Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Basic T-Shirt: Version 2 - Inspired by RTW

I've had a piece of white floral (almost) burnout knit in my stash since my daughter was quite young. Initially, I thought I'd make a knit top for her, but those plans obviously never got off the ground. By the time she started to voice an opinion on fabric choice, she gave it the thumbs down. I still really liked it but it always seemed too small for a project for me. Enter the wonderous world of Marcy and Katherine Tilton...and THIS t-shirt.

The link on Pinterest is broken now, but it did take me to the Tees and Tanks section of the Anthropologie website...where I promptly pinned a few others for t-shirt inspiration. :-)

And this is what I came up with.

Obviously, I'm not using a raglan sleeve pattern (it's on my list), but I think I got pretty close with the vibe of the top. And, while I've still got some fiddling to do with the pattern for the next version, I'm happy with the fit of this top. It's certainly not a TIGHT t-shirt fit, but it IS one I'm comfortable wearing.

Changes I made for this version:

  • Performed a 1" FBA (following the 'Fit for Real People' method) - this added about 1" to the length at centre front, too. That has brought the hemline level. 
  • Added 1" to the length of the hem - now I'm wondering if it's too much. I need to see it in a full length photo. Unfortunately, the battery in my camera remote died as I took the photo below. I'm just grateful that I got the photos I did. 
  • Sewed the side seams a little deeper (mayne 1/2" max) through the bust area and top of the sleeve.
  • Again, I didn't need the 1" fit insurance so trimmed it away after trying on. I do like the confidence it gives me, but I may trim it away from the pattern if I don't need it on the next few versions.

For next time:

The main issue I have with the fit is the sleeves. The drag lines that I'm experiencing are causing me a little consternation, so I've looked into that. Apparently, they can be caused by the sleeve head not being high enough. When I pull up the sleeve a little at the underarm seam (perpendicular to the seam line), the drag lines decrease noticeably, so I think I'm on to something there. For Version 3, I've dropped down the armhole seam at the sides by 1/2" on each side, blending to nothing by the (non-existent) notches. Effectively, this is raising the height of the sleeve head.

Looking at the photos of the back of this garment, I'm also wondering if I made it a little too tight through the back at the bust level. I did take in the garment there about 1/2" at the side seams. I'll have to be a little more observant at the basting stage next time.

I've already got the fabrics selected for Version 3, with a couple more in the wash. So, I'll be able to test out this pattern alteration very soon.

A Basic T-Shirt: Version 1 - My Attempt at Colour Blocking

For the first version of the new t-shirt pattern, I chose a knit I've had in the stash for a while. It's not my favourite print, but it actually turned out a lot better than I had anticipated. So I decided, at the last moment, that I would try to lift it a little by throwing in some grey/white stripe to make it a bit more interesting. It was a difficult print to try to match with - it's not a black in there, it's a dark brown.

Anyway, as far as the fit goes, I'm pretty happy with it in the lower section. It's pulling a bit around my bust although there's certainly enough room to go around. It appears as though the fabric is in the wrong place - more off to the sides, rather than in the front. So, an FBA will be done for the next one. And it's a bit too short. I'll be adding 1" to the hem.

I'm getting diagonal drag lines on the sleeves so will look into what's potentially causing that and see if I can address that on the next t-shirt, too.

I'm super happy with how the neckband has worked out - it's SO flat. And the construction method (using a straight stitch on the sewing machine - basting - a million try ons) seems to have worked really well, too. I'll definitely be sticking with that for a while.

In Search of a TNT T-Shirt Pattern

I really like the style of t-shirt that Marcy and Katherine Tilton design and sew. I've had my eye on their Craftsy class for a long time and, when it was half price last weekend, I bit the bullet. Unlike any other Craftsy class I've bought, I binge watched all episodes and had the whole thing finished by the end of the weekend.

The Ultimate T-Shirt Craftsy Class

Some facts about knits and me:

  • I'm not scared of knits.
  • I've sewn with many different types over the course of 20+ years.
  • I have the appropriate equipment to construct knit garments with a professional finish.
  • I love to wear knits.

BUT, I don't currently have a reliable TNT pattern for a basic t-shirt.

That is going to change.

The class comes with a pattern, but I just couldn't wait for it to arrive. I was too excited to get started. I'm using Ottobre 02-2007-02 in Size 52 to perfect a basic pattern which I can then use to make all kinds of variations.

Preparing the Pattern

In The Ultimate T-Shirt class on Craftsy, Marcy Tilton recommends pin-fitting the pattern tissue. While this may seem a bit ridiculous, given that a t-shirt often has negative ease, I figured I hated tight t-shirts anyway so I was prepared to give it a go.

After pin-fitting the tissue, I ended up making a few alterations to the pattern (all in line with the information presented in the Craftsy class):

  • adding about 1" (at the bust) - 1 3/8" (at the hips) to the side seams of both the front and back body, and about 5/8" to the side seams of the sleeves. I'm pretty sure the t-shirt would have 'fit' without this, but it would have been a firm fit - with zero ease. Not a look I like for me. 
  • The Tilton sisters also sew their t-shirts largely on the sewing machine with a 5/8" seam allowance. I've always constructed mine on the overlocker with a 3/8" seam allowance, but I thought, since I had paid for this class I may as well follow their instructions at least once. So I added 5/8" seam allowances to my pattern. 
  • 1/2" was added to the length of the front to allow for the front of the body being larger than the back.
  • I also, at the advice of the Tilton sisters, added a 1" insurance seam allowance at the front and back body, and the sides of the sleeves. I didn't end up needing those in the first fabric I chose, but they'll stay for the next few versions...just in case! 
  • (Not in the class) In anticipation of problems with the sleeve cap depth, I added a 1/2" to the height of the sleeve cap, blending to nothing by the end of the curve. I still am having issues with the sleeve/armhole, so maybe this wasn't the right thing to do. 

The reason there are two different outlines is because my measurements put me in a size 50, but when I compared the flat pattern measurements to my own, I realised I wasn't going to like the fit of the size 50.

Constructing the Garment

I'd committed, in my mind, to following all the advice given in The Ultimate T-Shirt class I'd taken on Craftsy. In this case, this meant sewing my t-shirt largely on the sewing machine. With 5/8" seam allowance.

There were lots of little tips that I picked
  • Staystitching the neckline of the t-shirt. I'd never bothered with that before - on a knit garment. 
  • Staystitch Plus on the sleeve cap helped to prepare the sleeve for easing it in to the armhole. 
  • Preparing the hem BEFORE sewing up the side seams
I typed up a list of the construction I plan to make many of these. I'd love for it to become automatic - and it nearly is, but there are a few extra steps that the Tilton sisters suggest, that I'd like to trial for a while.

The biggest difference, I believe, is the number of times they had you try on the garment before the finish. I think, even though fit is of paramount importance to me, I'd become lazy with this aspect of knit sewing.

Hemming Tip! Use a piece of tearaway stabilizer under the seams as you are hemming on the coverstitch machine. Finally, I'm able to maintain a straight stitching line in this bulky area without snipping (and weakening) seams.