Ok I admit it – the Mandy Boat tee by Tessuti is only on my radar because I listen to the Love to Sew podcast. But I love a boat neck, I love a t shirt and I’ve listened to Caroline tell me how good this pattern is for a year now…I just had to check it out! 

The pattern in available to download for free from the Tessuti website, so with my new-found confidence using knit fabrics and with autumn at the door I decided it was a good time to give it a try! Since downloading and making this pattern Tessuti have made four sizes of the Mandy available, however I made the original ‘one size fits all’!

The pattern is made up of four pieces; front cut on the centre fold, back cut on the centre fold and the sleeves. The body is an oversized boxy style due to it being one size, while the sleeves are snug fitting with a dropped shoulder. I decided that the finished garment measurement of 148cm around the bust seemed a bit roomy for my liking, so I removed roughly 15cm from the total (divided across the front and back pattern pieces). I also wanted to make the finished length shorter – I’ve been loving cropped sweatshirts over the spring / summer and wanted to harness the same vibe.  

The fabric I selected for the Mandy was a poly cotton fine gauge lightweight knit in a delicious raspberry and oatmeal stripe. I ordered this fabric online and I was pleased when it arrived with how nice it was in both look and texture – I knew it would make a perfect Mandy!  

The fabric however turned out to be a nightmare to lay out – no matter what or how hard I tried the stripes would just not match up across the width! I tried pinning them line by line and even then they would somehow find a sneaky way to skew themselves! In the end I gave up trying to cut the pieces on the fold and decided to mark a centre line to flip the pattern pieces over, so I could draw around them flat. It took a little longer to do but it was most definitely worth it to try and get some stripe matching going on!   

The instructions say it should be sewn with an overlocker but since I don’t have one I decided to ignore that. The first thing to do was finish the neckline, which was pretty quick and easy, and I was relieved the fabric handled better on the machine than the cutting table!  

I sped through the instructions, sewing the pieces together and overcast stitching the edges; only halfway through did I realise that the 15mm seam allowances should have been trimmed down before finishing, but since the instructions were written with an overlocker in mind it wasn’t necessary to state that! So my seams are probably a little bulkier than they should be, but you can’t really tell; and if they get annoying I can always go back and refinish them… 

I ended up basting the side seams together so that I could check the stripe match before making the final seam – this worked extremely well as the fabric slipped a lot less when sewing the basting stitches, and my stripe match isn’t bad at all for a first try. I somehow accidentally managed to line up the stripes on one shoulder seam…but not the other – I don’t know if I should be happy about this or not!  

When I came to stitch the hem, my first attempt was terrible. The stitching made the bottom of the fabric very wavy and stiff looking and didn’t suit the floaty lightweight feel of the top at all. By this point I was at the end of my tether with the whole project, mainly because of the fabric, so I just cut (not even unpicked!) the hem off and left the edge to roll!   

This is one of those makes that you wear straight away, (while hoping no one sees the blue tailor’s chalk centre lines that have shown through and wont quite brush off…oops!) although next time I would like to try it out in a jersey and maybe taper the sleeve seam so it’s a little snugger. But for a free pattern, it’s definitely worth the couple of hours it takes to sew!