Catching Up

I went on vacation, had a great time, and came back with absolutely no desire to blog. So now I’ve got a lot of projects, both finished and in progress, to catch you all up on.

Things Recently Finished:

Before we left for our vacation, I made up two more Birgitte tees, including this black and white striped one. I used rayon blend jerseys for both, and while the fabric is stretchy enough for the pattern, it’s less stretchy than the spandex-rayon blend I used for my long-sleeved gray tee. The less stretchy fabric has revealed some fit issues at the shoulder and armscye. I think I’ve figured out how to fix the problem, and I’m planning to post about it more detail once I’ve made up a modified version.

As part of our vacation preparations, I also stopped at JoAnn’s and picked up some sock yarn for some basically brainless leisure knitting. I haven’t really felt like knitting, but once I got going on these, the urge to knit came rushing back—and just in time for the summer humidity. The yarn is Patons Kroy FX in the Celestial colorway. I didn’t use a pattern. These days, 95% of the socks I make are improvised based on lots of sock-knitting experience and what I can remember from the basic top-down sock recipe in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s book Knitting Rules.

Horse Pajama Shorts

Post-vacation, I went on a little pajama bender, starting with two pairs of PJ shorts made for my youngest sisters, who are 12 and 14. The horse fabric was the inspiration for this project—when I saw it, I immediately thought of my 14 year old sister who is creative, artsy, goofy, and a die-hard horse lover. I knew I had to make her something with this fabric, and I decided that PJ shorts would be easy, economical in terms of fabric yardage, and easy to fit from afar (my sisters live in Wisconsin). The horse fabric is a light-weight cotton jersey I bought from Girl Charlee. This fabric would be fine for a t-shirt, but I thought it was too light for shorts so I sacrificed two of Aidan’s older undershirts to use as an underlining. With the underlining, they are a perfect weight and should be really comfortable.

Lightening Bolt Pajamas

For the 12 year old, I used a medium-weight cotton-lycra blend, also from Girl Charlee, with some hot pink lightening bolts that remind me of the new Ms. Marvel. For both pairs of shorts, I used this free pattern from Liesl Made. The pattern is intended for wovens (and includes a nice tutorial for making them up with french seams if that is of interest to you). But since some have complained that the sizes run a bit small, I figured it would probably work out all right with stretchy fabrics. Based purely on the size sweatpants they were wearing when I called my dad on Easter, I used the size L for the horse pjs and the size M for the lightening bolts. I added a fake drawstring to each, mostly so they can easily differentiate the front from the back.

I also made a pair of pajama shorts for Aidan, but I’ll probably write up a dedicated blog post on those. As a spoiler, I can tell you that they were made with this awesome fabric.

Chambray Izzy Top - Front View

Izzy Top - Back View

After making all those PJs, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to make next. When I saw the free pattern for the Izzy Top pop up on Pinterest, I decided on a complete dissertation-procrastinating whim to make one up in the fabric leftover from my failed chambray shirt project. The gathering is uneven, especially in the back—the pattern uses a 3/8” seam allowance, which wasn’t wide enough to sew two rows of gathering stitches, and it was hard to gather the fabric with a single line of gathering stitches given how light the fabric is. Regardless, it was a quick project that turned out to be really cute. I made up the 18 mos size, which is as small as the pattern goes. The only thing is that I don’t actually know any girl children who would fit into this little shirt. Luckily, kids have a way of continually appearing in the world, so I think it’s safe to that I’ll eventually find someone to gift this to.

Things Currently In Progress:

apres

When I read Amy Herzog’s blog post about the Custom Fit Summer Sweater Knit Along, I got inspired to knit up a lightweight sweater. So I ordered some Valley Yarns Charlemont in Dusk and started making up the Apres Surf Hoodie pattern from the 2008 Summer issue of Interweave Knits. I’m not actually participating in the CustomFit KAL—I thought about giving CustomFit a go, but instead decided to just do my own math. We’ll see how all of my modifications work out. So far I’ve finished the back and about 75% of the front.

McCalls 6035 and Soft White Cotton Couture Broadcloth

On the sewing front, I’m working on fitting McCall’s 6035. It’s going to be a multi-muslin affair, but I’m optimistic, and the time put into fitting makes sense to me given that this is a pattern I could see myself making several times. Once I’ve got the fitting worked out, I’m planning to sew up View C (with the rolled 3/4 sleeves) in some white Michael Miller Cotton Couture Broadcloth. Even though it’s the end of the month, I’m still claiming this as my June Make A Garment A Month project. I can’t imagine I’ll finish it by the end of the month, but I like to interpret the end of the month as more of a soft deadline.

So that’s my big project update. I hope your summer is off to a great start!

Vogue 8951: Return of the Black Hoodie

Continuing my trend of impossible-to-photograph projects, I’ve finished my May MAGAM project—a black hooded pullover with a contrast hood lining. I know hoods aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I love them. When I was a broody, angry teenager, I wore a black hoodie almost every day. I wouldn’t describe myself as angry or brooding anymore, but there is still something comforting about having a piece of clothing that reminds me of a younger me. Now that the semester is over and it’s just me and my dissertation hanging out all day long, I feel like this hoodie is helping me channel some of my adolescent moxie.

Vogue 8951

To make this, I used Vogue 8951, view B, which has a lined hood and a kangaroo pocket. The main fabric is a medium-weight cotton interlock and the hood lining is a lighter-weight cotton/Spandex jersey blend, both purchased from Fabric.com. The pattern has a self-lined hood, so adding a contrast lining is just a matter of cutting the lining pieces from a different fabric rather than from the main fabric. This is the first time I’ve worked with an interlock and I can see why people recommend it for those new to sewing with knits—it definitely behaves more like a woven than a less stable knit, making it not only easy to sew, but easy to cut as well. I started with a size XL at the shoulder and graded out to the XXL at the armscye. In addition to adding the constrast hood lining, I removed the weird extra flap of fabric at the back hem and folded out 1” of length at the hip. I also narrowed the shoulder 3/8” and should have narrowed it even more.

Vogue 8951

This is an easy pattern, but it still stretched my newbie sewing skills. This was the first time I’ve attached a pocket to anything, worked with facings, worked a buttonhole, done a split hem, or done any significant amount of top-stitching on a garment. Thankfully, the pattern instructions were pretty clear and easy-to-follow. I got tripped up trying to figure out the weird pocket origami, but I think that was mostly reader-error. Otherwise, I took my time and kept my seam ripper close by, and things turned out pretty well in the end.

Vogue 8951

I’d like to make a less loungey version of this pattern in the future, especially since I really like the hood and the split neck with this pattern. All of the other versions of this pattern I’ve seen have been made up in a sweater knit, and I think I’d get a lot of wear out of a sweater-knit hooded pullover. When I make it again, I would cut a straight XL and do an FBA to get a more fitted look through the bust. I’d also narrow the shoulder a bit more and take out some of the excess width from the upper back. I’d also like the sleeves to be a bit more narrow.

Vogue 8951 Hood Detail

I have a couple of heavier, slouchy cardigans that I wear around the house all the time during winter but I wanted something lighter weight for spring. And I think Aidan wanted me to stop wearing his hoodies. Given this goal, I’m really happy with how this turned out. The fit is relaxed and very comfortable, the fabric is just the right weight for cooler spring days, and the hood is useful for hiding from the world when the writing is especially trying.

If you’ve got any tips about successfully photographing a black garment that don’t involve washed out, over-exposed photos, I’m eager to hear them!

May MAGAM Plan

So I’ve already made two garments for myself this month (my gray Birgitte tee and my chevron camisole), but I’m still planning something different as my official Make A Garment A Month project for May. I’ve been wanting a light-weight hoodie for awhile and have actually been wearing one of Aidan’s around the house lately. So this month, I’m going to try my hand at Vogue 8951. I’m planning to make view B with the hood and kangaroo pocket. I’ve got a black cotton interlock for the main fabric, but I’ll be adding a contrast hood lining using this red, gray, and black chevron jersey.

You might notice from the pattern envelope that this pattern is drafted so that the back is a good 4″ longer than the front. I think this is a really weird design feature–it reminds me of a mud flap. I assure you I have already hacked that extra length off of the back pattern piece. I haven’t seen very many versions of this made up yet (it’s a relatively new pattern), but the few people who have posted about this pattern have similarly done away with the weird butt flap.

This is a “Very Easy Vogue” pattern so hopefully it works out better than my April failure. Onward with the sewing!

A Failed Project and Other Crafting Woes

Sometimes trying to make things is a real drag. I haven’t really been knitting since I finished my Blank Canvas sweater back in March. I’ve picked up a couple of small projects trying to get back into the groove of things, but I’ve ended up giving up on all of them. And then this weekend, I threw in the towel with New Look 6104, which was supposed to be my April MAGAM project. After sewing the darts and the pintucks, I basted the fronts and back together to check the fit, and it’s kind of a mess. I mean, the fit isn’t the worst, but there are several fit issues that really bother me—the bust darts are too low and I suspect that the full-bust adjustment I made was actually a smidge too large. I tried to add darts to the front to add some waist shaping, but they didn’t turn out well, and I think in general I need more practice sewing and pressing darts. Plus, the interfacing I used (while the weight recommended by the pattern) is significantly stiffer than I’d like.

I could finish it and call it “wearable,” but that would only be in the sense that I could physically wear it on my body because I would never actually choose to wear it. And there are certainly some things I could do to try to fix some of the fit issues I’m experiencing, but I’ve reached a point where the number of things that bother me have far out-paced my interest in the project and my desire for the finished object. So I’m forfeiting this one and moving on to the next project. I’ll admit that I let the failure of this project get me down this weekend, so I’m trying to focus on the silver lining in this crafting cloud. So here are some of the good things that have come out of the work I put into this failed shirt:

  • I made my first muslin for this project, and my muslin was partially successful. While I’m not happy with how the front of the shirt was fitting, I did manage to get the fit of the back worked out nicely with a muslin. I ended up  doing a narrow back adjustment, a rolled back adjustment, and a sway back adjustment (all of which I did using the methods described in Fit For Real People), and I can apply this fit knowledge to future projects. Also, part of the reason that I was able to get a good fit in the back was because I actually re-cut the back for my muslin after making pattern changes based on my first muslin. I (stupidly) did not do the same for the front, and now I tangibly see the benefit of seeing the muslining process through to the very end.
  • I used a cheap piece of fabric that I bought awhile ago and have no real attachment to so I’m not broken up about it being used for a failed project.

  • I had to sew pin tucks for the first time and they turned out really well.
  • I had planned to bind the armhole seams, so I used some of my extra fabric to make some bias tape. So now I have about 3 yards of chambray double-fold bias tape that I’m sure will come in handy at some point in the future.

  • This project has helped me re-assess some of my sewing goals. For example, I’m not sure how committed I am to woven shirts in general. I want to work on fitting a pattern for a basic button-down shirt since this is really the only kind of woven shirt I’m drawn to in the first place. I had been planning to try a couple of different simple woven blouse patterns this summer, but I’m going to change my plan and focus on fitting McCall’s 6035. I like the princess seam detail and if I can get a good fit on this pattern, I can see myself making this pattern over and over again. I’m pretty minimalist in terms of what I like to wear so it makes sense to me to spend a good deal of time fitting some basic patterns for button-down shirts and pants, even if they are a bit complicated, rather than trying my hand at a bunch of different patterns that I feel iffy about.

With all of that in mind, I’m moving on to some of the projects I’ve planned to make for other people and I’m returning to some more basic knit patterns. This weekend, I got all of the notions and fabrics I need to get going on a project for my nephew and godson, and I’m getting ready to cut out the Birgitte Basic Tee. I’ve developed a bit of a knit inferiority complex and somehow convinced myself that I’ve been “cheating” by sewing so many knits rather than working out fit with woven patterns, but I realized how stupid this was this weekend. Knits are what I like to wear, so it makes sense that I work on developing my sewing skills with knits. But I’m also trying to be a little more gentle with myself in general—I get impatient with myself for being a beginner, but of course, the only way to get past being a beginner is to keep moving through the clumsy beginner stages.

I’ve also finally started knitting a new sweater with this heathered black yarn, and it only took me knitting through 2” of twisted rib last night to climb my way out of my knitting funk. I’m doing a variation of Kate Davie’s Catkin sweater, which is a fingering-weight sweater worked at a fine gauge. I don’t know what it is, but I find a fine-gauge ribbing intoxicating. Hopefully my craft life continues looking up!

April Sewing Plans

 

My plan for this month’s Make a Garment a Month challenge is to try my hand at New Look 6104. I’m planning to make view A (the version the model is wearing), although I’m going to swap out the ruffle on the front with the pin tucks from versions C and D. Ruffles just aren’t my speed. The fabric I’m using is a light-weight chambray I ordered from Fabric.com several months ago. This pattern will definitely stretch my skills. I haven’t fitted a woven garment before. Nor have I sewn pin tucks, attached bias binding, or worked button holes. So, this could be an epic disaster. But one person on Pattern Review made this up as her first-ever garment with great results, so I’m feeling optimistic. (Okay, optimistic might be a strong word. I’m at least not feeling doomed from the get-go, so that’s something.) I’ll probably start working on my pattern alterations this weekend.

The Sew Obsessed group on Ravelry has a year-long sewalong in progress and this month, people are making short-sleeve woven shirts. Plus, this year’s Spring Top Sewalong hosted by Made By Rae starts next week, so I’ll be sort of triple-dipping with this project. After the success of my Day-to-Night Drape Top, I also have the Brigitte Basic Tee pattern on my short list of projects to make, so I should be able to get a couple more shirts made up before the end of the Spring Top Sewalong. I’ve got some gray rayon-Spandex jersey on hand already, but I also have a fabric order in route with some more jersey blends destined to become some basic T-shirts.

This crazy horse print is piece de resistance of my incoming fabric order. I can’t get enough of it. It reminds me of my 14-year-old sister/Tina Belcher, so I ordered it as soon as it popped up on Girl Charlee’s Pinterest page. I’m planning to use this fabric and another print  to make my two youngest sisters some summer PJs. Oh, and I’ve got a stack of towels sitting in my sewing area that I’m hoping to turn in wearable items for a couple other little lovelies. I haven’t been knitting recently, so I’ve instead been spending the time I would be knitting planning a million sewing projects. I’m going to need to get serious about the sewing if I have any chance of keeping up with all my plans. What are your spring crafting plans?

 

Day-to-Night Drape Top

Despite a busy month where I didn’t do much sewing, I still managed to finish my March Make a Garment a Month project on time. This is the MariaDenmark Day-to-Night Drape top, which is a very straight-forward PDF pattern. The pattern is for a sleeveless top, but I added sleeves by using the short sleeve pattern piece from the MariaDenmark Brigitte Tee, which is another PDF pattern. I just picked the sleeve size that gave me the upper arm circumference I wanted and was able to set it into the Day-to-Night pattern without a problem.

This is a dead-simple sew. The pattern includes instructions for finishing the back neckline with either fold-over elastic or clear elastic. I had both on hand, but went with a black fold-over elastic for the neckline and I think it makes for a really clean finish. The pattern piece for the front includes a facing that you simply fold over at the shoulder so you don’t have to to do any finishing to the front neckline. After attaching the elastic to the back neckline and then sewing the shoulders together, I attached the sleeves flat, sewed the side seams together, and then finished the sleeves and the hem. Done and done. I did everything except for the bottom hem in a single evening, which is saying  a lot since I am a sewing n00b and rather slow.

I haven’t been totally happy with the hems on my last two knit garment projects, so I decided to try finishing the sleeves with bands, and I’m really happy with the way that it looks. It gives a very clean finish with very little effort. For the sleeve bands, I just cut out a strip of fabric that was 2” tall and just slightly less wide (by about .5”) than the finished circumference of the sleeve. For the bottom hem, I considered using a twin needle, but couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to do so on my new machine. It’s weird because the machine came with a second thread spool but I can’t find any place in the manual where it explains where to actually attach the second spool. So in lieu of using a twin needle, I created a faux-band hem finish like SarahLiz describes in one of her recent blog posts. I’m pleased with the way that it looks and, quite honestly, I think a band finish might become my go-to for simple knit projects like this.

I didn’t make any major fit changes to this pattern, aside from grading from an XL at the shoulder to a 2X at the bust to a 3X at the hip. I have some strain lines at the bust so I probably should have done an full-adjustment (the pattern even links to a tutorial that shows you how to do one on this particular pattern), but I didn’t. I’ll probably give it a try the next time I make this pattern. The only other change I made was to add .5” at the shoulder. Since this is drafted as a sleeveless top, the shoulders are more narrow than you’d want for something with sleeves. Even with the added shoulder width, the shoulders are still sitting too far in, although I think this might be an effect of the way that the elastic is currently pulling the back neckline in. The pattern tells you to cut the elastic 10% shorter than the length of the neckline, but I think that next time I might cut the elastic just a smidge longer.

The fabric is a cotton-rayon slub knit from Girl Charlee. The fabric color is described as burgundy, but it’s closer to purple than red, and the slub knit effect gives it some black texture throughout. (It’s been very gray in Syracuse so none of these pictures do a great job of capturing the color. The very first picture is probably the most accurate as far as capturing the color.) The fabric has good stretch and drapes well, so it was a good match for this project. It’s lightweight but not sheer and it feels very cool. This will be a good shirt to wear in the thick of summer—good news for me since I’ll be teaching during July and August. They have this slub knit fabric in a few other colors and I’m thinking pretty seriously about stocking up. Since I don’t really like wearing prints, it’s nice to have solid colors that have a bit of texture to them.

All in all, I’m really happy with the way that this project turned out—it’s comfortable, it fits well, and I think I’ll get a lot of wear out of it. I can definitely see myself making this pattern again. I’d love to try making this in a lightweight sweater knit with long sleeves. I’m also so pleased with the fit of this top, that I’m planning to try the Brigitte Tee, which is by the same designer, in hopes that it fits a bit better than the Kwik Sew pattern I tried earlier this year. But for the purposes of MAGAM, I’m going to set the knits aside for a bit and try to develop my skills fitting and sewing wovens. Onward!

March Sewing Plans and Sewing-Related Birthday Shopping

Somehow, March always ends up being my busiest month. And to prove it, I haven’t done much sewing at all. But I’m committed to keeping up with the Make a Garment a Month challenge, so even though there’s only a week left in the month, I’m still planning to whip something up. I had initially planned to try a slightly more challenging pattern for this month, but the fact that there’s only a week left in the month tells me that I need to keep things simple. So my revised plan is to make Maria of Denmark’s Day to Night Drape top, although I’m planning to add some sleeves since I think I’ll get more wear out of it that way. I’ve read that people have had good luck using the sleeves from the same designer’s Brigitte tee pattern, so that’s probably what I’ll do. I’m planning to use some burgundy slub knit jersey fabric from Girl Charlee to make this up–it’s a cotton rayon jersey blend that’s a bit more purple than it appears in this (crappy phone) photo.

March Sewing.jpg

Even though I haven’t been doing much sewing, I’ve definitely had sewing on the brain. Yesterday was my birthday and I celebrated over the weekend with a little shopping spree at JoAnn Fabrics, where I picked up a bit of fabric for an upcoming project, as well as a bunch of sewing and pressing tools that I’ve been wanting for a while. So now I am the happy owner of a tailor’s ham, a seam roll, a set of bias tape makers, some new marking tools, a clear quilting ruler and a new pair of bent-tip embroidery scissors. Unfortunately, JoAnn’s was beset by a huge group of nasal-talking sorority sisters who were buying lots of satin and tulle and ribbon for some sort of mystery event. They were ridiculously annoying–young people traveling in groups have a way of losing all sense of consciousness about what/who is around them–and they kept giving the ladies at the cutting table instructions like, “Measure her head. That’s how much we need.” I was relieved to see that none of them were my past or present students. Still, I’m really pleased to have a tailor’s ham, so it was worth it.

Birthday goods.jpgI also picked up a copy of Christine Haynes’s new book The Photo Guide to Clothing Construction. I’ve seen a lot of reviewers say that this is a book they wished they had when they started sewing, which made me think that this book is exactly what I need. When Craftsy had a big sale on classes a week or two ago, I also bought Gail Yellen’s 40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know. I haven’t been able to dig into the book yet, but I have watched a few of the Craftsy class videos, and I’m totally in love. It makes such a big difference as a new, self-taught sewer to actually see a clear and accessible teacher demonstrating good techniques. Gail Yellen is the kind of person who is a proponent of taking a bit of extra time to do things right, which is what I’m all about. (Unless it’s something stupid, in which case I think you should totally rush through it. There’s no reason to give your all to washing the dishes—they’re just going to get dirty again.)

I hear so many seamstresses gush about fabric and while I certainly like shopping for fabric, it’s really sewing tools and reference books that make me geek out. I have to keep reminding myself that my skills don’t require owning a sleeve board or a bunch of books about tailoring just yet. But I’m going to get there!

 

New Cardigan: McCalls 6844

If I wasn’t already sold on garment sewing, I would be after this project. I’m still kind of shocked that I managed to make this myself.

This is a my February project for the Make a Garment a Month challenge. I actually managed to finish sewing this on the evening of the 28th, but it’s clearly taken me awhile to get around to taking pictures. I’m blaming a particularly difficult grading marathon.

The pattern I used is McCalls 6844 (view A), which is a pattern that’s been made about a million times at this point. And I totally get why—it’s a really excellent pattern with some great design details. I appreciate that it’s an open-front cardigan that is not a waterfall style, and I also like this version’s slight, but not overly-obnoxious, high-low hem. It’s really only a matter of time before I make this pattern again. I’m pretty sure my life demands a version in black and, possibly, a more casual striped version.

One of the great things about this pattern for me (given that this is only the second garment I’ve made for myself) is that the fit is forgiving enough that I didn’t really have to make any fit adjustments. I took 3/8” out of the shoulder but otherwise cut a straight size XL. The next time around, I might take a full 1/2” from the shoulder and I’ll shorten the sleeves by about 1/2”. If I were using a less stretchy fabric (this sweater knit had at least 50% stretch), I would probably also add some width to the sleeves.

After reading reviews of the pattern, I decided to use a different construction order than outlined in the pattern instructions, and I think that made it even easier to sew. I started by sewing the collar pieces together per the pattern instructions. Then I sewed the shoulder seams (adding some fusible stay tape to stabilize the seams), and then sewed the sleeves in flat. After that, I hemmed the sleeves and the bottom of the sweater before stitching up the sides of the body and the sleeves. Finally, I attached the collar to the sweater and then topstitched to finish. I used a stretch stitch for the hems. It looks clean and I’m relatively pleased with how it turned out, but I think my next sewing-with-knits challenge is to master the twin needle.

I used a very stretchy dark gray Hacci sweater knit from Girl Charlee. I was a little worried about working with a sweater knit, but it was fine. It was a bit of a pain to cut, partly because it had so much stretch and partly because it was a little sticky and was reluctant to being smoothed out nicely for me to lay the pattern pieces down. But after I got past the cutting, things got a lot easier. It was very easy to sew, pressed really nicely, and resulted in a cardigan that is very comfortable to wear.

(Somehow, while taking these pictures, I managed to strike a perfectly dramatic fashion blogger pose. Although you’ll note the absence of a coordinating handbag so . . . Fail.)

After wearing this out and about, I realized that people have a tendency to dive in and touch your clothes (which is basically touching you, the wearer) when they find out that you’ve made something. I’ve had this happen over and over for years. Once, when I told a friend I had knit the sweater I was wearing, she jumped out of her seat and stuck her hand down the front of my sweater to feel the back of the cabling pattern. I think it’s funny and innocent, probably because I’ve only experienced this reaction from women I know and because there’s always a funny moment when the person realizes they’re doing something really weird. Have you experienced this before? What do you think is the behind the fascination with touching handmade items?

 

February Sewing Plans

There’s not much of February left, so I’m trying to keep it relatively simple with my sewing plans this month. I’m going to make McCalls 6844, View A (the shorter version without the peplum). I’m going to be using some charcoal gray Hacci sweater knit I bought earlier this year from Girl Charlee. This will be my first time sewing with a sweater knit—hopefully it doesn’t give me too much trouble. I don’t anticipate having to make many changes to the pattern other than making some minor adjustments to the shoulder.

M6844 via sweetalchemy.wordpress.com

I’m looking forward to giving this pattern a try, since it has the potential to be the kind of thing I make over and over again. I used to have a gray open-front cardigan like this that I bought at Old Navy but have since lost while traveling. The Old Navy cardigan isn’t that great of a loss since it was really boxy and was part of Old Navy’s attempt to bring back the drop sleeve (a truly terrible idea), but it was very easy to wear—kind of like throwing on a hoodie, but a little more classy. So I’m hoping this month’s sewing will yield something with the convenience of the lost sweater, but with a bit more style. Onward with the sewing!

(Not Quite) January Sewing: Long Sleeved T-Shirt

I’m late (mostly due to the fact that my sewing machine died at the end of January), but I finally finished my January project for MAGAM. I made a scoop neck T-shirt using Kwik Sew 3766 and a cotton rayon jersey blend fabric from Girl Charlee. This fabric is pretty drapey and clings like nobody’s business, which is not my favorite. But given that this is my first adult garment besides pajama pants, I’m pretty pleased with the way this project turned out.

KS3766 via sweetalchemy.wordpress.com

I used the size L for the chest, blending to the XL for the rest of the shirt. I also added a bit more width to the hip, and then did a 3” FBA following this excellent tutorial from VickikateMakes. I’m pretty happy with the way the shirt fits around the bust, but next time around, I’ll eliminate some of the additional width from the hip and the waist.

KS3766 Back via sweetalchemy.wordpress.com

My biggest struggle and my biggest triumph with this shirt was the neckline. I practiced (and failed) several times attaching a neckband in a way that would lay flat. It got to the point where I was so frustrated that I had to set the whole project aside for a couple of days before I could try again. Ultimately, I realized that I was being too aggressive. I was so worried the band wouldn’t lay flat that I was stretching it so much that it was basically gathering the fabric. Once I realized my major malfunction, life got a little bit better and I was able to sew a reasonably flat neckband. (It’s still a smidge too loose, but good enough for this first shirt.) I made the neckband for this shirt a bit narrower than the pattern piece. The pattern advises you to stitch the ends of the band together and then stretch it evenly around neckband, but I decided to just attach it flat (as shown here in this tutorial), which worked out a lot better than my first miserable stretching attempts.

KS3766 Neckline via sweetalchemy.wordpress.com

So I know that I’m on my way to getting a basic T-shirt pattern that fits me well and I know now to use knits that have a bit more body. But I have to confess: this sewing business is hard. And by that, I don’t mean that sewing in and of itself is hard, but rather that going through the growing pains of being new to sewing feels a little rough at the moment. The downside of coming to sewing as a long-time knitter is that I find it really frustrating that the things that I sew don’t turn out as well as the things I knit. And the discerning eye I’ve developed as a knitter that allows to me to recognize and fix issues with my knitting makes it really easy for me to pick out imperfections with my sewing and harder to appreciate where I’ve grown in the process. Like every learning process, I’m finding that sewing has its peaks and its valleys, and feel like I’m in a bit of a valley. I suppose the only way out is to keep sewing. 🙂

And with that in mind, on to my February project!