Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Complete: More Summer Basics

Well, hello to you! It's been tricky of late to find the time to sit down and do this post - probably because I've been spending all my spare time sewing instead - but here are the rest of this summer's basic tees. I warn you in advance, this is a pretty photo-heavy post, but maybe someone out there will find the comparisons helpful. I always like reading up on other people's experiences of patterns before I tackle them anyway :)

Last time I shared my versions of the Kirsten Kimono Tee. This time we'll kick off with the knit top from New Look 6899, the pattern I used for my Head vs Heart Skirt (still a favourite, by the way). When I bought it it was really only for the skirt; the top didn't register as a possibility at all. But two years on, I thought it was time to try it. Because I sew knits now... ;)

This is a slightly scooped boat neck top with raglan sleeves, and I used a fine, drapey (viscose?) knit fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics and Remnants. The pattern has quite a lot of shaping, including at the back centre seam, and I was able to do the whole thing on the overlocker. (Why did I ever bother trying to sew knits on my regular machine??)

(Please ignore the dire need for ironing...) I think I stretched the raglan seams a little when sewing them, which is something I'll have to watch out for next time.

The pattern actually calls for twin needling at the hem and sleeves, which I tried to do. Unfortunately my machine wasn't having a bar of that - it absolutely destroyed those hemlines, chewing up the fabric like no one's business. (Is this normal for lighter-weight fabrics? I must research that more.) In the end I had to cut all attempted hems off. This meant for the sleeves at least there wasn't enough fabric left to turn under and try again, not without catching up the upper side seam, anyway. So instead I sewed bands to finish them off, and this is where the formula given in the Kirsten Tee was so helpful. Although since arm bands don't curve the same way a neckband does, I probably could have made them slightly longer than the given 70% - maybe 80% or so.

The hem band I kept the same width as the top itself, so as to keep the drape. Wish I'd made sure it was sitting flat before taking the photo...

 I do like this one, but I've found I like it best tucked in with skirts or trousers (just not jeans...). The drapiness of the fabric gives it a bit of a blouse feel that seems to work when it's tucked in. I'd happily make this one again, although maybe next time in a fabric that can handle a twin needle.

Next up is the Tonic Tee, by Skinny Bitch, Curvy Chick Patterns, a free fitted t-shirt pattern that I downloaded back in February and hadn't got around to until now. (There's a free long sleeved, crew neck version too - also free - that I will absolutely be sewing up for next autumn/winter).

Very Important Note, that I wish had been mentioned in the instructions: As a PDF pattern you have to tape these pages together with the edges butted up flush against each other, NOT overlapping them. It's not something I've ever come across in a PDF pattern before, and since the pattern lines on the pages don't go right to the edges it does look as though they're meant to overlap. But they're not. This was extremely confusing until I googled other people's Tonic posts. I love the online sewing community...

I sewed this up in a cotton grey marle knit, that has plenty of stretch, but little drape.

I sewed the XS graded out to S at the hips, according to the measurements given, and it's a very similar fit to RTW. Again, all done on the overlocker, bar the twin needling at hems - no trouble this time!

It went together very easily, and was a relatively quick make. Would I make it again? Well, actually...

I already did!

This one (which I cut out at the same time as I did the first, in either Blind Optimism or Lack of Foresight...lucky it fits!) is out of the same fabric as the New Look top above. At least I thought it was, but it seemed to handle the twin needle fine - on the sleeves at least. The hem was so appalling I couldn't even bear to photograph it. Nothing for it but to cut it off. If I could have burned the offcuts I would have. Once again, the band solution came to the rescue.

There was one other change I made to the first Tonic, and that was the neckband. I think you can tell in the photos that the second sits a bit more nicely. Go back and check. I'll wait :)

 When I sewed the grey neckband on, I was surprised to see that it wasn't sitting quite flat, since the rest of the top was going together so nicely. I went back and checked the instructions and saw this:

Notice how in the illustration there's overhang at both ends? I'd completely missed that the first time around.

Now, it feels a bit ungracious to say this when the pattern is free, but I don't see why the pattern piece can't just be printed at the right size. Since there are no markings or notches, it really is guesswork to get it right. I just tried to make my pinned pre-sewn version look similar to the diagram and hoped for the best.

When they're laid out flat together, you can see the difference:

It's really just a minor quibble I suppose, because I really do like the fit overall - these are going to be great summer basics, and being fitted, will sit very nicely layered under jackets or cardigans in cooler weather too. It's a good go-to pattern, and will get plenty of use down the track I think.

To wrap up, here's the last of my summer tees - ironically this was the first I made, and that back in May. This is the Style Arc Riva Raglan Tee

I think this is meant to be a sporty style tee. I also think I'd like it much better in a different fabric, though to be fair, this was only ever intended to be the muslin. It got pressed into service during MMM.

This is a knit with plenty of stretch (it has a cotton lycra kind of feel, but I'm guessing here) and is also extremely stiff. Since it's a bit more voluminous than the other patterns here, that makes it quite sticky-outy when worn (There's probably a proper sewing term for that, but I don't know it, sorry...)

 Also - and this is the first time I've ever wondered about the drafting on a SA pattern - the neckband seems a little long because it just doesn't sit flat, You can see that in the photos above. And if not, you can definitely see it in the one below:

This one doesn't really get worn out of the house, unless it's to go walking the dog, or picking up kids from the bus stop. I think a future version would be vastly improved by using a softer fabric and fine tuning the fit of the neckband. It does seem to be asking for a second chance, especially with contrast sleeves... Maybe some time.

Anyhow, that's it for the summer basics (unless I can find a singlet or tank pattern I like in the next few weeks). Apologies for the mercilessly long post; I won't inflict such a long one on you all again, I promise!

 The best thing about sewing my basics first, rather than diving in to the exciting ones, is that now my more interesting projects will all have something that goes with them...no more wardrobe orphans :D

Next post, one of my favourite makes ever!

PS: Can anyone suggest a good singlet /tank pattern?? Thanks :D


  1. 1.Yes you do sew knits now and yo do it damn well!!!
    2.Wardrobe orphans … that’s what they are called!
    3.Love your entire basics series!

    1. He he, thanks! That's so lovely of you :)

  2. I know that measure twice cut once released a singlet pattern! http://www.measuretwicecutonce.com.au/shop/

    1. Oh, thank you - I shall go and check it out immediately!

  3. Great wrap up! Interesting that the New Look has the centre back seam - good way to prevent a sway back adjustment. I think lightweight viscose/rayon/bamboo knits are vile to hem. I made a couple of Dolores tops (yet to be blogged) and like one of yours I can't even bear to see it untucked. I don't buy those fabrics anymore. They just make me angry! I use a rubbed off pattern I made from one of my fave Witchery tanks (scoop front, scoop back) but the measure twice cut once looks very similar. I just made 2 tanks yesterday - so satisfying!

    1. Isn't it though! I just love knowing I can whip myself up something in a couple of hours :)
      Ooh, a question - does silk jersey behave as badly?? I've just seen some in my gem of a local fabric store and despite a temporary fabric buying freeze I'm reeeeeally tempted. I remembered your glorious emerald dress and wondered - would you recommend trying it or suggest running screaming in the opposite direction??

  4. I love your comparison post! I'm also a convert to hem bands on soft knits - on me I prefer the blouson effect. I'd forgotten about the SBCC Tonic, so thank you very much for the reminder, I had planned to make it up ;)

    1. Happy to help! I'll look forward to seeing it/them :) The hem bands are such a great solution; as nasty as soft knits can be to work with, I love wearing them so it's nice to know they're still an option!

  5. Great post, good to be able to compare patterns. Thank you.

  6. You're very welcome! Glad it could be helpful :)

  7. I love to sew stuff like this to wear every day. The shape of the tonic T is particularly flattering and this is a new company to me. There seem to be so many out there now! As for those slinky knits I have experienced similar problems. These all help me: use stretch twin needle one with a larger gap between needles is better. Make stitch length longer. Take first few stitches using wheel by hand. Grasp bobbin and top thread reasonably firmly at the back of the machine to lift the first few stitches clear of the feed dogs. Set machine to slow stitching speed if you have a choice. These are very small things and you may have tried them already but this combination seems to work for me. As knits vary so much, I always test my seams on a scrap first until I get the combination just right as I too have had many frustrations!

    1. Thanks so much Philippa,that's really helpful. I haven't come across some of those solutions before. Here's hoping the next time around with slinky knits is more successful!

  8. Those are some lovely basic tees! I like the green one, great colour!
    Twin needling can be a pain. It's usually easier if you use some stabilizer (wash-away tape, or even fabric starch) and you should also be sure that you have threaded the second needle correctly! It works differently on different machines, depending on where the holder for the second spool of yarn is. And definitely test on a scrap first, because thread tension is also an issue. (This is the reason why I bought a coverlock stitch second hand a little while ago, and before that I mostly did bands for the hems and sleeves... ;) )