Focus on Free Patterns: Deer & Doe ~ Plantain Top

Recently I read a couple of pattern reviews of Deer and Doe Plantain Top. I have a love-hate relationship with t-shirts. They never fit right, crew necks look horrible, shoulders are too big, blah, blah. But I love soft knit fabrics for casual wear, or under a jacket or sweater. This one sounded promising, and since it was free, I downloaded it immediately!

 Deer & Doe Plantain

Deer & Doe Patrons de Couture is a French indy pattern company. Plantain is a basic t-shirt pattern with sleeve options.


Plantain was appealing for three reasons:

  • the scooped neckline
  • fitted through the bust
  • slightly elliptical through waist and hips

I figured with this shape I may not need to do an FBA.


I ordered two fabrics from, a lightweight cotton/spandex blend in heather grey, and “Hidden Pandas” by Art Gallery Fabrics. The grey was bought because that’s my go-to neutral and it would work with almost everything in my closet. The pandas made it into the cart because I’m fond of Art Gallery fabrics … the weight, the prints, everything. It was way more expensive than the cheapie, but oh so worth it.



The heather grey fabric was a mess after washing in cold and tumble drying on low to only about 50%. A total disaster.  This photo shows the selvedges lined up after washing. That’s about 7″ of shrinkage. I cut the selvage off and tried to reshape it, but realized that if it is that much of a mess after one wash, it wasn’t worth saving. So I used it for a toile of this pattern. Fortunately the Art Gallery fabric washed up beautifully.


Since this is a t-shirt and there is to be negative ease on the bust, I just cut based on my bust size. No adjustments, no FBO, nothing.


I cut the messed up grey fabric for my toile, and stitched the shoulder seams first using some leftover ribbon as stabilizer. The next step according to the pattern is the neck edge, but instead I basted up the side seams and looked at the fit. The front looked fine – it fit well. The shoulders were about right. But there was a lot of fabric sitting in the lower back. Typical. The lesson here is that on every pattern I have to take out 1.75″ in the area between the bust and waist.  On this toile I just cut into the back piece, hacked out a section, then serged a seam.


After settling on the changes to the toile, I practiced the neck edge, stitched on the sleeves to ensure they fit, then went to work on the garment. I had barely 1.5 yards of Art Gallery Fabric so very carefully cut my pieces. There are only 5 pieces (front cut on fold, back cut on fold, neck band, 2 sleeves), so it takes all of about 10 minutes to cut.

If you make this pattern, know that the seam allowances are 1 cm or 3/8 inch. Great for fabric utilisation, but it means being thoughtful when lining up stitch.

The directions are simple. Shoulders to start, and for the ‘real deal’ I used clear elastic to stabilize the shoulder seams. Next was the neck band, sleeve caps, sleeve hems, side seams and hem. For all of the seams I used a narrow zig zag on my regular machine. No seam finishing needed. Normally I would have serged, but it wasn’t necessary. The only minor challenge is that the fabric edges roll, so seam allowances were cut close to the seam.

Time Required

90 minutes for the toile

2 hours to cut and sew the good fabric


I love this top! The shape is really good – not too fitted, but not massive. Length is good, neckband is deep enough that it would be noticeable (and a nice design element) in a contrasting fabric. As soon as I finished it I started looking for more fabric to make more versions. If you’re looking for a simple t-shirt, I recommend this pattern (and this fabric). This will be a staple in my closet. Merci, Deer & Doe! 



There is still too much fabric in the back, but I am convinced that’s not an even shorter waist, it’s too many York Peppermint Patties.

Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I made 2 more! Fabric for both was from Gail K here in Atlanta.

French Terry – I made the loopy side the right side, except on the neck band which has the smooth side as the right side. French Terry is heavier, so this top is a tiny bit tighter than other versions. 
Cotton Jersey – This particular fabric stretched more than the Art Gallery fabric, so I’m not as happy with the neckband. It needed to be steamed quite a bit to get back to shape. I added a few Swarovski crystals to the neck edge because I made this to match a particular skirt.


Version #5, this time with ruffles added to the sleeves. Sleeves were cut to elbow length, then I just cut a 5″ ruffle, gathered and sewed it on. The fabric is some unidentified fuzzy sort of jersey from Hobby Lobby.

9 thoughts on “Focus on Free Patterns: Deer & Doe ~ Plantain Top

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