Thursday, June 19, 2014

In Search of a TNT T-Shirt Pattern

I really like the style of t-shirt that Marcy and Katherine Tilton design and sew. I've had my eye on their Craftsy class for a long time and, when it was half price last weekend, I bit the bullet. Unlike any other Craftsy class I've bought, I binge watched all episodes and had the whole thing finished by the end of the weekend.

The Ultimate T-Shirt Craftsy Class

Some facts about knits and me:

  • I'm not scared of knits.
  • I've sewn with many different types over the course of 20+ years.
  • I have the appropriate equipment to construct knit garments with a professional finish.
  • I love to wear knits.

BUT, I don't currently have a reliable TNT pattern for a basic t-shirt.

That is going to change.

The class comes with a pattern, but I just couldn't wait for it to arrive. I was too excited to get started. I'm using Ottobre 02-2007-02 in Size 52 to perfect a basic pattern which I can then use to make all kinds of variations.

Preparing the Pattern

In The Ultimate T-Shirt class on Craftsy, Marcy Tilton recommends pin-fitting the pattern tissue. While this may seem a bit ridiculous, given that a t-shirt often has negative ease, I figured I hated tight t-shirts anyway so I was prepared to give it a go.

After pin-fitting the tissue, I ended up making a few alterations to the pattern (all in line with the information presented in the Craftsy class):

  • adding about 1" (at the bust) - 1 3/8" (at the hips) to the side seams of both the front and back body, and about 5/8" to the side seams of the sleeves. I'm pretty sure the t-shirt would have 'fit' without this, but it would have been a firm fit - with zero ease. Not a look I like for me. 
  • The Tilton sisters also sew their t-shirts largely on the sewing machine with a 5/8" seam allowance. I've always constructed mine on the overlocker with a 3/8" seam allowance, but I thought, since I had paid for this class I may as well follow their instructions at least once. So I added 5/8" seam allowances to my pattern. 
  • 1/2" was added to the length of the front to allow for the front of the body being larger than the back.
  • I also, at the advice of the Tilton sisters, added a 1" insurance seam allowance at the front and back body, and the sides of the sleeves. I didn't end up needing those in the first fabric I chose, but they'll stay for the next few versions...just in case! 
  • (Not in the class) In anticipation of problems with the sleeve cap depth, I added a 1/2" to the height of the sleeve cap, blending to nothing by the end of the curve. I still am having issues with the sleeve/armhole, so maybe this wasn't the right thing to do. 

The reason there are two different outlines is because my measurements put me in a size 50, but when I compared the flat pattern measurements to my own, I realised I wasn't going to like the fit of the size 50.

Constructing the Garment

I'd committed, in my mind, to following all the advice given in The Ultimate T-Shirt class I'd taken on Craftsy. In this case, this meant sewing my t-shirt largely on the sewing machine. With 5/8" seam allowance.

There were lots of little tips that I picked
  • Staystitching the neckline of the t-shirt. I'd never bothered with that before - on a knit garment. 
  • Staystitch Plus on the sleeve cap helped to prepare the sleeve for easing it in to the armhole. 
  • Preparing the hem BEFORE sewing up the side seams
I typed up a list of the construction I plan to make many of these. I'd love for it to become automatic - and it nearly is, but there are a few extra steps that the Tilton sisters suggest, that I'd like to trial for a while.

The biggest difference, I believe, is the number of times they had you try on the garment before the finish. I think, even though fit is of paramount importance to me, I'd become lazy with this aspect of knit sewing.

Hemming Tip! Use a piece of tearaway stabilizer under the seams as you are hemming on the coverstitch machine. Finally, I'm able to maintain a straight stitching line in this bulky area without snipping (and weakening) seams.

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