t really fit.


  4. Thanks for the comment! I think it is a good book as far as the bits I read through. It shows you how to draft patterns for knit fabrics. It’s like a textbook for knits only. It is on the expensive side but all textbooks are…
    Let us know when you give the boatneck another try.


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