DIY Travel Shirt / Adventure Shirt / Technical Shirt

When traveling, one of my staples is a travel/adventure/technical shirt.  Typically they are made from lightweight quick-drying fabric.  In recent years, some fabrics include sun protection.  Typical features of these shirts are zippered pockets and vents.  They are especially good for layering over a t-shirt or top, and because of the long sleeves they provide sun protection.  The good and the bad is that these shirts are durable and thus they never wear out.  Because I have always owned two, my travel photos are pretty boring – either I’m wearing the red shirt or the blue shirt.  Now you know where this is going……

Travel Shirt Tutorial

Starting with Vogue 8689, I made a few modifications and now have a shirt I’m really pleased with.  In the future, I’d like to make another (or two?)

Three major changes to the pattern made this shirt very functional as a travel shirt:  a vented back yoke, front zippered pocket and zippered side vents/pockets.  Following is a tutorial for each change.

Additional Supplies:

  • 1/2 yard of mesh or other breathable fabric
  • 3 invisible zippers – I used long zippers and cut them to the desired length.

Back Vent:

RTW technical/adventure shirts often have a vented yoke like this:

To make this change in your pattern you will cut:  a) one yoke from mesh fabric and b) one yoke from the fashion fabric, extending the length by 1″.

1.  Cut one yoke front he fashion fabric, extending the length by 2″ as in the following photo (I extended it by 3″ but ended up cutting off 1″).

2. Cut a back yoke from mesh fabric.

3.  Cut a diagonal from the upper part of the yoke, like this

4. Serge or zig-zag the diagonal edges.  

5. Sew the mesh to the lower back piece with the right side of the mesh against the wrong side of the lower back piece.

6. Top stitch close to the seam-line.

You are now ready to attach the fashion fabric yoke.

1. Finish the lower part of the fashion fabric yoke by turning the hem twice (1/2 to 5/8″ rolled hem).

2. With the shirt back and the yoke wrong side down, lay the yoke on top of the mesh, matching the edges.  Pin in place.

3.  Top stitch the yoke at each end (about 1″ of stitching) and at the middle (1.5 to 2″).  The remained of the yoke will not be attached to the lower back, allowing air to flow (i.e. venting).  The arrows on the following show the top-stitched areas.

Arrows show top-stitching position for back yoke

Front Zippered Pocket

1. When sewing the front yoke to the front bottom pieces, insert an invisible zipper into the seam.  The zipper should be ~1″ from each edge.  On a size 16 shirt, this made a 5″ opening for the pocket.

Note:  If you want more pockets, you could do this on both sides of the front.

2. Working on the wrong side of the fabric (to make the underside of the pocket), sew a 5-1/2″ by 5-1/2″ piece of mesh, to the bottom of the zipper tape.

3.  To make the upper pocket piece, sew a 5-1/2″ by 6-1/2″ piece of mesh to the upper zipper tape or seam allowance.  I zig-zagged the edges together.

4.  Pin the pocket pieces together.  Sew edges as in the following photo.  You will notice that on the pocket sides you are unable to sew all the way to the top however this won’t alter the functionality of the pocket.

5. Serge or finish the edges to your liking (I didn’t but if would look better if I’d taken the time to do it.

Zippered Side Vent and Pocket

1. Before sewing the side seam, place an invisible zipper into the seam, starting at least 1″ from the arms-eye.  At the lower edge, leave at least 4″.  (My zipper was 10″ long)

2. Sew the seam above and below the zipper.

3. Using a 10″ wide by 12″ long piece of mesh, sew each side of the mesh side to each side of the zipper tape to form a single piece which will become a vent and a pocket.

4.  Fold the vent/pocket toward the shirt front.

5.  Sew the front seam and the bottom seam of the vent/pocket.  Finish edges if desired.

6.  Run one more stitch approximately 4″ from the top of the vent/pocket.  I’m not sure if this is needed but my thought was that this line of stitching would form the pocket.

7.  Hand stitch the top and bottom edge of the vent/pocket to the front princess seam to keep it in place.

One more note:  Inadvertently, I placed one zipper with the pull at the top and one with the pull at the bottom.  When wearing the shirt I realized that both directions have advantages, so I’ll leave that choice to you.

Finished – combined vent/pocket

Of course, what does it matter if the garment isn’t functional.  This shirt worked so well that I wore it all the time, as you can see in the following photos (oh yes, and we had fun too).

Now, I need your feedback.