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

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

Wear Your Greens

I made another True Bias Marlo sweater, pretty much the same as my first True Bias Marlo! Iseefabric was running a 20% sale for some American holiday (I’m not being coyly European, I just forget which) and I picked up 2 more yards of their lovely squashy waffle knit.

This color is called ‘Pistachio’, and on least on my screen it’s accurately pictured, a grey/blue/green rather than a straight sage or what-have-you. Pistachio was my second choice, but Oatmeal sold out. It’s a little more romantic than I generally like. Like, this sweater would go great with a broderie anglaise sundress and a flower crown, while my aesthetic is more thick socks and a tuna fish sandwich. That said, according to the economic theory of revealed preference, I DO like this color, because I wear the sweater all the dang time. It’s the time of year when the inside of my apartment is reliably freezing even on warm sunny days and I’m generally to be found inside a Marlo.

I tend to wear this one open, though, and I’m not sure why; some tiny quirk of button placement, maybe?

Speaking of: I recently became a nihilist *just* long enough to spend too much money on buttons, including these. They’re beautiful engraved shell buttons I ordered from this Etsy shop. They really are lovely but from any reasonable distance they read as solid white.

Continuing my pattern of using whatever elastic is nearest when I need elastic, this time I stabilized the shoulder seams with plush-backed bra strap elastic. I had the perfect amount and those shoulders are going NOWHERE. My only meaningful change from my first long Marlo was to serge the seam allowance edge of the neckband + body. First I hand-stitched the cuffs, but that reminded me that I got these seam allowance berms from turning under. I actually like the serged finish better from the outside even if it’s less pristine on the inside.

Unexpected bonus: the neckband is actually hugging my neck! I must have stretched a bit more vigorously this time.

This is a useful and functional piece, but I didn’t really enjoy sewing it because I rushed through the process. I didn’t make sloppy mistakes or anything – it looks the same as it would if I sewed it mInDfUlLy, probably – but instead of the process making my brain feel like it took a warm bath, it felt like a cold shower. And I hurried for such a foolish reason, too; because I was more excited to use my serger on the next thing, with black thread, but my serger was already threaded with white, so I banged this out so I could avoid switching the thread one time. Rethreading isn’t even hard once you’re used to it. The whole process takes about a minute and a half. So, to save 90 seconds, I made two hours less pleasant. Kind of a dingaling move.

But the thing I wanted to use my serger + black thread on? These pants!

They’re the MN Dawns I posted about a month or so ago. I had a wild hair to reshape the leg. I pinned the outseam, tried them on, and decided why not. First I cut a freehand curve from about knee height to the hem, then I unpicked the hem, serged the new fresh seam allowance, and finally refolded the hem along its original creases. I couldn’t squeeze any more length out of the legs because the missing corner I’m hiding in the deep hem is on the inseam side!

Since I didn’t adjust the inseam, the balance of the leg changed. Now it has this kind of bow-legged banana shape which I really kinda dig.

I really like balloon/banana trousers. The silhouette looks fresh to my eye. Plus, when picking a shirt, it’s easier to balance than a straight-sided wide leg pant. I might want to play with more extreme versions of the shape, too. Also in foot news I finally got the pair of combat boots I’ve been thinking about for ages! It’s not NOT because of this music video. I love ‘em. Other shoes feel like socks now. Anyway, I’m done poking at these pants now! Finito!

Ultimately this Marlo ended up pricey, but I glanced at my spreadsheet and I’ve still spent less than usual by this time of year, so I’m not going to sweat it. The Fabric Snob recently added waffle knits in some deep, rich colors (iseefabrics tends to focus on light beach-culty hues) so who knows what will happen next!

But hopefully something cozy. Happy Halloween, all!

Pattern: True Bias Marlo sweater

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10 bust, 14 hip

Supplies: 2 yards organic cotton thermal waffle knit in Pistachio, iseefabric, $35.60; Agoya shell buttons, Etsy, $12.44; thread from stash

Total time: 3.25 hours

Total cost: $48.04

Stroopwafel Marlo

I’m not tempted by some luxuries – like, as far as I can tell, a luxury hotel room is still a stuffy bland box and a luxury car is still a roll-y box that goes beep. And then some seem totally worth it – tea and chocolate, haircuts with good-smelling shampoo, the Petit Trianon. Happily my recent splurge showed me that nice knit fabrics fall into the second category. I got myself 2 2-yard cuts from iseefabric for my birthday, hoping to fill in some holes in my homemade wardrobe. The colors are beautiful, they’re squishy and warm, and they showed up as two wonderful fat rolls snuggled in a box. Budget-wise this is going to be a Sometimes Food, but I have no regrets!

This is the first of them, a waffle knit in the color maple. It’s quite possibly the power of suggestion that led me to pick this color (maple + waffle! Delicious!) but it’s a closet pal and gets along with most other colors. It was really fun to work with – satisfying to handle and sew, it even held a press well, thanks to 95% The Fabric of Our Lives (also 5% The Spandex of Our Lives). The drape is heavy. It’s warm. It’s soft. Basically, I love it.

Speaking of loving it, this is the Marlo sweater by True Bias, and uh…I love it also. This was the other part of my birthday gift to me. Basically I bought this sweater pattern and used it to blackmail myself into buying fancy fabric (“If you don’t buy fancy fabric you’ll be wasting $14 and untold cents of toner!”). And I used the fancy fabric to make myself buy the pattern (“If you don’t lay out the pattern and calculate the amount of fabric you need yourself, you might buy the wrong amount!”). It worked like a charm, I never saw it coming.

My size – 10 bust, graded to a 14 hip – called for 2.2 yards of 54” wide fabric, but I found 2 yards to be more than sufficient (this is mainly important when ordering online, especially since iseefabric only sells whole-yard cuts). Mine doesn’t have pockets, but I did cut the pocket pieces out, interface them, hem the tops and everything, only to discover I couldn’t turn or attach the rounded corners to my own satisfaction. I stitched one on before deciding that the stretch of the fabric + texture of the fabric + asymmetrical corners weren’t going to fly. Unpicking went almost flawlessly, but then I snagged one little thread on the back of the sweater front. It doesn’t seem to have run, so I’m hopeful!

I do have enough scrap fabric to recut the pockets as squares. I might. I feel the lack of them, but I’m not confident I can sew them as neatly as I’d like.

The fabric has a very relaxed recovery so this sweater definitely grew in the making. It will probably shrink back again someday (Spandex), but I don’t know when! I added grosgrain ribbon to the shoulder seams as suggested, which is attractive and functional (as opposed to clear elastic, which is just functional), but it’s attached to the back so you can’t see it anyway.

Because of the fabric’s lack of springiness/recovery, I cut the longer band, even though it stretched more than 40%. That’s probably why it kind of slumps at the center back.

Because I didn’t stretch the band much, though, I was able to hand-sew the inner edge. That’s right, I used the ‘fancy finishing’ method on the bands and cuffs, only more so. I felt mildly goofy hand-sewing on a knit but I didn’t think I could machine stitch perfectly on the first try, and I didn’t want to risk unpicking again! Also, I don’t have matching serger thread (I have two colors – black and white).

I was forewarned by Beck’s post that the last 10 pages of the print-at-home PDF were just the button placement guides for each size. I decided to print none of them, to avoid waste, so my buttons ended up sCanDoloUsLY low.

The buttons, by the way, are vintage leather from my never-ending flea market bag and are also arguably waffle-esque, which I enjoy. I like the brown tones together a lot (alternative color family name, “caramel macchiato”).

The elements of this project were expensive but the final sweater does feel truly luxurious, and luckily not like a sad beige bag. And I’m definitely going to make another Marlo! I want to try the cropped view next. think the success of this piece is due partly to a solid pattern, but a lot to the fanciness of the fabric. Now that I’ve had a taste of the good stuff, I want more grade-A maple syrup every day!   

Pattern: True Bias Marlo sweater, long view

Pattern cost: $14.00

Size: 10 bust, 14 hips

Supplies: 2 yards of organic cotton thermal waffle knit in Maple, iseefabric, $31.90; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $45.90

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

Winter Knit Shirt Bumper Post!!

It’s a Winter Knit Shirt Bumper Post!!

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If you’re like me, you have a hard time covering your top half in winter. Legs = jeans, almost inevitably (which can get boring, but always works for my day). Torso = some old RTW sweaters, oftener than not, unfortunately. Sometimes I try to get interesting with ~layers!!~ but what I really want are easy-wearing, cozy tops. I prefer sewing with wovens, so my selections are a little meager, but see the collection below!

1 . Wrap Nettie

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This is the Closet Case Nettie, with the innovative wrap variation from Self Assembly Sewing. I botched the hem of the underlap layer and stretched it out (technically it didn’t need hemming at all, but I was worried about the raw edge rolling) so now there’s some slightly odd vertical wrinkles, but it’s less noticeable in person. Especially when the big bow is spruced up! I used the tie pieces from the Seamwork Elmira, just tucked into the side seams. I’m not linking to the Elmira because I dug the style but the drafting seemed very off. Masses of extra fabric in my armpits – I cut it up almost immediately and repurposed it into this bodysuit.

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  1. Deep back Nettie

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On one trip to London I was able to visit The Man Outside Sainsbury’s, as recommended by Did You Make That? and others  – he is my Tir Na Nog, my Shangri-La, my Wabar of men near supermarkets. I miss him every day. He said this knit was silk jersey and my amateurish burn test did not disprove it. This fabric is very soft and the edges didn’t roll at all – really paradise to sew. I worked hard to keep the flower bunches unanatomical and it worked! But…

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The deep back was a mistake! I don’t feel comfortable wearing this to work (my youngest students are 4 and 5 and get a hold of any edge and pull when they want your attention, and I can’t help but feel one tug on the wrong place would leave me looking a little let’s say Minoan), and for winter weekends…

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It’s cold! I still pull it out occasionally. It also peps up my drawer, which is important in a drab season.

  1. High-neck Nettie

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This black bodysuit might be my favorite. It’s a bamboo knit, which is a little thin but has a very firm hold. No way I can push up my sleeves. The high neck is super cozy and goes with everything – every necklace, scarf, layer, bottom. I need another basic black Nettie!

It seems very prim and sober with the color, high neck and long sleeves but I’m also 50% cosplaying as Kim Possible at all times.

  1. Dark navy Nettie

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IT’S FUNCTIONAL!

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SO FUNCTIONAL!

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Scoop neck, high back, navy blue, works great under dungarees. See, this is why not every top needed its own post.

  1. Tabor V-Neck

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This is Sew House Seven’s Tabor V-neck in a spruce sweater knit. I usually resist basic tee patterns but I was seduced (or is it sew-spruced?! HAR HAR HAR) by this view, with the thick overlapping neckband. I got a little puckering where the V meets the body of the shirt, but that’s because I ignored the designer’s direction to sew with the shirt side up, then serged my edges, and then noticed the pucker. I decided to leave it alone, as my experience with art (and popping pimples) has taught me that the more you pick at a minor flaw, the more noticeable it becomes, without usually improving it at all. This will be a leitmotif in sweater knits for me.

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My only issue with this shirt is that the seam of the dropped sleeve has me constantly convinced my bra strap is slipping off!

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The shirt pattern also includes this lovely, neatly finished split hem. I’ll be omitting it in the future though and just sewing the side seam fully closed, since I only wear the shirt tucked it. And here’s why:

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Just don’t love that shape, guys. I do want to make more of these anyway! One of my fifth graders said I looked “elegant” which warmed my heart (she didn’t see this picture, obviously). Thank you sweet monster. ❤

  1. Hemlock tee

I’m having a Grainline moment several years into my sewing career.

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For whatever reason I suddenly sewed up a batch of woven Hemlock tees last year (my first two are detailed here). This is my first knit Grainline Hemlock (free with newsletter sign-up) and I sewed it almost exactly as written except a lot hecking shorter because it was made from the scraps of the Tabor, above! #sewingleftovers

I sewed and serged one shoulder seam before realizing I had placed the shirt body pieces right-side-to-wrong side, and the front would now be permanently wrong side out. Ooor I could unpick.

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Yeah. Front side is wrong side out for keeps. Since this was a scrap buster and I’d already committed to less than perfection I tried something I had never done before –serging my construction seams directly! Usually I seam with a zig-zag on a traditional machine and finish the edges with the serger. I wouldn’t do this for a bodysuit or probably anything with negative ease but it went almost unbelievably quickly for a loose fitting tee like this one!

  1. Thread Theory Camas blouse

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I really like this pattern – it combines the comfort of a knit with the detailing of a woven – except I’d like to figure out a better way to finish those front edges. There seems to be unnecessary bulk there. Also, I’m not sure why that top button seems to be fighting for its life, I’m not exactly Dolly Parton.

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Gathers! I should wear this more, but I find myself avoiding it! Mustard is my Colonel Brandon of colors – I always think well of it, and never want to wear it. Luckily my man looks positively luminous in this color so I’ll put any future mustard on that hot dog.

And there you have it, every knit winter shirt I’ve sewn over the last three years! Knits are such a small percentage of my total output, but in winter they’re what I wear. I’d love to add some really snuggly sweaters too. I’m considering the Ali sweatshirt after seeing Sierra’s makes, but then I have another hurdle (beyond my reluctance to work with knits)…where are people sourcing their snuggliest fabrics?! Let a chilly woman know!

 

Patterns 1-4: Closet Case Nettie

Pattern cost: N/A (I made a summer one first)

Size: 10 at bust, graded to 12 at hip; shortened about 1.5” at waist

Supplies: 1. Refashioned Elmira sweater, stash; $1.79, thread, Michael’s; 1 meter jersey (silk?), $2.65, TMOS; $2, snaps, Michael’s; 1 yard Telio Ibiza stretch jersey knit in Black, $8.98, fabric.com; thread and snaps from stash; 1 yard Kaufman Laguna Stretch Cotton Jersey Knit in Navy, $8.55, fabric.com; thread and snaps from stash

Total time: 1. 4.75 hours; 2. 2.75 hours; 3. 3 hours; 4. 2.25 hours

Total cost: 1. $1.79; 2. $4.65; 3. $8.98; 4. $8.55

 

Pattern 5: Sew House Seven Tabor V-neck, version #4

Pattern cost: $14

Size: 10

Supplies: 2 yards Telio Topaz hatchi knit in pine, $15.96, fabric.com; thread from stash

Total time: 4 hours

Total cost: $29.96

 

Pattern 6: Grainline Hemlock tee

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: one-size pattern

Supplies: leftovers from Tabor V-neck

Total time: 1.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00

 

Pattern 7: Thread Theory Camas blouse

Pattern cost: N/A (I made a sleeveless woven one first! Oh personal spending accounting practices, sneaky sneaky)

Size: 8 at bust, graded to 12 at hip

Supplies: 1.5 yards Fabric Merchants Cotton Jersey Solid Yellow Mustard, $8.75, fabric.com; thread and buttons from stash

Total time: Lost in time! I sewed this before I started spreadsheeting my sewing

Total cost: $8.75