Franken-shirt

While others were creating sawdust this weekend, I got a little time on the sewing machine.  First I made a couple of dog bed covers for my brother (discovering along the way that I will never sew with rubber/plastic backed outdoor fabric ever again!) and then today I made a tunic that I’ve been meaning to try for a while.

After chopping apart a men’s shirt from Goodwill and a long sleeve T I had on hand:

T-shirt and dress shirt tunic image

I sewed the two together.  A few pleats to make them fit and the addition of belt-like section where they join, and I have a nearly finished tunic.  I want to add a couple buttons to the belt and I need to complete the top stitching, but I like the finished result.  Not slimming, but very comfy.

T-shirt and dress shirt tunic image

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.