Tee for Two

I’ve been a real Johnny Two-Shirts lately. Anyway, here’s another two shirts! I spotted a cute mock-neck knit tee with elbow sleeves in a StitchFix ad and got two yards of cotton jersey from Girl Charlee to try making my own (chocolate for experimenting, caramel for final). I didn’t own an exact pattern but I thought Deer & Doe’s free Plantain tee would make a good base. And since it’s a free pattern I can pop a complete image of my altered pattern below!

I extended the shoulder slope towards the neck without changing the angle at all, raised the neckline to what I hoped would be a high crew, and slimmed the body. I widened and shortened the neckband from the original pattern piece, but more wide than short; now it’s 1:1 to the neck opening. I also shortened the sleeve, cutting it off around the elbow then adding hem allowance. This was easier than I hoped because the Plantain pattern has a placement marking for an elbow patch! These adjustments were all done to a size 42.

Here’s where things get a little hinky: when printing this version of the pattern, I had to load more paper halfway through the print job, and I did it a little hastily so some of the pages printed askew or printed across two sheets when the lines should have fit on one. And when I assembled it, it got weirder. I overlapped the paper when taping together the body pieces, but not the sleeve (the lines just flowed better that way). This potentially added as much as ¾” of an inch to the sleeve width. In my final paper version the sleeve head is the same length as the armscye – no stretching – which feels definitely strange! That said, I went ahead and cut and sewed the first one, bodge job and all. 

Sewing it was a totally standard knit shirt experience – shoulder seams; sleeves in flat; join the ends of the neckband; quarter, pin, and sew; side seams; hems; it’s a shirt. And then I liked it fine the way it was so I went ahead and made the other one too, exactly the same way!

 I used a zig-zag to topstitch as per usual, and put the neckband join in the center back, where it does the job of a tag in distinguishing recto from verso.

I’d heard good buzz about the Plantain, which has been out and free for years. Can Confirm. Obviously a nice and effective pattern that can stand up to a fair amount of arts and crafts! I quite like these finished shirts, too. I don’t know if I need two of them, but I expected one of them to be a flop, not these first-try-lucky twins.

They’ll work well for fall, but if you’re trying to squeeze out a little more summer, read on…

While test-wearing my first shirt, Professor Boyfriend and I happened to watch Jaws. About two-thirds of the way through I realized I was dressed like Police Chief Martin Brody! And I was okay with it! Actually, the whole trio of shark hunters rocked some serious 1975 New England summer style.

Plus the Amity Island look is free, at least from the waist up! So when a shark bites you in half, the top half will be affordably stylish. I suggest pairing these free patterns with your favorite straight-leg jeans, dad glasses, and a big boat.

One leg exception: for a classic “unsupervised at the beach” look, you can sport a pair of these retro Sports Shorts. These call for woven fabric, but I recommend French terry and listening to your mother.

Next to the skin, customize a knit tee (like mine above, the Plantain) with a self-drafted mock-neck or this handy Henley tutorial. Choose dark neutrals for the mock-neck and pale pink for the Henley. Or go classic in cream with the Monroe turtleneck, and make sure to roll the neck down!

Then layer on an open denim buttondown. Size up in the Noa shirt and add some custom chest pockets with flaps. You can also sew it in ecru linen and roll the sleeves above your elbows. Or pop on a soft raglan sweatshirt – I like this super-slouchy version, but with a little effort you can also sport a fitted look. Choose cool, faded colors that say “namby-pamby college boy”!

For a topper, the obvious choice is a Paola workwear jacket. Green is recommended, but a pocket flask is optional.

For a finishing touch fit for the open ocean, you’ll want a hat. How about a bucket hat? An oversized camp cap also gets the job done. And if you knit, you can knit a ribbed beanie! Also, while so far I’ve focused exclusively on our boys on the Orca, I could write a whole post about Ellen Brody’s closet. I at least had to mention her iconic hair kerchief; to make your own, cut a square around 23” wide and hem with mitered corners. You might never be an islander, but you’ll look the part.

Try for natural fibers, cool-toned colors, and straight fits. A little faded pink is allowed, but take a page from the production designer’s handbook and avoid bright red! We want that blood to pop!

Honestly, Quint’s fit in particular is pretty impeccable. It might get me to sew a Paola jacket. What’s your favorite piece of Amity Island fashion, and why is it the mayor’s anchor blazer?

Thanks for taking a ferry ride to this themed pattern round-up with me! Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain!

Pattern: Plantain tee

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 42; raised neckline; shortened sleeve; widened and shortened neckband; slimmed body

Supplies: 1 yard of Chocolate Solid Cotton Spandex Knit Fabric, $11.68, Girl Charlee; thread from stash/1 yard of Caramel Solid Cotton Spandex Knit Fabric, $11.68, Girl Charlee; thread from stash

Total time: 2.5 hours/2 hours

Total cost: $11.68/$11.68

Tee Time

As I frequently do when I want to add a kinda boring basic to my wardrobe, I ordered a bunch of fabric to make a bunch of kinda boring basics instead. I’ve been seeing lots of images of solid tees knotted casually over or tucked into midi-length skirts, and I like the combo, so it was time for tees. I ordered 4 yards of cotton/spandex from Girl Charlee, one each of 4 different colors. The first two – Light Sage and Dark Olive – are now two Tabor t-shirts.

First, Light Sage. This color is hard to photograph – it looks greyer both in my pictures (it was a grey day) and on the website, but it’s mintier in person. I would maybe call it Toothpaste. Why don’t I get to name colors?! Anyway, I sewed a new-to-me Tabor view, view 2 with the drop shoulders finished with cuffs, but with the skinny neckband from view 3. The result is an extremely conventional and unexciting t-shirt that I actually like a lot.

I took longer than necessary fiddling over the neckband, determined to finally sew a v-neck without puckers. Contrary to the directions, I like to start with my needle down in the dead center of the v and then sew a few inches towards the shoulder, before returning to that same starting position and sewing the other side of the v the same way. Then I sew as directed, starting a few inches up from the center, sewing to the middle point, pivoting with the needle down and finally sewing towards the other shoulder. This should guarantee that there isn’t a gap between my stitches at center front. In this particular case, however, it guaranteed that I had to unpick three lines of stitching when I flipped everything right-sides-out and discovered I had clipped too far when releasing the center notch and made a hole.

I unpicked and lowered the point to hide the hole. So my v-neck is an extra ¼” or so deeper than drafted, and I think maybe a little stretched out too, because the mitered end won’t sit flat against my body. But no puckers!

I originally cut the cuffs twice as long so I could fold them. Then I realized they were already designed to be folded once. I basted on one of my extra-long cuffs as an experiment, but quadruple-folding the fabric or even triple-folding a wider cuff resulted in basically a t-shirt Water Wing. And Floaties are for babies!! Actually no, it was just uncomfortable. So these cuffs are exactly as drafted.

My one issue with this tee is the way it tips back. The cuffs are snug enough that the shoulder seam stays in place over my upper arm, but from the shoulder point up it’s like the shirt is trying to hide behind me.

Tucking it in keeps everything situated. Otherwise I have to occasionally tug the v to the appropriate depth.

My second version is a bit more loosey-goosey. This one is Dark Olive

It will perhaps not surprise you to hear I scooped the neck. Less obvious – and actually I forgot until I saw it in my notes – I also extended the circumference of the cuffs to match the circumference of the drop shoulders (in this size, 10, that’s 13.5″ unsewn). It’s pretty low-impact and I don’t have a clear opinion as to whether I prefer the snugger or looser cuff. I’m generally pro-cuff (or any banded finish), though! That’s two fewer hems!

Actually, the only hem on these projects is the bottom hem. I used a straight stitch to topstitch the necklines, and a zig-zag on the bottom hems.

I wouldn’t normally use a straight stitch on a knit but the pattern had plenty of noggin room even before the chop job this one got. I initially put the bottom of the scoop at the point of the v, widened the neckline 2 cm on each side, and freehanded the curve to join them. I sewed everything up to the neckband before trying the shirt on.

I decided the depth of the scoop was fine but that it needed to be wider. I probably should have snuck up on whatever curve I eventually chose, but instead I lopped off another 3 cm each, for a total of 5 cm removed per side. That’s definitely riding the edge of too much! It also meant lowering the back neckline slightly to accommodate a smooth curve, but a trivial amount – ¼” or so.

Anyway, no takebacks! I had already cut an extra-long neckband the same width as the band from the v-neck view, so I trimmed its length to between 80 – 90% percent of the neck opening. Then I quartered the band and the neck, pinned, and sewed. I had measured by eye, but I probably should have measured by math. It’s a little floppy. I’ll tell you what, though: it slides every which way but back. Progress?

Once again, floppy neck and all, it’s a basic, useful tee! These aren’t the kind of projects I lay awake dreaming about, but I sure do wear them. And I guess that’s the point.

See you next time!

Pattern: Sew House Seven Tabor v-neck

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10/10; widened neck 5 cm and scooped front; lengthened armbands to 13.5″

Supplies: 1 yard of Light Sage Green Solid Cotton Spandex Knit Fabric, $11.68, Girl Charlee; thread from stash/1 yard of Dark Olive Green Solid Cotton Spandex Knit Fabric, $11.68, Girl Charlee; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 3 hours/2 hours

Total cost: $11.68/$14.07

Ginghaaam, Girl

I’m not enough of a completist/lover of free stuff (though I do love free stuff) to sew every Peppermint Magazine pattern, but this wrap blouse is the fifth one I’ve tried.

I often buy only one or maybe two patterns from a given small designer, so that’s legacy-indie numbers for me (we’re talking yer Grainlines, yer True Biases), and in fact the only designer I’ve sewn more from is – Megan Nielsen?!

That count is a bit disingenuous because Peppermint collaborates with different designers – this blouse is by In The Folds – but I was still surprised at the numbers. (Also, by the way, really surprised that MN is my top indie. I associate her with a lighthearted warm-weather feminine aesthetic, but I guess I’m not the chilly functionista I thought I was.) So this was really my introduction to In The Folds patterns, and my first impression was that they overdid the notches. So I omitted some, went ahead and cut cut cut, etc., and then sat down to sew this blouse.

Only to discover that the instructions called for French seams but didn’t actually give the seam allowance. You can see where this is going, right? I resentfully downloaded an In The Folds ebook about seam allowances, but they didn’t mention specific measurements either. Thanks to some angry Googling, I discovered Diary of the Chainstitcher’s review of this pattern, and she cited the same issue. Solidarity! Rise up, my people! Burn baby burn! And then she pointed out that, actually, the seam allowances are marked by the notches.

Ooooh.

Yah got me. I’m responsible. 24601!! I still think the instructions could have said to use a total seam allowance of ½” though. It wouldn’t take much space. Just a wee little corner by the fireplace, and a crumb to keep it! Anyway, the benefit of this searching is that I also (a la Fiona) decided to scoop my neckline 1″ at center front, blending the scoop to nothing at the tie, and to widen the neckline 1/4″ at the shoulder. I had already decided to shorten the sleeves, so they have a finished underarm length of 2.5”, with a 1” deep double-fold hem.

Otherwise I sewed a straightforward size E.

In the end, I also recut the waist ties, replacing the straight ties with long teardrops folded in half to give the bow a little more oomph. These aren’t perfect, but the first set was too skinny! Mangia, mangia! Since I was adding them after the fact I folded under the seam allowances of each tie’s short end into a little pocket and tucked the shirt inside, topstitching to capture all the layers. Not the height of elegance, but an improvement.

I had purchased the exact fabric requirement for an E (1 ¾ yards) but even after recutting the ties I had 1/3 yard leftover, because, it will probably not surprise you to learn because this fabric has been everywhere and also you can see it with your whole own eyes, my gingham is ✧double-sided✧. I knew I wanted to make this pattern in gingham because I misremembered this outfit by Caro Made This (attempted imitation is also pretty sincere!), and I wanted that gingham to be fairly large, fairly soft, and in the yellow-brown family. So I went to Gather Here to check out their Atelier Brunette gingham double gauze BUT I WAS JUST GOING TO LOOK AT IT (also I linked to Rust just there, my runner-up choice, because my actual Ochre is sold out).

At one point in the store I was one of three women walking around with one of three bolts of this fabric in our three preferred colors and we kept seeing each other and asking with our eyes if we were going for it (read: $$$). And then I said “I don’t know if I want this enough!” with my mouth this time and one of the other women said “I DO” with hers and I was swept away on the gingham tide. And generally I think it was the right choice. This was pleasant to sew, comfortable to wear, and I got to play with the two scales of check to my heart’s content. I hemmed everything inside-out to change scale as much as possible.

I also wanted to sew the back facing on the outside of the top, but I couldn’t figure out how to do so and keep the clean finish. Too bad, because it would have balanced the small-check sleeve nicely.

I struggled folding under the seam allowances of the tie-opening side and stitching them down in a way that looked neat outside, so I called it sushi and let them be raw.

I would feel worse about how this will impact the top’s longevity if the other side seam – which experiences no unusual stress, by the way, and which is French-seamed – hadn’t instantly started doing this.

Yikes, right? That’s not surviving too many wash-and-wears. I’m not super upset, though. I’ve had a few good wears out of this shirt already, and I’ve discovered that as cool as it is, temperature-wise, and as adaptable as the color is in my wardrobe, the ties are a little too fussy for me.

It sits a little better if I tie it deliberately a little too loose, but arranging the ties nicely is still a pain, and it all sort of bunches up my hips no matter what. I don’t hate it – it definitely did its job on hot days – so I think this is going to be a “use it up, wear it out” top, and frankly I don’t think it’s going to take that long. I do like the deep V, though, so if nothing else it’s a reminder to get some sun on my upper slopes!

See you soon!

Pattern: Peppermint Magazine wrap blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: E, scooped neckline 1″ at center front, blended scoop to nothing at the tie, widened neckline 1/4″ at shoulder; shortened sleeve (unhemmed, 5.5″); recut new wider folded ties

Supplies: 1 3/4 yards of Atelier Brunette gingham off-white ochre double gauze, $42.00, Gather Here; thread from stash

Total time: 5 hours

Total cost: $42.00

 “Est-il heureux?” 

Cardinal Mazarin believed that to evaluate a general, you shouldn’t ask “Est-il habile?” (“Is he skillful?”), but rather “Est-il heureux?” (“Is he lucky?”). Well, was I lucky?

…Kinda?

I mean, even a rousing victory would have netted me a very small shirt. This little fitted bodice is made from the scraps of my last week’s skirt, and it exists because I figured I had to take a run at a princess seamed bodice sometime. I also thought I might wear some vaguely princessy co-ords, which surprise, I won’t! But in this case, that “might” meant I started with a muslin.

This is a pre-Covid sew. I worked on it while Professor Boyfriend was at a conference in Deepest Pennsylvania, which was not a good strategy, since having someone to binder clip/photograph my back for reference would have helped a lot. That SAID…

I think I *was* lucky! I drew out what I guessed the pattern should look like, walked my seamlines, then cut and basted some scrap fabric. I had my measurements handy from this project, so I wasn’t totally uninformed, but I thought shruggingly this would open Round 1 of a zillion rounds of changes.

But actually it was already pretty good?!! As Mazarin might have said: “Sacrebleu!”

I made two changes to the muslin. I gave myself an extra 1/8” ease at the armpit ends of the side seam allowances, blending to nothing at the waist.

And I pinched out 1” of unneeded length under the bust, blending to nothing at the size seams – basically, adding a horizontal fisheye dart across the front.

After that, my adjusted muslin seemed even okay-er. So I made these changes to my paper pattern pieces and cut my fashion fabric, feeling MIGHTY SUSPICIOUS BY THE WAY, but…

That’s, um…that’s not bad, right? I’m assessing this accurately?

I’m definitely packed in there – I think we can safely say overfit – but it’s tacking to my upper chest, and that feels like a minor miracle. The armscyce curve is a little high under my arm, but again, there’s no gaping. And I’m usually never not gaping! This was totally unearned. I’m as surprised as anyone.

The back is full of issues, though. Well, you can’t roll nat 20s every time! This must be why mad scientists clone themselves: if I could have adjusted this on my own body from outside my body, I think I would have gotten a lot closer to a technically-correct result. As it is, I couldn’t actually fasten the back by myself, so I was just guessing until Professor Boyfriend got home and buttoned me in. And then I was pretty unimpressed.

The upper back (relatively upper) is surprisingly satisfactory, but WHAT is the story with those WRINKLES. I MEAN. I went through this clear, detailed Shapes of Fabric post on common bodice fitting issues, but didn’t see mine on there. Not to preen too much, but I guess I’m ~uncommonly~ bad at fitting.

Some possible causes: 1. It’s too long. It’s already only 6” long at center back, but since it’s definitely piling up on the back waistband of my skirt, I guess even six wee inches could be too many. 2. And it’s too tight – maybe? Would that be the sort of thing you adjust with the back darts, since the front fit is okay? 3. It’s because of some third thing I don’t even know about yet! Please feel free to tell me if you do!

It’s possible that a zipper would help distribute fabric stress more evenly, but I didn’t have a separating zipper of any length kicking around. I actually considered lacing for a hot second, using loops instead of eyelets and adding dressing ease (or whatever you call what you need to get in and out of a garment) in the form of a central back panel, like a backwards stomacher. But in the end, it was me and my pal buttons.

I decided on a column of rouleau loops because I think they’re fun to sew, and also because they were easy to apply with my plan to fully line the bodice. That was a priority for me (I don’t like it when darts originate in a double-fold hem). I sewed the loops to the outer fabric within the seam allowance of the center back, then pressed all the center back seam allowances to the wrong side on the lining and outer.

I sewed the top and bottom edges of the bodice shell and lining right sides together to create a tube. Then I turned the tube right sides out and hand-finished the center backs, using a ladder stitch to join the already-folded edges. My last step was to hand-sew the buttons – which I can unbutton by myself, but not button up! It’s a one-way shirt!

I took a 5/8” seam allowance when sewing the bottom hem, except near the side seams, where I blended to more like ¼”. Despite that I’m still getting little side divots.

I promise you my stitching line was smooth and continuous, though you’d never know it by looking.

Oh, and my lining: lots of lovely double gauze scraps, which seemed like the kind of thing I’d want directly against my skin in a tight top.

I was right about that, though wrong about whether I wanted to wear a tight bodice at all. I don’t! C’est la vie. Still, if I ever change my mind, the process of fitting one now seems a bit more achievable.

And in Other Business: I used some of my Covid isolation to review every death on Stranger Things, partly so I’d stop complaining out loud so much. This is purely personal and mostly without context (though packed as tightly with spoilers as me in this top), but it kept me busy. Feel free to weigh in with your own opinions or complaints! 🙂

Pattern: Self-drafted (a.k.a. wild, strangely effective guessing)

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 37.5” bust, 32” waist

Supplies: scraps of Telio Silky Noil Washed Viscose Linen Slub Thyme, Nani Iro double gauze; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 5 hours

Total cost: $0.00

Wrap Crop

It would be too bombastic to say I’ve gotten into drafting, but I have had fun experimenting with pattern manipulation lately. And when looking at the Peppermint pocket skirt pattern page, I got interested in the top that model wears. My foggy memories of their styling showed the skirt paired with the Peppermint wrap top, but that’s incorrect; actually, it’s this RTW wrap top, and it’s lovely and hemp-y and the RTW website also sells womb balm, which I saw a sale banner for but did not interrogate further (how do you get the balm onto the womb though?!).

Anyway, I considered following this clever how-to for a cropped wrap top. Actually, I did follow it – I took my measurements and drew out the traditional Sarah Kirsten Morning Glory top and this variation in Illustrator, but I changed my mind before printing. I might want to make one of those someday soon, but this time around I wanted sleeves.  

So I ended up at this youTube tutorial. I’m not here to dunk on free videos, but it’s pretty incomplete. For some reason I stopped looking after that though (satisficer!) and just made guesses about the parts she elides over – most importantly, I completely winged the shape of the armscyce. I ended up back at Sarah Kirsten after that and followed her sleeve drafting tutorial, which is terrific, by the way! I still lacked faith in my armscye curve, though, probably because I had drawn it based on what looked kinda normal and no actual, you know, data.

So then I downloaded the Peppermint wrap top and grafted on their armsyce (size E) as much as possible onto my smaller piece, added a little more ease to the body of my design because I was nervous that the Peppermint one in my size was so much larger, and shortened the sleeve cap to accommodate my shortened armscye curve. I also shortened the Peppermint sleeve to 6” and straightened the edges to make the sleeve wider. Then I added seam allowances, printed my pattern, and cut out the fabric.

Phew.

If that’s a confusing sequence of events, it’s because I had no idea what was I doing. But I found this soft, not-too-light bone-colored cotton at Sewfisticated and paid $3.99 for one yard, so I figured I had learned all I could from theoreticals and might as well jump right in. Potential outcomes included:

The probable – this pattern/garment would comprehensively fail, but I’d learn something from it.

The possible – this pattern/garment would be unsuccessful, but in obvious ways that I could adjust the existing pattern to improve.

The improbable – this pattern/garment would work on the first try.

The impossible – two shirts.

Right off the bat, I spotted an error (own goal). When I had lowered the back armscye curve I failed to add that length back into the side seam, so the front was a healthy inch longer than the back, and there was already no long-ness to spare. I cut one more piece, a waistband/cuff-type piece for the back only, to make up for the missing length. This turned out to be a case of failing up. I didn’t have a clear plan for hemming the back because of the darts, and now I didn’t have to figure it out. And as a nice bonus the wrap ties cover the extra seam.

I also read the Peppermint wrap top instructions to see how they handled the side seam with a tie opening. I don’t know if it has an official name, but I’d call it like a self-finishing open seam? You press the seam allowances open, fold under the raw edges, and topstitch the folded edge through all layers. I applied this to both side seams, the sleeve seams (though not the armscye), and the shoulder seams, for practice and because I thought it was pretty!

I used self bias binding on the neck edge.

The ties are long rectangles folded in half hot-dog-style, with the seam rolled to the center of one side. Once again I didn’t have a clear plan to attach these, so I just kind of jammed them under a fold at the front piece edges to contain all the raw edges.

At a first try-on the wrap ties wouldn’t stay on the body of the shirt. They slipped under the back hem and the shirt stuck out instead. “Oh well what the hell” sang McWatt; and I threw on some rouleau loops.

You can tell at this point I expected the probable outcome, educational failure.

Actually, looking at these photos, I was surprised to see this top looks alright! It’s not the easy breezy womb balmy vision I saw above, but it’s fine. Wearable, even. But ultimately it’s not really to my taste. Having learned that, it’s not important to work this out, but it also has one mysterious issue: no matter how tightly I pull on the wrap ties, I can’t convince the fronts to tack to my body. Theories??

I’m trying to get comfortable with the higher rate of missteps that goes with a higher rate of experimentation. Growing pains, I hope!

Pattern: NA

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 37.75” bust, 32” waist

Supplies: 1 yard of bone cotton,$3.99, Sewfisticated; thread, $2.49, Sewfisticated

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $6.48

Navy Linen

I have a nice straightforward W to share today, and you know I like it ‘cause it’s got me standing like Jim Rash doing Angelina Jolie receiving an Oscar. Back in high school I wore a lot of skirts; I added dresses in college; then I phased out both and started living in pants, but I don’t know, I’ve been feeling skirts lately. Shade in the summer, warmth in the winter!

This particular skirt is an imitation of – um, an homage to the Tessuti Madden skirt. It’s a perfectly nice pleated skirt pattern with one side seam and an off-center button closure and I copied it, I copied it right up. Basically, as far as I can tell, it’s two rectangles, a pocket, and a waistband. I used the waistband piece of M8248, helpfully covered by a belt in the envelope photo, thanks, but it’s a curved waistband with front and back pieces that I merged into one long piece. Then I split the waistband 2.5” from one end, and moved that bit to the other end. Finally, I drew on additional straight extensions for the button over/underlap. Et voilà! “Drafting”!

The skirt panels required a little simple addition. I decided to draw them in Illustrator, and then look at the Properties panel and transfer those dimensions to fabric. I started with two pieces each 36” long and 15.75” inches wide, which is half of my waist measurement. Same as the waistband, I cut off a 2.5” section of one panel (now the front) and moved it to the other panel (now the back). I decided on the finished width of the pleats – .75” – and for each pleat (8 in front, 10 in back), added another 1.5” in width. Since a pleat viewed on edge is basically a squashed letter “Z”, that measurement is double the top layer – it adds the zig back/zag forward fabric, for fullness that doesn’t change the finished waist measurement.

I also added 1.25” in width to each panel for button placket, and then 5/8” seam allowances using the recently-discovered-by-me Offset Path function – I looovvveee iiittt – and I had my final pattern pieces! Still rectangles, but BIGGER rectangles. The front was 29.5” wide x 37.25” long, and the back was 36.875” wide x 37.25” long.    

 I messed up a bit adding the grown-on button plackets; I thought of them as overlapping, which they are, but of course they also add one placket’s-width to the skirt. I made the same error of logic when adding to the waistband, so the pieces fit together, but the finished skirt was 1.25” too loose. With a bulky sweater it was just comfortably loose, but in a summer top – and let’s face it, linen skirts and summer tops go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong – it was dipping at the center back. Rather than minutely increasing the pleats or resewing one of the plackets, I decided to retcon in some back waist elastic. I unpicked two sections of waistband and fed a scrap of some 1.5” elastic through one opening and out the other, snugging it up and then securing it with two short vertical lines at the side seam + what would have been a side seam.

The skirt is definitely not tight but it sits correctly now, and is still really comfortable, even on stonking hot days.

I opted for a slash pocket instead of an inseam pocket in the one side seam because I like them better, and because it’s much easier to sew French seams that way. The fabric is 100% linen from Sewfisticated; it was lovely to sew and finish.

It’s also quite light, so I gave it a nice deep double-fold hem, added tricot interfacing to the button plackets, and lined the waistband in cotton for stability. I use this interfacing roll in white, and while nobody’s ever tried to sponsor me, if they want to, they can, and I promise I’ll rename my apartment Fusible Tricot Interfacing Rolls Stadium.

The buttons are my laser-cut jaguar buttons. I rinsed this batch before varnishing and they came out a little blonder as a result.

I started with two and a quarter yards of the linen and I had to enough left over to try out something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. It’s a tank based on the Peppermint button-front dress, a free pattern. It’s actually just the size E facings from that pattern extended, with the button placket extension added to the new fronts.

I couldn’t fit the back on the fold but I was able to cut it in two halves with the center seam on the selvedge, which is my favorite fix for an unplanned straight seam! Pre-finished, baby!

I was originally confused by steps 12 and 14 (*NOTE: these are sequential steps in the directions, since step 13 appears before step 12. I don’t make the rules), where the facing edges are attached to the plackets, but once it clicked it was pretty terrific. Low-bulk, super neat, and well worth applying to other projects. Even if you never make this pattern, it’s probably worth reading the directions for that step.

This tank also got laser-cut buttons and functional buttonholes, though this unshaped version can go off and on without touching the buttons. It’s not my all-time favorite tank but it was a really fun sew!

I’ve been having kind of a dud-ly sewing season lately, so it’s nice to add a couple things to my summer wardrobe without any mixed feelings or regrets. This just confirms my suspicion that linen makes everything better.

What a breezy and often expensive non-surprise!

Pattern: based on Tessuti Madden skirt

Pattern cost: NA

Size: fits waist measurement 31.5” – 32.5”

Supplies: 2.25 yards of navy linen, Sewfisticated, $22.48; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 6.75 hours

Total cost: $22.48

 –

Pattern: Peppermint button-front dress

Pattern cost: NA

Size: E, facings as a tank

Supplies: leftover linen; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 4.75 hours

Total cost: $0.00

Embroidered Top

I’m going to need a new spreadsheet category, I think. Right now I separate items into keep/giveaway/gift, and ‘giveaway’, let’s be real, is polite for ‘flop’. However, this year I’ve occasionally sewed stuff not so much as gifts (unless I’m grandiosely making gifts FOR THE UNIVERSE (I am not)) or even as muslins, but just ’cause. Usually it’s scrapbusting or to make something unwearable into something wearable, but not by me. And this top fits into that new trial category.

I got this shift from a clothing swap.

It had made the rounds and been owned by a bunch of different swap participants, and was bought secondhand by the originator in the first place. It had clearly been used enough to wear out this underarm, but it was also fairly casually sewn in the first place.

The seams were sewn once and left unfinished (not even pinked). At some point what I assume was an attached belt was snipped off.

It was still darn cute, but the fabric was stained in a couple places and wearing out in others, and nobody wanted it in its current iteration, so I brought it home to remake.

I haven’t done of a lot of refashioning, but I wanted to try the elasticized square-neck raglan thing again, this time with a woven instead of a knit. It seemed like a good fit because there wasn’t actually a ton of fabric in this garment, and using that neckline meant I could shorten all the pattern pieces by a good 4 or 5 inches from the top. I began by unpicking the whole shift (it didn’t take long) and pressing the seam allowances flat.

I chose the True Bias Roscoe pattern as my base; it fit almost perfectly on the resulting narrow panels. I sew a size 0, by the way, which I continue to find staggering.

I knew I couldn’t make the new top full length, but that was okay. I folded over the top of my Roscoe pattern pieces at the height of the front sleeve notch, perpendicular to the grainline, and played around with placement until I found one that allowed me to save two of the embroidery motifs without sacrificing too much finished shirt length or smacking the flowers directly over my committee members. The finished side seams are 12” long. I saved the scraps with leftover embroidery for some murky and mysterious future.

I definitely didn’t have enough fabric for Roscoe’s usual sleeves, so I copied the sleeve hem curve of the original garment. I traced the armscye curve, again stopping at the height of the front notch, then marked straight across, and finally added 1.5” to the top for a double-fold elastic casing over the shoulder. I didn’t have space to add any fullness to this piece, but the Roscoe sleeve is pretty full already. Partly because of fabric limitations and partly to copy the original garment, my finished sleeve seam is only 1.25” long.

I cut the elastic casings for the front and back of the shirt separately. This was a bit silly. I could have cut them continuously, but I was operating on auto. It requires a smidge more math to make the height of an added casing match that of a sewn-on casing, but nothing too complicated.

Sewing the shirt was a snap. I used French seams on the shoulders and sides. The casings are 5/8” wide, for ½” elastic. I treated this fabric like a cotton and it probably is!

I wasn’t sure how long my finished elastic would be, so I basted together the underarms, stopping just short of the casings, and then inserted elastic cut a little long. I attached one end of each piece firmly and then stood in front of a mirror and pulled on the loose end of all 4 elastic pieces until I was happy with the fit. I was able to reach the front chest piece effortlessly, and I made sure to leave the front end of the shoulder elastics loose for adjustment, but I needed Professor Boyfriend’s help with the back. Ultimately, though, it turned out I liked it at the same length as the front. The final body pieces are 11” long, and the sleeve casing pieces are 12” long.

I had planned to sew the underarm seams with French seams as well, but the layers of elastic at the neck made that too bulky. The seam is pretty dimensional even with the finishing I eventually landed on, which is just bias binding with a scrap of cotton.

You can kinda see it from the outside so it’s nice that it looks nice!

I really enjoyed myself with this project. The final shirt is pretty cute. The inside is tidy. I know that doesn’t impact the function, but dang it, I like it. The sleeves want to slide off my shoulders sometimes, but it fundamentally works, and if I ever wanted to make another I could correct that by cutting an inch or so above the front notch instead of at it (which would bring the top edges of the sleeves closer to the center of the wearer’s body).

I popped this right back in the swap box, but gladly. I don’t have a new passion for refashioning, but I liked getting this back into circulation! Hopefully someone will enjoy wearing this new version of an old garment.

Happy about-to-be summer!

Pattern: True Bias Roscoe (kinda)

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 0 (kinda)

Supplies: embroidered shift; thread, elastic from stash

Total time: 1.5 hours

Total cost: $0.00

Mint Patina

If it’s safe & wise to travel this summer, then we’re going to England so Professor Boyfriend can finally, officially, graduate (he successfully defended his thesis in 2020, which required two early-March trans-Atlantic flights – fun, right?). In the meantime, I’m making this event an opportunity to re-re-rematch against a fabric with undeniable charisma (the drape, the weight, the colors!) and the price point to match: tencel twill.

Once upon a pre-blog I made a couple pairs of tencel twill trousers that looked like shiny wrinkly garbanzo. But that was then. This is now. Since I’m not really a dressy-dresser, I thought it could be the perfect fabric to elevate a separates combo if I chose the right pattern, and sewed smarter.

So I turned to the Patina blouse. With its simple silhouette and girly touches, I thought it would be ideal. I decided to omit the Chelsea collar both to make the finished top lessy faddy but also because I wasn’t sure about topstitching curves on tencel twill.

I also made sure to staystitch every edge immediately after cutting the pattern pieces. That defensive sewing mindset lasted…exactly that long. 

I used a Microtex needle (80/12) and a lonely cone of minty serger thread, because it matched well and it saved me buying a spool of all-purpose. The needle was a good choice, but using the cone was a mistake. I hand-wound some thread onto an empty spool first and then used the machine to wind a bobbin off that spool, so the bottom thread was okay; but for my top thread, I balanced the cone on the bobbin winding pole thingie and sewed directly from that. The cone overbalanced and fell over (both loudly AND frequently), but more importantly the tension was wrong. When I sewed over more than two layers, I got a ton of skipped stitches. For some reason I carried on like that, for like, the whole time, even though sewing the buttonholes was a skipped-stitch nightmare ballet and I knew I’d be joining two layers of French seams when I sewed the sleeves in the round. I went for it anyway, possibly because it was my last step and I was getting antsy.

After setting in the first sleeve – twice, because of the French part, but also more than twice because I wanted to reinforced the skipped areas – I realized I had done it backwards. My armscye seam was on the right side. I had gotten tunnel-vision when focusing on the skipped stitches and managed to sew SEVERAL times around the armscye without realizing my French seam was reversed. On the plus side I had also forgotten to shorten my stitch length after sewing the gathering stitches. Yay?

Obviously this could not abide, so after I unpicked the second line of stitching, I was left with a decision: would I unpick the remaining line, switch which side the sleeve was on, and use the scanty 1/8” seam allowances I had left myself going forward? Unpick etc. and take larger seam allowances? Or, since my first sleeve was already set in correctly, just with less SA, should I take the full remaining seam allowance and serge the raw edges to finish?

I serged ’em. I did the second sleeve the same way, immediately hated it, then threw this shirt on my giveaway pile and entered GIVEAWAY REASON: QUALITY OF WORK into my sewing spreadsheet, which is the spreadsheet equivalent of a temper tantrum. Later that day I pulled the shirt out again.

I unpicked the serger threads and the sleeve cap, rearranged the gathers to be neater, resewed the armscye with a spool of mismatched all-purpose thread with all stitches present and accounted for, and then pinked the seam allowances. Then a week after that I pulled it out a second time and added bias binding.

There’s plenty of imperfections still – one side of the neckline has draglines, one doesn’t (I increased the facing width slightly, by the way – 1/4” on the vertical area, ½” on the curve). I have one lightly poofy shoulder and one IMELDA MARCOS BLAMMO shoulder. The topmost buttonhole is frankly odd. Also, despite taking the same side seam allowances I did the other two times I made this shirt, this iteration came up a bit snug on my hips.

None of that would matter if I really liked it, but I don’t. This is an important note to self: just because some desirable fabrics are expensive and finicky to sew, doesn’t mean every finicky and expensive fabric is desirable, charisma be damned. I’m not excited to wear this top, so it’s not fit to purpose, since ideally dressing up for an occasion means that the clothes are part of the treat. Not exactly an astounding comeback tour for tencel twill!

Annoyingly, also, I have a full selvedge-to-selvedge 18” left, so I could have bought a single yard of this pricey fabric instead of 1.5 yards and saved like $13.50! Hmm. I do have one completely unregretted purchase – I got my Microtex needle from a Schmetz cosplay pack (#1851), which I am frankly tickled by but is also full of useful needles. If the only thing preventing you from trying cosplay is heterogeneous needle acquisition, then brother, have I got two thumbs and some good news for you.

The question remains: what am I going to wear?? What comfortable dressy not-dress that packs well and accommodates weather that might be 60°F or might be 90°F would you?

Good luck with your upcoming projects!

Pattern: Friday Pattern Company Patina blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: M, lower neckline; widened facing 1/4″ on the vertical, 1/2″ on the curved section

Supplies: 1 1/2 yards of tencel twill in Mojito, $40.50, Gather Here; buttons, $2.00, Gather Here; thread from stash

Total time: 5.75 hours

Total cost: $42.50

Ube Adrienne

Because I like to sew repeat, practical garments in workaday fabrics, I don’t take too many chances to stretch my sewing skills. I’ve lately been craving some skill building though so I think this will appear in two ways: first, more finicky fabrics; and second, using the little grey cells instead of a pattern. Basically, when I see a garment that I probably could work out on my own or cobble together from already-owned patterns, I want to at least give that the ol’ college try instead of defaulting to buying. This is a fancy way to say: I’ve started copying stuff.

My not-a-Field bag was the gateway to the slippery slope of the domino effect (actual purchasable pattern found here). Next and now, my not-an-Adrienne blouse (real deal found here)! A.k.a. an Adrian top???

I scrolled by this pattern any number of times without feeling particularly tempted until I saw it on Crafty Clyde. She dresses with a quirky, sassy edge and I thought if she was feeling good in it maybe it didn’t have to be straightforwardly romantic.

I also thought this was a good candidate to copy because everyone mentions it has just the two pattern pieces – the identical front/back and the sleeve. And since it’s an untailored stretchy sleeve I could probably make the sleeve and the body symmetrical, so that’s two *half* pieces! Surely I could come up with two half pieces! I didn’t know if I would like it, but I really wanted to see if I could do it.

I studied the finished top and it suddenly clicked that the Adrienne is a raglan tee with extra pizzazz. Oddly, I don’t own a fitted raglan top pattern, just a loose one. But I preferred a fitted body to balance the big sleeves, so I went poking around the internet and found a couple free ones – Life Sew Savory and It’s Always Autumn both look pretty good. Actually though I followed the It’s Always Autumn DIY raglan directions to modify my CC Nettie pattern. I don’t know what size this ended up being, but it has 2” of negative ease at the bust and 1” of negative ease at the hip, which I find fitted but comfortable.

I gave the sleeve vertical side seams and a horizontal bottom edge because it wouldn’t need to fit anywhere but the shoulder. Basically the sleeve piece is a box with a sleeve cap on top.

There was a hot second about a year ago where I thought I might want to wear more off-the-shoulder stuff. I never saw that through, but I remembered this tutorial, also for the Nettie. I followed that to trim the top of my pieces off. I love that it left my sleeve with a flat top edge to make an elastic casing easy to fold and sew, while I added a barely-scooped curve to the body neckline to mimic what I saw on the real pattern.

Because the sleeve was now basically a rectangle with bites taken out of two corners, it was simple to split it vertically and add a bunch of width. The final sleeve piece I made is about 20” wide by 18” long at its most extreme dimensions. Unfortunately this places the finished sleeve bottom edge annoyingly right in the crook of my elbow. I thought it was going to land a few inches above my wrist; the only reason I can think of for my confusion is that the flat top edge tricked me into judging its length as though it were a dropped sleeve, which it really isn’t!

Next time I would increase the length by a good 5” or 6”, and the width by maybe 2”. It’s as easy as extending straight lines.

Both top and bottom of the sleeve are simply folded over once at ¾” and sewn with a straight stitch at 5/8” to make casings. I used ½” elastic. I cut each shoulder elastic to 8”, but pulled out some on either side to make it easier to tack in place; the finished length is probably more like 7”, which feels pretty good to me. I cut my sleeve elastic at 11”, based on the measurement of my forearm, where the sleeve…isn’t. Looser would have been better at the elbow, but it’s not too tight to be comfortable. Just a little annoying!

I considered cutting a single casing to go across the shoulders, front, and back, à la the linked Nettie tutorial, but I thought the shoulders might end up at a right angle to the front and back necks and I didn’t want bunching (plus I was copy-catting), so I banded the front and back separately.

I think my bands are a little too skinny. I should have aimed for a finished width of 5/8” so the neck and shoulder stitching would feel more continuous. The back band (or what I decided would forever be the back band) wanted to flip, so I popped a little topstitching right in the center to discourage it.

The fabric is a simple no-name cotton jersey from Sewfisticated – I thought it was grey in the store but it’s definitely chromatic. Since I don’t really like purple (which some folks might say this is. Who’s saying that?!) I’m calling it ube peel! It was easy and cooperative to sew; they stock it in a couple colors, and I would happily buy it again, especially at $5.00/yard. I bought 1.5 yards and have 1/3 yard remaining. Kind of an awkward scrap. I might have to start sewing underwear. Phooey.

My finished top doesn’t have all the glamour and personality of the original, but I like it! I might make another one with more sleeve! This is probably one of those cases where a positive sewing experience is influencing my feelings about the final garment, too – it just felt good to stretch my figuring-out muscles, and I want to do more of that. I’m never giving up my pattern collection though. You can bury me with it. I mean, if it’s good enough for Pharaohs…

See you soon!

Pattern: copycatted Adrienne blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 34” bust, 43” hip

Supplies: 1 1/2 yards of 95% cotton/5% Lycra, Sewfiscated, $7.49; packet of ½” elastic, Sewfisticated, $2.49

Total time: 2.75 hours

Total cost: $9.98

Mamarlo

This is the third of the gift items I made recently, and the one that really confirmed I don’t like sewing garments for people who aren’t within hollering distance. I have a little mother – one of those teacup mamas, high energy and very small – and I wanted to sew her a True Bias Marlo for mother’s day. This wasn’t a surprise gift (I had her choose the color) but I couldn’t get her to slow down long enough to send me her measurements, so I crossed my fingers and relied on our 35 years’ acquaintance and my wobbly ability to estimate sizes. I spent the whole prepping, cutting, and sewing time alternately convinced this sweater was too big or too small.

No modeled shots, since my family doesn’t know I have a blog (and my blog doesn’t know I have a family!), but it fits okay. The width is good, but I think the length is still a little much for her petite frame. I reprinted the pattern and cut view B in a size 6. I shortened the sleeves 1” and the body 1.5” on the lengthen/shorten lines, but I wish I had shortened the sleeves 1.5” and the body 2”. Ideally I would also have raised the neckline point, probably by using the view A neckline. This might have called for a 5th button, but that’s fine by me, because I am still into making my own and not sick of lasers yet!

I designed this set of homemade buttons with my mom in mind. These are 1” wide, and unlike my first batch, they actually have holes that an average sewing needle can fit through. Progress! I like how the laser engraving shows the warmth inside of the maple wood. You can also see the ‘dithered’ texture here; engraving is accomplished similarly to printing the comics section of a newspaper, lots of little dot-dot-dots. But with FIRE* (*mainly light, occasionally very small spurts of fire).     

Otherwise I sewed this up exactly as my most recent Marlo, except I used this waffle knit in Rose from The Fabric Snob instead of iseefabric for a change! They’re definitely not identical, so I cut a 4” square from each of my scraps and did a little side-by-side for the interested shopper. Neither is cheap, so if you’re considering ordering one or the other, hopefully this will be helpful.

Iseefabric’s square is ‘Pistachio’; Fabric Snob is ‘Rose’. My mini cutting mat is ‘unfortunate yellow’.

First, price (in USD). Iseefabric costs $17.50/yard; the Fabric Snob costs $19.37/meter (about 3 more inches). However, you can order half-meters from the Fabric Snob, so my ideal order of around 1.5 yards costs $29.06 from the Fabric Snob, and $35 from iseefabrics, since I have to round up to 2 yards there. I haven’t accounted for shipping, but it’s about even to my location.

For some reason I thought iseefabric’s waffle knit was pre-laundered, which I don’t actually see written anywhere; so while I had assumed it was zero, I’m actually not sure of their shrinkage. I did measure the 1.5 meters I ordered from the Fabric Snob after washing and the yardage was slightly over, so either the fabric grew in the washer or they cut generously! Fabric Snob waffle is 57” wide; iseefabric waffle is 51” wide.

Both waffle knits are certified organic cotton. Iseefabric is 95% cotton/5% spandex. Fabric Snob is 100% cotton. They’re both available in multiple colors with coordinating rib knits; iseefabric skews pale/beachy, and Fabric Snob has some brighter colors and good dark basics.

From my first fabric impression, iseefabric is loftier, warmer, and more relaxed, while Fabric Snob is brighter and springier. Iseefabric has 8 ‘ribs’ (waffle rows?) to the inch, Fabric Snob has 12. I folded each square to make four layers, and could compress each folded piece easily to 3/16” thick.

These are the selvedges – the iseefabric looks like it has two layers joined together, and the Fabric Snob looks like one. Neither fabric rolls at all, which is lovely for marking and cutting.

The iseefabric square showed 50% stretch parallel to the selvedge (widthwise), and slightly less than 50% perpendicular to the selvedge (lengthwise).

The Fabric Snob square showed more like 40% stretch parallel to the selvedge (widthwise), and functionally none perpendicular to the selvedge (lengthwise).

The iseefabrics waffle, which stretched more easily, also had better recovery. It grew lengthwise by less than 1/8” (less than 3%). The Fabric Snob waffle grew ¼” in width, and likewise shrunk ¼” in length (6.25%).

That said, there’s no bad choices here! I’d be happy ordering from either shop again; they both regularly have sales, so it’ll probably depend on which is cheaper when I next need a waffle knit. I ended up with 18” of this Rose leftover due to the wee-ness of my gift recipient, so I still haven’t broken the extra-half-yard-waffle curse. I have a feeling I’m going to end up with some mighty warm tank tops.

This sweater pattern continues to carry a rating of GOOD BUY, in my opinion. At some point I want to try cramming the sleeves and body of view A of the Marlo onto 1 yard of fabric, and if I can, then maybe I’ll spring for a coordinating waffle + rib knit combo. Or theoretically I could make a Marlo sweater out of non-waffle fabric. But I mean. Will I?

She won’t.

All the best!

Pattern: True Bias Marlo sweater

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 6; shortened sleeve 1″; shortened body 1.5″

Supplies: 1 1/2 meters of Organic Cotton Waffle in Rose, The Fabric Snob, $35.60; thread, Sewfisticated; tailor’s tape, Gather Here, $3.49

Total time: 3.75 hours

Total cost: $39.09