Completed: Maternity t-shirts

Having experienced over 8 months of pregnancy so far, I can safely conclude that I don’t like it. I am looking forward to holding and seeing this little human that is growing inside me, but wish the growing inside me part didn’t have to happen first. If only I were a bird, or a man. My husband might argue that being married to a pregnant woman is not easy either but I don’t see him willing to trade with me right now. Especially with that whole giving birth part of pregnancy looming on the horizon.

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Funnily enough, I don’t think I look all that pregnant in these pictures.

During the moments I didn’t feel too crappy I managed to do some sewing but not that much. My sewing machine hasn’t been neglected this much since I first got it! Today I thought I’d show you some maternity wear. Actually, I’ll show you the only maternity wear I made…

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From the side though, there’s no mistaking what’s going on in there!

When my belly started to expand a bit too much to still fit comfortably in my regular wardrobe I adapted a t-shirt pattern hoping that I could use it to sew some t-shirts/sweaters that would last me through the rest of my pregnancy. I believe I was 24 or 25 weeks pregnant at the time (it took a while before I grew huge). I used the t-shirt pattern from Meg McElwee’s Sewing with knits Craftsy class. I made two t-shirts from this pattern years ago and at 25 weeks I was still wearing these although they started to get a bit short in the front. The fit of this pattern is a bit looser than the other t-shirts I made for myself which made it more suitable for an expanding body and a good starting point for a maternity shirt.

Changes made to the pattern:

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Schematic of changes (in red) made to the sewing with knits t-shirt pattern. The original pattern has shaped side seams but I found it too much trouble to incorporate this into the drawing.

  1. Added 1 inch to bottom of both front and back bodice because the rise of maternity pants is much lower than in regular pants and I wanted to keep the belly band of the pants covered.
  2. Added notches on both front and back bodice to make sure I could align the pattern pieces properly after all the changes that were later made to the front bodice only. The top notch is 18 cm from the top and the lower notch 6 cm from the bottom. I based this on how the original t-shirt fit me and took into account that I would lose some fabric in the seam and hem allowances. The area in between the notches is basically where I expected my belly to start and end at its largest, so where extra room is needed.
  3. Added 8 cm of extra length to front bodice to allow extra room for expanding belly.
  4. Added ½’’ of extra length to bust area of front bodice to allow extra room for all those additional cup sizes that you accumulate during pregnancy (it’s quite crazy, really).
  5. Graded out the sides of the front bodice to allow extra room for expanding belly. Started with nothing just below the top notch to 1 inch at widest part of belly and then straight down to the hem so in total 2 inches were added to the t-shirt circumference.
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My husband calls me turtle when I wear this t-shirt…

Construction wise the only changes that were needed were that the extra length that was added to the belly part of the front bodice was gathered to fit in between the two notches of the back bodice. The extra length at the bust was simply eased into the back by stretching the fabric between the top notch and top of the bodice as they were sewn together with my overlocker.

I managed to complete 3 t-shirts and I have pictures of 2. The third one is plain grey and I prefer to wear the ones shown here. Pictures didn’t happen until 36 weeks in a quick “let’s a least get pictures of these shirts while I’m still pregnant shoot”. I should have paid more attention when I put the shirts on, the one with 3/4 length sleeves was twisted a bit, the left side seam is oriented too much toward the front and the right side seam towards the back. Ah well, at least there are pictures…

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After more than 10 weeks of wearing these shirts regularly I can say that I am very happy with how they turned out. They are very comfortable and the changes I made to allow for expansion appear to be sufficient to also last the couple of weeks I still have left. I am glad I managed to make these shirts, I think I have worn them often enough to warrant the time spent making them and I feel much more comfortable in them than I would have been in the ready to wear shirts I tried on in stores and didn’t buy.

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Normal service will most likely not return anytime soon on this blog as it took ages to get this single blog post done… I’ll be back though, there are too many things I still wish to show you.

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Completed: yet another Lady Skater t-shirt…

front colour blocked t-shirtI needed some simple projects to get going again and decided to fill a gap in my wardrobe: long sleeved t-shirts. Useful when it gets a little bit colder and a short sleeved t-shirt doesn’t provide enough coverage anymore but a cardigan or sweater is still too warm.

140907_sideIf you have been following this blog for a while you may have noticed that I usually use solid colours when sewing for myself and that I am not averse to some colour blocking. To make this t-shirt I used the same pattern as before but adapted it to give the top of the t-shirt a different colour. I even remembered to take some progress pictures so I could show you how I changed the pattern to achieve this look. This is a very easy method to give your favourite t-shirt (or dress) a different appearance.

The first step is tracing your pattern because you don’t want to mess with the original, you might want to use it again some other time. Make sure to include all relevant pattern markings, I forgot to add the straight of grain line for the sleeve at first…

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Fresh pattern pieces!

The second step is to decide where you want to cut and mark this position on all pattern pieces (front, back and sleeve). I made a mark ¾’’ below the armpit. You could cut a little bit higher than that, but I would advise you to take into account that you are introducing extra seam allowances inside the shirt and you don’t want all of those to meet exactly at the armpit because that will become very bulky which is a pain to sew and might also not be too comfortable when wearing. If you only want a small strip of the second colour at the top you can also cut above the armpit. Check that the marks you made on the front and back bodice match and that the marks you made on the sides of the sleeve match as well.

Mark a certain distance away from the armpit and check on front and back bodice (and sleeve) whether the marks match up.

Mark a certain distance away from the armpit and check on front and back bodice (and sleeve) whether the marks match up.

Draw a line across the pattern pieces through the mark and cut the pattern. Make sure that both sides of each pattern piece are labelled correctly.

mark and cut

My pencil marks aren’t very clear but I first drew the cut line with pencil.

The Lady Skater pattern has the seam allowance included in the pattern. However, where I cut the pattern, the seam allowance is not yet included. This means that I have to remember to add the appropriate seam allowance when I cut the pattern from fabric. I use a quilting ruler and rotary cutter to get a straight cut. You can also tape some extra tracing paper to the pattern and add the seam allowance to the pattern if you worry that you’ll forget.

Add seam allowance to side that was sliced.

Add seam allowance to side that was sliced.

I chose to first sew top and bottom of each pattern piece together before assembling the t-shirt. You could topstitch the seams but I didn’t. For another look you could also only do this modification to the bodice to get a differently coloured yoke and leave the sleeves as they are.

pieces assembled

And it case you are wondering, yes, there will be jeans at some point, just not this week, I have too much other stuff going on…

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Completed: Improvisationally pieced t-shirt

Improvisationally pieced t-shirt

To make a long story (not even that) short, this t-shirt is an excellent example of what happens when I:

  • Decide to use a 65cm long, 1.5m wide piece of fabric to make a ¾ or long sleeved t-shirt. People, this doesn’t fit unless you are a child or possibly when you wore a size XS pre vanity sizing. Why I didn’t simply make a short sleeved t-shirt with this fabric? I’m not sure.
  • Leave the left-over fabric of my previous t-shirt in the vicinity of my cutting mat after completing said t-shirt.
  • Decide to make ¾ length sleeves because that length could be cut out of the striped fabric.
  • Don’t want a sleeve that is just stripes because that might look weird.
  • Think it would be cool to have a strip of stripes down the length of one of the sleeves, preferably the left (guess where it ended up…)
  • Piece a strip of striped fabric in between 2 pieces of purple fabric to create a new piece of fabric to cut out the second sleeve.
  • Pieced sleeveRealise I must have made a calculation mistake because the new piece of fabric that I created is too narrow after a certain point to cut out the sleeve (the purple fabric was slightly weirdly shaped at the sides due to other pattern pieces having been cut around it).
  • Decide to make short sleeves instead.
  • After cutting the sleeve realise I still have some purple fabric left that is wide enough to be added at the bottom of the sleeve!
  • Realise it is too short to convert the short sleeve to a ¾ length sleeve.
  • Wish I hadn’t already cut the short sleeve.
  • Attach the piece of purple fabric anyway.
  • Attach more stripes at the bottom of the sleeve to make it ¾ length.
  • Start construction of the t-shirt.
  • Use the striped fabric for the neckband so the stripes on the sleeve won’t feel lonely.
  • Put it on and feel relieved it’s wearable.

What do you think? Is improvisational piecing going to be the next big thing or should I instead make sure to buy enough fabric for future projects?

t-shirt front

 

Completed: Lady Skater t-shirt

Lady Skater t-shirt frontI could do with some new t-shirts to replace some old and worn ones and since I am very happy with the fit of the Lady Skater dress I decided to turn the bodice into a t-shirt pattern.

The shoulder seam tends to shift backwards when I wear my Lady Skater dress so I moved it forward on my t-shirt pattern and I think that this is an improvement as it now stays in place. This is an adjustment that I need to do more often so I am a bit surprised I missed it earlier.

The bodice of the dress finishes around the waist so I needed to extend it to t-shirt length. To do this I used the t-shirt pattern from the Craftsy Sewing with knits class. At first I simply overlapped the two patterns matching at center front or center back and the armpit (more or less, obviously they didn’t match completely at the latter). I then simply merged the side seams of the two patterns, making sure that they would be the same length on the front and back pattern pieces. In the end I ended up taking the t-shirt in quite a bit because I wanted it to be more fitted than the sewing with knits pattern was.

WLady Skater t-shirt sidehen trying it on I found the hem too long but I think I was a bit too enthusiastic when I chopped the excess length off. My next t-shirt will be longer.

Overall I am happy with the fit and the matching of the stripes turned out pretty good as well. The seams were sewn with my overlocker but because I was working with a stripe I first machine basted the seams that needed pattern matching to ensure a good match. This did make the process longer since I essentially had to do those seams twice but unpicking overlock stitches to fix shifted stripes would have taken even longer.

Lady Skater backI was very lucky to find this fabric at a fabric market last week. I was looking for stripes but most of them were the wrong colour or very narrow. I had almost given up hope on finding a suitable one when I spotted this fabric hidden at the bottom of a huge pile. I quickly realised it is exactly the same type of fabric as a grey/purple stripe I bought a couple of years ago that is very comfortable to wear. Unfortunately, the vendor only had 1.2 m left on the bolt and only this colour combination. Otherwise I would certainly have bought more! I don’t wear a lot of bold prints but I do love a good stripe.

I see many more t-shirts in my near future. In fact, I’ve already started cutting out another one. I also want to play a bit with different necklines to add variety.

Lady Skater t-shirt

UFO busting: Messed up top morphs into sporty baby tee

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This used to be an UFO, now it is a baby top!

Several days ago this was a top destined to remain unfinished forever. Now it has morphed into a fabulous sporty baby tee! This was one of my drama UFOs. I must have started this black and orange jersey top (7d, Knipmode August 2010) late 2010 and it turned into an UFO at some point during the first six months of 2011. It remained untouched for at least 2 years because that is how long we live in our current home…

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This is what was left of the original top after I cut out the fabric for the baby tee.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the original top before cutting into it. The neckline was so messed up and screamed homemade in a bad way that I would never wear it. In fact, all of the problems that I had with this top involved the neckline. I made several stupid mistakes during the construction and had to unpick so often that it caused multiple holes in the fabric because the stretch stitch that I used was a complete nightmare to unpick (nowadays I use a simple zigzag stitch when sewing with knits which truly makes a world of difference). On top of that, the fabric got eaten by my sewing machine several times creating even more damage (wish I’d known about holding the thread ends when you start a seam, would have saved me tons of frustration). I also realize now that I used completely the wrong type of interfacing to reinforce it.

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The upper left picture shows some of the hideous topstitching. The other two pictures show the inside of the neckband. You can see how much thread issues I had. The fabric also somehow ended up twisted in several locations.

Could I have fixed this top to get it up to my current standard? I didn’t have any fabric left to redo the neckline. Buying more fabric also wasn’t an option because the solid knits from Hilco have changed slightly since 2010 (not just the colour but also the feel of the fabric) so I would have had to redo the entire top to make sure it looked good. And well, making a whole new top wasn’t really going to solve this UFO situation that I had going on with the original top so no, I couldn’t fix this top.

I couldn’t just throw this project in the bin though. The fabric is a really nice and soft viscose and lycra blend that didn’t come cheap. Enter my decision to get rid of all my UFOs. I realized that it would be totally all right to turn anything that I no longer want into something else! So, what would be the best way to turn this now unwanted top into something desirable?

The original top was made up of quite small pieces of fabric which made it difficult to turn it into another garment for myself. A baby top, however, is much smaller and this fabric is absolutely lovely for babies because it feels so nice on the skin.

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I absolutely love the colourblocking on the front of the t-shirt.

I decided to make the envelope tee size 6-12 months from Meg McElwee’s book “Growing up Sew Liberated”. I love this pattern and have already made it several times. It is a simple pattern but easy to customize and I think it makes a great gift.

In order to fit the front and back pieces out of the UFO fabric pieces I had to cut up the pattern. This gave me the opportunity to create a colour blocking effect (actually very similar to what I had planned in the original top). This is very much my style and I think it gives the t-shirt a sporty appearance. In the picture below you can see how I adapted the pattern to achieve this look.

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Schematic representation of the adaptations that I made to the front and back pattern pieces of the envelope tee size 6-12 months from “Growing up Sew Liberated”.

I consider this UFO properly busted because I ended up with a great looking baby top that makes me smile by only looking at it, while the old top made me cringe. It also made me realize that my sewing skills have really improved since 2010. I don’t think this top would have given me so much trouble had I tried to make it now.

Have you ever hacked up a messed up project to make something else with the fabric pieces?