Granny’s teacloths – raglan top!

Did you ever embroider napkins, handkerchiefs, teacloths when you were a kid? As immigrants from England, my Mum had us embroider hankies and send them home to our grandparents for Christmas. I continued to embroider and still do sometimes.

When I see those lovely hand embroidered teacloths in second hand shops I cannot in all conscience leave them there – poor darlings with their occasional stain or grease spot. Think of the hours that went into that beautiful embroidery.


Once upon a long time ago a wonderful sewing tutor copied this sheet of nested raglan T shirt patterns for me.


Its a bit trial and error on fit, in spite of the sizing chart – I will not be put in a box! Eventually I came up with a pattern for this woven version of a raglan top made from pieced teacloths and a scrap of linen given to me by a friend.



I really liked this top when I made it, the idea had sat in my noggin for quite some time and I was pleased I’d managed to see it through. Then my kids said “it looks like you’re wearing a tablecloth Mum”. Well I cannot tell you how that shook my confidence. My kids are 16 and 20, they both enjoy clothes and dressing up and “yes” I am overly sensitive to their comments.

I wore this to a festival and received no sideways glances, no whispers as to the heritage of my repurposed fashion, it was not a fashion faux pas after all and I really like it. The bias nature of the lower front can bag out a bit, but its easy, breezy and cool to wear – I declare this a win! These photos were taken in a stiff breeze BTW.

To reduce bagginess at the lower armscye I scooped a sliver out of the lower armscye to a max. of 1cm on both the sleeve and bodice. That seemed to pull it in sufficiently for a woven. In a stretch I might need to size down in the upper body.

bagginess reduced by shaving a sliver out of the armscye at sleeve and bodice front and back.
bagginess reduced by shaving a sliver out of the armscye at sleeve and bodice front and back.

There are a few tutorials on the interwebs for self drafting raglan sleeves from a fitted block, like this from the Sempstress and this excellent tutorial from House of Jo in Bath. I’d say House of Jo’s draft is useful for a woven as it has a close fitting shoulder in the raglan due to the retention of a dart in the shoulder. Mine was a tad more basic.

Its Always Autumn has even gone to the trouble of giving you a printable pdf of a raglan T shirt – freebie alert!

still creased from being folded!
still creased from being folded!

Oh and sorry, very late afternoon sun and my photographer was struggling with shadows!

shirt cuff tutorial coming next…



Add yours →

  1. I have some lovely table napkins and cloths hand made by my grandmother and her sisters. Too nice to use as table cloths and we don’t really eat like that often anyway. I am keen to make a garment but am waiting for inspiration. Thank you for this.

  2. Oh, it’s beautiful, especially the pretty embroidery of the raglan sleeves against the pink body. Absolutely gorgeous way to incorporate those lovely old textiles. You’ve inspired me!

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