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.

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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.

New Look 6470

On Thursday, I finished my first knit skirt sufficiently to wear it to dance class. I was surprised how much I liked it, because I picked the pattern mainly to practice working with knits and using my new coverstitch machine, ie I made this skirt to build sewing skills rather than because I wanted to wear a skirt like this:

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The flounce moves very well when dancing, and the skirt is actually a flattering length for me (knit skirts in stores are overlong for me, dragging on the floor).

In the photo above, I paired the skirt with the v-neck top (Kwik Sew 3115) that I made from scrap fabric.

Here is New Look 6470, which is now out of print but was very popular for some time for the crossover and 6470 (1)cowl-neck tops. On PatternReview, there are over 70 reviews of this pattern, though few are of the skirt!

Here is my review:

Pattern Description:
Misses tops and skirt.

Pattern Sizing:
A (8-18). I sewed a size 14. I hesitated about what size to make and decided based on the listed finished garment hip size: 40.5″. My hips are 38″, and I decided I wanted some ease since I used a very lightweight knit and wanted to be able to move/dance in it.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes. This is a very simple, four seam skirt. Just two pattern pieces!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Likes

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I used a new technique for attaching waistband elastic. 

This skirt is extremely simple: four seams, waist elastic/casing, and a hem. Considering how simple it is, it is fairly flattering. I wore it to dance class, and got complemented on it: “Great dancing skirt!” It is also quite comfortable, moves well, and does not fit too snugly around the legs. The flounce moves very nicely when walking and dancing! Overall, a nicer skirt than I expected.

Dislikes
I don’t like running elastic through a casing, so I tried a new method for attaching the waistband, which is described second on this page. In short, I ignored the directions in the instructions, sewed the elastic into a circle, then stitched it to the top of the skirt (1/4″ below the top), stretching the elastic to fit. Then I folded the elastic into the skirt and used my coverstitch machine to stitch the elastic down. It was my first time using this method, and with some trial and error it turned out reasonably well.

I also hemmed using my new coverstitch machine, and followed a tip by happycamper on the Amazon review page for the Brother 2340CV. I did long straight stitch an inch from the bottom of the skirt, then used that basting thread as the “hinge” for pressing the hem up. Then, when stitching the hem with the coverstitch machine, I pulled gently on that basting thread to help the fabric feed evenly. The hem that resulted was just beautiful.

Fabric Used:
A lightweight, denim-look synthetic knit. It looks nice, but I wouldn’t buy it again because it develops pulls easily!

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I am proud of my neat hem, made with my new Brother 2340CV.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern. I did make a minor “design change”: I serged the flounce to the skirt pieces, but when I wore the skirt the first time, I managed to rip that seam by stepping on the skirt. Ooops. I reserged that seam, then I topstitched the the flounce to the skirt. That should give a little extra strength.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I actually might! I’m not wild about elastic waistbands, but this skirt looks surprisingly nice, goes together easily, and is lovely to dance tango in. I dance a lot of tango, so it might be nice to have a couple simple, pretty long skirts.

Conclusion:
Super simple skirt, suitable for a beginner, that helped me learn several new skills. It moves well.

 

 

Tango is dangerous for your sewing . . .

Dancing has many benefits. One of those is getting into shape. But no one told me about the disadvantages. I’ve just discovered that in the past three weeks (thanks to 15+ hours of tango a week), my body has changed enough that my three new Simplicity 1500 skirts no longer fit me.

My measurements are exactly the same. But the skirts now sit an inch or two lower on my body, and instead of looking cute, they look dumpy.

Such a small difference, such a short period of time. And yet, I don’t have any idea how to fix this and salvage the three skirts I’ve made from that pattern, so happy that I finally would have something that fits.