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A Shirt for Mom!

January 4, 2011

I had big ideas about doing one giant Christmas post that covered all the stuff I sewed for the holidays. It was nice in theory. In practice, I haven’t managed to photograph a couple of Ani’s presents, and you might have noticed…it’s January. So instead of doing one big post, I’ll do some smaller ones.

First up is the shirt I made for my mom. Now, I will tell you for free I was nervous about this one. I wanted it to be a shirt she would actually wear and not a “Why, YES, I made it myself!” kind of thing. I was perfectly cool with this being a sort of hanging around the house Saturday shirt, but I wanted it to be something she’d wear and not something that she HAD to keep because her dumb daughter kept making her stuff. Also, I’ve never really sewn for any grown ups other than me before (and as evidenced by the mighty t-shirt, it is something of an…iterative process). Little kid stuff is easy – they are small and straight. Women have like, CONTOURS to work with.

So anyway, I was nervous. But there were two things working in my favour! One is that I know that my mom loves stripes. I was hoping if I found some GREAT stripes she maybe wouldn’t notice anything else! (Sort of true, actually). Two is that I know my mom loves boatneck shirts – AND I know that she’d looked at the pattern for the boatneck in the Sew U Home Stretch book and really liked it. Score!

Now, I wish I had pictures of the making of the shirt, but the truth is that I was sewing so feverishly by mid-December that I just wasn’t pausing to take any pictures. So you’ll have to deal with a narrative and the finished product pictures!

My mom and I are not exactly the same size – she’s shorter than I am, and I have wider shoulders than she does – but generally speaking we would probably buy roughly the same size in stores (for shirts anyway). So I figured that I’d start with the pattern I’d developed for the T-Shirt project and take it from there. My goal was to make something that was pretty good, and had room to adjust the shaping, or sleeve length, or whatever if she wanted it tailored a bit more.

Adjusting the t-shirt pattern and actually MAKING the boatneck shirt was easy and quick. I will tell you for free that the first time I put it on I thought “ooohhhhhh no.” It was….not right. Just kind of wrong and tenty and weird.

I learned something interesting here though – and that is you can take something that looks completely wrong, that on first glance you think “Gee, this is not going to fly at ALL!” and make a couple of tiny adjustments and end up with something you really like. It’s like photo editing I think – you don’t have to make huge changes to get something good out of it.

There were two major problems with the shirt – one is that it was WAY too long. And if it was way too long on me, it was going to be like a DRESS on my mother. So I chopped almost 3″ off the hem and re-hemmed it. The shirt was supposed to be notched on the sides at the hem, but I was having a tough time getting the notches to lie properly – so I pretty much just sacrificed those in rehemming the shirt.

That one change really made a difference to the whole thing – suddenly it seemed much nicer and more flattering – more like something one would wear, as opposed to say, something one would use to cover a really big teapot.

The other thing that was really bothering me was the neckline. It just seemed way too loose, almost like it had stretched out a bit when I was hemming it (which I guess is possible given that it’s knit). In addition, the way I’d done the pattern basically meant that there was almost no “shoulder” to the shirt – the neckline really went almost all the way to the shoulder seam. It was all a little too open and loose.

So my darling friend Angela hooked me up and basically pinned the shoulders so that it took up the slack and closed up the neckline by an inch or two on each side – it was almost like just taking a dart at the shoulder seam in the end. I held my breath, serged it, and lo and behold….it worked.

(Isn’t my mom cute?)

AND SHE LIKED IT. SHE DIDN’T EVEN WANT ME TO CHANGE ANYTHING. I’m….surprised, actually. I really thought it was going to take a few goes to get it right. But the fact that she liked it so much pretty much means I’m making like seven new ones for her now.

I put small wooden snowflake buttons on one shoulder. I like snowflakes.

I learned some good stuff on this project actually – the biggest thing, I think, is that you really can make something that seems horrible work nicely with a few tweaks – so don’t give up too fast.

One bummer is that I didn’t actually take the neckline or hemline changes back to my original pattern pieces – I just didn’t have time. So if I make another shirt from this pattern I’m going to have to sort of tailor it again. But that’s not the end of the world; I know what I need to do at least!

I’m really just thrilled that she liked it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 5, 2011 12:12 am

    Yes, she’s cute. 🙂 May I please have photo creds? Heee.

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