Faux-thropologie Tee

So, someone on pinterested tagged a really cute tshirt I saw made by Anthropologie (I’d link it, but I’d rather not advertise a $40 tshirt), and it had a really cool structure with cutouts on the back. And I thought to myself… I could do that…

So I did. I used a tshirt pattern I already had an that I liked, only I cut TWO back pieces. Then I free handed the shape, and cut it out of both pieces (mirrored, obviously) and sewed the bottom half up the middle. If only I’d known it would turn out so well, I would have taken progress pictures and actually made this more of a tutorial, but I honestly thought it was going to be a disaster.

There are definitely things I’d tweak about it, if/when I do it again. The front neckline isn’t perfect, and the sleeves are too wide. Maybe it should be more of a tanktop. I’d probably make the crossed strips in the back a little narrower as well. But for now, I’m calling it an excellent success!

It was also a fun chance to pull out my twin needle and practice nifty knit hemming techniques. There are some GREAT tips on finishing knit hems on this tutorial here.

The fabric is by Mod Mint Triangles by mrshervi.

Faux-thropologie Tee Tutorial

So, I saw that beautiful tshirt with its elegant cutouts on pinterest, and I thought to myself “I could do that!” So I did. Then I thought to myself “I should share how I did this!” So I am. This is my present to all my faithful readers who are here at my 201st blog post. (Not really, actually, thats a complete coincidence. But still, 201! Holy crap.)

I made some minor modifications to the pattern for my own amusement which you can choose to follow, or not, as you will. I added a bit of flare in the back, and used a tutorial for petal sleeves. I also thickened the crosspieces, because the knit I was working with was pretty thin and I was worried that going too narrow would be just be difficult and annoying. That knit, by the way, I found at Joanns for $4/yd.

Feel free to go with your instincts, change things up, and make a shirt that YOU want to wear.


For this tutorial, you’ll want to use a comfortable 4-way stretch knit, and contemplate using a serger, or double needle. You should also have a basic tshirt pattern that you’ve used before and know you like. (If you don’t have such a pattern already, I highly recommend this Deer-and-Doe pattern. Its free, simple to follow, and looks great on everyone!.) I used bias-tape made of the same fabric to finish all the edges in my shirt, but that’s not necessary. If you want, you can simply use a fold-over hem. This site has some great tutorials on a variety of ways to finish knit hems.

So, to make this shirt you’re going to want to modify the back pattern piece of a generic tshirt pattern. The front and sleeves will stay exactly the same. I’m going to use some pretty impressively crappy paint sketches to illustrate my points.

Trace the back pattern piece out on some large sheets of paper. If your pattern is a piece that is “cut on the fold” flip it over so that you have a full piece, exactly like the piece of fabric you *would* be cutting out for the back. Find and mark the center line of the piece.


Then, on one “half” of the pattern piece start at the shoulder neckline and draw a dip and a line that crosses the center line, and goes all the way to the opposite shoulder. Starting off parallel to that line, but a few inches lower (how much lower is up to you, that will determine the width of the crosspieces) draw another line that that crosses the centerline, and then curves back towards it to end in the middle of your back. If those words made absolutely no sense, as I suspect is the case, just look at this image:

If you want a more flared effect like my brown shirt, continue the line diagonally to end somewhere on the other half of the shirt pattern. If you want a straighter/tighter back to your shirt, just follow the centerline straight down. This is your NEW back piece. You’re going to want to cut out two of them (but mirrored, obviously.)

Next, I would recommend finishing the lower edge of the cutout and crosspiece on BOTH back pieces in whatever way you choose. It’ll be easier to do it now than later. I’ve highlighted the edge I’m talking about in purple below:


Then sew the shoulder seams together. You’ll end up with a funny kind-of T-shaped thing, with the crosspieces of each back pointed toward the center.


Next, you’ll want to finish the edges of the neckline and the top side of each crosspiece.


After that, you’ll want to sew up the seam in the center back. Go only as far as the bottom of the cutout curve. Also go ahead and put the sleeves on, or if you’re doing a tanktop finish the edges of the armholes.


Then, you’ll want to sew up the side seams. Go from the edges of the sleeves, all the way through the armpit (making sure to match the sleeve seams) and down the shirt to the bottom hem. Finish the bottom hem in whatever way you see fit.


Finally, you’ll want to attach the crosspieces to the inside of their OPPOSITE shoulder seam. You might want to put it on and play with their placing for a couple of minutes. The angle at which you end up sewing them can make a difference.


And you should end up with something that looks sort of like the attached images!

This whole concept is also pretty easy to tweak and customize and get creative with. I added petal sleeves in one variation, and did no sleeves at all in another.

You can also cut different shapes, or even do multiple crosspieces. I haven’t been brave enough to try more than two crosspieces on each side yet, but I think you could end up with an incredibly complex and beautiful pattern.

Or instead of the leaf-like oval cut-out at the bottom, I think it’d be pretty easy to make a shape more like a heart, or go with super straight lines and make a triangle. The possibilities are endless!

Feel free to share your success and even your failures with me! I’m curious to see if anyone else has any luck with this.

Science Girl Glows

Here she is…. Science Girl: Glow! This was my last minute outfit for the GLOW event at the Museum of Life and Science. Its made out of two XL tshirts (one black, one neon yellow) some neon thread accents, and some glow in the dark pink puff paint. For about 2hrs work I think it turned out quite wonderful. Its even got some jelly fish painted on the hem, since they were the feature on the Glow poster.

GLOW was featured on WRAL’s website. I appear in one picture, next to the people with the incredibly awesome hats, by Hannah Pertalion, who happens to be one of my oldest and dearest friends.