True Bias Rio Ringer Tee

Rio Ringer Tee
The True Bias Rio Ringer Tee in the AGF Secret Zebra Bleu Knit in Multi


I’m just going to cut to the chase. No musings about the weather or my lackluster wardrobe. No philosophical questions about the state of the world or the relationship between pockets and the patriarchy. Instead, I’m just going to tell you that I love the True Bias Rio Ringer Tee pattern and here’s why:

1. It's so simple

An experienced sewer could easily whip up this t-shirt in less than two hours. It took me – a knit novice – around seven hours, but never for a moment did I feel like I was in over my head. Even at my most frustrated (crying pathetically at one in the morning over a – simultaneously! – empty bobbin, broken needle, and massive thread knot tangled around the feed dogs) I never stopped feeling excited about this project.

2. The Instructions are Short and Sweet

Clear and chock-full of useful information, the directions are only eleven (pretty easy) steps long. They include which stitches to use, explain ‘negative ease’, and provide you with a fabric stretch measuring chart.

3. It's so cute!

I obviously chose to do the shorter tee view, but the Rio also includes the option for an equally flattering shirt-dress! Comfortable, cute, easily worn with leggings: what’s not to love?

Neat Knits

I am absolutely enamored with Art Gallery’s Secret Zebra Bleu Knit in Multi, and, after the Rio Ringer was released, I definitely rigged it so that the upcoming Birch Fabrics order would include a few complimenting interlock and rib knits. (Being in charge of the ordering has its perks!) I used a 75/11 Stretch Needle on these knits, as recommended by Kate, and it worked to perfection!

Side note: The pattern calls for a 1/4 yard of binding fabric. This is really too much, particularly if the knit in question is 60″ wide. As such, if you are allowed to purchase just an 1/8 of a yard I suggest doing so. Or, you can pick an interlock/rib knit that compliments a few different fabrics and sew yourself two or three different Rio’s using the same binding!

Zebras and teal interlock
I love how the zebras and this Teal Interlock knit look together!

The Making Of

This was only my second time sewing with knits, and I’ll admit that my first attempt was only moderately successful. As such, It took a little bit of gumption to get back on the sewing-with-knits horse. After washing my fabric, I spent kind of a (really) long time tracing the pattern. Wrapping my mind around ‘negative ease’ and ‘finished measurements’ took a while. It didn’t make sense to me that knit patterns include a size chart and a finished measurement chart. Why are these charts different??

A cursory examination of True Bias’s size chart told me I am pretty much a size 8. However, according to the finished measurements chart, I am a 12 in the bust, a 4 in the waist and a 16 in the hip. Ummm…what??? Bonnie explained to me that this chart is taking into account the stretch of the fabric. A fabric with 40% stretch (or more) will create a garment that – unstretched –  is smaller than the wearer. (This is what they call ‘negative ease’.) So, a 12 in the bust, 4 in the waist and 16 in the hip was going to leave me a with a pretty tight finished garment. I’m fine with tight, but I’m wary of too tight.

I ultimately decided to trace the pattern at a 12, 12, and 16, figuring I could always take it in if need be.

Going with the Grain

With the pattern traced, it was now time to lay out the fabric, pin, and (eek!) cut. I’m terrified of cutting off grain, and I didn’t want a wonky pattern piece to result in a twisting shirt. What’s more this fabric features a pattern so directionality is a key component. However, by laying my pieces down so that the grainline was parallel to the selvedge and perpendicular to the zebra design I was able to cut four pices that at least looked like they were on grain. And – if it turns out they’re not on grain – at least they’ll all be messed up in the same way!

Rio Ringer Tee
After a few washings, my shirt has yet to twist! I think I managed to cut on grain.

A Persnickity Process

The most technically tricky part of this pattern, is sewing the neck and arm bands because you have to evenly stretch a binding, interlock piece to match a larger ‘main-body’ piece. However, as I mentioned before, the Rio’s instructions are really clear and include lots of pictures. So, with the help of about 50 pins, a dual feed, and a zig-zag stitch, I made it through this step without a hitch.

I close-up of the neck band!
I close-up of the neck band! I was really proud of my zig-zag stitching.

Fit and Trim

Before I knew it, I’d made it to the last step – hemming. But, I’ve seen enough of Kate’s videos to know that, a) fitting throughout is important, and b) ripping out zig-zag stitches is a literal nightmare. So, before finishing it up, I tried it on, and, to my dismay, the bottom was too large!

Remember, I had made the bottom a size 16 in order to accommodate my size 42″ hips. But the result was a well-fitted, size 12 tee that ballooned weirdly out around my navel. To fix it, I put the tee on inside out, pinned accordingly, stitched, cut and voila! Good as new. I now know however, that (for the t-shirt not the shirt dress) I should go by my ‘upper hip’ rather than my true hip measurements when making this shirt. In fact, I could probably get away with just sewing a straight size 12 since I like a more cropped look anyway.

I didn’t serge the inside of my shirt since knits don’t fray and I didn’t want to complicate this endeavor anymore than necessary. But, as we have a serger at The Confident Stitch, I think next time I make the Rio I’ll attempt it!

In Short

I can’t recommend the Rio Ringer Tee enough! I had SO much fun making it, and I have even more fun wearing it! In my opinion, True Bias has drafted another slam dunk.

2 thoughts on “True Bias Rio Ringer Tee

  1. Karen Strazicich says:

    Thank you for your article. I made a knit dress recently and it is definitely a learning process. I had to use paper in order for the stitches to work. I am getting a Bernina sewing machine next month, they have been on back order because of demand. I enjoy learning about sewing and enjoy this website and company.

    • Maisie Gospodarek says:

      Thanks Karen! I’m so lucky to have access to a few machines here at the shop. I used a new Pfaff for this shirt which I have no doubt made the process much easier that it might have been with an older machine. We appreciate your support, and thank you for reading! -Maisie

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