The history of my $120 t-shirt

In October I took a class from Modern Domestic in Portland to learn how to sew knits. I’m really tired of the last few years of shorter hems meaning that every time I raise my arms in most store bought t-shirts, my stomach shows. My stomach is not one that should be parading around in public. But I’m not willing to stop using my arms either.

I also want to make a lot of night gown t-shirts to sleep in. Finding them in 100% cotton isn’t always easy.

The class was entertaining and informative and I had a scary but fascinating time using a serger for the first time. We also learned how to adjust a zig zig stitch on an ordinary machine to sew knits. It was also my first time using a jersey needle and a double needle (which is unbelievably cool!)

The $120 part comes from totaling up the cost of the class, the pattern, the various needles and tools I didn’t already have, and the fabric. But, I ended up with a pullover that fits just the way I wanted to and immediately began to hunt for yardage to start making many more.

A really unflattering and badly lit pic of my so comfy $120 t-shirt:

However, it turns out that finding all (or mostly) cotton knits isn’t as easy as I assumed. Lots of solids, but very little patterned fabric that isn’t horizontal stripes or children’s designs. Also, lots of pink. The few I found that fit in with what I want were $20+ dollars a yard. That is going to require quite the sale!

So I’m experimenting a little. At Fabric Depot I found some heathery soft blue cotton ribbed knit and a strange loopy white/gray thicker cotton. I got both to see if the pattern is flexible enough to deal with them.

My Brother sewing machine, which will do zig zags, has been in the shop, but I got it back this week. The Juki is great, but not useful for my knit sewing adventures.

Last night (to recover from The Great Tunic Failure) I got started with the cotton ribbed fabric. It went well, once I remembered to change the needle from sharp to jersey. (Oops.) the pattern only has five pieces, so it sews together quickly. A brief trip to JoAnn’s for the right color thread for the top stitching, and it is done! My sister and mom have already put in requests for theirs.

The fabric is quite heavy and the neckline stretched a bit more than the first shirt, but it is still OK, and its first trip through the dryer should help that a little. I broke the double needle by hitting the presser foot and had to use a sharp one instead of the jersey one, and that may be why I ended up with a pretty ruffley hem. I may just cut it off, zig zag it, and leave it raw edged since this is a kicking around the house shirt. But overall I’m counting this one a success.

Next up, the weird loopy knit fabric.

Moving on

Some days I have to remind myself that there is joy in the process, not just the product. Today was one of those days. After cutting and sewing and puzzling out pattern directions and sewing and ripping and sewing again, I got far enough along with the pullover cotton shirt I’ve really wanted to have to try it on.

Let’s just say it did not go well.

Apparently, my weight gain has been a lot more – is impactful a word? – than I had realized.

And it isn’t as if this was a tight fitting outfit! It is a damn tunic! I’m bitter.

Bitter, but I also got on the treadmill for an hour, so the process part of all this continues.

As for the product, it now belongs to my mother. Who, I’m sorry to say, is gloating a little bit about the fact that it fits her. I’m no longer sorry I made her climb on that chair in the wind and rain yesterday!

I made version D with the long, cuffed sleeves. Both Mom and I didn’t like the width or stiffness of the cuffs, so despite all the wrestling and ripping out and resewing I did to get the covered plackets right, in the end I whacked them off and did turned up 3/4 sleeves. Much better.

I’m not giving up on having something new to wear. I dialed back the ambition and got out the pattern for a V neck t-shirt that I know fits me and I’m sewing again.

Scrappy coins

It turns out that sticking my poor 77 year old mother into my husband’s shoes and dragging her out into the rain and wind and making her perch on a chair to hold up a quilt is fraught with peril.

And blurry photos.

I guess this is a Chinese Coins quilt, though I don’t know if it affects the definition that I made the columns different widths. For me, it was a way to make another scrappy quilt, this time using up a lot of leftover strips. There is fabric in here from pretty much every quilt I’ve ever made, even my sister’s zombie quit. (I need to remember to blog that one!)

I especially like the backing fabric, which is a Kaufman fabric called Quill by Valori Wells. It is a riot of peacocks and flowers and vines. It wasn’t wide enough, so I added a deep teal stripe to finish the back and used the same teal for the binding.

When I quilted it, I did white straight lines in the white sashing and free motion square(ish) boxes in the color columns. I used gray on the front for the boxes and changed the bobbin color from white in the print section to teal in the teal stripe. It isn’t perfect but I like how it turned out.

Adjusting the color wheel

I’ve gotten enough of the HS triangles done to start putting them up on the wall to decide the arrangement, and it quickly became clear that I didn’t love the overall color scheme. While it is hard to say that there really WAS a color scheme as the plan was just “throw in all the colors,” it was off nonetheless.

Pulling out all the oranges and orange reds made it much more appealing.

But now I have to decide if I’m going to shrink the overall size or cut more squares from my rapidly disappearing fat quarters. I suspect more cutting will happen in the end.

And some seam ripping to recover the other colors that were sewn to oranges. Luckily I decided this before they were all sewn and cut.

But maybe the dark yellow should go too?

Triangles as far as the eye can see

Something about these tiny slivers of fabric is very satisfying. A pile of inaccuracy, trimmed away. Wish I could do that with other aspects of my life!

The leavings are pretty as well. Someday I’m going to save them all and display them in a jar on a window sill.

I spent some time this morning turning more squares into half square triangles. I experimented with an idea gleaned from a Pinterest photo that led to this blog post From The Studio Blog. It would work better with smaller squares, as mine block me from seeing the tape in the first inch or two, but I’ve figured out where to start and the lines work for guiding the second half of the line. It speeds up the chaining not to have to draw the lines first.

This is not what I should be doing. I should be shopping for Thanksgiving, which is at my house and which I have only a bag of sweet potatoes for. Unless I want to mold them into different shapes, more will need to be purchased. But I’m sewing and trimming instead and perfectly happy about it.

Thanksgiving isn’t stressful to me anyway. By now, the menu is so established, and my family gathering small and non-critical. My cousin’s family can’t be here as usual this year, but we’ve added my sister who will come up from the basement, and Mom just called from the Phoenix airport to say she is heading into the air on time, so it will be a good Thanksgiving.

Sunny fabric for a gray day

We have definitely entered the rainy season around here, and won’t likely leave it for more than a day or two for some time to come. Which makes me reach for the brighter projects to work on.

This baby blanket top has been hanging around a few weeks. I cut the triangles from fat quarters I got from a Craftsy sale. I bought the 50 fat quarter box of Free Spirit prints. This is my second time buying this box. I was a little disappointed this time. The fabric prints are great, but I wasn’t expecting to get two of each. So instead of 50 different prints, I got 25. Not as helpful in adding to my scrappy quilt options as I’d hoped. The first time I ordered the box there were 50 different prints, so I guess it can go either way.

But I do like the fabrics choices I did get, and used 12 of them in this little quilt, adding in some coordinating solids. I echo quilted the seams on either side so the triangle pattern shows up on the back too.

The quilt back has a scrappy stripe with leftovers and a soft yellow polka dot. Perfect colors to offset the dreary day outside!

Usually I hand sew the binding to the back after it is attached, but because baby quilts tend to get washed a lot more often, I machine sewed it this time so it is extra security and can hold up to the machine turbulence. And the sunny gold continued the warmer days theme.

This one is going into my Etsy shop as soon as I can get some decent finished shots. (And after it’s first trip through the washing machine.) I just need a brief break in the rain!