Tales from the Knit Tees
Apologies to Armistead Maupin. I have no idea how it happened, but as an impressionable youth, I chanced upon Tales of the City, and couldn’t put the series down. After that (in my history of reading, not in the history of writing) came the Beats, then of course the original reality show, The Real World. Raise your hand if you remember Puck. How could you not? I just knew I’d have some bohemian/beat/hipster SF life. These days, if acts of subversion include making your own t-shirts, then I am so hep. (Coincidentally, Mr. Maupin was on the most recent Weekend Edition, my blog title previously decided upon. I love stuff like that.)
I’ve really perfected the art of complicating simplicity. In my efforts over the past couple of years of wanting to learn the “real” way to sew, I’ve noticed that I started letting my instinct (or “Eff it! I own you, fabric”) attitude slip a little. As was the case here: a simple t-shirt pattern. Buying a t-shirt pattern is odd in itself, if you ask me. But I did just that, even though I’ve hacked up, pieced together, nipped & tucked my fair share of them over the years. As a professor once quipped, you have to know the rules in order to break them. So, I bought a pattern, and learned a few things along the way. Stuff y’all probably knew light years ago.
- Fun fact: spandex is an anagram for expands!
- knit ≠ jersey, but jersey = knit. I always used the two interchangeably, like some people do with Coke or Kleenex for soda or tissue.
- woolly nylon is the shit
- so is Vilene/Pellon bias tape. I love it more than twill tape. Really do. But I already knew that… just wanted to tell you guys how much I love that stuff.
- “stable knit” ≠ stiff or without drape. It’s about the stretchiness factor. Which is where I went wrong on my muslin.
- Who makes a muslin for a t-shirt, anyway?
Me. This was my first Sewaholic pattern, and I didn’t know what to expect size/fit-wise. I’d heard rumors of high armpits. Actually, I’m kinda glad I sewed up a couple of trials. It gave me a chance to enjoy my serger for what she’s good at. And get a little refresher on negative ease.
This interlock knit I’d snagged from my mom was going to be just perfect. Or so I thought. But the first tee (size 6) is a gross mess on me. So I altered the neckline/shoulder/armscye area, per Sherry’s famous tute, and pinched up the length for my high waist. Which did pretty much nothing, because this thick knit has so much give. Still gross. If this fabric is soft, it is also bulky with lots of stretch, nothing like the drapey knits popular today. I think it’s leftovers from a nearby Land’s End/LL Bean type company where I grew up. Quality fabric, but in that bland, 90s, flannel sheets sort of way.
If I could make a faux-flatlock stitch on my serger just so, this interlock would be perfect for some new yoga pants. I couldn’t get the two layers to pull flat without distorting the fabric. Which is too bad, because I really want to do some athletic gear. Still possible, but there will the be the tendency for chafing without flat seams. Maybe a flatlock stitch is best made on a specific piece of equipment? Anyone had luck on their home serger?
Back to the tees that look good… Once I’d switched over to the drapey heathered lavender jersey, also from Mom, life was great. What a difference it made! I stitched up the same altered pattern I’d left off with, and was almost happy. There was still a bit of frump, and I quickly realized that the issue lay in the bottom band. It simply added too much length for my high-waisted, curvy figure. Long, drapey, tunic-type tees look so great on others, but with my backward S-shaped profile, hips, etc, they do nothing good for me. I hadn’t left enough of a hem to twin needle, so I sliced off the band, trimmed it down, serged back on. Voila! Of course, the one mistake is found front & center… my presser foot got hung up right by the V point, so the topstitching is dense, with a little bump. Meh, I’ve seen worse in RTW.
For numero dos, I made view C in a linen/poly blend jersey. Lemon meringue, anyone?! My arms get chilly on cool summer nights, so 3/4 sleeves for me. I added a smidge to the bottom for twin needle hemming, and took in the waist to a size 4. And let me just say that woolly nylon thread is my new best friend! Expensive? Hell yes. Worth it? HELL YES. It really allows the serged seams some give, and made my twin needling much better (used it in the bobbin, “hand” wound on the machine slowly, using my hand and not the thread guides). It did get caught on a slub in the fabric, again, right near the front, but I fixed it. Hopefully one pre-wash was all this needed, but I have more if it shrinks up.
One other note about the Renfrew… I realize the pattern is designed for those without sergers, but if you have one, I suggest cutting down your SAs to 1/4″. Large seam allowances on the serger are simply annoying to me, so I trimmed mine down during tracing. There is also a typo in the pattern, but I think Tasia covered that on her blog. Oh, and folks have posted tons on knits lately, but I’ll second/third/fourth the consensus that if your fabric is super-stretchy, slice an inch + off that neckband :)
These tops, along with Le Taffy, are what I’ve been wearing for MMM week two. So I’m totally counting this as my post. Taffy, coming up…
In other news, I’m pretty psyched to have run my first official race in (gulp) 3 years yesterday! For all you hardcore runners, a 5k is the t-shirt of races. I was surprised to find it was non-chipped, so my time wasn’t exact, but I came in a minute under my test run from the previous weekend, when the weather was about 10 degrees cooler. My time was four minutes better than the Jack Kerouac 5k from 2009, my first race in 12 years. With actual running training (instead of jogging with Mushie & boot camp workouts), I know I can PR over my high school time (when I was also pretty middle of the road), and move on to 10k.
Happy trails, happy belated Mother’s Day, happy whatever your fancy.
Oh, and if you have an opinion on yellow & my skin tone, do tell. Because I like yellow, but I don’t really know that it is a great color for me. Maybe in this pale tint? My eyes are blue, almost violet at times, the complimentary color to yellow. But for my skin? Whaddyathink?