Pattern hacking


t-shirt project

White House/Black Market cowl

White House/Black Market cowl

I hesitate to call this a knock-off because seriously, this could not have been a simpler project.  But honestly, that’s the kind of project I needed these days.  My energy is still up and down and I’ve often felt kind of gross.  After I finished this yesterday, I have to say I felt about 1000% better if not in body, than mentally.  It was good to have a new something to wear and more than that, the act of creating was just good for my heart which always gets a little down when I’m physically limited.

As for the details of the top, I’m using Ottobre 2-2009-5.  It’s just a basic knit cowl.  I stuck with it though because Ottobre’s drafting is really similar to Burda and I find them easy to compare to my Jalie TNT.  

zippered jeans

Shibori Dyed Zippered Jeans


I’ve been sitting on this gray denim since January when I picked it up at Denver Fabrics’ New Years’ sale for all of $4 for the whole 2 yards.  It has a touch of lurex in it, so there’s a little bit of silvery sparkle running through it and it’s a nice weight with good stretch.  But I couldn’t leave it alone.  When I saw a blue breasted kingfisher like this one at the Denver Zoo with the kids and my friend and Noah’s bestie, I knew what I had to do.

zippered jeans
from Wikipedia

t-shirt project

So I guess I’m getting to April’s knockoff here on May 10th.  I will aspire to be more on top of things in the future.

At any rate, I sewed up 90% of this at my last fitting group meeting.  Maybe I’m getting more efficient, but t-shirts really are becoming a quick sew for me–a mind cleanser from big projects like jeans–but I think I’ve said as much before.

Boden Twist Jersey Top

On the board is a Boden Twist Jersey top.

Boden Twist Jersey Top

Cabi gathered tee

Cabi Gather Tee redux

I’ve had this diagonal zebra print cotton (blend I’m pretty sure) knit in my stash since we went to see family in San Diego last fall.  While I was immediately drawn to it with it’s intriguing blend of sea foam and grey, it’s lingered in my stash because I couldn’t figure out what pattern would do it justice.

Then last week I had a light bulb go off and it occurred to me that this fabric would make a great version of the Cabi Gather Tee.  

snap henley

Heathered Snap Henley

Aqua is generally my favorite color, but lately,  I keep coming across a wide range of such pretty corals and peaches.  Given the fact that coral is pretty much opposite aqua on the color wheel, I’ve been attempting to branch out from my #1 favorite color.

I got pushed over the orange edge when I encountered this pretty peachy pink heathered poly cotton rayon knit from Harts Fabric.  I bought it with some Christmas money and it’s been ageing in my stash as I’ve pondered how to do it justice.

TNT–wha?  TNT= a tried and tested pattern.  It should fit great, be adaptable (i.e. something with a lot of detail work is probably not going to be a standard), and something that you can compare other patterns to easily.

The path to getting a pattern that fits such criteria is not always sunshine and rainbows though.  My fitting friend Linda has invested something like 200 man hours trying to get a Butterick pattern to work perfectly, only to discover that a Silhouette Patterns t-shirt fit her better right out of the envelope. I mean, yay, but I wish for her sake that she didn’t have to go through all of that.

Persevere dear readers, though.  With a little (or a lot) of patience, and a critical eye, you can find your perfect pattern that will set you on the road of designing your own t-shirts in no time.

Dust off your sergers, ladies!!  The T-shirt Project is officially underway.

t-shirt project

Lori of Girls in the Garden and the Sew Forth Now podcast turned me onto Cabi.  They have some great designs in such bright happy colors.  Browsing their site, I was drawn to this tee (despite perhaps it just being plain old white and not the aforementioned bright happy colors).

Cabi Gather tee

It’s more or less a v-neck with a center panel and gathers right in the bust area along the panel.  It looked simple enough in form, so I thought it would be a good first project for The T-Shirt Project as well as a chance to try out some simple drafting.  Here’s my version:

Cabi Gather tee

To make your own, you will be dividing the front of your t-shirt into 2 sections.  Here’s the process:

t-shirt project

Pinterest has an odd way of helping you bring your thoughts together.  Physical inspiration walls do the same, but because it’s more of a time investment, it’s harder to see the obvious connections of how things that you are drawn to are related.  As I’ve seen my own boards fill up, a big light bulb went off for me, and I want to share it with you here.

I love knits.  I think once you start sewing with them, it’s hard not to.  They’re forgiving, they’re easy to sew, and they feel good to wear.  To boot, they sew up so quickly.  From cutting to wearing, it’s rare that a t-shirt, even a complicated one takes longer than 90 minutes for me to make.  After a long multi day project, nothing feels more mentally refreshing than sewing up a t-shirt.  And I never seem to have enough of those t-shirts made out of my beloved knits.

You can wear a t-shirt over, under or on top of nearly any other garment.  They can be as basic or as wildly complicated as you can dream.  Do you want to match a t-shirt to a skirt or a jacket?–you can do that with more ease and far less out of pocket than your shoes.

RTW t-shirts are often cheap and plentiful, so why make them?  Well, I find RTW colors insipid and the fit *terrible*.  It’s one of the things that drove me to sew in the first place.  And while more expensive RTW does give you some more style options, I certainly am not going to spend $60 on one t-shirt, especially when I know that it takes about a yard of fabric.  You can buy swanky (like Missoni) swanky fabric for less than that.

My idea?  I want to write about t-shirts.  I’d like to write about categories of t-shirts (the henley, the boatneck, the v-neck etc.), look at patterns and RTW inspirations within those categories and figure out how to make them all come together.  And I straight up want to knock off designer t-shirts, not because I want to have that look so much as I’m looking for a challenge.  I have a TNT pattern, so why not manipulate it to its utmost?

There is very little love lost between me and classic white shirts.  I’m not a fan.  I’ve never found one that I like.  I usually sweat in the fabric, there’s all the gapey business with buttons, and they never define my waist.

But as I’ve sewn, I’ve come to the conclusion that buttoned shirts need not be unfeminine…I’ve just needed to find details that I like and I can work on the fit for the rest.

The tie neck and flutter sleeves on my Watercolor Splash Blouse for instance take this well out of the realm of man’s garment:

blue white shirt

And this Milly blouse is just screaming to be knocked off.  Tie, lace, cap sleeves, front yoke that curves into the neck?   Too pretty.

blue white shirt

Jalie 2908: Elizabeth Made This

Jalie 2908

I finished my jeans for the Jeans Contest!  I’m really pleased with how everything worked out.  They were a lot of hard work, but I rather enjoyed switching among 6 different presser feet and no less than 7 different colors of thread and my serger despite it being a bit of a three ring circus.  Because this was for a contest, and because I wanted to challenge myself, I set about to create a unique pair of Jalie 2908 jeans.  I mean, if I’m making my own jeans, they should be different than something I could find in the mall in the first place, right?

Jalie 2908 Designer Pastiche Jeans

I started looking around for inspiration in December in planning for the contest and there were a lot of different details that I liked.