In Progress: Second Tee

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Kwik Sew 3242

I am working on my second version of the easy two-piece t-shirt. I added 1.5″ to the hem to give myself more room to adjust the length to hit the most flattering part of my hip. I also am using a lighter weight knit with a softer hand this time, which I suspect will suit the shoulders and neckline of this pattern better.

I still need to do bands and hemming, but I am waiting for some tools to arrive in the mail.

Kwik Sew 3242: My Summer T-Shirt

Since I last posted at the end of May, my plan for summer sewing has been to create several simple TNT patterns for short sleeved or sleeveless summer tops. I always have a shortage of casual tops that I think fit me nicely. Knit tops also ought to be fast and easy to make, especially since I now have both a serger and a coverstitch machine.

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KS3242 as seen through a dusty mirror.

That has not kept me from working at a glacial pace, however. The photo above is the final version of the t-shirt I was tissue fitting in my last post. I found pin-fitting helpful; looking at how the tissues fit on my dress form convinced me that I needed more width at the hip, so instead of grading from XS at the shoulder to S at the bust to M at the hip, I went right ahead and graded to L at the hip.

It was the right choice. The top definitely hangs better on me with more room at the hem. I actually think that is the biggest benefit I got from sewing my own tee: I have tiny, narrow shoulders, so nothing that I buy in stores that fits me at the top fits well at the bottom, leading me to sport some kind of wicked wrinkles no matter what I wear.

The first version I sewed, however, was still too wide at the neckline. I made a second version, taking an inch out of the center front and back at the neckline (tutorial linked below).

I took a long time on this top not because it was difficult, but because I paused each step along the way to figure out what was causing the “problems” I was seeing. It wasn’t clear to me what was a pattern shortcoming, what was a fitting problem, and what was wonky technique (like attaching a neck band wrong).

I am pleased with the result I got, and I learned a great deal. Here is my review:

Pattern Description:
Handkerchief pull-on skirt with yoke and elastic waist for soft, lightweight woven fabrics. Pullover knit top for stretch knits.

Pattern Sizing:
XS-S-M-L-XL

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Somewhat. I modified the pattern and added bands, but the general shape was the same.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I didn’t follow the directions except to look at the suggested order of assembly. It is a very straightforward top, only two pieces plus bands.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The pattern is extremely simple. I like the wide, scoop neck, which I find flattering. It isn’t boxy, especially once I had graded to my proper measurements, which means that it is more flattering than many tshirts I’ve owned.

Fabric Used:
Heavy cotton knit with 25% stretch across the grain.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I traced XS around the neck and into the armscye, grading to a S to the waist, then out to a M at the hip. The first version I made was still too big at the neck/shoulder, so I used this tutorial. Looking back, I think I took about an inch out of the front and also from the back, which is more than the tutorial recommends. Whoops. No harm done, though, I think. I straightened the grain lines. The second version of the top fits much better and does not gape at the neck.

Instead of following the pattern’s directions, I added bands at the neck and armholes. The bands give the top a more casual look than the pattern envelope shows, I think. The shoulder seams are curved, meaning that the top should sit right at the edge of the shoulder. It does fit that way on me, but the addition of bands means there is a bit of extra width that stands out from my body.

If I sewed it again, I would add an inch or two to the hem to give a bit more leeway to adjust the length. I felt like the top hit me in the perfect spot . . . before I hemmed it.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, I would sew this top again. It is simple enough to make in a couple hours and fits me better than many store-bought tops. I suspect that a pattern with separate sleeves would look a little nicer, however. Or perhaps I should consider following the directions on this one, making it without the bands!

Conclusion:
A super-simple top that gave me a good fit.

My Day and My (Last) Night

In sewing, I am trying to understand tissue fitting, using my dress form: 

I can say that my first attempt to pin fit convinced me to add to the side seams at the hips, meaning that this top is graded from XS at the shoulders to S at the arm pit, grading out to a L at the hips. 

I never thought of my hips as large (~38″), but I do tend to have problems with my RTW shirts pulling and riding up. Maybe some extra room would help?

The top​ above is Kwik Sew 3242. It is just two pieces, with a wide scoop neck. I plan to alter the pattern somewhat by adding bands around the neck and armholes (the directions call for essentially facings). I think the result will look more professional…

This is what I’ve been working on outside sewing:

Socializing feral kittens!

Time Machine Tuesday: (Almost) First Dress

My one and only picture wearing the first dress I ever made--with much assistance from the costume shop manager who was teaching me to sew (1997).

My one and only picture wearing the first dress I ever made (1997).

Here is a little, tiny picture of me wearing the very first garment I ever sewed.

I made it while working at the costume shop at Mill Mountain Theatre, along with a few pillows. Since I was working as a dresser backstage, it behooved me to know how to do some emergency sewing. The costume shop manager taught me the basics, and guided me through making this dress.

Her help with fitting was invaluable, and I wish I had such assistance now, when I can actually sew a bit better than I could then.

This dress turned out nicely, though a little wonky around the neck (probably due to my bust size). It was lined, as I recall, with a pretty printed purple cotton.

I wish I had kept it as a souvenir of my earliest efforts.

Ascot Complete!

Here is my review from Pattern Review:

Pattern Description:
Patterns for scarf, ascot, bow-tie, cummerbund, and pocket square.

Pattern Sizing:
One size. But that “one size” is too short to go around my neck, let alone my husband’s!

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, though the tie silk I used appears to be a bit heavier than what is pictured on the pattern cover. That means the tie itself is a bit stiffer. Hubby likes it, and it looks crisp and nice on.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, this was a very simple project. It could easily be done in an afternoon. However, some steps depended on having some knowledge of technique. For example, there was nothing that told you to trim excess fabric off the corners before turning the ascot right side out.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
This is a nice looking ascot, but it is quite wide, and the neckband is short (as shown in the photos above, with my very petite dress form showing how very small the neckband is). I anticipate that will be a problem and the ascot will get less use than it would otherwise.

For comparison, I also linked photos of the ascot I made with a store-bought (white) ascot and a gifted vintage ascot. The center backs are lined up. Both are longer and narrower.

It probably would not be difficult to lengthen the neckband by cutting through the center of the pattern and spreading it an inch or two.

Update
To fix this problem, I drew a pattern for an additional 6″ band. Then I cut the ascot through center back and inserted the band. Now the ascot is long enough to go around my husband’s neck, and it looks really good. My husband likes the width.

Fabric Used:
Tie silk.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
None for this first version. If I make it again, I will have to add 6″ to the center.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Depending on my husband’s feedback, I may alter it and make it again. I will also look for another pattern with different dimensions.

Conclusion:
A decent ascot pattern, but not perfect right out of the envelope. The need to add 6″ to the center means that the package’s estimate of how much silk is necessary isn’t accurate, so I will have to piece together the next ascot because the length of silk I bought is too short.

Craft Room in Sewing Mode

A few weeks ago, I shared pictures of my finished and reorganized craft room with everything put away. Here are a couple pictures of it in “working” mode. 

I can fit three machines around my table, though it is a squeeze. Still, it works, and I can scoot the rolling chair from machine to machine easily.

I thought the room would be uncomfortable to work in, but with the mirror it feels larger than a windowless walk-in​ closet.

Around the table sit my coverstitch machine, my Brother 660LA, and Baby Lock serger. My trusty Molly is stored in the wardrobe. There is no way I can fit another machine at the table!