to a tee

For some reason unbeknownst to me, I always seem to be on either an apparel or crafts sewing track. For instance, I am never working on both a bag and a dress. Three shirts at once, yes. Napkins, bags, pillowcases and a stuffed toy — all in the same day — sure, no problem. The two tracks run parallel for me, and my mind can’t seem to process both simultaneously. I have a hunch that they are two different “sports” for me, if that makes sense. Anyway, all of this is to say that I have felt the pull of the garment track for a couple of weeks now, which is part of the reason for my presence trickling to a crawl on this blog. (And why I didn’t make the bag that I planned last week for the Zakka Style Sew Along!) I am much slower and less confident with clothes. But no way to overcome that except with practice, right? So I’m diving in and sharing anyway…

A while back, I read this post from Sarai Mitnick of Colette Patterns, and it really inspired me. (If you don’t have the inclination to click through, it basically just talks about analyzing how you spend your hours and what kinds of clothing you wear for the different “categories” of your life.) I don’t know why I had persisted in sewing garments for that small percentage of my life, rather than focusing on the cornerstones of my wardrobe that are worn all the time! The pieces of my wardrobe that are handmade are the ones that get worn the least. There are several reasons why, but the biggest one is this: knits. Knits are what I wear on a daily basis, and yet, I’ve only made myself a garment out of knit fabric a few times. Gah! No more. I have a sizable knit fabric stash and it’s time to put it to work.

source The McCall Pattern Company

I figured that a good place to start would be to work on a basic t-shirt pattern, which I know I will come back to again and again. I’ll also be able to vary it in many ways, just by changing up the sleeves, the length or ease, the neckline, etc etc etc. I decided to jump in with Vogue 8536. I like that this pattern is very simple, with just a few optional embellishments. I have yet to try a v-neck, and I read some reviews on PR saying that these v-neck directions are awful, so I will likely do that for the first time with another set of instructions. I will soon try the mock-wrap neckline though, which I love.

After making my standard sizing/fit modifications to the pattern pieces, including adding length to both the bodice (2″) and the short sleeves (1″), I made a wearable muslin out of some nightshirt-friendly fabric, and it fit perfectly. As the description says, it is close fitting, so I’ll likely add a bit more ease at times, depending on the fabric I’m using or the look I’m going for. Both my muslin and the version in these pics were just 100% cotton jersey, fairly lightweight, plenty of stretch.

From a technique perspective, I attached the sleeves flat. This was my first time doing this and I am SOLD. Like many sewists, I loathe setting in sleeves, and I can’t believe I hadn’t tried this. Never lookin’ back!

Obviously, I didn’t hem the sleeves or bodice, nor did I bind the neckline. Rolled hem on my serger! I decided to do this to go with the punk look of the print. Not at all because of laziness, nope. I didn’t trim any length from the original hem allowances, but I did trim the 3/8″ seam allowance from the neckline.

I’ve never had a t-shirt that fit so well, and I am excited to have this pattern… it will be used a lot! Happy sewing… no matter what you’re working on. :~)

Comments 8

  • Susan, that is a great fit, and what a fun print!(a big yes to jersey knits here too) I just bought a few garment books & patterns (one is the Colette book) but all I’ve down is stare at the tissue paper with fear…

    Thanks, Kim! All I want to do right now is make like 10 more versions of this pattern. I have that book too! It’s the one my book club is doing in June. I’m planning to make the Taffy blouse from it. ~ Susan

  • Wow! I love this print and style! Looks great and I bet feels comfy.

    Thanks — and yes, it is very comfy! :~) ~Susan




    that is all.

    LOL — glad someone is happy about my shift in focus. You know it will be temporary, though. ;) ~Susan

  • Your t-shirt has turned out great and I’ve learned as well that it’s better to spend more time sewing garments that we love to wear and will get more wear out of. I’m still building up my staple wardrobe of hand sewn garments and loving it. Still throwing in a few other pieces that I “might” wear just to get the opportunity of learning some new skills and techniques… currently working on a high waisted pencil skirt with boning in the waist band which I don’t think I’ll get a lot of wear out of but I’m loving the chance to practice working with boning… another skill to add to the ever building list :)

    Hi Chris! I like this approach — it’s balance, right? I notice that my sewing desires go back and forth between these two, so I may as well just go with it!

  • Susan,

    I just found your blog today and I really like this t-shirt. Great Job and thanks for taking time out to do the blog.

    Hi Shirley, and thanks! I’ve worn this shirt to death, I’m wearing it right now actually. :)

  • Great blog! If you don’t mind I would like to make a small suggestion. Around the neck line I notice it is a bit stretched out making it rough looking and standing up in parts. Before sewing the shoulder seams, (to smooth out the neck line,) using clear elastic, sew it to the inside while slightly stretching the elastic at the same time. Sew the shoulder seams. This should help to pull in the stretched out look and smooth out the entire neckline.

    • I forgot to include: Fold the neck line edge over the clear elastic to the inside and sew it down by machine or hand sew down the edge.

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