Now it’s time to start building our wardrobes. I’ll begin by sewing a bunch of basic jersey tops. Why? I’ll tell you. But first some theory on basics.
Basics. The most boring garments. And the most important
Basics has an important role in your wardrobe. They function as the backdrop for the more interesting garments and make it possible to wear the interesting stuff more. I usually say that basics are “supporting actors” to the more interesting, more trendy or more colorful clothes in your wardrobe.
What are basics?
Basics are for instance tank tops, t-shirts, plain trousers, tights, plain skirts etc. Most women have PILES of basics and we usually wear them. But mostly we tend to not let the basics be the back drop for the more interesting stuff.
I, anyway, have a tendency to wear a plain, neutral top with plain neutral jeans. And no matter if I wear the blue, the grey or the black top, it’s the same look and nobody would be able to remember what I wore. It’s kind of boring.
But if they are so boring, why would I spend time sewing them?
Because basics are what you wear the most!
Unless you are a full-blown vintage dresser (like my friend and workspace partner, Nanna) you probably wear one or more basic garments every day – and wash it several times a month. So why not make sure that your basics are of good quality, comfortable and fit you and your body type. And last for a long time?
You could, of course, buy good quality basics. But good basics are very expensive, and also hard to find.
I’ll begin with jersey tops
I wear a lot of jersey and knit. The reason why is that I prefer my clothes to be soft and comfortable, and because I have a Casual Core Style (I’ll tell you much more about core styles in a later blog post). Anyway. This means, I wear a lot of jersey tops.
I’ll wear my jersey tops with everything, maybe except ball gowns, (and even with stylish dresses I sometimes wear an oversized knit to keep warm) to be the back drop for more interesting garments, such as blazer jackets or skirts and to dress down more elaborate styles.
Basic tops must be sewn in neutral colours (I’ll also get back to colours in a later post) that matches your wardrobe. I can’t say what your best neutrals are, but for me it’s navy or greyish-blue, antracit grey and in the summer, black and off-white as well.
I mostly wear 4 types of jersey tops:
Ordinary close fitting t-shirts like the Birgitte Basic Tee or the free Kirsten Kimono Tee. I make sure they fit closely at the bust and are more loose-fitting around the tummy area. I mostly make short or 3/4 lenght sleeves.
It’s also important that they have a neckline that suits me. I tend to like deeper and/or wider necklines (I have a short neck) – which is also apparent from my pattern design. I make my basic t-shirts in neutral colurs and in cotton jersey (containing a bit of lycra) or rayon jersey.
The close-fitting t-shirts are great to wear with full skirts or wide legged trousers, or baggy trousers. With that said, they also work with more fitted bottoms.
I wear t-shirts almost every day, so I need many basics. I think minimum 6: 2 black, 2 blue, 1 light and 1 gray.
TIP: An easy way to make a basic t-shirt a starring role t-shirt is to add print, with vinyl, fabric paint or transfers.
 Oversize t-shirts
These shirts are more loose-fitting and has a kind of a slouchy look to them.
I use the Olivia oversize tee or cut one of the close-fitting tees a couple of sizes bigger. To get the right look, it’s important that the fabric isn’t too dressy or shiny. I like the oversize tees best when they are made from a thin knit, and most when the fabric has a slub effect – for a casual look. I also often make these tees in wool jerseys and love to wear them in winter.
I always wear the oversize tees with close fitting bottoms, for instance the close fitting jersey skirts or skinny jeans. And they work well as a backdrop for a good blazer or cardigan.
I especially love wearing the oversize tees on days when my tummy is bigger – but, as I mentioned before – ALWAYS with close fitting bottoms. I have 2 gray, 1 black and two white oversize tees, and would like one in blue as well.
 Tank tops
I wear the close-fitting tank tops with wide straps instead of t-shirts under blazers and cardigans and under my see-through oversize tees. They are also my preferred top for working out and sleeping. And the best for warm summer days here. I use Just a Tank Top. I have 4 neutral tank tops at them moment, and that’s enough.
Jersey tops with thin straps. They are very fast to sew and must be very close fitting and dark. I wear them because they help create my silhouette – as with the dress in the picture above. I wear them under lace tops or under light coloured white tees, but rarely without anything over.
I use a pattern I created from an old camisole and make the straps and binding from binding I create using a bias tape folder or from bought Fold Over Elastic. If you don’t have an old camisole to copy, you could use a pattern – like the one you can get for free from “So, Zo..” (It’s a great pattern, I have tried it a couple of years ago).
What type of jersey top is best for your body type?
The most important thing with wearing jersey tops (basics and otherwise) is that you feel comfortable wearing them. I’ll be back with more information about sewing for your body type in a later blog post, but alas we need to get started on sewing so I’ll just make some quick points.
To get you to feel great wearing your jersey tops, you just have to think about one thing: What do you want to accentuate and what do you want to hide.
For instance: I have a tummy that I like to hide, but I don’t mind accentuating my bust. So I make my t-shirts fit loosely over the tummy area and emphasize my bust by either making sure the t-shirts are close-fitting at the bust, by having deep cut necklines or by wearing a dark tight fitting top under the oversize tops. So I wear all types of jersey tops, but make sure they emphasize the bust and hide the tummy.
If you, on the other hand, have a small waist (and maybe wide hips, that you want to hide) you probably look and feel great wearing tops that fit closely at your waist and bust – and then you wear them with full skirts or loose-fitting trousers.
If you feel like you need help figuring out kind(s) of jersey top would work for you, you are welcome to share a picture of yourself here in the comments or in the MariaDenmark Facebook Group and ask me there.
Now: YOUR Action-Steps towards a better wardrobe:
- Figure out how many basic jersey tops – and what type – you need. Or begin with just 1 or 2 of each type – to not be overwhelmed.
- Buy jersey in 1 neutral colour (or find it in your stash). Make sure you have enough for several tops
- Find your patterns and get them ready. Fit them if you need to (merge sizes for easy fitting) and add seam allowances if needed.
- Plan some time a day or an evening within the next 2 weeks to cut your tops (about 1 hour)
- Plan an afternoon (3 hours) if you are able to or choose a week where you’ll sew for 30 minutes each day (for instance, before making dinner) and sew your tops assembly line style.
- Repeat for jersey in another neutral, if necessary.
Great post! I’m all about basics and it’s awesome to see an argument for them! I’ll be referring to this post and patterns you linked to quite frequently!
You’re the the greatest person to have friends, and I hope and wish we ere closer.
I love your idea, we always sew for other people and we get lefted out, high time we do for ourselves
Thanks for the free patterns. I am disabled and you help so much.
I have enough fabric to last forever. Sometimes it is hard to get on the machines and sew
I have fabric if someone want some let me know and I will ship
Free of charge just let me know
God blesses me when I give
I like doing that, love to give
Great post, Maria! Looking forward to following along.
Inspiring Maria! I know we can all get lost in sewing rather randomly and redundantly :) I agree T-shirts are something (most of us I think?) wear a lot. Finessing just the right pattern (for fit and the right emphasis) is worth the effort because it will be used again and again. I especially loved your loose fitting Tee over your darker and more close fitting dress. I love that look!
Interesting post, Maria. I look forward to reading your articles and have made several of your dress patterns. They are my favorite and “go to” patterns when I need something quick. Will have to try your T-shirt patterns.
I agree with your basics even though my T-shirts tend to be less neutral as I like a little contrast between top & bottom. That said, all the tops go with all the bottoms. Dark bottoms, light/bright tops. However, none of my tops are particularly eyecatching.
Can you give some advice how to fit a tight basic tee when you get fabric poolen around the back in spite of a tight fit? Happening to me on the tank top.
Greal series, cut out 4 tank tops.