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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Not So Tried and True

Have you ever been about to cut into fabric and had something stop you? A niggling doubt? An inner voice shouting halt? It happened to me with Project 1.

I laid out my tried’n’true t-shirt pattern on a beautiful piece of navy interlock.  The scissors were poised to take their first snip when my sewing muse whispered in my ear, “Didn’t you find the sleeves a little wonky the last time you used this pattern?”

I paused. Did I?

It had been awhile, so I had to remember which t-shirt my muse was referring to. Oh yes, the black-and-white striped one I’d tossed in the UFO (UnFinished Object) pile in frustration. (There’s a moral here, folks.) When I’d tried to insert the sleeve into the bodice, I’d discovered the sleeve’s seam-line was too short and I had to stretch it to make it fit. This misaligned the stripes across the chest, which irritated me, which is why the poor thing ended up in the UFO pile.

Thinking about it some more, I realized the first two shirts I’d sewn with the pattern also had suffered from this flaw, but I’d thought the wonky ripples around the armholes were caused by sewing error, not a pattern mistake. The first shirts were made in mistake-hiding solid coloured fabrics; it was the misaligned stripes that twigged me to the problem.

I went back to the pattern and measured the seam-line on the bodice armhole and the seam-line on the sleeve. I discovered the sleeve was missing 1” (2.5cm), which is a lot. To fix the problem, I raised the top of the sleeve cap a smidge, and widened the sleeve cap slope so it wasn’t so steep, and this made up the missing amount.

I don’t know if the error is in the original pattern or if I caused it when I altered for a forward shoulder. Does it really matter? The important point is there was an error in my tried’n’true pattern that needed to be fixed.

Some people think this is a lot of fuss for one pattern – a basic t-shirt at that. The payoff for developing a tried’n’true pattern is the confidence it gives you when you sew: you know how the garment will fit, and a good fit greatly increases the odds of a project’s success.

I live in t-shirts. They fit my lifestyle. Maybe I'm delusional, but I feel a figure-conscious cut takes a t-shirt from frumpy to flattering. Styled with interesting necklaces or colorful scarves, the look bumps up to casually chic. T-shirts can slide unobtrusively under jackets, or be bejewelled and become showstoppers. What’s not to like? For me, a good-fitting t-shirt a wardrobe basic and worth every minute spent perfecting its pattern.

Besides, I have big plans for this t-shirt pattern. Want a hint? Check out Wendy Mullin’s Sew U: The Home Stretch.

Are you a t-shirt person, or are they too casual for your taste?

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