Pattern Review – Scout Tee by Grainline Studio


Make a simple, woven t-shirt from an old dress with Grainline Studio's Scout Tee pattern.

Steve Jobs once said, “simple can be harder than complex.”  For example, let’s consider the basic tee.  I wanted to make a simple, go-with-everything, woven tee in a classic silhouette.  Since I know a bit of pattern drafting, I thought I could whip up a pattern on my own.  How hard can it be?

Turns out, simple is the hardest thing to make.  I couldn’t get the proportions right.  I couldn’t get the fit right.  I couldn’t get the neckline right.   There were lots of little details in a deceptively simple tee I couldn’t get right.  Out of frustration, I bought  Grainline Studio’s Scout Tee pattern knowing that most pattern companies do a ton of testing before publishing.

The Dress

I made this tee from a $4 thrift store dress.  Right off the bat, I knew I was going to reuse the scalloped edge for the sleeves and hem.  Plus, no hemming!

Pattern Overview

The Scout Tee is designed with capped sleeves and scoop neck. It’s fitted at the shoulders and falls into an A-line flair below the bust.  There are no darts, buttons or zippers, making this pattern ideal for beginners.  Taping and cutting the pdf pattern went quickly with only four pattern pieces.

Make a simple, woven t-shirt from an old dress with Grainline Studio's Scout Tee pattern.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Check out my accidental, perfect pattern matching on the side seams.  I cut out size four according to the pattern instructions.  The shoulders fit perfectly,  but the bodice poofed out like a circus tent (the husband made a funny face when I tried it on).  I took in the side seams 3/4″ to preserve the flair of the tee without swimming in fabric.   As usual, I raised the waist an inch to adjust for my short torso.

The front of the shirt sits higher than the back.  I’m not sure if that was intentional or a mistake I made adjusting the pattern.  The absence of bust darts might explain the rise in the front.  Either way, it’s not a big deal to me as I’m pleased with the look.

I’m loving the way the sleeves came together.

But wait, there’s more . . .

Scout is new to me, but it’s been popular with sewists for years due to its easy construction and versatility.  Jen, the designer, offers lots of tips, tricks, and variations on her site.  Here are some of my favorites:

The Scout Tee is the perfect “blank canvas” pattern.  Any print works on this shirt.  I’ve seen this shirt done in solids, stripes, florals, and novelty prints, and they all look great.

I can see myself making many variations of this basic tee – a linen version for summer, a long sleeve one for fall, and a thick, knit shirt for winter.   Next time, instead of finishing the neckline with bias tape, I would use a facing since I prefer a clean finish (I don’t like the look of a topstitched neckline).

Simple is hard work, but the results are worth it.  When in doubt, always go simple.


A fellow Instagrammer asked for a photo of me wearing the top.  I HATE taking photos of myself and thought I could get away with pictures on the dress form.  I don’t know how to pose, I don’t know what to do with my hands, and I’m just one big ball of awkward in pictures.  While sorting through the photos on my phone, I found an amusing animated gif that Google pieced together, so I’m sharing that instead of a static picture.  Enjoy!


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There are 5 comments for this article
      • Kk at 6:03 pm

        This looks fantastic! I bet tons of people walked by that dress in the thrift because it looks a bit shapeless and dated- you turned it into something straight from a boutique. I really like it!

        • melissa1lin at 8:25 am

          Thank you! I like the challenge of refashioning – how to take an overlooked item and make it into something new. You really have to get creative on some garments.

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