Patience & Perseverance

My patience and perseverance were tested yesterday. The other day, I pulled out some Marcy Tilton t-Shirt fabric I’d bought last year – time to use it to make up a couple of shirts. I went through my collection of t-Shirt patterns and decided to try out the Connie Crawford’s “Perfect Knit Sloper” that I’d picked up a couple of months ago. When the sloper arrived, I opened it, and drafted a sloper on Swedish cloth, using my measurements. This is the first time I’m trying out this sloper so I know I’m making a muslin.

I cut out a t-Shirt – using Janet Pray’s technique for turning a t-Shirt into a “swing” shirt (a shirt that is flared at the bottom)(15:25 – 21:55 on the video). Cut a couple of pieces of grosgrain ribbon a bit longer than the shoulder seam (to stabilize the shoulder), then serged the shoulder seams. So far so good. Next comes the neckband. I cut out the neckband the size suggested in the sloper pattern and serged it to the neckline. First problem – I had a couple of spots where I didn’t have the neckline and band aligned perfectly – I opened those spots and restitched them.

Tried on the garment to see how the neckline looked – dreadful – the band stuck out in the front – the band was too long. I thought the neckline was a bit higher than I liked, so I carefully removed the neckband (being extremely careful not to cut or pick the fabric), recut the neckline 1 1/2″ lower in the front, then reattached the neckband. The band was still too long, so I carefully removed it (being extremely careful not to cut or pick the fabric), shortened it by 2″, distributed the fullness of the garment neckline (stretching the band as I attached it to make it fit), basted the two together this time, then once I was sure I had the band and neckline aligned, I serged the seam! Finally the band laid flat and the fabric edges matched. I pressed the band seam toward the garment and top stitched it (to hold the seam allowance flat on the t-Shirt) 1/8mm from the seam using a narrow-edge foot.

Now to attach the sleeves. I carefully aligned the right sleeve with the sleeve opening on the t-Shirt, sewed it in place – didn’t like the sleeve header – the top of the sleeve stood up rather than lay flat. I unpicked the serged seam, flattened the top curve of the sleeve an inch, reattached it (this time basting it first) then serging the seam. I recut the second sleeve and serged it.

I serged the side seams; they were fine, until I tried on the shirt – too much flare! So I removed a wedge from bottom portion of the side seams.

Last, I used my coverstitch machine to do the bottom and sleeve hems (stitching a wee bit narrower than the fold and trimming back to the seam using my handy duckbill scissors.

Wearing the Finished t-Shirt

“Why?” you might ask do I bother making t-Shirts – because I can’t buy t-Shirts with sleeves long enough to cover my old lady arms.

This t-Shirt turned into a L-O-N-G project. I was determined not to give up and throw the whole thing in the garbage! But constructing it – a muslin, I kept reminding myself – definitely pushed my patience and perseverance to the limit! I wore it today and got complements on it.

Sewing the second t-Shirt was simple and straightforward – I made the adjustments to the sloper pattern, cut it out, basted, then serged the seams. The neck band lays flat, the sleeves headers are smooth, it’s not too full at the bottom.

Stretch Cotton t-Shirt

This is actually the second t-Shirt – the first was a disaster (too big and too long – the culprit was the light weight black and white knit I bought in San Francisco – too loosely knit, I think). It went into the trash pile.

I bought the fabric for this shirt at my nearby Pfaff dealer who stocked some very nice stretch cotton knit this summer. This red stripe was the only one of those fabrics that suited my colouring, too bad. 0.8m (60″ wide) was enough for a t-shirt for me. The fabric sewed easily – didn’t have to fight it.

Red Stripe t-Shirt

Given my floppy upper arms, I like a sleeve that comes almost to my elbow so I lengthened the short sleeves. The pattern also uses a facing for the neck edge – nobody finishes a t-Shirt neck with a facing – I serged a doubled (24″ x 1 1/4″) strip to the neck edge (1 1/2″ shorter than the length of the neck so I could ease the neck edge into the seam). I also cut 1 1/4″ from the bottom edge – I’m short, and didn’t need the shirt to come below mid-stomach.

I cut out the shirt a couple of days ago. I was able to sew it up in under 2 hours this morning. I pressed the neck band toward the body and top stitched it 1.5mm from the seam to keep it flat. Cover-stitched the sleeve and bottom hems.

The Pattern is a Burda pattern I’ve had for ages (I tried finding some hint online about when the pattern was first released but came up empty although many people have made it – lots of photos of finished shirts). The size 14 fits me reasonably well. It’s easy to make with the 1/4″ seam allowances included in the pattern – makes fitting sleeve curves straightforward because you don’t have to fight the excess fabric in a 5/8″ allowance.

Burda 3197 Pattern (Vintage)

Now I need to go through my fabric stash and see if I can find another suitable knit to make at least one more of these shirts (then I’ll be able to cull some of the older ones in my closet).

The Final t-Shirt


This is the last of the t-Shirts, made from recutting a man’s XL shirt I picked up at Value Village. I constructed it using my serger, but I hadn’t used ball-point needles, just regular universal sharps. On all the other t-Shirts that wasn’t a problem, but it turned out to be on this one! The universal needle, instead of pushing aside the knit stitches of the fabric, cut the cotton fibre – you could see the beginnings of holes along the seams. I had to resew all the seams (less than 1/8th away from the serged seam) on my regular sewing machine using a ball-point needle. The difference in the appearance of the seam is dramatic.

Now the question is, do I want to add embroidered embellishment to some of these t-Shirts?

t-Shirt Makeover II

I’ve stepped up the t-shirt makeover a notch. I have been buying men’s t-shirts so I can have longer sleeves than women’s shirts have, but I don’t like the crew neck. So I decided to try renovating a couple of the men’s shirts I bought last year. I cut off the ribbing around the neck and since I didn’t have any knit fabric to use for the neck edge I took a couple of fat quarters from my quilting stash and decided to try a bias strip. It worked! The complementary neck edge looks just fine, and it lays flat. After I tried the shirts on I thought it would also be a good idea to put some shape in the sides – they look better slightly fitted. So these two t-shirts have become keepers.

t-Shirt Makeover

It’s hard finding t-shirt fabric here in Halifax. The color choices are very limited and what’s available is often the wrong weight. So, the other day when I took three large bags of clothing to Value Village (I’d gone through closets and drawers) I took a look at the men’s large t-shirts they had – I found three in solids (red, black, blue). I cut the shirts apart – there was enough fabric there for a t-shirt for me! This is one of them. Final cost – $4. I can’t buy fabric at that price!

t-Shirt II

Just finished a second t-shirt this morning. 20130629-134506.jpg A light weight rayon knit (reminds me of the prints used by Desigual) – a bit easier to work with than the polyester I worked on yesterday. Pleased with the fit.


This is a third shirt finished as well – to wear with white or the pink pants I have.


Back to some garment sewing. Today a t-Shirt. I had some knit fabric I’m about to discard because it was difficult to work with, however, I thought I’d give the t-Shirt a try. Rather than a facing, I decided to use a simple binding, instead.

I made some modifications to the pattern – lengthened the sleeves, shortened the body length an inch. I was surprised this has turned out to be a wearable garment! I was expecting to chuck it out after I was done, but it fits quite well.

So I’ve just cut out another one from a rayon knit which I will assemble tomorrow. I’ve been wanting some t-Shirts with longer sleeves and a wee bit longer in the body than the ones I have. I have fabric for a half a dozen. I expect to busy for the next week on these.