So naturally when Jen released her newest pattern, the Lark Tee, I hopped right on that bandwagon too! I purchased Lark almost as soon as it popped up in my Instagram feed and started working on my first top that evening.
This is one of those rare patterns where I really have nothing bad to say. No complaints, no constructive criticism, no “this is fine, but I’d prefer to do it this way,” nothing. As someone who has an opinion on just about anything and makes her living by picking apart arguments, it’s a rare place to find myself.
But I am really pleased with the Lark pattern. I’ve heard (or I should say read) other people complain that it’s “just” another t-shirt pattern, and there are already so many on the market, or it’s not original for that reason, and I can see their point. However, I have several other t-shirt patterns in my rather large pattern collection, and I was surprised to find that this one really is different than the others I have. And here’s why:
- Options. This pattern comes with 4 different necklines and 4 different sleeve lengths. That combines to just about any combination of t-shirt that you could want. The only thing that I might remotely consider that’s not included is a cowl neck.
- Ease. In the pattern description, Jen said that she was trying to draft the perfect layering tee. In my opinion, she did exactly that. The amount of ease built into this pattern is exactly the right amount for layering. It’s not to tight, it’s not too lose, it’s not flowy or boxy. It is a perfectly slim-fitting t-shirt that has just enough ease to wear over a tight base layer (for a really cold day) and is slim enough to layer under just about anything you can imagine.
- Fit. The fit of this top is perfect across the shoulders, at least for me. The Sewaholic Renfrew is also a great fit across the shoulders for me, but the other tees I have aren’t just right like this one is.
So if you have another t-shirt pattern that you love, you don’t mind altering patterns for varying fits and you can’t ever see yourself using another pattern, then I know that nothing I say is going to change that. If you don’t have a t-shirt pattern in your stash and are looking for a versatile pattern that gives you a lot of bang for your buck, then I wholeheartedly recommend this one. And if you fall somewhere in the middle, I can honestly say I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in Lark and will find it different enough from what you have that it fills a hole of some sort.
For my first Lark, I chose to do a long-sleeved, V-neck tshirt. I love V-necks. I think they are so flattering on almost everyone, and my closet needs more long-sleeved tees going into fall.
This tee went together without a hitch. This is actually only my second attempt at a V-neck, the first one being for J aaaages ago. Jen’s instructions were great, and I think that I got a really nice finished product. I’m deciding what view to use for my next Lark. I love V-necks, but the boat neck could also be really nice. Ultimately, I probably “need” both!
On to fabric. This is a relatively lightweight jersey that I picked up at Michael Levine (affiliate link) when we were in LA for a wedding about 18 months ago. The best part of this fabric? It sparkles! I originally got it thinking it could be part of an Elsa dress for N, but didn’t use it when I made her an Elsa dress a while ago. So it’s been languishing in my stash forever, and it really is a nice fabric and perfect for a layering tee.
So there you have it! On the one hand it is “just” another t-shirt. But on the other, the pattern itself is soooo much more than “just” a t-shirt. Grainline patterns are some of my favorites. They’re so well-done, the drafting is top-notch, the fit is great, and the instructions are perfect IMO. I get really annoyed with incredibly long photo tutorials where I have to rustle through pages and pages of photos to find what I want, and Grainline instructions are nice and streamlined for a more experienced sewist. For beginners or those who want more hand-holding, Jen always does great sew alongs on her blog!
Pattern: Lark Tee by Grainline Studios
Cost: $12 USD for the PDF and $16 USD for the paper pattern
Fabric: Lightweight sparkle jersey from Michael Levine‘s LA store (affiliate link).
Difficulty: Advanced beginner. I wouldn’t recommend something with a V-neck and set in sleeves for anyone’s first knit project, but Grainline instructions are good and I have no doubt that the upcoming sew along will have lots of extra tips!
Techniques required: Working with knits, setting in sleeves, attaching a neckband, sewing a V-neckband (if you choose that view).
Similar patterns: There are a lot of t-shirt patterns on the market, but I don’t know of any that have the number of options as the Lark Tee or that perfect layering ease. I think the closest would be the Hey June Union Street Tee. The Union Street also has 4 sleeve lengths, but only two of the necklines included in Lark — the V-neck and scoop neck. Lark also includes boat neck and crew neck. Other options would include the free Deer & Doe Plantain Tee (scoop neck, long sleeves, loose through middle), and the Layer Me Up tee from Patterns for Pirates (4 sleeve lengths, scoop neck, tight).
Fit: Wonderful. This isn’t a tight tee, and it isn’t a loose flowy tee. In her release announcement, Jen said that her goal was to design a perfect layering tee — not too loose, not to tight, with sleeves that won’t twist. I think she hit the nail exactly on the head!
Pattern format: I have the PDF version of this pattern (I wanted instant gratification!), but it comes in paper as well. I like how this PDF was done. It comes with 4 different pattern files and one file for the instructions. One pattern file is all of the sleeve pieces, and then there are three pattern files for the different bodices for each neckline option. Though I do have to print new bodice pieces for the boatneck (which I plan to make at some point), each of those files is only about 20 pages. The instructions are also very manageable. I think they were about 15 pages total, which is about how I Iike it. I hate having to search through 40 pages of instructions trying to find the one thing I want to look at!
- Lots of options. Four sleeves and four necklines mean that you can make pretty much any tee you want.
- Perfect amount of ease for a slim layering tee. It’s not skintight but also not loose or blousy.
- Great instructions. Just enough guidance on the trickier parts for an advanced beginner or intermediate sewist. Jen is planning a Lark sew along on her blog, which will have a lot more tips and hand holding for those who want/need it.
- I really have no cons or complaints about this pattern, which is highly unusual for me. If forced to find a negative, I would say that it’s a tad longer than I would like for a perfect tee. But that’s very easy for me to fix, and I do have a shorter-than-average torso. I imagine the vast majority of people will think the length is just right.
Overall grade: A+. This is one of those rare patterns that checks every box, in my opinion. Great drafting, good instructions, perfect ease and fit, and options to cover all t-shirt needs. Lark was definitely worth my $12!