perfect knit t-shirt pattern main image

Perfect T-Shirt Knitting Pattern

Introducing: The Perfect Knit T-Shirt — Free Knitting Pattern

This beginner friendly knitting pattern is worked in the round from the top, down. Both fun to make and wear, this top is designed to be the perfect, everyday knit t-shirt!

perfect knit t-shirt knitting pattern detail image

Available both as a free knitting pattern and as a kit with Lion Brand Yarn. Scroll down to access the free pattern or continue reading to learn a bit about the design and some pointers to help you out!

Also check out the coordinating crochet pattern, the Perfect Crochet T-Shirt!

**please note, some links may be affiliate links which will allow me to make a small commission on products purchased through my referral. This does not influence my opinion or the price of the item that you are purchasing in any way.

The Design

It seems like I am always searching for the perfect, everyday tee. Very rarely do I come across one that is just ~perfect~ and when I do, I buy a handful!

In my mind, a perfect t-shirt needs to have a good neckline. I prefer crewneck but not a tight crewneck.

I also want it to be well fitting. I find that around 4″ of positive ease looks best on my body and gives that fitted but not tight look.

Finally, it NEEDS to be comfortable. Most importantly, the fabric has to be soft and cool with nice drape. I knew I needed to use this yarn from Lion Brand!

perfect knit t-shirt pattern main image

The Knitting Pattern

Another thing I was certain about when designing this pattern is that I wanted it to be fun and easy to make! Summer is an easygoing time for relaxing and I wanted this pattern to be one that was enjoyable to make for this time of year.

This pattern is worked primarily in-the-round from the top, down. At the beginning, you will work a couple rows flat to shape the front neckline so that it sits a bit lower than the back neckline. Then, you will join to work in the round and shape the shoulders, body, and sleeves.

If you’ve never knit a top-down, raglan style sweater, check out my Sunday Morning Rib Stitch Sweater Pattern! Its a beginner pattern with tons of photos to help walk you through the process.

Yarn and Materials

The yarn I chose for this sweater is Lion Brand Coboo. This is my number one favorite yarn of all time. Its a true DK weight and is made of 50% bamboo and 50% cotton. These natural materials make a yarn that is breathable, cool, and amazingly soft.

If you are interested in using this exact yarn, you might want to check out the knit kit which contains all the yarn needed to make this top and a free copy of the pattern!

I will note that this yarn is plied and has a tendency to ‘split’ between your needles. I personally don’t find this to be an issue but if this is something that bothers you I have some great yarn substitutions listed below.

perfect knit tee back image showing drape of the yarn

Yarn Substitutions

Some other yarns that I recommend for this knit t-shirt are:

  • Truboo from Lion Brand: a 100% bamboo yarn similar to Coboo but without the cotton! This yarn is a bit shinier and silkier than Coboo.
  • Comfy Cotton Blend: another favorite, this yarn is an acrylic cotton blend that I’ve used and loved many times!
  • CotLin from KnitPicks: this yarn is a cotton, linen blend so its very cooling and perfect for warm weather. Its not quite as soft as some of the others but I still love it because it has that high-end linen feel
  • Swish DK: a 100% merino wool yarn, perfect if you don’t want to use cotton but still prefer to use natural fibers! Just note, this yarn is wool so its a bit warmer than the other options.
  • Comfy Worsted: this yarn is labeled as a worsted weight but I strongly think that it is more of a DK weight. I am always impressed with this yarn and how unbelievable soft it is! Also check out Comfy Color Mist, the same yarn just with speckled colors instead of solids.

Perfect T-Shirt Knitting Pattern

© ORIGINALLY LOVELY 2022

This pattern and photographs of this garment are property of Kaitlin Barthold of Originally Lovely. This pattern, photos, and design are subject to copyright and are for personal use only. All commercial use is strictly prohibited. You may not reproduce or distribute this pattern under any circumstances.

The free version of this pattern must be viewed from the webpage.

Shop the kit with Lion Brand Yarn HERE

To purchase an ad-free, printable PDF of the Perfect Knit T-Shirt on Ravelry, CLICK HERE

To purchase an ad-free, printable PDF of the Perfect Knit T-Shirt on Etsy, CLICK HERE

knit t-shirt side image

Skill Level

Easy +

In this pattern, you will need to know how to knit flat and in the round, increase, and pick up stitches. The neckline, sleeve cuffs, and hem are all finished using an I-Cord Bind Off.

Find help with this bind of method here: https://youtu.be/xZvfXSQaF-8

Materials

3, (4, 4, 5, 5), (6, 6, 7, 8) skeins / 696, (928, 928, 1160, 1160), (1392, 1392, 1624, 1624) yards Lion Brand Coboo Yarn (shown in White)

Size US 6 (4.0 mm) 32” circular knitting needles

Size US 6 (4.0 mm) double pointed needles or small circular needle to work sleeves and neckline

Stitch Markers

Stitch holder or scrap yarn

Tapestry Needle to weave in ends

Notes

This raglan style t-shirt is worked from the top, down. After the first few rounds are worked flat to shape the front neckline, this t-shirt will be worked in the round.

Finished Dimensions

XSSMLXL2X3X4X5X
Bust/Chest Circumference323640444852566064
Length22.5232323.523.5242424.524.5
Measurements are finished sweater dimensions and are given in inches

XS, (S, M, L, XL), (2X, 3X, 4X, 5X)

Perfect T-Shirt knitting pattern is written for smallest size with changes for larger sizes in parenthesis. When only one number is given, it applies to all sizes. To keep track of your size, you may highlight or circle all numbers for your chosen size before you begin. 

Help Choosing Size

This top is designed to be worn with 0-4” of positive ease at the bust. Model is 6′ tall, has a 33” bust, and is wearing a size small with 3” of positive ease. For best fit, choose a size that is 0-4” larger than your corresponding bust measurement.

Gauge

22 stitches and 28 rows = 4” in stockinette stitch

knit t-shirt detail image showing neckline on model with hands on hips

Abbreviations

This pattern is written using U.S. English Terminology

BO = bind off

CO = cast on

K = knit

M = stitch marker

M1L = make one left. Pick up the bar between the stitch you just knit and the one you are about to knit with your left needle from front to back, knit through the back.

M1R = make one right. Pick up the bar between the stitch you just knit and the one you are about to knit with your left needle from back to front, knit through the front.

PM = place stitch marker

RS = right side

SM = slip stitch marker

SSK = slip slip knit (left leaning single decrease)

st = stitch

WS = wrong side

[ ] = work instructions within brackets as many times as directed

* = repeat the instructions following the single asterisk as directed

Perfect Knit T-Shirt Pattern

Cast On 94, (94, 94, 94, 96), (96, 96, 96, 96) stitches.

Set-Up Row: p2, PM, p2, PM, p20, PM, p2, PM, p42 (42, 42, 42, 44) (44, 44, 44, 44), PM, p2, PM p20, PM, p2, PM, p2.

Row 1 (RS): k1, M1L, [k to M, M1R, SM, k2, SM, M1L] 4x, k t o last st, M1R, k1.

Row 2 (WS): purl, slipping Ms as you pass.

Rep rows 1-2 eight more times. Then, repeat row 1 once more.

Neckline Join:

You will now join the neckline and begin working in the round.

Cast on 18 (18, 18, 18, 20) (20, 20, 20, 20) sts at the end of the row you just worked. Do not turn, with RS facing you and careful not to twist your work, join to work in round. PM to denote beg/end of each rd. [212, (212, 212, 212, 216), (216, 216, 216, 216) sts total].

Round 1: knit, slipping Ms as you pass.

2: [k to M, M1R, SM, k2, SM, M1L] 4x, k t o end of rd.

Repeat rounds 1-2 9, (13, 20, 25, 30), (35, 41, 46, 52) more times. [292, (324, 380, 420, 464), (504, 552, 592, 640) sts total].

Work even (knitting every row) until piece measures 7, (7.5, 8, 9, 10), (11, 12, 13, 13.5)” from original CO edge.

Separate for Body:

You will now separate the sleeves from the body of the tee and begin working the body in the round.

Next round: removing Ms as you pass, k to 1st M, remove M, k1, place next 62, (70, 84, 94, 104), (114, 126, 136, 148) sts on st holder or scrap yarn, CO 6 sts, k next 84, (92, 106, 116, 128), (138, 150, 160, 172) sts, place next 62, (70, 84, 94, 104), (114, 126, 136, 148) sts on to st holder or scrap yarn, CO 6 sts. Continue knitting body sts to join in round. PM to denote beg/end of each round.

You now have your body sts joined in the round and your sleeve sts on scrap yarn. [180, (196, 224, 244, 268), (288, 312, 332, 356) sts total].

Work the body sts even in stockinette stitch until piece measures 13.5, (13.5, 13, 12.5, 11.5), (11, 10, 9.5, 9)” from underarm CO sts.

BO using a 6 stitch I-Cord bind off.

An I-Cord Bind Off gives this simple t-shirt a beautiful finished edge! This is my favorite tutorial for the i-cord bind off:

Sleeves:

Using double pointed needles or shorter circular needle, slip the 62, (70, 84, 94, 104), (114, 126, 136, 148) sts set aside for a sleeve onto your needle. Pick up and knit 9 sts at the underarm, k around arm opening even in stst until sleeve measures 1.5”. End the final row at the center of the underarm.

BO using a 6 stitch I-Cord bind off. Repeat for second sleeve.

Neckline:

1: beg at left side of back neckline, pick up and knit 23 sts along left sleeve, 12 sts along left side of front neckline, 19 (19, 19, 19, 21) (21, 21, 21, 21) sts across the center front, 12 sts up the front neckline, 23 sts along right sleeve, and 43 (43, 43, 43, 45) (45, 45, 45, 45) sts along the back center.

BO using a 4 stitch I-Cord bind off.

Finishing:

Weave in all ends to secure.

Block by soaking in warm water and lay flat to dry.

Enjoy!

For questions, please email kaitlin@originallylovely.com

I’d love to see your finished work! Share on social media using the hashtag #originallylovely or by tagging @originally.lovely and @lionbrandyarn on Instagram!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this knitting pattern!

Looking for other free warm weather knitting patterns? Check out the Aria Sweater, this Argyle Sweater Vest, or the Diamond Lace Kimono!

You can also check out the crochet version of this pattern, the Perfect Crochet T-Shirt!

perfect knit t-shirt and perfect crochet t-shirt laying next to each other overlapping to show the similarities and differences

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35 Comments

  1. Dear Kaitlin
    Lovely,,, lovely t shirt,,, ideal to wear anywhere. Alas, though when I attempt to print it,,,, it just aint workin please advise Thanks so much A fan from Dixie Helen

    1. Hi Helen! The free version is to be viewed from the webpage. A printable version is available for purchase on Ravelry or Etsy!

  2. Thank you so much for this great pattern! I have knitted & blocked 2 swatches already as I’m having trouble making gauge! You must be a tight knitter 🙂
    Is your gauge from your pre-blocked shirt? I’m about to pull out my number three needles just to try again!

    1. Hi! So glad you like it. My gauge is taken from my blocked swatch. What yarn are you using, and are you stretching your swatch too tight when you block? The gauge is pretty close to the listed gauge for this yarn. Everyone has different tension though!

  3. Kaitlin – you’re amazing for giving such a quick response! Thanks.
    I think I may be stretching it too much. I bought the kit with the Coboo White. Really excited to get this going! I’m halfway through a swatch with my US3 needles. I’ve never been this off with gauge, but this is my first time with this fiber blend and I may be stretching too much😬. I’ll get there! -JT

    1. Yes I’m thinking its the stretch! A friend of mine pointed out that this yarn doesn’t have much ‘memory’ meaning it doesn’t bounce back much after its blocked. I would just block it and lay it flat how it naturally wants to lay, not stretch or pin at all 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for making this pattern available!! I have a question in your instructions you state:
    Work even (knitting every row) until piece measures 7, (7.5, 8, 9, 10), (11, 12, 13, 13.5)” from original CO edge.
    which CO edge? the added stitches added during the join? or the CO stitches (96) which were worked flat?
    I am a relatively new knitter
    Thanks again

    1. Hi! The original cast on edge means the very beginning cast on edge you made. So this would be the ones where you cast on and worked flat a few rows. This very beginning edge is the back of the neck so measure from that point 🙂 you should be pretty close after you finish the raglan increases and only work a few more rounds to get to this measurement

  5. Hello Kaitlin, I am working this tee shirt with KnitPicks CotLin yarn in their special reserve, Reflections. My question is regarding the 6 stitch i cord. I am only finding informational videos on 3 or 4 stitch i cord. Is the suggestion for a 6 stitch so that it provides extra weight? How does one work with the 6 stitches, work the five live and then pick up the 6th from the top? Please help ! Thanks
    PS I originally was doing the free version but decided that I liked this so much at I bought your pattern. Thanks for the options.

    1. Hi Susan! Yes, the 6 stitch i-cord adds a bit more weight than a 3 or 4 stitch i-cord. An i-cord bind off doesn’t completely stop curling like rib stitch does so having a heavier, thicker i-cord across the bottom helps to keep it from curling and makes it lay flat! So yes you are correct in the way that you work it, whereas a 4 stitch i-cord would be 3 live stitches and one at the hem, a 6 stitch i-cord is 5 live stitches and a 6th worked along the hem. Hope that helps! -Kaitlin

  6. Hi, love this t-shirt sweater but I am at loss in round two when you say
    “ Row 2 (WS): purl, slipping Ms as you pass.” what exactly do you mean
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.,
    Thank You so much.
    Muriel

    1. Hi! This just means you purl across that entire row and when you come to a stitch marker don’t remove it (because you’ll need them on the knit rows!) so just slip the marker so it stays in its place

  7. I’m not sure about the instructions as to the neckline. I’m at the part where you are knitting in the flat and now you instructions say you will join and knit in the round. You say to cast on stitches, but it is not clear as to how to connect the fabric you have on your needles.

    Can you help me? Thanks.

    1. Hi Sandy! At the end of the row, you cast on the amount of stitches noted and then you start knitting what was the beginning of the round you just worked. So basically instead of turning you just start working on the other side. Be careful not to let your cast on sts twist though! After a few rows you will see it start to form 🙂

  8. Love this pattern. For the medium, how close to the full 4 skeins of Coboo are used? Wondering if it’s safe to buy just 4 or if I need a 5th just in case!

    1. You should be fine using 4! Technically for a size M you’ll use about 3.3 balls. I’m always sure to round up or add an extra ball if its close because some people knit using more yarn 🙂

  9. Hi! Lovely pattern! I’m having a great time working it so far. I have a question though… it says to continue knitting in round for 8 inches (I’m working a medium) from CO edge. There is a back edge and a front edge, both are different heights at this point. Which should I be basing the 8 inch measurement on?

    1. Hi Tabetha! This is from the back neckline (the higher portion). This is the ‘original cast on edge’ because its what is cast on at the beginning. Depending on your size (and your row gauge), this could be anywhere from no additional rows, to just a couple rows, or even a handful of rows! Basically, this just assures that the top isn’t too snug at the underarms, because who wants that?! Hope that helps 🙂

  10. 1st, THANK YOU for thinking about plus sizes. My question is, what happens to the rows that are knitted flat before the join? There are unjoined ends for the rows above the join.

    1. Hi Diane! So glad you like the pattern, I am a big advocate for size inclusivity so always try to be sure my patterns work for as many as possible 🙂
      Regarding the rows knitted flat before the join: they are knit back and forth so no un-joined ends! When you go to pick up the stitches to work the neckline, it basically all is joined together and the seams are ‘hidden’ on the wrong side. This results in one nicely shaped, seamless neckline. The rows worked flat before the join are what makes the neckline fit nicely and have a nice shape that is shorter in front, higher in back. Hope that helps. Happy Knitting!

  11. Loving the knitting of the t-shirt. I’m getting ready to do the 6 stitch I cord at the bottom of the body. Making the medium, is it really 13 5 inches from underarm CO or 9 5? Seems it would be too long at that size.

    1. Hi! So glad you are liking it. Yes, 13.5″ from underarm is correct. The reason it is longer for smaller sizes and shorter for larger sizes is because the yoke is longer on larger sizes so making it the same size or longer for these sizes would end up with a much longer top (most often, an increase in sizes doesn’t always mean an increase in height)! This is the per the ‘standards’ according to Craft Yarn Council. That said, everyones bodies are different! One of the best parts of knitting is custom tailoring pieces to fit, if you feel like 13.5″ from the underarm is too long, definitely make it shorter! Hope this helps 🙂 -Kaitlin

  12. Hi Kaitlin,
    Love this pattern! I’m new to sweater knitting and am excited to see the shaping coming along. I just tried my piece on after separating for the body. The size seems right but the neck line opening is just shy of slipping off my shoulders. I do have gauge and I rechecked my stitch count, so I don’t think that’s the problem. Is the I cord bind off meant to make the neck opening a bit smaller? I’m not sure what else could be causing the large neck opening. Any ideas?
    Thank you!

  13. I purchased this pattern with the recommended yarn by Lion Brand. It turned out so well I am knitting another. It is the perfect tee for dressing up or dressing down (jeans)…it is enjoyable to create. Thank you.

  14. Hello Kaitlin,
    I am brand new to knitting. My husband bought me a set of round needles as a gift, so I found this lovely pattern as a 1st project. However, I am already lost at the 1st section. Instructions say “Repeat rows 1-2 eight more times. Then repeat row 1 once more.” Does that mean each row 1 & 2 are repeated 8 times, or or that both rows are repeated 4 times for a total of 8 more rows? I’m ending with too many stitches. Thank you for the clarification.

    1. Hi Wendy! When it says ‘repeat rows 1-2 eight more times’, this means you’ll knit rows 1 and then row 2, then you’ll repeat these two rows again, 8 more times total, for 16 total repeated rows. So this would be the first way you mentioned. Then, after you’ve completed the repeats you’ll work row 1 once more. Hope this helps!

    1. Hi Debra! Yes you definitely could use 29″ circulars. They might be quite squished at the end of the yoke rows but once you separate the sleeves from the body it will work great. Hope that helps!

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