The Placket of Doom

(On the Sorry You’re Feeling Ill T-Shirt with Get Better Faster Stripes)

So, the Boy got a tummy bug and got sent home from school. My children have a combined age of approx 20, so needless to say I have dealt with a few tummy bugs in my time. Never have I seen someone laid so low with one though. It wasn’t the typical symptoms so much that were extreme, more his general demeanor, listlessness, staring into space-ness, asking for help to sit up, not reading and barely talking. On Day 5, when he still wasn’t eating at all or showing any signs of improvement, I consulted our GP, which led to him being sent to the hospital to rule out appendicitis. It wasn’t appendicitis (the official diagnosis in the end was viral gastroenteritis), but he did end up getting admitted for 3 nights and put on a drip to counteract the dehydration.

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It was a busy week. Sitting around doing nothing at the hospital is surprisingly exhausting. Taking my turn being the parent at home with The Girl was surprisingly stressful too. So I decided to make the Boy a t shirt. Ostentatiously that was to cheer him up in the hospital, but really, it was to take my mind of things, which is good, as I didn’t finish it until several days after he got home from the hospital.

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Being unwell brings out the Aspergers side in my son, and as well as being the exact opposite of his normal chatty self at the hospital (one member of staff commented on how shy he was and I had to explain that he’s actually very outgoing usually, which is one of the reasons I knew he felt so ill), it also seemed to ramp up his sensory sensitivity and he kept complaining that his t shirt was too restrictive around his throat. By the time he was admitted to the ward, he’d stripped of his t shirt and covered himself up in a blanket instead and after that he couldn’t have put a tshirt on if he wanted as by then he had a line in his arm. We took some shirts in to the hospital so that he could wear them as unbuttoned as he liked, but mainly he rocked the bare chested “look you can see even more of my ribs than normal” look.

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Hence I chose to make no 37 from Ottobre 03/2016 , a raglan Henly style t shirt with stripes up the side, because I thought he could undo the placket and it would feel less restrictive.  Great plan. The downside of the plan turned out to be that I had to make a placket.

Tracing and cutting went well. I made it in a size I was pretty sure had some growing room (as he wasn’t there to measure), but cut it to the length of the pattern 2 sizes up, for my string bean. At this point I was still delusional that I would finish it in an evening and take it with me to the hospital the next day. Ha.

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Mistake no 1: The t shirt was made on a whim so I used scrap fabric that I had in. The grey knots was the only thing really suitable that I had to hand, and I decided to brighten it up a bit with the red (after all what is the point of a faffing around with an extra pattern piece for a side stripe if you never notice it). This was my first mistake as I think the red is a 4 way stretch and it shifted like billy o when I tried to wrangle it into shape and sew it down. Particularly troublesome on that placket. Which brings me to….

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Mistake no 2: I tried to follow the Ottobre Minimalist Diagrams Are For Wimps Instructions when inserting the placket. This didn’t go well and I ended up with the hot mess you see above. After sleeping on it I decided to recut the front and try again.

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Second time around I used the Thread Theory placket tutorial for their Strathcona henly t shirt. To make this work I cut the placket piece on the fold, rather than as two separate pieces. I didn’t quite follow the instructions to the word, but it went sooo much better this time again. Definitely still room for improvement but liveable with.  The sharp eyed may notice that this placket is the “wrong” way around, that’s because despite tacking the other side, it stretched as I was sewing it and has little tucks in. Grr.

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Mistake no 3:  Prym poppers. Past experience shows that no matter how many times I reread the instructions or do trial runs on scrap fabric (ok, actually I did 0 trial runs this time), at least one of them always screws up on the real garment. I’ve never had the inserty applicator thingy jam onto the popper before though. Turned out it was due to the popper front and back being misalinged. Another sleep on it moment, before then taking apart with pliers and carefully lining up the replacement popper through the holes it’s predecessor left behind before attaching it.

Mistake no 4: I then sewed the original front with the awful placket to the rest of the t shirt and had to unpick the triple stretch lightening stitch raglan seems. Urgh.

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The neckband isn’t technically a mistake, but I did follow the Strathcona instructions and tried the slanty edge look and it’s not entirely successful. In particular I’m not happy with the scruffy insides showing when it’s worn open.  However I am now officially past caring.

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Because tis done now.  And it looks ok, although I wouldn’t want to subject it to close inspection from someone who knows how to sew. I think it has a bit of a cycling top vibe to it.  But most importantly The Boy is now home and on the mend. He hasn’t really passed comment on the new t shirt, but he did chose to wear it.

 

Done to a T

Last night I finally started, and finished a late Christmas present that I’d been cogitating on for a while. It’s a bag, for a child, whose name begins with T.

T'bag

T’bag

It’s made from scraps, recognise that pink fabric for the T? The purple is some home dyed calico from an abandoned project that’s in my stash. And the pocket on the bag is a scrap of fabric from a t shirt that has already been cut up and refashioned but yet to be blogged about. The lining is left over from the Christmas Shirt.

Now with added frogs

Now with added frogs

The idea for the bag came after our children were given Christmas presents by a folky family we know. I wanted to make a present in return and use some of left over fabric that I was making presents for my kids for. Except I wasn’t sure how suitable either material was for bag exterior, so I threw some of the purple fabric I was using to make a waistcoat muslin for my husbands Christmas present (still unfinished, the muslin that is, let alone the real thing) into the mix. Plus for some reason I decided that I wanted to make a bag where the sides were zips, so that it could be used to take some toys out and then zipped flat to be a playing mat. So I bought 2 zips that fully open, the colour choices were rather random, I opted for turquoise. And my daughter chose a button.

That was as far as I got. But I kept thinking about it. And about how to have zip sides without leaving a big hole for stuff to fall out of. Making two Presido Purse’s helped too.

Anyway, the thinking must have helped, because it all came together pretty easily. First, I drafted a pattern, based on the zip length.

Self drafted pattern

Self drafted pattern

Basically there’s a long rectangle that’s the bag front, then a very short one the depth of the zips to be the bag base but wider to create tabs that fold inside and prevent things falling out underneath the zips, then another long rectangle to be the bag back, with an extra bit to go accross the top before the trapezium flap. Then whack your favourite seam allowance around the outside.

Adding the zips

Adding the zips

I cut this template out from both my main and my lining fabric. I added the T to the front of my main fabric and found the scrap of purple jersey with a frog on lying about and whipped up a patch pocket and added it to the back. Then I basted the zips in place, face down (right side to right side with the fabric) and facing inwards, unsurprisingly like Erin’s tutorial.

Close up of the tabs

Close up of the tabs

At this point, I realised (luckily before I sewed the lining on) that I hadn’t thought about where to attatch the strap. Normally this is easy, sew it to the top of the sides, but, err, the sides are zips. After a bit of headscratching I worked out that I could probably attatch handles to the fold over bit of the back (between the back and the flap) but that it might work better with D rings. I went and raided my stores and found two plastic D rings and a clasp that had been cut off a long defunct rucksack and some navy blue soft woven tape (hey, the more colours the merrier) and added the D rings above the zips (zig zagged to add strength and prevent fraying).

Emergency D rings

Emergency D rings

Then to add a quick pocket to the lining (I’m a big fan of pockets). I didn’t match the pattern this time, but I did do a quick extra line of stitching to make a pen holder up the side.

Spot the pocket

Spot the pocket

Next I was ready to sew the lining to the main bag, all along the outside leaving just what would be the top of the front open.

lining sewn to main bag (right sides together) around the outside, leaving the front top edge unsewn (shown on right)

lining sewn to main bag (right sides together) around the outside, leaving the front top edge unsewn (shown on right)

Then I turned the bag the right way round, folded my raw edge inside at the top front forgot to press it flat as I had a phonecall and topstitched all around the outside (I went straight down the whole side along line of the zips rather than around the outside of the flaps, so that the line of stitching would create a natural place for the flaps to bend inwards) before adding the adjustable strap to the D rings and putting a couple of hand stitches to hold the bottom of the tabs in place on the inside.

Strappage

Strappage

A few hand stitches hold the bottom of the tab sides in place

A few hand stitches hold the bottom of the tab sides in place

Then I just had to put a button hole in the tab and sew on the button my daughter had chosen especially, which had purple, turquoise and pinky red flowers on it that picked up the colours of the bag.
And voila, a bag with adjustable strap an external and internal patch pocket, that you normally open by unbuttoning the tab but if desired you can unzip the sides too to make a playmat.

Opened out as a playing mat

Opened out as a playing mat