A Maritime Breton Tee in Textured Cotton

Back in the late 90’s when we had our little place in Languedoc, France, we used to go to a nearby fishing port called Sete. Being an American, I wasn’t yet familiar with the history of the French Mariniere shirt. I saw many people wearing them, and bought one for each member of our little family at the time, there at a shop on the dock. They had a rough, nubby texture and were a bit thick and a just a little swarthy. Something you would imagine a real sailor wearing.

I must have misplaced that Mariniere somewhere in our moves, and I have since bought others, hoping to find the right feeling, but they never hit the mark. I have bought Marinieres from LL Bean, Petit Bateau, and J Crew. They were either too thick, too clingy, or too thin. I’ve always wanted to make one myself, and did find the perfect fabric in Tokyo once, but I didn’t buy it that day, thinking I would go back to get some the next day. Which never happened.  That fabric even had the white border on top, as you can see in the Armor Lux top below. Perfection!

When I saw this striped cotton knit fabric at The Confident Stitch I knew it looked like it had a great texture for my envisioned Mariniere. A bit rough, and not at all like the bland ponte knits I have seen many Breton or Mariniere shirts made up in.

For my pattern, I chose Liesl & Co’s Maritime Tee. It was the closest in style to what I was looking for. I was drawn to this pattern for the faced neckline, the side slits, and the 3/4 length sleeves.

Thanks to the great directions for making the faced neckline, I had success making my neckline the first time. Without the proper methods, this type of neckline can become easily distorted and stretched out. It’s first stay stitched, then the facings are interfaced. It’s also understitched before top stitching the edges down.  Liesl recommends the proper method of stay stitching, which is working from each shoulder edge to the center front. Not just sewing from one shoulder to the other. This helps to keep things from stretching in one direction. I really like how this top turned out and I can’t wait to wear it this fall! We are in the 90’s here. 

The only concern I have with this top is there is a deep fold at the arm pit. I examined other versions, even the ones Liesl herself made. I wonder if there is a way to get rid of it? I’m thinking it’s because it’s a bit fitted, but has that drop shoulder. If it had a normal set in sleeve, it wouldn’t happen. But the drop shoulder is intentional to the design, so maybe that is just the way drop shoulder armholes are.

Disclosure: I received this fabric without charge, but received no payment in exchange for my honest review. 

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  1. Carol Gardiner says

    Justine, I love that fabric. It looks a lot like the fabric used to make my jacket from Anthropologie. It is so soft and flexible for a heavier fabric. I think you are right about the dropped sleeves causing the arm pit fold. Really cute top, and look at how well you matched your stripes. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Justine says

    I like this, Justine! I’m already a stripe girl (I just love stripes); but this one is cute. I’m glad you found this fabric and got to make it! Also, I think that’s neat you lived in Languedoc, France. A couple of years ago, I read a historical fiction book that was set in Languedoc, France. It is called, The Book of Love, by Kathleen McGowan, and I absolutely LOVED it!!

    • says

      We are both stripe girls. I have so many blue and white striped tops it’s funny. But I always wanted to make one!Sounds like a good book. I’ll check it out! WE had some great times there.

  3. Sandy Osborne says

    That fabric looks fabulous — I love that nubby texture. I think it looks great on you and I didn’t even notice that armpit fold until you mentioned it. Overall: cute and versatile top 🙂

  4. says

    Hands down for this top Justine. Its so beautiful that i cant wait to make one for myself, i love stripes and the fabric looks too good. Thank you so much for coming up with this. I will also subscribe to your blog for more posts like this.