Indie pattern hacking: Colorblocked Kirsten Kimono Tee

Free t-shirt patterns make the world a better place.

I am not one of those people who can work without a pattern. My brain just isn’t able to wrap itself around free-form drafting (that’s why Project Runway continues to amaze me), and I honestly don’t own any garments that fit well enough to rub off. At the same time, I feel silly buying a pattern for something as simple as a t-shirt. Enter free t-shirt patterns, my new favorite thing. I’m accumulating a good collection of them: the Cation dolman tee, the scoop top, the Plantain, and now the lovely Maria Denmark‘s Kirsten Kimono tee.

I’d been vaguely aware of this pattern floating around the internets for a while, but Sewing Indie Month really made me check it out and finally download it. I knew it would be the perfect staple top for the outfit I was putting together for the Indie Love Affair contest (more on that soon!) But it sews up so fast, I might as well make up a couple more while I’m at it…

And of course, what’s a t-shirt but a blank canvas? I’m somehow never satisfied with making up a plain ol’ shirt, so obviously I had to hack it a little. After I “muslined” it (as though it needed one) by making a plain one for my mom for mother’s day, I decided to play with some colorblocking. I had recently seen this tee at Boden (one of my favorite clothing companies for inspiration) and I happened to have some similar fabrics in stash. A few hours later I had an awesome t-shirt!

colorblocked kirsten kimono tee

Colorblocking this pattern couldn’t have been easier. My first attempt at colorblocking a dolman tee ended as a wadder because I guessed at the proportions and got them all wrong. You really need the dividing line to hit above the bust for maximum flattery, which on a dolman top means that, yes, the line will continue onto the sleeve. (On my disaster version I tried to put the line under the sleeve, which placed the line right across my bust, and it was like a Starfleet uniform gone wrong. Trust me on this one.) But on the Kirsten tee pattern there happens to be a paper seam (from assembling the pdf) that falls exactly at the most flattering place for the dividing line to be. Happy accident or smartest pdf layout ever? No idea, but it’s brilliant. When I cut my fabric, I simply folded my pattern piece along the top paper seam to cut out my two pieces (adding a seam allowance by eyeballing). I kept the back all striped, as the inspiration top is. Business in the back:

colorblocked kirsten back

Party in the front!

colorblocked kirsten front

I love the addition of the smaller-stripe pocket. I wish I’d had some yellow and white stripe fabric in stash (it seems like I should have…), but the little bakers’ twine stripe works well too. I “drafted” the pocket piece myself (meaning I cut a rectangle about the size of a pocket) and placed it where I thought it worked best.

I think these colors together are really fun. It’s got a summery watermelon thing going on that I love. Here’s an up-closer look that shows (sort of) that I twin-needled the hem (hmm, somewhat wonkily, I see now) in pink thread and topstitched the pocket in mint. (Plus this is a truer representation of the colors than the other photos – I’m still trying to figure out how to take good indoor pics…)

colorblocked kirsten closeup

So, obviously, this is a great pattern. It’s free when you sign up for Maria Denmark’s newsletter (which is actually full of useful tips and is not just an ad for her patterns). Do note that there are no seam allowances included – a problem I neatly solved by cutting my pattern pieces out in the size large for the top I made my mom, and added seam allowances by eyeball when I cut that one out (while I still remembered I had to do so), then on subsequent tops for me I just cut right on the large line without adding seam allowances (basically resulting in a size medium). I always cut the largest size’s length, because I like long tops, and also so I don’t have to remember to add the hem allowance.

This tee is super easy and goes together from cut to hem in just a couple hours. I’m glad Sewing Indie Month got me to finally check it out! So this is my entry into the Pattern Hacking category. And hey, even though it’s the last day of the month, there’s still time to grab this pattern and make a quick tee for the contest… or just because, you know, it’s great to support indie pattern designers no matter what month it is!

  1. A super cool pattern hack, I love your colour combinations and the self-drafted pocket adds a definite extra bit of funkiness to your tee.
    I downloaded this PDF last night but I don’t think I’ll have time to make this tee because I haven’t got any knit fabric in my stash ; (
    Good luck with your pattern hack entry for the competition.

  2. Judi said:

    Of the tee’s you’ve made, I like this pattern the best.

  3. aninanv said:

    That’s very pretty and super flattering

  4. I love this – the colours are so summery. I use Boden alot for ideas too. I have reorganised my stash recently and have *nothing* appropriate to do a similar hack…

  5. Barbara M. said:

    Love, love, love your top, and I like your pocket better than the inspiration tee! It looks great on you..

  6. regina roza said:

    great summery colors…thanks for sharing the info on the pattern! happy june!

  7. What brilliant color blocking! I honestly think this is my favorite version of the Kristen Kimono Tee.

    I see you mentioned entering it into an Indie Love Affair and that you’ve also linked it to the Pattern Hacking category. Just a reminder, each garment or outfit can only be entered into one category. Otherwise, people would be able to get multiple chances to win from the same garment when it comes to winning the bonus prize. You can see the rules on the sewalong hosts’ announcement pages or on my blog at

    Personally, I’d enter it into the Indie Love Affair category once the rest of your outfit is complete since there are fewer entries there. Better your chances of winning 🙂

    However, you can enter different garments or outfits into different categories, so you could make another top for your Indie Love Affair outfit while still entering this one into the pattern hacking category.

    Good luck!

    • aleah said:

      Thanks, that means a lot that this is your favorite Kirsten!
      I’ve actually already made a different version of the top to go with my outfit entry (just need to photograph it…), this stripey one is just for the pattern hacking entry. When I finished my outfit I realised I still had time to throw together another top for a different category, since it’s such a quick make.
      Thanks for hosting the Indie Month, I’m always much more motivated to sew when I have rules and a deadline!

  8. Diane said:

    Cute, cute, cute!

  9. lisa g said:

    cute! love the colors you mixed!

  10. Love it (and the Boden inspiration tee) – looks great!

  11. Annika said:

    this top is fab! lvoe the color combo. it’s very Boden like!

  12. Really love this! Soo cute, I may have to do something similar sometime!

  13. Leanne said:

    Even nicer than the Boden one!

  14. Nhi said:

    Love the color blocking, stripes and little pocket. Might have to steal this idea. I’ve had this pattern downloaded for a while. Just trying to find time to sew. No time to sew. Ha!

  15. misscrayolacreepy said:

    Hi! I don’t have your e-mail, but wanted to send you what I e-mailed to everyone who is going to the meet up this weekend 🙂 Also, LOVEEEE this top. I need to check out that pattern.


    I just wanted to touch base with everyone regarding this weekend. Unfortunately, Mood will be closed. It’s a bummer, but I guess that means that we will just have to plan another meet up in the future, right? 😉

    All right, regarding food, when I talked to the owner of Cafe Midi he wanted to know if we would be eating lunch and I told him that we would. Sorry if this is a weird thing to say, but I wanted to encourage people to order food while we are there, considering we will be taking up a lot of tables and he originally wasn’t going to let such a large group (38!) make reservations for the time slot we wanted.

    I also wanted to send out this e-mail in case anyone wanted to touch base with others in their area and carpool. There are meters on the street, but there isn’t a parking lot and it may be hard to find a spot. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up and the opportunity to communicate.

    Can’t wait for the weekend!
    xo Erin

  16. Katherine said:

    UMMMM this tee is amazing!

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