Tag Archives: t-shirt

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

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The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

Today’s project is an example of a great pairing of pattern and fabric. I just love it so much! The garments that have staying power and remain in my wardrobe for a long time are the ones that are a good fabric and pattern match. So let’s talk about the Stellan Tee and some sweet, sweet, organic cotton knit.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

For over four years I worked at Pintuck & Purl, a fabric and yarn store in southeastern New Hampshire. It was a great experience because, among other things, I got to try out many fabrics I hadn’t tried before. One of those fabrics was this organic cotton knit from Birch Organic Fabrics (collection: Saltwater; designer: Emily Winfield Martin). Every time I tried organic cotton, there was a clear difference in feel and quality.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit
The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

I had my eye on this cute nautical print for several years, but it was both narrow for a knit and quite expensive because it was organic cotton. Finally, though, it had sat in the store for so long that it had to be put on sale. And that was when I finally bought some for my very own. This fabric is beefy and soft–much like interlock knit t-shirts used to be, and I turned over a lot of different ideas in my mind, trying to decide what I wanted to make with it. I finally settled on the The Stellan Tee, a free pattern from French Navy Patterns that I really wanted to try.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit
The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

Free patterns are such a great way to try out a company’s style and quality, and although I used to think it wasn’t worth it to sew t-shirts, I now think otherwise. T-shirts are a quick and easy project for those times when you need something quick and easy, and each pattern is just a little bit different. They’re so satisfying to make. Luckily, this pattern didn’t disappoint. It’s filled with clear instructions and illustrations, and you can choose to use a serger and a regular sewing machine, or a regular sewing machine only. I made it in a size XXL.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit
Sometimes things get a little silly when my family helps me with pictures.
The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit
This shirt looks good cuffed or uncuffed…and with or without silly facial expressions.

Just a little while before making this, my husband bought me my very own JUKI serger (the MO-654DE), replacing the cute vintage model I had that wasn’t working. This was the first project I tried with it.

I got a new serger!
My new serger, just taken out of the box.

The fabric sewed like a dream. I used the stripe as my main fabric. I had also bought a little bit of the anchor print for details like a pocket and the back neck reinforcement. The pocket wasn’t a part of the pattern–I used the pocket from the Union Street Tee pattern by Hey June Handmade in order to have a place to showcase that anchor print on the outside of the shirt.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

I really love the back neck reinforcement detail–it made the shirt look so professional. That was included in the pattern.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit
The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

I got a little confused as I sewed it on about where to stitch my first seam (Through the seam allowance only, or also through the back of the shirt? I chose seam allowance only.), but I figured it out in the end. I also chose to topstitch around the neck opening to hold the seam allowance down and because it looks nice. And I used a zig zag stitch at the hem instead of a twin needle because my twin needle stitching often comes undone over time. I didn’t change the fit or substance of the pattern, however. I really like the Stellan Tee and wouldn’t hesitate to try another French Navy pattern after this. I love the style of this shirt with its curved hemline and loose, boxy cut.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit
The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

It pairs perfectly with this midweight fabric.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

And even though I am new to serging, everything went great with using both my regular machine and my serger. The Stellan Tee was a good beginner project for trying out the serger. I think I’m really going to like this machine.

It’s getting a little cold to wear this shirt now, but I wore it a lot while it was still warm and look forward to wearing it next summer. I would definitely make this pattern again…and use this fabric again in another project…and definitely use my serger again…this was a good project.

The Stellan Tee in Organic Cotton Knit

Union St. Tee in Cotton + Steel Jersey Knit

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Union St. Tee in Cotton + Steel Jersey Knit

As summer goes by, I’m sewing less and going outside more, so after this post, things may slow down for a little bit.  You just can’t waste beautiful outside days when you live in a place with cold and snowy winters, you know?  Today’s project is just right for summer.  While I love breezy woven fabrics in the summer, I also wear a fair number of t-shirts.  My go-to winter t-shirt pattern is the free Plantain T-shirt from Deer and Doe, and while that one does have a short-sleeved view, what I really wanted for summer was a great relaxed v-neck with additional options.  The Union St. Tee from Hey June Handmade looked promising, and I absolutely love the Brunswick Pullover pattern that I tried from this company, so, having gotten the PDF as a Christmas present, I decided to try it out this summer.

Union St. Tee in Cotton + Steel Jersey Knit

The Union St. Tee pattern comes with four sleeve lengths and three necklines and can be made with or without a pocket.  It also includes a provision for full bust adjustments if that is a change you usually make.

Union St. Tee in Cotton + Steel Jersey Knit

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Union St. Tee in Cotton + Steel Jersey Knit

The recommended fabrics are things like “cotton/poly, triblend, rayon blends, bamboo, and modal.”  I have been trying to use what I have on-hand for the most part this spring/summer and I already had some cotton/spandex jersey from Cotton + Steel in my stash that I really wanted to try.  This is not a recommended fabric (it’s actually a fabric that the designer tells you not to use unless you are sizing down for a more fitted t-shirt), but I decided to go for it anyway.  This fabric is (I think) 95% cotton and 5% spandex and is soft and nicely substantial–maybe a midweight.  The design is called “Flotsam & Jetsam” from the Hello collection from Cotton + Steel in its first iteration (those designers have since founded Ruby Star Society with Moda Fabrics), and I got it from Pintuck & Purl during one of their sales.

Union St. Tee in Cotton + Steel Jersey Knit

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Union St. Tee in Cotton + Steel Jersey Knit

As for the sewing, the instructions and illustrations in the pattern were great.  They are very detailed, and include a link to a video tutorial for sewing a great v-neck.  While mine isn’t completely perfect, it’s really good considering my very limited experience in that area.  One question I have had when applying neckbands is whether to use a straight or a stretch (zigzag) stitch.  I used a straight stitch for this neckband and it turned out great.  I’m always afraid that a straight stitch won’t be stretchy enough and a zigzag stitch won’t look crisp enough, but I have had no problems with the straight stitch I used for this neckband.

Union St. Tee in Cotton + Steel Jersey Knit

When I first tried the finished shirt on, I could see why cotton/spandex isn’t recommended.  This is supposed to be a relaxed t-shirt and the slightly heavier weight and lower amount of drape does make it stand out from the body a bit.

Union St. Tee in Cotton + Steel Jersey Knit

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Union St. Tee in Cotton + Steel Jersey Knit

My first thought was that it looked like a maternity shirt.  My first impressions of my projects aren’t always positive, and I am learning that I need to wear them several times before really deciding how I feel.  I did that with this t-shirt, and now I love it.

Union St. Tee in Cotton + Steel Jersey Knit

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Union St. Tee in Cotton + Steel Jersey Knit

I’m so happy that I tried this pattern, and I’d love to make it again in one of the suggested fabrics.  I highly recommend it for the drafting and the very detailed instructions and illustrations.

Union St. Tee in Cotton + Steel Jersey Knit

 

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

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Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

As my husband helped me take the pictures for this post, he and I chuckled.  Another t-shirt post!  Everybody’s favorite!  Usually the plain t-shirt posts, woven and knit, don’t get much response on the blog, but I post them anyway because I think they help the community (the more information on individual patterns, the better) and they help me (I forget what I’ve done in a very short amount of time), so here we are.  Look how excited I am!  I bet you are excited now, too, right?

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

The good news is, while these t-shirts aren’t perfect, I’m really glad I made them.  They are good first drafts that give me the information I need to make even better versions in the future if I want to.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

Pictured above:  both t-shirts almost finished–they just need hems.

This is the Lark Tee from Grainline Studio.  I chose this pattern because it was a good basic with a lot of variations (four sleeves and four necklines, all interchangeable).  I don’t usually want to take the time to hack patterns, so I liked that this had a lot of options.  I’ve made a green scoop-neck, long-sleeved version and a striped short-sleeved, crew-neck version.  I didn’t love the long-sleeved one, but that was due to my fabric choice.  The crew-neck version was better.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

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Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

So here’s what I did for this project.

I chose a size 12 for the bust and a 14 for the waist and hips, as well as the standard short sleeves (rather than the cap sleeves) to go with the v-neck front.  This is a slim, but not tight fit with some positive ease, like a good, basic t-shirt.  I chose a 100% polyester fabric from JoAnn that was gray with neon flecks for one of my shirts (I got drawn in by the neon flecks, pictured below.  So good!) and a cotton/polyester blend from Fabric Mart in white for the other.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

What I should have done, but didn’t, was look at the cutting layout for the t-shirts.  I haven’t made a t-shirt in a little while, and I wasn’t thinking about how wide knits often are.  I should have folded my selvages in toward the middle like the cutting layout shows, but instead, I just folded my knits in half and layered one fabric over the other, lining up the folds so I could cut both out at the same time.  I was very proud of that move….until I realized that my gray shirt was going to be an inch shorter than I had planned because of how I had folded the fabric, and I didn’t have enough to recut it.  Oops!  As it was, I had already removed 4″ from the length of the pattern at the bottom, so the gray shirt is actually 5″ shorter than drafted, I think.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

I ended up using a 3/8″ seam allowance rather than the 1/4″ called for because otherwise my needle would go off of my fabric.  I had planned to use my serger, but it’s still new to me, and I adjusted too many things at once, so it wasn’t working.  I used a jersey 80/12 needle and a 3-step zigzag with a height of 4.5 and a stitch length of 0.5 as well as using a light presser foot pressure and 100% polyester thread in the top and in the bobbin.  I did not finish my seams as suggested in the “Sewing the Knits” section of the instructions.  I don’t think that is necessary unless your knit is prone to unraveling.  I do suggest trying out your stitches on scraps of your knit before sewing your shirt.  Once you sew the stitch you think you want on a doubled up scrap of your fabric, stretch it hard in both directions.  If the stitches pop, adjust your stitch length and/or width (or which stitch you are using) and try again until the stitches don’t pop when you stretch the fabric.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

I made sure to sew twill tape into my shoulder seams (you can also use clear elastic) so that they wouldn’t stretch out.  This wasn’t in the directions, but experience has taught me that this is a good idea.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

I wish the instructions for installing the V neckline had been explicit about what type of stitch to use when.  A lot of knit sewing on a sewing machine requires a zigzag.  I had to guess if that was necessary or if I could get away with a straight stitch.  I used a straight stitch (and 1/4″ seam allowance) when sewing the ends of the neck binding together, as well as for the staystitching at the point of the v-neck.  When attaching the neck binding to the shirt body, I sewed with a straight stitch near where I had staystitched, but then went around the rest of the neck with my 3-step zigzag, sewing over the part I had previously sewn with a straight stitch.  You can see all the wrinkles around my neck–this doesn’t make for the smoothest seam, but I was afraid that if I used a straight stitch I would pop the stitches when I pulled it over my head (speaking from experience).  I tried to mitigate the not-so-straight edge by using a double needle to topstitch around the neckline.  It didn’t work completely, but I haven’t popped any stitches!

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

I also used a twin needle to topstitch on top of the shoulders for a nice look and to keep the twill tape inside from flipping around in weird directions, and I used a twin needle on my hems, pulling the thread to the back and tying it off.  I often have trouble with my twin needle hems coming loose after a while.

My v-necks are a little bit rough, but I got them in, and I’m happy with them for my first tries.  I’m trying to be patient with myself as I learn new things, although it’s not always easy!  I definitely subscribe to the idea that done is better than perfect (aka unfinished forever).  Onward!

The last thing I realized AFTER I was finished was that both fabrics are…kind of see-through.  And no, I didn’t see that coming.  I have no idea how I missed it, but these shirts definitely need skin-colored undergarments and probably a camisole underneath.  So, maybe I just made myself a few undershirts instead of regular shirts.  Oh, well!  Learning experience!

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

My one little “trick” that I was pretty proud of was using Steam-A-Seam 2-1/4″ for my hems.  Steam-A-Seam 2 is a sticky, double-sided, fusible strip that you can use to temporarily hold fabric in place until you press it and then sew it.  It’s a little finicky, since it can stick to your fingers, but it’s very helpful.  My only tip as far as this goes, is to make sure that you fully cover the edges of the Steam-A-Seam with your fabric and stitching.  I found that on my sleeves, once I had hemmed them and then washed the shirt, the fabric rolled back slightly, and the edges of the Steam-A-Seam scratch my arms just a little.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

Even with all their issues, I’m calling these t-shirts a win because I learned a lot:  I like this v-neck silhouette and I would make it again.  I can (hopefully) avoid the mistakes I made this time on future versions.  And every t-shirt I make helps me get that much better at sewing knits.  Looking back on other knit projects, I realize that I still have a lot to master in the way of professional techniques, but since the fit on knits is so forgiving, my many “learning experience” projects don’t bother me as much as my wonky projects in woven fabrics.  I don’t have a lot of my early woven garments, but I still wear a lot of my early knit projects.

I’m hoping to sew some more t-shirts soon, this time long-sleeved ones using the free Plantain Tee pattern.  Do you have a favorite t-shirt pattern?  If so, please share!

I’m going to take next week off since Thursday is Thanksgiving in the US, so I’ll be back after that!  Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers!

 

My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern: the Deer and Doe Plantain T-Shirt

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My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer and Doe Plantain T-Shirt

I have a new favorite t-shirt pattern, and guess what?  It’s a FREE pattern!  Yay!  A friend of mine kept telling me she loved the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt, but it took me so long to try it.  Now that I have, though, I see what she was talking about.

My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

This T has a scoop neck and is fitted in the shoulders, but tapers out at the waist and hip for a body-skimming fit in those areas.  It comes with a few variations in sleeve length and optional elbow patches.  I made two of these shirts and I’m excited to make more in the future.

My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

While PDF isn’t my favorite format, for a free pattern, I’m happy to make an exception.  I stalled on this a bit because the few Deer & Doe patterns I’ve tried in woven fabrics cut into the front of my shoulders, something I haven’t resolved.  I thought a shirt in a knit might be fine, but I just wasn’t sure.  Well, I didn’t have to worry, because these turned out great.  Even if whatever fitting issue I have with Deer & Doe is still present, the knit makes them really comfortable, which makes me really happy.

My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

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My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

So, here are the details on the pattern and materials.

Fabric

While I often love natural materials, I got sucked in by this cute cactus print and ordered some double brushed polyester knit from Cali Fabrics.  (The black cactus print is currently sold out, but there is still a blue colorway.)  I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but…I love it.  It’s really soft, and I just love those cacti!  I thought it would attract a lot of hair and fuzz, but it really doesn’t.  I’m glad I tried it.

My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

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My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

The other fabric I used was a merino jersey I found on sale at Fabric Mart (long since sold out).  I hesitated the first time they had merino jersey, and I missed out, so when this appeared, I snapped it up.  Merino was on my list of fabrics to try.  I also used the scraps of light blue washable wool jersey from Fabrications I had left over from my Strathcona Henley.  I was surprised to find that I liked the merino less that I expected to.  It’s a good weight and all that, but initially when I put it on, it has that very slightly scratchy wool feel.  (To be fair, Fabric Mart did say this had a “slight wool feel”.)  I stop noticing it after a few minutes, but that was a surprise to me.  It also tends to attract all the hair and fuzzies in the washer and dryer (yes, I wash it on cool and dry it on low a lot of times–I prewashed and dried so I could do this without fear of shrinkage).  It would be interesting to be able to feel different versions of merino in person to see if that “wool feel” is typical or not.  This is less of a problem with the yellow wool/Lycra ponte I used in my Strathcona Henley.

My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

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My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

While I always prefer to shop for fabric in person, it’s not always possible.  Both Fabric Mart and Cali Fabrics are online shops I like for their competitive pricing, variety of choices, and sales (in the case of Fabric Mart).  I’ve only shopped at Fabrications online once, but was very, very impressed with their customer service.

Pattern and Sewing Details

I cut a 44 in the bust and 46 in the waist and hips of Version C.  I tried using Eloflex thread, the slightly stretchy thread from Coats, but it didn’t work well with these shirts.  I also found that a stretch needle didn’t work well, but a 70/10 jersey needle did.  I used polyester Gütermann thread in the top of my machine and woolly/bulky nylon in the bobbin.  I lightened up the presser foot pressure, and used a zigzag stitch for construction and a twin needle for my hems and neckband topstitching.  It was really fun to use some contrasting thread in these spots on my blue shirt.

My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

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My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

I also added clear elastic to the shoulder seams as instructed to keep them from stretching out.

My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

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My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

Rather than using a straight stitch to attach the elbow patches on the blue shirt, I used a zigzag stitch (so there would still be some stretch) and then went over it again with a satin stitch (a closely spaced zigzag stitch).  The zigzag alone didn’t look that nice and  the satin stitch alone caused tunneling.  For some reason, this combination of the two was a winner.

 

My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

I really, really like these shirts.  As I look at the pictures now, I can see some drag lines around the armhole, but that’s an area of fitting I haven’t really delved into yet and, in a knit, these are more than good enough–they’re great.  I would love to fill my drawer with Plantains in a variety of fabrics.  This pattern is a quick and easy sew—a real winner.

My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

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My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

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My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

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My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

Recommendations

  • I checked out The Cool Factor by Andrea Linett from the library thinking it was probably a do’s and don’ts of fashion kind of book (I’m not super into that), but that I might find a little inspiration.  Well, I was wrong.  It’s a GREAT book where the author rounded up her most fashionable friends and showcased their style, breaking down how they think about creating their outfits.  This is definitely NOT a do’s and don’ts book.  It was really fun and inspirational, and it got me thinking that fashion is a kind of everyday art anyone can participate in if they want to.  Unless you’re a nudist, we all have to get dressed.  I found inspiration even from looks that are very different from what I would wear myself.  Now I have new ideas and types of clothes I want to try.

The Coziest Sweatshirt: Very Easy Vogue 9055

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The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

After the dirndl project that I undertook earlier this fall, I wanted to make sure that I had some quick, easy projects in my next project batch.  As we were going into cooler temperatures, I started to think that a few knit sewing projects were in order.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

One of the new things I want to incorporate more into my wardrobe is leggings (even though I’m not wearing them in these pictures) which, whether or not you think they count as pants, definitely count as secret pajamas.  However, I also don’t want my hind end exposed, which means I need longer t-shirts.  I’ve tried the Briar Tee from Megan Nielson Patterns, which I like, but it’s not quite as long as I want and I think something is off for me in the shoulder area.  I really like the concept, however, and so I thought I would give Vogue 9055 a try.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

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The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

I found the coziest sweatshirt-like knit fabric at Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA that seemed perfect.  It’s 80% cotton and 20% polyester.  This pattern and fabric combination ticked most of my boxes:  cozy, secret pajamas, like a warm hug, long and butt-covering.  The only thing it was missing was real color.  While gray is a cozy color, it also kind of depresses me.  Sorry, gray lovers.  I live in a land of gray winters (as you can see from these pictures) and I need color.  So I bought bling to spice it up.  🙂

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

While in my mind this project was going to take me, like, two seconds (which never actually happens, but it’s still possible to delude myself), it didn’t.  I made the shirt, minus hems, and then I looked at it…  The hips were too wide, and actually it looked a bit big on top, too.  The neckband wasn’t tight enough, so it was flopping forward.  What the heck?!  Also, why have I not mastered knit neckbands after all this time?!

So I took a step back and started working on one issue at a time.  I took the extra off the hips that I had added previously, and that made a big difference.  I decided not to hem the sleeves or body of the shirt because I like the unhemmed shirt length and the look of it unhemmed.  I could probably trim an inch off the sleeves…but I just don’t want to.  As for the neckband, I cut it off and stay stitched again, but it wasn’t great without some sort of band.  So I asked someone who knew more than me (always a good choice!).  She told me I needed to make the band shorter, and she did all my calculations for me, making the neckband 15% smaller than the opening of my neck hole (thanks, Stacy!!!).  When I recut the piece and sewed it on, it was SO MUCH BETTER.  I still need practice to get knit neckbands perfect, but this was a serious improvement.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

I know lots of people are down on the amount of ease in Big 4 patterns.  I’m the opposite.  I usually love the amount of ease they include, since I’m not a fan of super-fitted clothing, but I think in this fabric, I could have gone down one size from my measurements.  On the plus side, it’s the ultimate in comfort.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

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The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

As for the sparkly decorations I bought for my shirt, there really isn’t a lot of space to put them on.  So I don’t know.  What would you do?  Keep the sweatshirt plain or add details or decorations of some kind?  For now, it’s plain, because I just wanted to wear it, and it really is as cozy as it looks.  I’m open to ideas for jazzing it up, however.  Leave your ideas in the comments!

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

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The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

The only thing that is out of the ordinary in this project is that I tried a new product:  the new Eloflex thread from Coats & Clark.  I haven’t used it enough to have a firm opinion on it, but it seems good so far.  It’s not elastic thread, but it does have a bit of stretch in it.  You can’t really tell if you hold a small amount between your fingers, but if you hold about a foot of it and pull, you’ll feel more stretch than in standard polyester thread.  Normally I would use all-purpose Gutermann polyester thread for my knits, maybe with woolly nylon in the bobbin.  For this shirt I used Eloflex in the top and in the bobbin.  Now we’ll see how it holds up to wear and tear.  I’m definitely excited to experiment with it.

The Coziest Sweatshirt:  Very Easy Vogue 9055

Recommendations

  • Check out these cool seam rippers from Bias Bespoke on Etsy.  This one is a travel seam ripper with a flip-down lid, and this one has a seam ripper on one side and tweezers on the other.  Smart design!
  • My awesome parents now scout out fabric stores for me (my mom is also a quilter, but they look for me now, too).  They discovered Fabrications in Richland, MI.  If you are looking for wool knits, Fabrications has a number of them, including some marked “machine washable”.  I spent a lot of time on their website picking out swatches so I could give some a try, courtesy of my parents.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!  I’m excited!
  • Sometimes I struggle with anxiety (especially the last few winters), so this winter I’m trying out The Happy Light to see if light therapy helps.  As one doctor said, even if it’s psychosomatic, if it helps, it’s worth it.  So far I really like it.  We’ll see how the whole winter shapes up, but even if it doesn’t help with anxiety, it makes a great little work light.
  • Here’s what happens when you use Google Translate to take a song out of its original language and then translate it back.  🙂

 

Striped Lark Tee

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Striped Lark Tee

I love black and white stripes for graphic impact.  It was something I never thought about until a few years ago when I bought a black and white striped shirt.  It went with so many things and brought something really cool to every outfit I paired it with.

Black and White Striped Lark Tee

About a year ago, I would have said that it was crazy to spend time sewing t-shirts when they can be bought so cheaply, but I think differently now.  T-shirts are quick, satisfying, and really fun.  They are the perfect project in between more difficult projects because, not only are they fun and easy, they build your wardrobe.  For all these reasons, I decided to make a black and white striped Lark Tee (pattern by Grainline Studio).

Lark Tee in Black and White Stripes

This is now my second Lark Tee (my first, a long-sleeved, scoop-neck version can be found here).  This time I went for short sleeves and a crew neck.  Here are my notes:

  • notch out rather than into the seam allowances, since they are only 1/4″
  • leave the shirt length as is if you plan to tuck your shirt in
  • for a more standard t-shirt length, cut off 4″-4 1/2″

Because I planned to wear this shirt untucked, I cut off about 4″ using a stripe as my cutting guide, which was just right.  (For reference, I’m 5 feet, 8 1/2 inches tall.)  I tried to cut the neckband with one stripe going around the neck, but it didn’t work out well, so I switched to the neckband you see in the pictures, which I really like.

Black and White Striped Lark Tee

The fabric is a really nice rayon/Lycra from Pintuck & Purl.  I would say it’s somewhere in the light- to mid-weight zone, but is still fairly opaque.  It was great to work with.

Black and White Striped Lark Tee

Overall, I like this pattern.  Sometimes I wish there was a little more shaping on the sides, but I can always add that later.  I would really like to try a v-neck version at some point, maybe with this fabric, but we’ll see.

Black and White Striped Lark Tee

Do you have any favorite t-shirt patterns you want to share?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Recommendations

  • Bird feeders.  My family got me a pole you can attach to a railing as well as a bird feeder for Mother’s Day, and I love looking outside and watching the birds.  I think I need a hummingbird feeder that is easier to clean, though.  We have an old one, and it gets dirty quickly and is hard to clean.  Does anyone have any resources for making or buying an easy-to-clean hummingbird feeder?
  • I may have mentioned this book before, but I’ve been looking through Leda Meredith’s book Northeast Foraging over breakfast most mornings.  It’s fascinating.  This year I want to try Salicornia.
  • Ever since I met Heather Lewenza this spring and saw her Hannah dress in person (pattern by Victory Patterns), I can’t get it out of my head.  It might have to be a summer project…
  • What if this happened every time we used “literally” when we actually meant “figuratively”?  Hahahaha!

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool/Lycra Knit

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Grainline Lark Tee in Wool/Lycra Knit

Hey, friends!  Long time, no project!  That hasn’t been intentional.  I have a bit of a backlog to share with you, so let’s get started on this week’s project, a wool/Lycra knit Lark Tee from Grainline Studio.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

This is my first Grainline Studio garment since the Hemlock.  I wasn’t in love with that particular pattern (or its instructions) and so I shied away from the company as a whole, but they do have a number of pretty great-looking patterns, and people seem to love them, so I decided to dip my toe in a little bit.  And to be completely honest, I wear my Hemlock all the time for pajamas.  I guess it just goes to show that first impressions aren’t everything, and it’s worth it to wear a garment for a while before deciding if you like it or not.

This project came about because I really need a good, versatile t-shirt pattern that can become a TNT (tried-n-true) pattern for me, and after searching the interwebs for one pattern with lots of options, I found that Grainline’s Lark Tee had the largest number of options to cover all your basic t-shirt needs in one pattern.  I used to say I wouldn’t sew t-shirts when I could buy them so cheaply, but I admit to getting sucked in.  A t-shirt is a great palate cleanser between more intense projects.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

I still had a good amount of my green wool/Lycra knit fabric (used in this shirt), which seemed like a good match for the pattern.  I borrowed the pattern from a friend, so that I could see if I liked it before really committing.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

I chose the long-sleeved scoop neck view, tracing a 12 at the bust and grading out to a 14 at the waist and hips.  In looking at the pictures, I think I could have maybe gone down a size, but I usually err on the side of more ease rather than less.  The instructions and illustrations were very clear and easy to understand, which I really liked.  Maggie at Pintuck & Purl had told me that the shirt runs long, but I decided to keep the length so I could use it for layering (for reference, I’m 5 ft. 8.5 in.).  She has a great version of this shirt on the shop’s blog.  Reading her post is part of what finally convinced me to try it.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

My initial reaction was that the shirt was…ok.  It is definitely a straight fit and not defined at the waist.  Also, this fabric might not be the awesome match I thought it was.  I have to wear it a little bit more to see what I really think, but despite my potential fabric and sizing blunders, I’m beginning to like it.  I think it could become a wardrobe staple.  I’d like to try a short-sleeved version as well as versions in other types of fabric at some point.

Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

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Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

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Grainline Lark Tee in Wool Knit

***Since taking these pictures and writing my first draft of this post, I spent a day wearing this same outfit, but with the shirt tucked in and with a long cardigan over it, and I really like it.  It’s comfortable and (I think) looks good.***

I have to admit, I’m kind of excited to experiment with this pattern, and I’m glad I gave Grainline another try.  Looks like I need more knit fabric.  Darn.  😉

 

Recommendations

  • I think I mentioned last time that I’ve been listening to old episodes of the Sew Forth Now podcast, so I’m making lots of discoveries, like…THE PROJECT RUNWAY NINTENDO WII GAME!  I’m not quite sure if this is hilarious or awesome (or both), but since I don’t have a Wii, maybe one of you can try it out and let me know.  🙂
  • I recently met Jocelyn Love who is working to open “a nonprofit sewing center and reclaimed fabric store” in Gloucester, MA, AND they are having a sewing-themed sale on May 6 to raise money.  If you are local, you may want to donate and/or shop the sale.  Their Facebook page is here and even if you don’t have Facebook, you can see the details at this link.  I’m really interested to see what this nonprofit becomes.
  • Cadbury Creme Eggs.  It’s that time of year, and Cadbury Eggs are my all-time favorite Easter candy.
  • More seriously, though, to those of you who celebrate it:  Happy Easter!

 

 

A Quartet of Briar Tops

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And here’s the last of my unselfish sewing…EVER.  Ok, just kidding.  At least for now.  I made myself another Briar top (by Megan Nielsen patterns) as well as two Mini Briars and one mash-up of an adult Briar and a kids’ Briar.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

This is now my third Briar (number one in a double-layer knit is here and number two in Polartec is here), but it’s my first time making a Mini Briar.  I received all three of Megan’s children’s patterns as a thank you for being a pattern tester for the Mini Tania culottes (which are super-cute, by the way).  The children’s Briar is similar to the adult version, although not identical.  It came together very easily.  One thing I love about Megan Nielsen patterns is their visual clarity.  When I first started sewing garments, I was always intimidated by the busy and complicated look of the standard patterns you find in chain fabric stores.  Megan’s patterns are completely opposite to that.  They have a clean look to them that makes you feel confident you will be able to understand them.  Actually, I think that is the case with a lot of the independent pattern companies, which is a big plus.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

It is a great advantage to have the same pattern in a kids’ version and an adult version when you are sewing for someone who doesn’t quite fit in either range, but is somewhere in the middle.  This was the case with the aqua and pink shirt.  It was great to be able to pull both patterns out, compare sizes and make a custom pattern from the two of them.  It was a bit of a head-scratcher at times, trying to figure it all out and make the best-fitting pattern possible, but all the problem-solving is one of the things I really like about sewing, so I enjoyed the challenge.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

I ordered all of the deer fabric from Girl Charlee.  It’s a poly/cotton blend, so we’ll see how it wears over the long run.  The fabric for the short-sleeved Mini Briar is left over from a long ago project and is from Jo-Ann’s.

Sewing all these up reminded me that while I really love sewing knits because they are so forgiving, I still have a lot to learn.  I’m getting better at choosing stitches that work well, but I still get wavy collars that don’t sit right.  Part of the problem is that, in most cases, I’m not quite sure what I’m doing wrong.  In the aqua and pink shirt, I raised the neckline, but still used the original pattern piece for the neckband, which I should have shortened.  Lesson learned.  As for the other ones, they are pretty close, but not quite right.  Ironing helped, but I think I still need more practice.  Oh, well!

Overall, these are great shirts and they have been getting lots of wear.  It’s nice to see my t-shirt collection slowly getting more interesting and colorful, and it was fun to try out a kids’ pattern.  I think the recipients of the kids’ shirts were happy, too.  🙂

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Recommendations

Here’s some fun stuff to check out over the weekend.

  • You have to see this dirndl on the Draped in Cloudlets blog.  I’m so impressed by the fit, subtle details, and sheer amount of work that must have gone into this!  The results are so beautiful, and really inspiring.  I think I may need a reason to sew a dirndl…
  • I’ve been listening to a lot of the folk/bluegrass music of Sarah Jarosz lately.  I don’t have a broad knowledge of music, but when I find someone I like, I tend to play their music to death.
  • I always figured that the one everyday clothing item I couldn’t make was shoes.  Then I saw these ballet flats that Jodie of Scared Stitchless made.  I’m happy to be proven wrong.  These are amazing.
  • Here’s another cool music video for you this week:  Wintergatan–Marble Machine.  The music is made by marbles being run through a machine by the artist.  Fascinating and lovely.

This is a Test. This is Only a Test. Butterick 6132

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And now, back to what is becoming our regularly scheduled programming–sewing.  This blog certainly didn’t start out as a sewing blog, but it seems to be heading in that direction, something I both love (because I love sewing), and am a little bit surprised at (because I love SO MANY THINGS).  But, I’ll go with the sewing for a little bit.  I do have some non-sewing ideas, but I’m still working on the huge batch of projects I set myself to toward the end of summer, so all the other stuff will have to wait.  Believe it or not, I’m making my first piñata right now, but that will most likely never make it onto the blog.

What I do have is a little bit of a backlog of sewing projects to show you.  You may or may not remember that in August I made myself a huge list of projects, narrowed down alittle, then traced all my patterns, cut out all my fabric, and began to sew.  Then, after getting a bunch done, I put everything on hold to do the Refahioners 2015 contest and my first ever pattern testing for Megan Nielsen (keep your eye on her site–she has a really cute girl’s pattern coming out soon).  One of my goals within the batch sewing that I was doing was to make wearable muslins so that I could determine if I liked the patterns I was trying and if any fitting was needed.  I’ve had a few good makes (the Coco dress from Tilly and the Buttons and McCall’s 6848 shorts) and a not-so-favorite (the Hemlock Tee from Grainline Studio).  Today’s pattern, Butterick 6132 was another win.

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I made View B.  I was inspired (like so many others) by some of Boden’s color-blocked t-shirts, and I had in mind to make this out of some Riley Blake stripe and polka dot fabric that I had seen at fabric.com.  While I had originally traced a size 14 for the bust and blended out to the size 16 at the waist and hips, in the end I took it back to a straight 14.  The 16 gave me little “wings” at the sides, but the straight 14 was great.

Now, before I show you, remember, this is a wearable muslin.  What I mean by that is, that these are not my normal color pairings.  When I finished this shirt, though, I did text my Mom and sister a picture with the caption, “The ’90’s are BACK!”  I’ve probably been watching too much Saved By the Bell lately.  Really, though…those styles are what we are all wearing again, just tweaked a little.  Everything old is new again…

Butterick 6132 (test version)

When I showed some of my friends, I noticed they were a little quiet…until I told them this was just a test.  I actually don’t love these colors together, but I was working with the leftover knit sheets I had in my stock.  I also experimented with adding the painted dots on the teal section.  Here is the shirt before dots:

Butterick 6132 (test version)

It was a little boring for me, so I took some inexpensive white acrylic paint and added some textile medium.  I used the eraser end of a pencil and dipped it in the paint and dabbed it on.  Then I followed the directions on the bottle of textile medium for how to make it permanent.

Butterick 6132 (test version)

I’m happy with the change.  It was quick and easy, which I like.  The hardest part was letting it sit for a week or so in order for the paint to cure before I heat set it.

Butterick 6132 (test version)

Butterick 6132 (test version)

Butterick 6132 (test version)

So, the final analysis:  I would make this again.  This one gets to stay in the Pile o’ Possibility!

 

Grainline Studio’s Hemlock Tee

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I was on the quest for just the right shirt pattern to use my reversible striped knit on, and I got sucked in by the hype.  I had to try the free Hemlock Tee pattern by Grainline Studio.

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Unlike most sewists in blog-land, this is my first Grainline pattern.  I’ve been tempted, but I haven’t taken the plunge, so this seemed like a good first try.

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My overall feeling:  It’s not my favorite.

That being said, I’m sure it will get plenty of wear–it’s comfortable and will make a great addition to the lounge part of my wardrobe.  It was also a quick and easy make.  As far as style goes, it’s on trend with all the drop-shoulder and boxy cut business that is coming back in, but it’s not really doing anything for me.  The sleeves are also a bit awkward in that they are too long to be three-quarter length, but too short to be long.  There are lengthening lines, so you can make the length what you want, but at present, I’m not planning to make this again, with the possible exception of a sleeveless version like this one from Cut Cut Sew.

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I do realize, however, that clothing trends have a way of working themselves into your brain so that what you at first dislike eventually becomes what you are wearing.  We’re all sheep (or lemmings?).  Maybe Grainline is just so far out ahead of me that in a year or two, I’ll circle back and start churning these out.  It’s very possible.  That’s what happened with me and Birkenstocks “back in the day” (I guess Birkenstock has had numerous “days”, but you get the point…), so you never know.  Until then, though, I’m going to file this one away.

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And…in case you want fabric details, I made this from a neon knit sheet from the thrift store as well as white and silver scrap fabric from my racerback tank (a polyester knit originally from Joann’s, shown here in a different colorway) and yet another knit sheet from the thrift store, featured in this dress.  I was pretty psyched to find that neon sheet for test fabric.  You will be seeing more of it.  More test garments to come!  😉