Friday, March 20, 2015

The T-Shirt That Became A Tank Top

It would be entirely possible to mount a successful argument that the more I know about sewing, the harder it gets HOWEVER... an equally successful argument could be made that the more I know about sewing, the easier it gets only I'm far more aware of the changes that could be made to make the garment look and fit better and completely willing to take the time to make those changes. That's what happened this past week.

Last weekend, I cut out four garments: two tank tops, a t-shirt, and one sleeveless woven blouse. I anticipated that one of the tank tops and the t-shirt would be easy sews, the woven blouse would take the most time, and the second tank top would be the most fun because I don't have enough fabric and will need to piece together a yoke. That's not what happened.

This turquoise tank is made from a remnant I bought at Sew Expo. The fabric is GORGEOUS to work with and there was barely enough to cut the top. I used my T & T pattern because the seam down center back would allow me to maximize the fabric and the pattern was already altered to fit. The only change I made was to raise the underarm.

I stitched the binding to the underarm and then decided I'd raised it too much so I picked that off and re-did it and then I fused and hemmed the bottom like I've done a million times before with this T & T only when I tried the t-shirt on, it seemed too long. This is the fabric factor. It'll get you ever time. So...

... I picked out the twin-needled hem, fused another strip of interfacing an inch higher, cut off the original hem, and pinned the new hemline in place. When I tried that on, I decided it was too short. It's a Goldilocks thing as in too hot, too cold, and just perfect which turned out to be turning up the hem 1/2" instead of the full inch. For a tank top, it took forever but not nearly as long as...

... the t-shirt that became a tank top. This fabric is heavier and has a nice hand and drape however, in retrospect, it would have been perfect for a skirt only I chose to make a t-shirt. It was to be one of the tops from my cruise collection and when I went to cut it out, I couldn't find the journal with my outline so I cut out a simple t-shirt using Marcy's Vogue 9057 that I'd pretested. It was supposed to be a wrap top. Oops.

I chose to raise the underarm an inch because I thought there was too much fabric bunching there with the other version I'd sewn. Raising the underarm affected the sleeve cap but with the significant changes to the cap I'd made on my woven blouse, I opted to pin baste the original sleeve in first. There was too much cap height. Next, I opted to pin baste in the sleeve moving the cap up 1". There was not enough cap height. Next, I redrafted the cap height to have 1/2" less height, re-cut the sleeves, inserted one, and the easing was not puckered but visible if you know what I mean. It couldn't be pressed out because of the synthetic fabric leaving the sleeve cap looking ripply SO....

... by then I was quite frustrated with sleeves and had realized this top would most likely be on the warm side so I opted for sleeveless and serged a strip around the armhole, turned it to the wrong side, and stitched it in place with a double needle. As you can see above, not at all pretty so...

... I tried it on, gauged that it could be slightly narrower, cut off the turned edge and then...

... stabilized the armholes with strips of interfacing. This is what I'd done with the turquoise tank top and the armholes turned out beautifully. I've gotten to the point now where I stabilize all the edges on a knit top that will be stitched - the neckline, the shoulder seam, the hemline, and now armholes on tanks. It just works.

I reapplied the binding using exactly the same method. The only difference between this image and the (ugly) one earlier is the stabilizing benefits of the interfacing. SOLD.

It took me almost three hours to sew in the last version of the sleeve, pick it out, sew on the binding, cut it off, stabilize the armholes, serge on the new bindings, turn and stitch them to the garment, and close up the portion of the side seam I'd opened. THREE HOURS... is a lot when it typically takes me an hour and a half to make a t-shirt. Some days - some garments - are like that and you just never can tell. The woven blouse? After three hours, all I had left was the hand stitching under the collar stand and the buttons and button holes. Go figure.

Today... I'm not sewing. I'm driving two and a half hours east to visit a friend and we're going to take turns painting an acrylic painting together. She's a professional and I'm a total amateur so I anticipate learning a lot. I hope it's fun for her too although just spending time together will be fun for both of us. I know that I'm looking forward to spending the day with a friend.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - two finished tanks and an almost finished blouse all for the cruise collection

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. 
- Thomas Edison


  1. It's very reassuring to know that someone with all your experience has days like this too. Thanks for sharing how you turned this into a success. I am currently trying to turn a pattern designed for knits into one for wovens. It's Kwik Sew 3756. I've made it in a summer knit and its a fabulous fit for a pear shape body. But now I have a raw silk in the perfect color to go with a pair of summer pants and I'm hoping that if I cut it on the bias it will work. If you have any tips to share I'd be grateful.

    1. I think it's just a fact of sewing because the fabric factor is always going to come into play. I've turned woven patterns into knit ones but not the other way around. That said, if it were me I'd work from the finished measurements and choose the size that matches the finished measurements of another woven garment I like. Good luck.

  2. I had a similar experience with a tee shirt neckline that drove me nuts. I bought some wool lycra St John double knit from Marcy Tilton, gorgeous stuff, but maybe a tad to thick for a tee shirt, like yours. Instead of my usual narrow binding I decided I wanted a wider band. Well I didn't pull it tight enough and when I wore it the front was just not flat enough for me. So I unpicked it and took it off and tried again. Still not good. I then decide to go to my usual go to narrow binding. It worked out ok, but now it's lower than I wanted for a winter top. grrr, like you a lot of time for a dam t shirt! Sometimes no matter how experienced we are the fabric just doesn't do what we want it to! They do look good though.

    1. Good to know I'm not alone. Yup - that fabric factor does get in the way. With knits, I find stabilizing all the edges makes a tremendous difference. Have you tried that?


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