Grey/Gray

My knit shirts give me a case of the blahs. I’ve been relying on the same RTW stand-bys for years and they’re getting a little tired-looking, so I wanted a refresh. Time to meet my new blah stand-bys! 🙂

Oh, they’re not that bad. I got two yards of this grey French terry from Girl Charlee and it’s pretty cozy and as soft as a little polyester lamb. One pattern called for 1 yard of fabric and the other for 1.5 but I thought I could Tetris the pieces all into two yards and indeed I could!

The first I am calling either my Stellabor or my Tabollan, and despite these rococo names, it’s so normcore.

Hello, grey t-shirt. Hey.

I used the body and sleeves of the free French Navy Stellan tee because I love it and because I’m growing nervous of investing too heavily in drop shoulder tops. Sure, they’re easy to sew, but how many shoulders could a soldier drop if a soldier could drop shoulders, y’know what I mean? And I used the narrow overlapping v-neck of the Sew House Seven Tabor v-neck because I like puckers at the point of my v-necks (KIDDING! I still haven’t managed to sew it smoothly though, and this is my third go at it!).

I didn’t change the back neckline of the Stellan at all, figuring I could stretch the neckband less or more as the case may be. And happily when I lined up the Tabor front over the Stellan front with their centers on the fold, the necks are the same width at the shoulder! So it was simple to graft the two and I just used the Tabor neckband as drafted. In theory. Actually it took me multiple tries to get the “V” right – well, right enough. In the end this order of ops seemed to work best:

  1. Prep pattern pieces by stay-stitching and clipping into the “V”, then match the shirt and neckband centers.
  2. Start with your needle down at the exact center point. Stitch the neckband to the shirt away from the center, towards the shoulder, for an inch or so.
  3. Take your shirt pieces out of the machine, and reset them according to Tabor directions (i.e., pinning the unsewn neckband edge to the shirt, and sewing towards the center “V”). Stop at the “V” exactly where your first line of stitching began, and after rearranging the pieces as per the Tabor directions, sew again over the initial stitching line.

Obviously I didn’t get a perfect result, but it was the best of a bad bunch. I actually had to cut my neck-hole about ¼” wider at the “V”, blending to nothing along the neckline, because of my first tussle unpicking the puckered neckband. The shirt front just ripped along the stitching like it was a perforated line. I was more careful going forward! I got some puckers along the neckband, but mostly on one side of the front near the shoulder, not where I made the shirt slightly deeper.

I was exquisitely careful when unpicking the chest pocket. I thought I wanted a chest pocket. I was wrong.

The hems are zig-zagged. I haven’t touched a double needle in years!

Does anyone know how to read draglines in a knit? This tee is completely comfortable but I think it’s trying to communicate with me, through wrinkles.

My second tee is marginally more interesting, but it’s not exactly gonna put your eye out. This is the Chelsea tee, a Fabrics-store free pattern. It’s designed for wovens (specifically linen) but I was looking for an oversized fit. I realized recently I didn’t have any raglan-sleeved knit patterns and I didn’t feel like forking over $10-15 for a basic top pattern; there’s lots of free raglan tee patterns but they’re all fitted. Originally I was going to use this terrific tutorial to draft my own but lazies gonna laze, I guess.

The Chelsea directions are sparse. There’s 3/8” seam allowances, but no notches, so I had to guess how to insert the sleeves. So I matched the “scoopier” raglan sleeve seam with the shirt front because I assumed the longer seam would contribute boob space (and if I was wrong there’s not too much difference between my front and back volumes anyway). I’m pretty sure I guessed right, even though once again my wrinkles are off the chain.

I did something unusual for me and sewed most of this directly on my serger! This was not a good decision, because a) I made the neckband way too skinny and uneven and b) I feel like every serger-only seam is going to simultaneously fail and the shirt will just shuck off of me, like Antonio Banderas sexy sword-fighting off Catherina Zeta-Jones’s dress in the 1998 movie The Mask of Zorro. I recut the neckband and attached it by sewing machine, but I continue to live in fear about the other thing.

My neckband is about 23” long un-stretched, by the way. Maybe shorter? I sewed it by feel, but the pattern calls for 26” of bias binding, so I knew the knit band should be shorter than that. This neckline is also about 3/8” wider than initially drafted, thanks to my early zeal for serging with the knife on, but the neckband makes up some of the difference. I probably could (should?) have stretched it more tightly, or taken more fabric in the neckline pleats!   

I hemmed the body and sleeves of this tee with a straight stitch, since I was sewing a woven pattern in a knit. It’s fine, they’re under no stress, but I actually prefer the aesthetic of a zigzag stitch for a knit top! Well, now I know.

I’d maybe love this in lightweight linen. My wardrobe is pretty rich in summer tops (scrapbusting, baby), so there’s no need, but still…so light…so crispy…

So anyway, neither of these are knockouts, but they’ll both get worn. And to quote a lady in the sewing store who was buying many many yards of fabric, “You gotta wear clothes! I’m not gonna be a nudist!”

Me neither, sewing store lady. Respect.

Pattern: Sew House Seven Tabor V-neck/French Navy Stellan tee

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10/M

Supplies: 1 yard Heather Gray Solid French Terry Blend Knit Fabric, Girl Charlee, $8.64; thread from stash

Total time: 3 hours

Total cost: $8.64

Pattern: Fabrics-store Chelsea tee

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 12/14

Supplies: 1 yard Heather Gray Solid French Terry Blend Knit Fabric, Girl Charlee, $8.64; thread from stash

Total time: 2.25 hours

Total cost: $8.64

4 thoughts on “Grey/Gray

  1. Did you have anything funky go on with the cuffs/under arm seam on the Chelsea? When I sewed it, I had so much weird bunching in the armpit area… I used a finicky silk (maybe? it was from the thrift store and my burn test wasn’t very conclusive), which may have contributed, but I still think the pattern wasn’t exactly 100% correct.

    Like

    1. Now that you mention it, the corner between the body and the sleeve did seem tight! In a knit, it didn’t make it any harder to sew, so I didn’t really note it at the time. I would be surprised if their free patterns were rigorously tested though (for one thing, there’s just so many of them!).

      Like

    1. It took me literally YEEEAAARS to make one, and I’m pretty sure I only did it that first time because I needed to add a yard of something to get free shipping, and jersey was the cheapest!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s