Monday, April 22, 2013

The Tickle And Need Method

On Thursday afternoon, I pulled all the t-shirt fabrics out of the stash closet, wrapped them around my body, marked where the fit looked good, and then measured between the marks to size the stretch. In one of her videos, Peggy Sagers tells you to do this and then to sew the size that corresponds. So if you wrap the fabric around and between the pins it measures 34", you would then sew the size with a 34" bust measurement. This works BUT not quite the way Peggy says. She tells you to go ahead and sew that size and everything will work out. I say go ahead and trace that size, make your usual alterations, and then there are greater odds it will work out. It's a good tip. It works.

New Look 6735 has been my T&T t-shirt pattern for a few years now. Having worked out a new set of alterations with a lot less gyrations, I wanted to see how the resulting pieces would differ from the ones I'd been using. The short answer is barely but better. With the pattern traced in my typical size, I wanted a fabric that matched that sizing to sew the (hopefully wearable) muslin with. This blue/grey/purple burnout was perfect because it is also...

... a print and a print is especially useful when you're not quite sure you've made all the right adjustments but you know you've made the major ones. It'll hide minor imperfections.

With a stretch fabric, I wasn't sure how much hip differential to add in the back so I traced a larger size along the side seam and then added a back wedge which I then ended up taking out after fitting. Once the seam was permanently sewn, I thought perhaps I'd taken a bit too much and when I compared...

... the cut out wedge of fabric to the inserted wedge of paper, I was right. I'm working on another version. For this next one, I traced the pattern with no wedge inserted and I'm focusing on the shape of the lower armhole. More about that tomorrow.

Do you remember this picture of my stash closet from a few weeks ago and...

... this picture of my clothes closet? Do you see what they have in common? There's about the same ratio of colors, textures, and prints. When I finished the t-shirt, I took it upstairs to the closet and noticed immediately how it went with a large portion of the other garments. It certainly wasn't deliberate but it did remind me of a conclusion I came to a few years ago.

Although I always start with the best of intentions, I have never finished a SWAP plan - nor any other wardrobing plan for that matter. In fact, it seems the minute that I state I have a plan, I'm seduced away to some other goal. I've read numerous books on developing your style, dressing for your body type, and finding your fashion personality and they fascinate me. I've learned a lot from the descriptions especially about why I like a particular color, texture, print, or style. I've made some mistakes - and I'm sure I always will - but over time I've become increasingly confident with my choices to the point where most of the fabrics I buy, and the garments I sew, work well together. While not planned, my wardrobe does organically evolve. Let's call it accidental wardrobe planning.

The thing that always detours me from developing any wardrobe plans is the curious question and it's the process of exploring those questions that has led to better results both in terms of developing patterns that fit and flatter and in terms of developing a fabric stash and a wardrobe of clothes that fits and flatters. It's a win-win.

Often it's a question or comment that gets me thinking which is one reason why I really appreciate the feedback and discussion. Thanks. Right now, I'm exploring Debbie's comment about the front armhole looking like it's cutting in. I haven't liked that shape for a while and it was time. After that, I have a few more questions waiting to be explored and I imagine even more will develop so it's unlikely I'll be doing any specific wardrobe planning in the near future. It's more likely that I'll continue to sew by the tickle and need method alternating between questions, occasions, shiny objects, and holes to be plugged. And that's okay. It works too.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - less alterations, better fit,


  1. "Ahhh...this box is nice and cozy!"

    Someone's making herself at home! :-)

    Nice t-shirt, the fit looks excellent.

    1. My daughter had said that Chloe liked laundry baskets. I guess this is the closest she'd found at our house.

      The t-shirt feels good on too which always a nice combo.

  2. I loved seeing a fitted T in that burnout fabric! I made myself a modified version of Dixie DIY's Summer Concert Tee in that exact same fabric (I guess Fabriclands all across Canada get at least some of the same fabrics). My top is definitely not fitted - but is great for wearing over a tank top at the office.

    1. LOL - yes, I imagine Fabriclands are similar all over the country although the franchises tend to have different (often better quality) fabrics.

      The burnout is in quite a few bargain centers right now. I may get more especially as I just cut out a pink version and somehow ended up with the stretch going the wrong way. I'm not sure if it was on the bolt "backwards" or if it was me but... up and down won't do the trick. A rookie move.

  3. The T looks good, love the fabric, and glad to hear that the alterations gave you much the same results as before.

    I've been working on the jeans and am no closer to a fit than I was before I pulled the pattern out of the envelope! Time to take a break and sew something I can wear. Several things. My wardrobe is severely lacking in short sleeve tops right now and I need them.

    1. The results were pretty similar but more fine tuned. There are less alterations this route and better results. Excellent.

      I can TOTALLY understand your need to sew something you can actually wear. Been there, done that. And perhaps an answer will come to you while you're sewing. Love when that happens.

  4. I love that tip! I am going to keep that in mind.

    1. I felt the same way when I heard it because it made so much sense as a way of working with degrees of stretch and the fabric factor.

  5. Thanks for the tip about wrapping the fabric around you Myrna. I've just made this top (my first in stretch fabric) and it's rather large. Going to try it on the smaller size and see how it fits before I cut it out.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.