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The Mighty T-Shirt: Part 2

October 21, 2010

So when last we spoke, I had cheerfully cut out and labeled a pattern. I was ready to ROLL baby!

Now, knowing that I was probably not going to like my first attempt, and that I’d need to do a little refining to get it all right, I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on fabrics. Stretch stuff isn’t always cheap and…I figured I’d rather get it right first and THEN buy some fabric to make a nicer t-shirt. So first I hit up my stash of “recycling” fabrics – old t-shirts and things that I’ve got hanging around to make into something new. I had an extra-large white t-shirt, which WOULD have been fine, except it was a v-neck – so it cut into the pattern too far at the neckline. SHOOT. I tried a couple of other things that didn’t work. Then…as fate would have it, I remembered something.

Years ago (8? 9? Something?) my mother in law gave me a whole bunch of fabric for Christmas. She knew I was getting interested in sewing, and so she thought she’d get me something I could use. In theory I LOVED this idea. The problem is that my mother in law and I had rather different tastes in fabric and clothing in general. And also, I WAS starting to sew, it’s true, and I really really liked it…but I was quilting. I was taking a course in quilt making and that’s what I was doing. My mother in law got me about 4 or 5 meters of stretch royal blue…velour.  It’s um….cookie monster coloured. At the time I knew even less about stretch fabrics than I do now. So….I hid it away and didn’t do anything with it. There were a few occasions when I contemplated giving it away but…I didn’t, largely because I felt badly about it – I mean, like I said, the idea was awesome.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. I looked at this giant pile of blue velour and thought “Well, huh. That is…two way stretch…and about the same stretch as the pink t-shirt I used to determine size…” I waffled for awhile and finally decided to go for it. After all, this is really just a test run – once I figure out the basics I can get some fabric I LIKE and do something I’ll actually wear, right? RIGHT!

So, obviously the place to start is cutting out the fabric. And remember, I warned you – this fabric? IS BLUE.

The book gives you a couple of options for “finishing” the t-shirt – one option is to just leave the neck, arms, and bottom serged. Another is to use the rolled edge function on the serger to finish things that way. Or, you can use ribbing and finish the neck and sleeves properly.

I think in terms of “shirts I want to wear”, I’m much more inclined to opt for finishing the neck and sleeves with ribbing and hemming the bottom. After finishing this shirt I’m especially inclined to go that route – I just feel like the rolled edge look (or the serged edge look) is too unfinished looking for my taste. I do like using the rolled edge on really really stretchy fabric, where I’m going for a full on lettuce edge, but for regular stuff…nah. It just doesn’t look the way I want it to.

BUT, I did do it on this shirt because I’m kind of lazy and again, the first one is just to get fit figured out and a pattern established. So I figured I’d go that route.

Actually sewing the shirt together is super easy and took probably a whopping half hour to do. It was at this point that I discovered that I am actually kind of terrible about remembering to stop and take pictures of the process – have to get better about that. But hey look! Here’s the finished shirt, in all of its crazy blue-ness, and sloppy seam-ness.

And hey! It actually does look remarkably like a t-shirt is supposed to look. So that is promising!

Moment of truth…put the thing on.

THINGS I AM HAPPY WITH

Hey, the shirt actually goes on okay! And the lengthy is good. I don’t feel like it’s too short (which I really cannot stand) – so that’s great. The proportions aren’t bad either. So that’s great!

THINGS I AM LESS HAPPY WITH

Well, my hair, for starters. But hey, it was late and I’d been sewing for awhile. So lets leave that alone for the moment.

As expected, the shirt is too big. It needs to come in at least 2″ across the chest and probably a little more than that around the waist. It’s totally a style thing I think – I just need a little more definition from my t-shirts; I don’t like the oversized man shirt thing. The sleeves are a little big as well. So the next steps are to try to pin the shirt in a way that Makes Me Happy, and then try to transfer those changes back to my original pattern pieces. Once that’s done I will compare it to the size small pattern for the shirt that came with the book…and just decide then if I want to follow the book’s pattern or go with my customized version.

And THEN, I need to make a shirt that is not blue and not velour. (Dude…that shirt? BLUE).

I definitely learned some things from this first pass though. One is that I think that to be really happy with using my serger for construction (as opposed to finishing), I need to use two needles, not one. I kept finding places where my pieces drifted too much and there were little holes along the seams, especially on the curves (i.e. where I was setting in the sleeves). I imagine a big part of that is me getting used to what I’m doing, and feeding the fabric through better – not sure though. I could also end up going back to just sewing the seam first and then serging over it to finish it. It seems like that *should* be an unnecessary step though? I’ll have to play some more and find out.

In the meantime, we have a shirt! It needs work but it seems like a good start. Stay tuned for Part 3 of this little mini-drama, where I figure out how to adjust the pattern so that I like it….and then make a t-shirt from fabric I really like!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Hubby permalink
    October 25, 2010 4:11 pm

    You know, I think you should have placed the shirt on a white background, just to show off its awesome blueness. And with halloween just around the corner you only need to work on the head gear and googly eyes 😉

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