Bentos - batch style!

This summer I've really been focusing on orphans in my wardrobe - things I've made and love, but just haven't quite worked out the best way to to wear or style them. It comes down to proportion and balance - what to wear with a high waist or a more voluminous garment on my bottom half. I always describe myself as a bottom heavy hourglass, almost a pear. I find I need to ensure my waist isn't hidden if I wear a bottom garment that isn't skinny pants or a fitted skirt. And in summer the last thing I want to wear is tight clothing. I was playing around one day with some things, pinning tops up to work out the best cropped length for different garments and I think I've got my formula all worked out. I decided to test run the theory with some basic tees - quick, inexpensive to make and therefore not a big investment if it all turned bad. 

I thought I'd always have the Maria Denmark Kirsten tee as my favourite, but in the last year my style has changed a little, and I'm finding I'm reaching more and more for looser boxier tops. I've played a lot with the free Grainline Hemlock - my favourite version is this sleeveless edition with a self drafted neckline facing. Recently I decided I need to try the Bento tee, by Liesl and Co. I loved the look of the little armband/cuffs that finish the short sleeve version, elevating it to something a little more stylish, and thought the boxy look was just what I was looking for. I really love the Liesl and Co Maritime tee, so had high hopes for this one. 

I've made...... 5! Plus a dress version plus a failed woven version! I think its time to blog it! Many pictures to come! Tune out now if t-shirts bore you!

Version 1 - View B, size medium (throughout), no adjustments. 

I was lazy, and didn't do a forward shoulder adjustment. It's ok without but really I should have pulled my finger out and just done it. This is a cotton Lycra from stash, purchased at Darn Cheap Fabric, in a nice muted grey-mauve. It's a decent weight, and holds the cuffs folded quite well. The cuffs are drafted beautifully so they are narrower at the armpit/sideseam, not just rectangles. They do have a tendency to fall down if I wear a jacket over the top (which I do, at work - I've worn this once a week at least since I made it late last year). But if left alone they stay up nicely. Workwear winner. 

Version 2 - size medium, 1cm FSA, cropped to 45cm long. 

This is quite a drapey knit, most likely viscose/Lycra from Darn Cheap. I'm sure it was labelled cotton but it's not. Anyway I wasn't overly attached to it so it was perfect as an experiment in cropping. I made it to wear with my high waisted full skirts such as this old but very loved rayon skirt. 

I'm surprised how much I love it - but the drapey knit doesn't hold the little cuffs so well - they're a little floppy. I'm thinking I'll probably tack them down with a bar tack - I saw a similar top in Elk with the cuffs finished the same way. Another idea could be to hold them in place with a button, which would look very cute I think.  Love the neckband - perfect length and width.

Version 3 - 1cm FSA, no neckband, self drafted facing, no cuffs, lengthened to a dress. 

I'm annoyed with myself on this one. It's a lovely rayon/poly ponte from The Cloth Shop (very similar to my Karl dress fabric and still in stock if you so desire it). I mashed it up with the Maria Denmark Audrey dress (I love the back darts for some shaping) but it's a little too snug for summer (and I think I've gained some weight since I last made it). On cooler days it's great. I should have allowed for a little more wearing ease. I basted a cuff on and the husband voted no, so the sleeves are finished with a strip of fabric as binding, before closing the side seams. The neckline on the original pattern isn't wide, so I didn't bother with attempting to change anything when I drafted the facing and top stitched it down. 

Version 4 - 1cm FSA, cropped to 50cm, narrowed cuffs. 

This is a cheapish cotton Lycra from the Remnant Warehouse that I purchased in a few stripe varieties, only to discover it's printed. :(  I should know better than to buy stripes online. Anyway I wanted to experiment a little with the cuff pieces. I thought if I could eliminate half of the width at the point the piece is folded up then I'd get the shape of the cuff without needing to fold it up. 

From memory I removed about 4cm from the middle of the pattern piece. This is how the pattern pieces compare - it's attached exactly the same, just not folded up (excuse the difference in length and the apparent asymmetry - I was playing with a woven version at this point and trimmed it back to the length for the knit afterwards). I like it - it's a good option to keep in mind in a drapey fabric. 

The length of this top is specifically to wear with mid-rise bottoms, like these Salme slanted shorts which sit just below my belly button. I've struggled to wear these before making this top - tucked in wasn't right, and the volume of the shorts needed some waist definition. Love this combination! 

Version 5 - a combination of 2 and 4 - cropped to 46cm, 1cm FSA, narrowed cuffs. 

This version I made specifically to wear with my Named Lumme skirt. Again a bit of an orphan due to the waistline - it's high, but has a little bit of bulk due to the pleats. Tucked in tops were weird with it unless skin tight. It's already seen some wearing action as you can see from my Instagram pic:

I did also attempt a woven version but something went majorly awry with my tracing. I think I actually traced off a smaller version, and it was quite the disaster. You live and learn! 

So there you have my collection of Bento tees. It's a great pattern, and has other variations I haven't explored yet - long sleeves and a cute front in-seam pocket option. I know making t-shirts isn't for everyone but you know I love my basics and I hope the style variation has been slightly interesting! What's your favourite tee pattern at the moment? 


  1. I love your bento tees! I've also been looking for the perfect boxy tee pattern but to use with woven fabric. I can't tell from your post if you think it'll work or not... :)

    1. Hi, thanks! I think with some playing around it would work. I'm sure I made a mistake and traced off a smaller size. You'd need to play around with the neckline but I'm sure it's possible!

    2. You also have the pattern Simplicity 1366, right? I was curious if that might work by leaving the sleeves off and putting a cuff on like the bento pattern?

    3. Maybe - worth a play I think! I've also just ordered a New Look pattern that is essentially a square with sleeves - I really want to make my own version of the Georgia tee, by Elizabeth Suzan so stay tuned for that in the next month or two!

    4. Is that New Look 6217? How did it work out? Im always aspiring the grace and ease of elizsuzann's pieces. How did it work out?

    5. It was NL 6268 - I haven't had a play with it yet I'm afraid! Freezing autumn weather plus hideous morning sickness resulted in a bit of a loss of sewjo. But the free nani iro pattern I blogged in march would also be a good contender, and I've also seen someone make an oversized Marilla Walker Maya top and add sleeve cuffs to that and it looked great! I'm def going to try it come summer though as the loose fit would probably work well for nursing.


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