Turning Out T shirts.

Recently I have stayed in my comfort zone and made lots of T shirts, which makes sense as I wear a t shirt nearly every day. I stayed well within my comfort zone and have mainly been using tried and tested Maria Denmark patterns that I have already adjusted.  I have considered several new to me patterns, but at the end of the day, how different are t shirt patterns?  So I have stuck to the ones I know work but snuck a few tweaks in to change things up.

Dorsal Fin Indications

First up a Happy Holiday/Easter/Birthday present to myself of this Kirsten Kimono T shirt (already adjusted for full bust and sway back). A simple design, perfect to showcase some loverly holiday splurge shopping fish fabric. Bonus knickers and headscarfbandthingies made from the remnants (the latter of which my kids nicked).

I have more of this fabric in the green colourway earmarked for The Girl and I nicked a bit! There was some debate on the correct way up for this fabric, and we decided the bulge on the fishes indicated a dorsal fin and therefore went at the top.

Knit one purl one

Couldn’t resist this fabric in some of my fav colours and a knit stitch pattern. As a bonus it feels slinky and my family gave me lots of hugs wearing it. This is a hacked Birgitte Basic Tee (that I apparently only have dodgy phone photos of, sorry).

As per usual, I forgot to save the link to the tutorial I found. Basically, place centre of pattern piece at an angle to the fold instead of along the fold line. I think I added about 5cm each side (so 10cm) overall at the top, tapering to nothing at the bottom. Then I marked out double that length either side of the centre front and gathered it with clear elastic, that later ended up in the seam allowance (until I cut it out as it itched like crazy). Then I sewed on the neckband as normal, but couldn’t do my usual zig zag to sitch the seam allowance down so I did a stitch in the ditch with the stretch straight stitch instead, which didn’t look as neat as I’d like (the photo is pre stitching).

I eeked a toddler t shirt out of the left overs (spot the extra seam on the back) for the daughter of a knitting friend who was in the area. I used a pattern I made ages ago. The neckband looked to small once on though, and I know from experience that things that are tight getting taken on and off dont get worn, so I cut it off, thereby enlarging the hole, and added a new one. It also has a pocket on the front purely so I had an excuse to incorporate this sheep ribbon that I had a little of in my stash.

Feeling Blue

Sometimes you just need basics. This is another Birgitte, this time I raised the neckline slightly. I also lowered the armhole half an inch to try and get rid of the creases radiating from my armpit. This only had a negligable effect on the length of the armscyth so I left the sleevehead as it was. It does feel a little more comfy I think, but the creases are still there.

Irony Warning

And sometimes you need to make a statement. Another Birgitte, same armhole adjustment as last time, neckline moved even higher. My first time using iron on decoration which I bought online, they are really glittery 🙂 (and the fabric is more lush stuff from Kitschy Coo like the last two t’s, that this selfie really doesn’t do justice to).


I feel I need to explain as this is not a comment on the latest Dr Who casting (that’s a fortuitous coincidence). Neither is it me pretending to be a gynecologist.

As a Quaker I would like to live in a world where titles aren’t used (George Fox famously greeted the King “Good Day to thee Charles Stuart”, which was a very radical thing to do). As a realist I know this isn’t happening any time soon (I tried leaving boxes unticked on forms as a teenager. They just assumed I was a Mr. These days digital forms wont even submit if you leave boxes unticked). As a feminist I object to the fact that my title changes with my marital status but this isn’t true for men. As someone who studied hard for 4 years, I’m proud of my PhD. So as a preference I use no title (my qualification is rarely relevant to the conversation), but if people insist, I like them to use my hard won “Dr”.  After all, with aspie traits running int he family it’s important to get things right 😉

So when a family member called me Mrs, LSH pulled them up on it, and the reply was “isn’t it techically Mrs Dr if you’re a woman”. No. No it isn’t. Unless, apparently, you’re German, but they use Mr Dr too. (Or more accurately Frau/Herr Dr.)

Bonus Item

When I bought the “Mrs Dr” I noticed they had Alicorns too (I am adamantly informed that is the proper term for winged unicorns, who am I to argue with a 9 year old on such matters). So I let my daughter chose one (this is the rainbow holograph option). They must’ve printed it out the wrong size or something cos we got a second smaller one free.

The resulting AdvTee is now in heavy rotation, even if I’m slightly annoyed that I got a bubble at the centre front when adding the v neckline.

It has also prompted much discussion. Are Alicorns a species in their own right or the result of cross breeding between Unicorns and Pegasi? Are they born with a horn?  With Wings? Do they have nests? Are they mammals? Hours of fun for all the family (and innocent passers by, like the assistants in the sewing machine shop, and an old work colleague we bumped into).

I shoul Coco

June is upon us and what better excuse than this months stashbusting knit theme is there to break into some of the pretties I’ve been aquirring this year? (OK, this is a lie, I’m not sewing really sewing to the theme, it’s just the theme has rolled around to what I want to sew!).

back view

back view

I decided to use some lovely stuff that I acquired from Kitschy Coo to revisit the Coco Top from Tilly and the Buttons. I made this pattern twice last year and I was so pleased with myself! But the ponte fabric that I used quickly pilled and now that my sewing has advanced a little I notice that the fit isn’t the best on them, plus I’m not convinced by the turtle neck on me. However, they still get worn a lot (especially the colour blocked one) due to a lack of long sleeved tops in my drawers (and specifically non stripey ones).

embarassed side view - with the slight gapeyness at the neck showing

embarassed side view – with the slight gapeyness at the neck showing

This time I remeasured and cut a size smaller (6 not 7) but I did a Full Bust Adjustment. For some reason when I went to cut it the front piece was not playing fair at having the pattern lining up. Four or five attempts later and I called it a day – it’s pretty straight. Also, the piece of fabric was no where near as big as it was in my mind and I only just squeezed it on and the back and the front don’t have the same colour flowers along the bottom (but considering some of the badly matched patterns I now find myself noticing in RTW clothes I don’t think anyone will notice). Anyway, my plans for using the leftovers to make a skort (skirt with combined shorts underneath) for the girl will have to go out the window. There is a smallish piece left though, so watch this space….

well, if I'm going to look stupid I might as well make it look intentional

well, if I’m going to look stupid I might as well make it look intentional

I decided that I wanted to up my finishing on the neckline, as Tilly’s instructions are basically turn and stitch (with the aid of hem tape). I can live with unfinished seams on knit tops, but I wanted a neater neckline. Luckily the stashbusting facebook page came to my rescue yet again and I used Heather’s tutorial to cut a facing for the neckline. However, I don’t have a coverstitch machine, so I sewed it to the t shirt with a stretch stitch, then understitched it before flipping it under. Then I folded the raw edge under and twin stitched it from the front. I decided to narrow the seam allowance when sewing my facing on as at a trial try on I was finding the neckline quite wide and I didn’t want to increase it by 5/8″ (I still used 5/8″ at the shoulder seams so that my facing was the same size as my t shirt!). This was fine, except in a couple of places you can now see the stay stitching I’d done at 3/8″ right at the beginning before I’d decided on this course of action. Oh well, the colour match on the thread is good so it doesn’t show too much. (And the reason there’s no photo of the facing is not due to embarassment, rather ineptitude on my part (i.e. I forgot to take one, sorry)).

How the devil are you supposed to turn corners with a twin needle?

How the devil are you supposed to turn corners with a twin needle?

I used Pandora’s tips for threading my twin needle (and I discovered that my machine had a thread holder bar above the needle along the way, suppose I should be using that all the time, whoops) – I’d already worked out for myself to increase the stitch length to 3. Still not sure if I’m using the best way to turn corners, like on the side splits here. The best way I’ve found is to treat the needles like a single needle, leave them down as if it was a single needle, raise the foot and pivot. It’s not perfect but it’s the best I’ve come up with.

aftermath of the tissue paper approach

aftermath of the tissue paper approach

I decided to try Jessica’s tissue paper trick on the hem. As I suspected although a lot of it pulled away, there was quite a bit of tissue paper left behind. I couldn’t be bothered pulling it out, so I left it there and I’m hoping the rest comes out in the wash.

with/without tissue paper hem comparison - above is without

with/without tissue paper hem comparison – above is without

It didn’t seem to make much difference so I did one hem with tissue and one without, for a comparison. I suspect it makes more of a difference on a thiner knit, this Kitschy Coo stuff is really thick and lovely. Also, it would be easier to remove the tissue paper afterwards if you weren’t using a twin needle.

Looking nautical

Looking nautical

I’m glad I did a FBA, I think the fit is a lot better. Next time I will alter the neckline too. It is a little wide and low for my taste, as it shows any t shirt I’m wearing underneath (and I want this top as an item to layer to help me with dressing in our variable climate) which restricts what I can wear it with. Plus it seems to be gaping a bit at the front of the neckline, despite stay stitching it. Maybe its something to do with how I did the facing? Also, it’s been suggested I try a slopey shoulder adjustment and it’s probably about time I worked out how to do a sway back adjustment too.

And what's more nautical than a hornpipe?

And what’s more nautical than a hornpipe?

Overall, this top is definitely a winner (even if my mum thinks it’s garish, but as she said, it’s not her that’s wearing it). I think of it as my new “seasalt top” as I have a few tops from there that I love but don’t want to buy anymore as they are nearly all stripey (I love stripes but a girl can have enough) and the new ones have low scoop necklines that I don’t want. The fabric is at least as thick and lovely as the sea salt ones and I’m hoping it wears as well too.

Oh this sewing malarky is good when it works. Being able to make the tops you wish your favourite shops made and add a bit to the length while you’re at it, bliss! Anyone else out there improving on the brands they love?