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Adventures With Knits and Pattern Mods

July 22, 2009

I will preface this post by whole-heartedly admitting that I am not the greatest seamstress in the world.  My education, while superb, happened while I was young and too stupid to absorb as much of it as I could.  I am just your Average Joe (Jane?) who loves to get creative, was moderately good in math class, and says all too often, "$100!? I could make that in an hour!"  I am the sewing equivalent of the phrases "Jack of all trades, master of none" and "only human."


A few months back I was perusing a designer discount boutique and saw a lovely raglan top with a ribbon-supported neckline and keyholes at all four shoulder seams.  At around $100, I couldn't fathom paying that much for a slightly glammed-up t-shirt that even my mediocre sewing skills could handle.  My only apprehension was my lack of experience with sewing knits, but you never learn unless you try, right?


TSP-013.jpgAccepting my own challenge, I took up the hunt for the right raglan-sleeved t-shirt pattern (not too sporty, seams in the right place, simple neck line), which was surprisingly hard to find.  After weeks of judging the merits of this pattern over that, the wonderful ladies in merchandising told me about the new line of Textile Studios Patterns we now carry, including the Santa Monica Tee.  Even nicer, I discovered a small stash of remnants of some knits we just put in the store and took a gamble that I would have enough to at least practice on.


On that note, I would like to take a moment to wax poetic about my wonderful little find.  I know that it's hard to truly judge a fabric over the Internet, and 10 different collections of solid stretch knits tend to all look the same.  Unfortunately, this means some collections just aren't done justice, and such is the case with the Premium Brushed Micropoly Stretch Knits.  This collection is buttery soft, with vivid colors and fantastic stretch.  It's slightly thicker and sturdier than a lot of the knits you find in stores lately, and a million times more luxurious.  It's a breeze to work with and has possibly dethroned Dupioni silk as my new favorite fabric to work with.


Back to my story, the pattern choice was far better than I could have imagined.  The Santa Monica Tee only has three pattern pieces: front, back, and sleeve, which can be made three ways (long sleeve, short sleeve and ¾ length).  To make the casing at the neck, I traced out the top 1 3/8" from all three pattern pieces onto parchment paper (3/8" for the seam allowance, 1/8" to close it up, leaving me an almost 1" casing).  After cutting all of my pieces out but before unfolding everything, I marked the front and back bodice pieces 4" from the top on the edges where the sleeves would be joined.  This mark is where I would stop sewing the sleeves and bodice together to create the key-holes at the front and back shoulder seams.


I followed the pattern's instructions for construction and seam allowances except where modifications were necessary to make my changes work.  First, I sewed my casing pieces to the tops of each of the sleeves and bodice pieces by placing the shirt_front.jpgfabric right-sides together and stitching along the top.  Next, I sewed the sleeves to the front bodice, stopping at the 4" mark I made earlier.  At the point where I stopped stitching, I folded the seam allowance back and top stitched from the casing on the sleeve, down to the seam where the sleeve and bodice were joined, and back up to the top of the bodice casing (making a big "V").  This step finished off the edges and made the key-hole clean and pronounced.  After finishing the top stitching on both sides of the front bodice, I then repeated the whole process to join the back bodice piece to the sleeves.



With the sleeves attached and the key-holes finished, I pressed and folded the casing pieces down to the inside of the shirt (wrong-sides together) and stitched shirt_back.jpgthem shut about 1/8" from the edge, creating that rod pocket affect.  From there, I finished the sleeves and bottom hem by following the pattern instructions.  I used brown satin ribbon at the neckline and tied it in a bow, but since it is not attached I can change it out whenever I want.  After all was said and done, I would say the top took me less than 2 hours (not including time I spent goofing off with my stretch stitches).  The pattern was simple and easy to follow, which makes it perfect for both a quick top or as a jumping-off point for some creative license.

Some quick notes about changes I would consider on my next go - I think I would shirt_closeup.jpgprobably make the casing larger by about a half to a full inch.  This would give more room to add a sturdier ribbon or bulkier sash.  Also, my husband gravely expressed his disdain for the bow at the shoulder (many, many times).  I might play around with some buttons, buckles or brooches to secure the ribbon and add a decorative touch.


Happy stitching!


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I love your shirt. Is the fabric hot to wear?

Love your shirt. How does the fabric wear? Is it hot?

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This page contains a single entry by published on July 22, 2009 10:48 AM.

The Fabric Maverick asks... Am I Shabby Chic or just shabby??? was the previous entry in this blog.

Kristl interviews Trudy Hanson of Hot Patterns is the next entry in this blog.

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