T-shirt win!

Well, it took a month and a half, but I finally have a wearable T-shirt! Not much of a sweatshop at this rate 😉 I tried to ignore the fact that the pattern is described as “very easy”, because I expect it to be fast. But it’s only fast once (if!) the fitting is sorted out.

100% cotton rib knit (red) for my first T-shirt

I rarely have time for (or interest in) an all-day sewing binge. I figure that if I do a little sewing here and there, it’ll eventually all add up to something. Like trying to break out of prison using a spoon, I’ll eventually get where I’m going, and with sewing I don’t even have to worry about the guards noticing what I’m up to.

RTW T-shirt that I used for inspiration. I have a total of 4 of these in different colours.

1. Neckline

After accomplishing a neckline that wouldn’t admit my head, I redid it using the method shown here: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/3839/video-a-neckline-binding-for-knits. And it worked! It’s just what I was going for in look and fit. I topstitched with a zigzag to keep the seam allowance in place. It looks a little odd to me since I’ve never seen ready-to-wear (RTW) finished this way, but it does the job and doesn’t look bad.

2. Sleeves & body

I inserted the sleeves flat, leaving the side seam/sleeve seam for last. Why do the instructions always insist you insert them in the round? RTW sleeves aren’t done that way, and I figure they probably know what they’re doing.

I easestitched the sleeve caps as per the instructions, the first iteration (at 4/8″ SA) working better than the second (at 5/8″). I pin basted it together to try on and the sleeve caps looked really odd: too much height and no obvious need for easing. The body was loose as well; while it resembled the drawing on the front, it’s not what I wanted.

I took it apart, narrowed the high bust by shifting the armscyes inward, and at the same time made them smaller. I also narrowed the body by taking in 1″ (4″ all around!) at the waist and below (after I had sized up at the hip for my pear shape), and tapering to ½” (2″ all around) at the bottom of the armscye.

The pattern made the sleeve cap way too high, so I faked it: I trimmed ¼” off each side of the sleeve (using my existing shirt as a model), then pinned the sleeve to the body so that it seemed to lie nicely. I didn’t make any effort to maintain the apparently excessive ease. Using this method, I took 1″ off of the height of the sleeve cap! But it works.

3. Sleeves and body part 2

I put everything back together and found it was still a little loose. Referring to the existing shirt that I was trying to replicate, I ended up narrowing the sleeve another ¼” per SA (½” total), and the side seams another ¼” per SA (1″ total).

4. Hemming

I thought I’d try a double needle. Lo and behold, they were even on sale! It was tricky to do the (narrow) cuffs, but I just went slowly and it turned out surprisingly well.

Of my photos of the shirt, this one sucks the least.

Sewing with a knit was new for me, as was the double needle. It was also a novelty to make something so, well, ordinary. I haven’t made a lot of “real clothes”. The delightful upshot was that the next morning I put it on and wore it all day – and was comfortable. That’s not something you can easily do with medieval costume, dance costume, or special event fancies.

How cool is it to make your own wearable clothes? How odd is that I’ve been sewing for years and I’m only figuring this out now?

stash -1.5m


About Zena

I sew sometimes.
This entry was posted in process, stash, wearable and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to T-shirt win!

  1. Tanit-Isis says:

    Come over to the dark side! Hehe. Much as I love making costumes, there’s a certain thrill to being able to put on something I made and wear it around. It looks good, and congrats on getting the fit you wanted—it took me four or five tries with my first knit shirt pattern to come up with something really wearable. I think it’s easier to fit as you go sewing up the side-seams first, but once I have a pattern fitted I’d much rather do it setting the sleeves in first… well, unless the’re pouffy, anyway.

    As to the zigzag on the neck binding—I usually use my double needle for topstitching this, too, and it works fine and looks very RTW. Not that there’s anything wrong with your zig zag! 🙂

    • Zena says:

      I did the zigzag on the neck because (a) I was anxious to finish the step and move on, and (b) I didn’t have a double needle at the time. I did my second T with the double needle, and I think it would pass as RTW (which I mean in a good way ;-))

  2. Pingback: T-shirt 2 | Blood, Sweatshop & Tears

  3. Big in Japan says:

    Truly, a T may seem like a ho-hum project that has a poor time-spent/excitement ratio, but being able to actually WEAR it on a regular basis is awesome. What pattern were you using?

    • Zena says:

      Butterick 5386 is the starting point (it claims to be “fitted”), though the drawings make the shirt look looser than what I wanted. My shirt is some kind of cross between the pattern and a knock off of the existing shirt. I just bought the pattern 2 months ago, but it appears that it’s now out of print.

      You’re right, a t-shirt isn’t exactly exciting sewing. But boy, was I excited when I put it on! And now I’m excited to shop for more fabric for more shirts – once I’ve finished off the one last piece of knit in the stash, that is.

  4. Marie-Christine says:

    I totally agree with the pleasure of making and wearing something totally ordinary looking, but which fits you and which is exactly what you need and want. People who think sewing takes immense amounts of time never think about how much time it takes them to find something which remotely fits and is vaguely what they want. Once you’re that spoiled, you’re hooked :-).
    Good for you, removing the sleeve ease. http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/sleeve_cap_ease_is_bogus/

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