This is precisely the same pattern as the turquoise shirt in the last post. In an effort to challenge myself to include personally appealing details, I bound the neckline in woven bias-binding (also helped because I ran out of blue thread by that point), added a scrap of white lace, gently ruched the sleeves with scraps of elastic, and left the bottom four inches of the side seams open. Once again, the neckline needs help, but I am pleased with this shirt that is suitable for work and casual wear. I also have decided to embrace an identity as a "cake" sewer instead of an "icing" sewer.
Having made do last summer, this year I determined to acquire some new summer shirts. I bought enough fabric to make three new shirts and oh, the 100% cotton is a joy to touch. I keep stroking it, admiring how soft it is compared to cotton-poly mixes. It was a splurge, but there was a sale, and I keep my clothes for years, so in the end it will be worth it.
Now, I prefer sleeveless shirts for casual summer wear, but to get the most bang for my buck, I try to make three-season clothes. That means elbow-length sleeves. That means the shirt will be suitable for me to wear to work and will provide some warmth when I freeze in air conditioning. So maybe this isn't the best shirt for a humid southern summer, but it does fill a wardrobe need.
I feel confident in the t-shirt pattern that I have. It has worked with a variety of fabrics. The one area I need to improve is sewing the neckline. No matter how many instructions I read or how I tweak the binding, the neckline always stretches and gapes. I wonder if this has something to do with using an older machine that lacks a stretch stitch (so I use a zig-zag)? The only time I have gotten the neckline to lie flat is when I cut the neckline binding from a store-bought t-shirt and reused it. I'll keep experimenting and come up with a solution one day.
I keep thinking I should be more creative in my sewing. There are blogs full of wonderfully patterned or embellished clothes that I admire, but when it comes to my own sewing, I want something that can be used in several circumstances for many years. Also, my aesthetic is more plain - I would rather have interesting seaming than a pattern. I work to accept that what I make will always seem rather bland compared to others (especially since I am not a dresses and heels woman), but also to challenge myself to include details that appeal to me. On this shirt, there is a black-spotted orange ribbon geometrically arranged on the left shoulder. I'll have to take a detail picture of that and post it later.
This is the first time I worked with stripes. It is the first time I needed to do pattern matching. Naturally, I chose to turn the stripes into a chevron pattern. Not only that, but many of the stripes are made up of smaller stripes that also need to be matched. Even more, I had never had to figure out a layout with the pattern pieces on the bias. To add to the fun, I had just enough material to cut each pattern piece once.
Remember, I don't use commercial patterns, so I have to figure everything out myself.
I made a mistake when cutting out the pattern pieces.
After much wailing and thought, I found a solution. It involved recutting one back panel so that it became a front panel, a bit of frustrating matching along the front seam line, and a front hem that is slightly shorter than I would like and definitely shorter than the back (but not enough to be fashionable). I also had to give up my desire for the chevrons to point in the same direction on the front and the back. Eh, it was a learning experience and the final result is acceptable.
I thought sleeves would add too much motion with the stripes going is so many different directions, but the armholes gaped without a sleeve. Either this is a problem with how I drafted the armholes, it is normal for armholes that need sleeves to be longer than sleeveless armholes, or something else. One day I will learn the answer.
I tried various methods of darting and gathering, but nothing looked right so I drafted a cap sleeve. Having worn store-bought clothes with cap sleeves that cut straight across and those that angle up, I know I prefer the angled kind. It was one big experiment, but I figured that as long as the sleeve head was the correct shape, the shape of the hem of the sleeve was less important. Trying this shirt on, the sleeve worked out the way I wanted it to.
To finished the edges, I had two-inch double-fold bias tape. I cut the bias tape in half and used that to bind the neckline, sleeve hems, and shirt hem.
This shirt fits my criteria that most of what I make needs to be suitable for me to wear to work and will look good with casual jeans.
I had some work trousers that I had hemmed to go with flats, but they didn't look right. I finally decided it was because the hem was too wide for the shorter length, especially considering the more modern silhouette of the straight or skinny leg trouser. I didn't want a tapered trouser leg, but thought I might be able to make a straight leg.
I laid a straight ruler from the outside edge of the knee and square with the hem. I drew a line and repeated on the inside edge. I stitched on this line, taking in 7/8 inch on either side. I don't know if in the picture there is much visual difference, but my hems don't flop around the way they used to and when I look in the mirror, things look more proportional. Then again, I could be fooling myself, but I figure one purpose of a good fit is to help the wearer feel better about themselves and that purpose has been accomplished, so this alteration was a success.
I didn't take out any stitching on the side seams, so there is a tiny divet on the side of the leg with the flat fell (?) seam, but I don't think it is noticeable unless you are examining the trousers and I'm the only one who does that. These trousers are getting old anyway with thinning fabric and fade marks at the hem - I have to wear "professional" clothes, but my job also involves crawling under tables and moving dusty equipment. Not so good for the longevity of the trousers.
I've had this fabric since 2011, saving it for when I acquired the pattern that was in my mind when I saw it. I finally decided to sew it up because when I do get that pattern, I will be able to find fabric I like just as much.
It's a good thing I decided this because the fabric was narrower than I thought and there wouldn't have been nearly enough to make a shirt with several pieces and playing with the direction of the pin-tucks. As it was, I had to do some creative cutting to get this simple shirt.
The pin-tuck fabric is sheer, so I underlined the bodice. I dislike clothing that requires specialized underclothing, even if that specialty is as simple as a camisole.
When I tried this on, it confirmed what I have slowly come to realize. Black near my face is not the most flattering color. When I wear this, I look like an advertisement for a funeral mourner. Anyway, I love the subtle interest the pin-tucks give the fabric, so I will wear this shirt, but with sparkling jewelry or a colored jacket or something to counteract the dead zone the black creates.
At any rate, I have a work-appropriate shirt instead of unwearable fabric and got rid of one of my "serves a purpose" shirts.
With a few pieces of t-shirts left over, I pieced together a t-shirt that turned out to be one of my favorites. I wanted the white on the back, for reasons explained in the last post and I didn't feel like unpicking the pockets, so the pockets are on the back.
When I look at shirts with a contrast yoke, they feel staid and not at all like me, but I needed a way to piece together smaller pieces of fabric that looked intentional, so I reluctantly drafted a yoke t-shirt pattern. With the contrasting neck binding, the center seam on the yoke, and the "secret" pockets on the back, I'm not psychologically itching in my own skin when I wear this. I think this shirt will get much use when the warm weather comes.
Clumsy title aside, this dress is comfortable, if a bit short. I used the last of my t-shirts to see if I could make a t-shirt dress. At first, I added lace to make the length more comfortable for me, but of course, that messed up where the curves fall, as you can see in the left-hand picture. The dress in the right-hand picture fits better, but I do wish it were longer. The pieces of lace are too short for me to add them to them bottom of the hem. I really prefer my dress hems to hit mid-knee, or at highest, right above the knee. I'll keep this dress through the summer and see if I wear it. I can always shorten it to a shirt and now I know that I can buy fabric and make a dress that will be comfortable and fit nicely, which was the primary objective of the project.
I had plenty of time to sew over the New Year's holidays. I've been trying to make a point of using my fabric and not waiting until I have drafted the pattern that is in my mind. "When I finally learn to draft that perfect pattern or find a pattern supplier who specializes in petite sizes, there will be plenty of attractive fabric available," I keep reminding myself.
Remembering that it is better to have wearable garments taking up space than it is to have unwearable fabric taking up space, I set out to sew the rest of the XL+ t-shirts into shirts I can wear. I didn't want several grey or white shirts, and I also am trying to use the trims I have collected over the years. Most of them were free to me, so I don't know why I hang on to them like treasures.
While blues and purples normally call to me, as I considered embellishments for this shirt, the red insisted on being part of the design. This was good because I had red thread, but not grey or white. Once it was all together, the word "baseball" stuck in my mind, so this is the baseball shirt.
The center stripe isn't twisted. I had a hard time getting the shirt onto the dress form.
The white is too sheer for me to feel modest, but somehow, having outlines of the bra show on the back seems more acceptable than having it show on the front. That, and the white is likely to stay cleaner on the back than if it were on the front was the basis of the design. I also wanted to avoid using the pocket that was on each original shirt and I wanted to have enough fabric to get two mixed-color shirts from the two originals. From there, I followed my whim until I had something I liked.
While I still don't understand why the red appealed to me, I did wear this to a New Year's Eve supper at a friend's house and felt psychologically comfortable. And the white 100% cotton fabric is so soft! I keep running my hands over it. Cotton-poly blends just aren't the same.
I had enough fabric left from my Shiny Blue Shirt to piece together a camisole. After fighting with the lower piece on the back, I realized that with my swayback, I could have left it out and it would make the camisole fit better, but at that point, there was no way I was taking out all that stitching.
I used black hem tape to finish the back top edge and black lace on the front. I didn't have enough lace to go all the way around. This color blue paired with black accents is one of my favorite color combinations. Even if I would prefer a natural-fiber fabric, it makes me happy to own this pretty item.
Using the same pattern as I used for the Grey Squares Pull-Over Shirt, I made this shirt from yardage fabric. By "yardage fabric," I mean fabric that comes off a bolt, not fabric I salvaged from another article of clothing or sheets. Even if there are things that could be better in parts of the construction, this is absolutely the best I have ever sewed a sleeve. There is not one single pucker or tuck! I would like to say it is all my improved skills, but I think the fabric had something to do with it. Either way, I am very pleased.
The fabric has some stretch and the pattern has enough ease that wearing this is as comfortable as wearing a fitted t-shirt. Truly, my only complaint is that the fabric is not a natural fiber, but I can live with that. This shirt will replace one of my "serves a purpose" shirts that I don't enjoy wearing.
Below is a slideshow of most of the shirts I still possess that are made from variations on this pattern. The Blueberry Tunic, Lavender Curtain Tunic, and Bed Skirt Shirt will go as I make replacements for them and the Silver Sequin Shirt will soon fall apart, but I feel that I finally have a pattern I can rely on and not have to make adjustments every time I want to use it.