Humble beginnings - a white tee

There are so many inspirational blogs out there...I was going to lift the standard of my photos, really I was...but actually, I'm exhausted. It is hard enough finding time to sew, let alone learning more about taking funky photos. Why so tired? Not sure really. Maybe it is the heat. Maybe it is from spending days and days scrubbing mould off the walls after all the rain that we have had. Maybe it is the economic crisis coming home to roost. Maybe I just need to start taking my iron tablets again. So here are...some bodgy photos, taken in poor light.

I bought myself a birthday present. "Designing and patternmaking for stretch fabrics" by Keith Richardson. I don't wear T-shirts much, but this is mostly because I find it hard to buy them to fit (it's that pear shape again). So I have had a go at making a T-shirt to measure.

There is lots of fabulous information in this book. Really useful stuff on how to determine whether your stretch fabric has stable, moderate, stretchy or super-stretchy stretch and how to modify the blocks for it. Info on ratios for bindings. How to incorporate extra ease into a design. This all takes the guesswork out of sewing with knits (which is something that I have never enjoyed doing...give me wovens any day).

It took me a few weeks and 3 muslins, but here is my first design. A capped-sleeve, scoop-necked t-shirt. It is fitted through the bust and hips and semi-fitted through the waist. The cap sleeves are to balance out the hips. The scoop is narrow and deep, to lengthen the neck without saying "look here, no cleavage". I started with a a basic block. I adjusted the shoulder line for square shoulders (not covered in the book). I moved the shoulder line forward. I made the back a smidge wider than the front to account for rounded shoulders. The only thing I am not happy with is some pulling at the front of the shoulders. I don't know if this is a prominant shoulder bone or because I did not adjust the sleeve for a forward shoulder. This book directs you to make a symmetrical sleeve, for ease of production. The front armhole is curved in a little more than the back armhole, but the stretch in the knit is supposed to be able to deal with this. I am wondering if I actually need to draft a sleeve that is not symmetrical.

The first shirt shown is my "I don't know how models look so glamorous just in jeans and a white tee" version. It is made up in an organic cotton knit from Tessuti.

The second version is a sportier version made up in a stretch cotton from Emmaonesock that I have had stashed a while.

The third version is made out of scraps from my DKNY camisole. I modified the neckline a little and used a bias, woven strip for the neck binding, as inspired by a Marni tee. I also used a fitted waist on this version.

I'm happy with how my neck bindings turned out...practice does make perfect. This is my method
1. Sew one shoulder seam, but leave the other one open.
2. Cut a neck binding on the crosswise stretch. I use a length 5/6 of the neck length plus seam allowances. I cut a binding wider than I need (takes the stretch out of the coverstitch step)
3. Pin binding to the right side of neckline. Baste in place with a sewing machine. Overlock binding to the neck edge. Overlocking gives a neat, firm edge for folding the binding to an even width.
4. Fold the binding over the overlocking to the inside.
5. Stitch in place using the chain stitch of a cover-stitch machine.
6. Trim any excess binding width on the inside.
So, a bit fiddly, but more consistent than shorter methods.

So now that I have a pattern that works, I just have to get over my fear of threading my overlocker and coverstitch machine in matching thread!


  1. wow - they look fantastic.. really.. I am so impressed you took such care for a t-shirt (but not just any t-shirt mind)

    ..and your photos look great .. problem is, famous sewing bloggers like Amanda S and Erica B get out there in their heels and full sets of makeup.. who can complete with that?

    (oh, and obviously willing and able husbands .. "yes dear, I'll do another one, ready? Take 20" )

  2. Thanks for your review on K. Richardson's patternmaking book for knits. I've been looking around for patternmaking book that is a step up from Connie Crawford's PMME.

    I'm looking forward for more!

  3. Hi there, Colette from Tessuti put me onto your blog... what great-fitting tees! I've actually been thinking of buying that Keith Richardson stretch patternmaking book, because I've recently got stuck into making knit tops... they're such fun and so quick to make up.