Welcome back to Part 2 of the Cashmerette Concord versus the Pattern Scout Comfi t-shirt discussion. In Part 1, I discussed the sizing and drafting on both patterns. In today’s post, I’ll focus on the fit with side-by-side muslins.
At this point, I know that the Concord will fit me reasonably well because the size 12 E/F matches my shoulder measurements; I need less cross-front width and a more forward shoulder seam to match my anatomy. But, I am curious to see how the differences in drafting between these two patterns affect the fit and overall look.
Below, I made both patterns in the same fabric with no alterations. I’m using a 100% cotton jersey with 50% stretch. Concord only calls for 20% stretch, but the pattern still works beautifully.
As expected, the silhouettes are quite different. Concord (left) de-emphasizes the waist with a more relaxed fit, but the narrower, fitted shoulder defines the bust and steers this pattern away from an oversized or boxy look. Comfi (on right) is more fitted throughout with a broader shoulder, so it emphasizes my waist and hourglass figure more. I will probably crop the Concord in the future, but I like both styles.
Let’s look more closely at the shoulder. The two photos below were taken after moving around for a few minutes, without adjusting for the camera.
On the left, the Concord sleeve seam hits higher on my shoulder than Comfi on the right. I’ve drawn in the outline of the ball joint of my shoulder in blue so you can see how the sleeve seam falls across it. Comfi falls to the outside of the joint (more lateral) whereas Concord falls slightly inward, closer to my neck (more medial).
Moving down along the armhole toward my underarm, the Concord fits snuggly against my body without wrinkling, whereas Comfi has some extra fabric (orange arrows, above). These diagonal wrinkles indicate excess height and width in the shoulder; the fabric in the front shoulder is collapsing, causing it to pool above my bust.
If you read Part 1, this should not be a surprise. Comfi’s shoulder is 3/4 inch taller and up to 1 inch wider than Concord. To get rid of these wrinkles, the front shoulder height needs to be reduced by 3/4 inch for it to fit my shoulder anatomy.
A true forward shoulder adjustment that removes width from the Comfi front bodice may also help here. This video explains one method for reducing width by scooping the front armhole on woven shirts, but it would also work for a knit pattern.
Paradoxically, the armhole with the snugger fit turns out to be the more scooped out, wider one. Recall from Part 1 that Concord’s armhole is 1 inch wider than Comfi, as shown to the right, and it is more scooped in front. Interestingly, both armhole seams are almost the same length when measured from front to back, they are just curved differently.
All this tells me that the difference in fit around the armhole comes down to the shape of the armhole curve and the space it occupies in the circumference of the shirt. For my forward, slightly narrow shoulders, I need a more scooped front armhole, which does a few things to the pattern: 1) it creates more depth in the 3D garment, 2) it narrows the front bodice across the shoulders and upper chest, and 3) it places the armhole/sleeve seam closer to the midline of my body, falling more medial to my shoulder joint.
Now let’s look at the back bodice. We can see again that Concord’s armhole is more medial, sitting closer to my midline. Both have some drag lines pointing toward my armpit (arrows). It’s VERY subtle on Concord, but more noticeable on Comfi.
The reason for these wrinkles is because my shoulder is more sloped than the pattern piece, and my arm attaches to my body lower than what the pattern was drafted for. So the armhole of the shirt is too high for me, and my arm is trying to make room by pushing the bodice fabric down (the drag lines usually show up more in the back bodice than the front).
Below, I am comparing my shoulder template to the Concord pattern piece (seam line drawn in blue), and you can see there is 1/2 inch difference in the slope.
I’ll use this method to lower the armhole and steepen the shoulder slope on both front and back pattern pieces. Relatedly, I can also use this shoulder template to easily check a pattern’s shoulder width relative to my body measurements.
Back to the Concord and Comfi fit photos: why such a dramatic difference in the back shoulder? Not only do both patterns have an identical shoulder slope, but remember that the armhole curves in back are also nearly identical. Comfi is a 1/2 inch wider at the top of the shoulder, but then the two patterns converge to identical curves at the armpit where we see such a big fit difference.
Interestingly, I think it comes down to the amount and distribution of ease through the sleeve cap. In the side view below, the Concord sleeve head is snug against my shoulder, and you can even see some pulling indicating negative ease as the fabric is stretching over the fullest part of my shoulder here. On Comfi, there is excess fabric, and the sleeve head is much looser.
A looser sleeve on Comfi means that there’s more room for the back bodice fabric to pull and wrinkle under the armpit. On Concord, less sleeve cap ease means that the surrounding fabric is being slightly stretched up and around my shoulder, which has a smoothing effect, and you see less pulling in the back. This is a nice example of how we have to consider the pattern as a whole to understand fit; each piece affects its neighbors and simply looking at the nearly identical back bodice pieces would not explain the difference in fit here.
A final note about the shoulder seam placement on my body: in the photos above, it is too far back on both shirts. I’ve marked the top of my shoulder with a notch, and in both cases, it’s forward of the shoulder seam. I’ll remove about 1/2 inch of fabric from the front shoulder and redistribute it to the back shoulder to move the seam forward.
Ultimately, I like both patterns as they each have a distinct style. It’s tempting to say that based on the differences we see above, Comfi was drafted for a more upright, broader shoulder whereas Concord was drafted for a more forward and narrow shoulder. That may be true, but there’s a little more to consider here.
If we look at the Comfi product photos, the fit looks similar to my photos above. The shoulder seam sits wide on the model’s body and the armhole seam line falls across the fullest part of the model’s shoulder joint. So, the wider shoulder and armhole seam placement on Comfi was the designer’s intent, perhaps to emphasize the more fitted bodice.
So, where does that leave us?
First, shoulder width and seam location are design elements as much as a hemline or waistband. There are a few tweaks I will make to Comfi to accommodate my forward shoulder (shorten the front shoulder height, perform a forward shoulder adjustment), but my goal is not to turn every t-shirt pattern into a Concord, despite its near-perfect fit. That would be boring! I want to have different t-shirt options in my wardrobe. Comfi’s wider shoulder may mean that I have a couple of lingering drag lines around the armpit because the fit through the armhole can’t be as snug, that’s ok with me.
Second, given that no two t-shirt patterns are identical, the traditional circumference measurements for high bust, full bust, etc., can only take you so far toward understanding how a pattern will fit your body, even with a cup-sized t-shirt pattern. None of these traditional measurements give you much information about the shoulder and armhole, and these areas are as critical for understanding fit as a circumference measurement. In a future post, I’ll review the measurements that I use to assess shoulder and armhole fit when I try a new pattern, but between my last post and this one, you’ve already seen most of them.
Thanks for reading, and hopefully this post was helpful if you’re interested in cup-sized t-shirt patterns!