Thursday, November 01, 2012

Three Strikes?

A wrinkly Version 1 waving hello
Three strikes and you're out? Or third time lucky?

I'm on a quest to perfect my t-shirt pattern. I love wearing knit tops. They're comfy and versatile. Every season, the pattern books come out with fun variations for this basic garment - ruffles, crossovers, color-blocks, peplums. Ripped, fringed, laced. If I had a TNT (tried 'n' trued) pattern, then tweaking it to accommodate the current trend would be easy-peasy.

Twice I thought I had it.

First time, I managed to lose the pattern. Unthinkable, I know, but there were extenuating circumstances (involving flood, week of Christmas, houseful of guests, lightning speed emergency deconstruction then snail speed reconstruction of entire lower level of house, ie my sewing space).

Second time I thought I'd found my TNT, I realized the sleeve cap was too small for the armscye.

Any sane person would just rework the sleeve cap pattern. But for some reason, that option had about as much appeal as mouldy bread. Vague unspecified displeasure with the pattern perhaps?

Falling for "the grass is always greener" line of thinking, I grabbed the old Stretch and Sew French T's pattern. I've always liked it, and many moons ago, had tinkered with it a bit. So back I went.

Peggy Sagers of Silhouette Patterns recommends using finished garment measurements from your favorite similar-styled clothes when choosing a pattern size. I have an old, old Gap t-shirt that I still wear (but not in public) because I love it so. I measured it - 39.5". It came smack between the S&S medium and large. No problem; I traced between them. I moved the shoulder seam forward 5/8" for my forward shoulders, an alteration I automatically do.

Adjustment for prominent shoulder blades - the red striped area
For Version I, I used a lovely cotton/lycra with good stretch and recovery in a heathery carnation pink. (Photo at the top of the page.) The result was fabulous - except the shoulder area needed tweaking. Narrower front and prominent shoulder blades adjustment, then on to Version 2.

For Version 2, I used a lovely heathered charcoal cotton/lycra knit with excellent stretch and recovery, thicker and stronger than the fabric used in the pink version. Again, the result was fabulous and the fit in the shoulders was looking good. Only problem.... it was tight in the body. Not too tight for a teenager ... but too tight for a grandmother. Especially one with a belly.

Version 2 - cross with itself for being too tight
It took me all day to admit it was too tight. After all, that's akin to admitting you're, er, well, fluffy. Plus the pattern fit on 60"/150cm wide fabric so nicely - less than 1 yard/metre yielded a short sleeved t-shirt.

For some crazy reason, I grabbed Loes Hinse's Bianca Sweater pattern to compare. When I laid Version 2 over Bianca, I nearly fell over. The shoulder/armscye area from Version 2 (which I'd so painstakingly altered) matched the shoulder/armscye area of the Bianca perfectly!

About the body width. <sigh> It was wider - much wider. Approximately 3/4"/2 cm wider per seam - 3"/8cm total. I traced the Bianca, size L, with a sad, yet hopeful heart that this would be The One.

Just so you know I know: 
1) I could've added 3/4"/2cm per seam to Version 2 but Bianca had all the adjustments already built in.
2) Different knits have different stretch and drape, and maybe Version 2 would've worked with a different knit. After all, Version 1, with its slightly stretchier fabric, squeaked through the tightness test. Sandra Betzina recommends having 1" side seam allowances to adjust for the varying stretches of knit fabric. Version 2, with its tiny seam allowances, did not have any "just in case" extra. I will not make that mistake again, even though the short sleeve version of the pattern will no longer fit in 1 yard/1 metre.

For fairness, I'm using the remainder of the heathered charcoal knit from Version 2 to make up the Bianca.

So, is the third the charm? Or am I going to strike out?

                         - Lady T

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