While I was out of town, I stopped at the FIDM Scholarship Store in L.A., where they had a range of beautiful knits on sale, $1/yard. I've got knits in gray, navy, fushia, red, royal blue, navy blue, gray and that print that'll make a lovely autumn dress, I think. Grand total, including several yards of wovens? $18.
So I've got lots of knits to work with! But my knit journey began in April, when I got my hands on Wendy Mullin's Sew U Homestretch. I sewed up an x-small crewneck pattern using some gray jersey. I like the casualness of raw edges, but this one didn't curl and so I tried to put on a neckband, which stood up like a soldier at attention. And so I pleated it to keep it down. I wore it during Me-Mady-May because it was one of the few me-made garments I had, but it's been in the repurpose pile all summer. Total fail.
Lessons from Crewneck 1:
- Use a machine that can take direction in the zigzag department. I sewed this on my old machine that defaulted to the widest stitch. Looks like there's skipped stitches, too. I don't have a serger but a good sewing machine is key.
- Sew the raw edges of the neckband together before attaching
- The neckband needs to be tighter than the opening in order to pull in the fabric and allow it to lie flat. I think this is 7/8s, and it's still not enough
- The shoulder seams indicate this is made for someone with more angular shoulders than I. I nipped in about 1/4 inch from the mid-shoulder to the neck.
- Sizing: I'd read elsewhere that these patterns run big, which is why I cut out the XS. Mullin describes this as a "slim-fit (not skintight) crewneck." The XS finished garment size is 34 at the bust (aligning with my size), and that might be a good rule of thumb for finding your size in these patterns.
Thought on t-shirt sizing: I stopped wearing skin-tight tees after having to look at how boyish I looked in them during Me-Made-May. It seems skin-tight tees showcase our flaws, but loose tees may make us look bigger than we actually are. Thoughts?
With my new machine, I was ready to tackle knits again in July. Thought I'd try it on the boy's old tee:
Cut out an XS, things went swimmingly on m y new machine. But then I tried to do the neckband. Totally stretched out:
I noticed the jersey was curling, so I decided to go far raw edges with a scoop neck. Sew U Homestretch recommends altering the neckline 5" deep and 1" at the shoulder. Again, there's a bustier gal in mind, so I cut 3" deep, 1" at the shoulder. I also ironed on this little owl design given to me by a friend.
The truth is, I wear it a lot. It's definitely more of a house shirt, but I can run out the door and not worried I'm in my jammies.
Lessons from Crewneck 2:
- The direction of stretch really, really matters. The neckline was partly stretched out because I had used a leftover piece from the shirt that hardly stretched at all (horizontal). Add that to my overexuberance to make sure it was tight enough.
- Though they look identical, right and wrong sides of knits matter, too, especially when you leave the edges raw. Mine don't all curl in the right direction.
Determined to make a t-shirt with a neckband, I made up this in a size Small with some interlock. A bit rough, but very easy to work with.
Lessons from Crewneck 3:
- Though this Cal Patch tute is incredibly helpful, I found my neckband salvation from a tip in Mad Mim's Basic Fitted T-Shirt Tutorial: "Stretch the neckband about three inches, and pin about four inches down the neckline. You're stretching both, but pulling tighter on the band so that when you let go,you should see some slack in the neck opening." This gives you a 3/4 ratio, and guess what? Mine lays perfectly. Then I top stitched the seam allowance under the original stitch.
- Sizing: Though I think I prefer the XS on my body, this t-shirt has been a workhorse in my closet since I finished it a few weeks ago and it's lured out garments that haven't seen much use lately, namely my skinny jeans and boyfriend blazer. There's something rock-in-roll about the looseness. It actually kind of looks like the boyfriend t-shirts I saw at Target while doing reconnaissance (take that Tarjay!). Also, I want you to imagine the Scarlett O'Hara waist that (does not) lay beneath. Smoke and mirrors!
- Neckline: The illustrations in Sew U Homestretch are deceivingly high. The pattern has a lower neckline, showing a bit of collarbone. I altered this neckline 1.5" deep and 0.5" at shoulder, but I don't need to in future versions. I think it works here because black tends to drain me, so it's nice to have it a little further from my face.
I really wanted to play with this royal blue silk jersey (which I assume because it feels so luxurious) but also wanted to get through my Summer Essential Sew-Along List. When I discovered that I didn't have enough fabric for my planned sun dress pattern, I decided to swap it out for this jersey dress instead.
Mullin writes, "Minidresses are my secret wardrobe weapon. There's no better way to throw something on, run out of the house, and still look adorable."
The pattern alteration was so easy. Take a look:
I lengthened it by four inches and omitted the pockets, fearing this fabric might droop. My summer essential. I could live in this thing, it's so darn comfy:
Lessons from Crewneck 4:
- I need to improve on: Trimming away bulk and attaching the neckband/facing that tended to slip about. Since taking this photo, I'm picking apart the facing and intend to widen it, use a sturdier interface, and sewing it to the wrong side, then turning and top stitching to the outside. This, I think, will give it a little more visual interest and ease the sewing.
This basic pattern has so much possibility. I'll likely keep my current version very simple since I love the color, but here's some future considerations.
- This would work really well with interlock, given the sturdiness. It would also work well with a variety of necklines: crew, scoop, boat.
- Play with sleeves: Sleeveless, or tighten sleeves to cap, half or 3/4 length
- Play with color: If using a facing that turns to the outside, use a contrasting color or a print to give the dress more texture. Or, contrast color in the neckline, sleevebands, hem, and edge of pockets!
- Elastic at the bust to create gathers at Center Front, or just below the bust to create a faux-empire waist.