Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Jersey Equinox Tees and a Striped Merino Molly Top

Me-Made-May has arrived! For those of you who haven't come across it before Me-Made-May is a challenge dreamt up by Zoe of 'So Zo...' designed to encourage home garment makers to appreciate and wear their handmade wardrobes more. You set your own pledge for the month which generally focuses on how many handmade items of clothing you want to wear a day/week/during the month and usually document your progress with photos. The biggest challenge for me as always will be finding ways to take the photos every day! I'll be sharing mine on my Instagram Stories if you'd like to follow along. I like to use the month to check on the success of my handmade wardrobe and identify any wardrobe gaps that need filling so I can focus my sewing plans on them. Like last year I'm aiming to wear something handmade every day, and as many completely handmade outfits throughout the month as possible. I could have challenged myself to wear entirely handmade but there are a few things like RTW jeans that I really rely on to wear to work and just didn't have the time to make handmade equivalents for. I actually did a bit of forward thinking this year and identified that my wardrobe was missing a handful of staple everyday items to get me through the month and put in a big old order with The Fabric Store to get me started.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pattern Fantastique Equinox Tee in Cotton Jersey from The Fabric Store

First up were some basic tees. I already own the Sewaholic Renfrew Top pattern which is great and I've made quite a few of but I was after something with a slightly more relaxed style and higher neckline for layering this time around. I looked at probably every t-shirt pattern going (using The Foldline Sewing Pattern Database) before settling on the Pattern Fantastique Equinox Tee as the one with the ideal combination of elements. I was drawn to the slightly sixties vibe of this design particularly the little cap sleeve and flattering 'slightly wider than a crew' neck. You can bet I'll be trying that bell sleeve out at some point too.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pattern Fantastique Equinox Tee in Jersey from The Fabric Store

Fabric-wise although it was tempting to order something fun I opted for classic white and grey marl options that will work with multiple items in my wardrobe throughout the summer. I went with this white Lightweight Cotton Jersey and the grey Lightweight Jersey Knit. As they were both described as lightweight I imagined they'd be very similar but I failed to note that the grey is 100% viscose so is fine and semi sheer with some drape and the white cotton jersey is actually fairly robust with some body to it. The cotton jersey is actually very opaque and you could get away with making a summer dress out of it. The differences in them has made for two contrasting tees and a varied construction process as the white was nice and stable and the grey super shifty and curly at the edges! The required patience was worth it for that one though! I cut the straight size ten and both of these are sewn up as intended with no adjustments or length taken off, with the exception of a slight tweak at the neckline which I'll get on to in a moment. I used a metre of each fabric with some fairly large scraps left over.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pattern Fantastique Equinox Tee in Lightweight Viscose Jersey from The Fabric Store

The pattern is available in both PDF and printed format and I went with the PDF for speed and also because a tee shouldn't mean too many pages to assemble. I found the PDF format a little frustrating. The pattern pieces are whole rather than a half to be cut on the fold so it feels like you are wasting quite a bit of paper and printing. There is no layout provided in the instructions to see which sheet contains what but I've got into the habit of looking through the PDF to check if there are any pages I won't need to print for my size or the view I have chosen. As I was doing the short sleeves I discovered I could get away without pages 13-14 and 17-18 but that's still 27 pages to print for a t-shirt pattern! I also thought there was a page missing from the PDF and presumed it was because there is nothing on it as it is one of the central pieces of the back piece. But no! It turns out page 1, which looks like an explanation page is actually that missing piece as it has the grainline running down the side! I presumed it was just an explanation but there is in fact a code on each page with symbols in grid to show you where that page fits in to the pattern as you assemble it. There are three different symbols, one for each part of the pattern. Page one has the symbol for the back piece on it. I was very confused and if it was my first PDF pattern I would have been really stumped as I was looking everywhere for a note in the instructions explaining this. I'm all for not wasting that first page with the scale square on but I think numbered pages would be a lot more straightforward!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pattern Fantastique Equinox Tee in Cotton Jersey from The Fabric Store

The instructions for the pattern are on the website rather than as part of the download; the file that comes with the pattern is just a few pages with a cutting layout, size chart (which I loved as it is so thorough and means you can really see the adjustments you might need to make) and basic information about the design, fabric and notions required. The online instructions are generic for pretty much any t-shirt pattern and cover set in and raglan sleeves and various hemming options. I liked that options are presented for a more experienced sewer to choose their preference depending on fabric as we all know knits can behave so differently but I must admit I found this method of presenting pattern instructions a little odd. I'm used to having specific instructions and illustrations for the pattern I'm working on. It made them feel a little vague and I didn't feel like I achieved the best result I could; I certainly wouldn't have done if I was a knit/tee sewing newbie!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pattern Fantastique Equinox Tee in Lightweight Viscose Jersey from The Fabric Store

The tees still came together pretty quickly as I have made so many knit garments now and go on autopilot with my own construction method so I didn't rely on the instructions much. I sewed twill tape to the shoulder seam allowances for stability rather than the iron on tape they recommend. The one stumbling block I came across was the neckband which I didn't get a very good result on first time around. This is the Pattern Fantastique online tutorial to follow. A fairly wide neckband comes with the pattern which I think adds to the retro feel and I love the grey contrast used on this in the sample. The pattern doesn't come with a specific length of band for each size but rather suggests cutting a strip and assessing how much you should stretch it out as you pin it on. Whilst I understand that this is to do with the fact that different knits have varying amounts of stretch and recovery I've always achieved better results with patterns that do specify a length on the pattern pieces and generally find 10% less than the length of the neckline works well. Both of these knits are fairly stable and don't have that 'ping back' that you get in a lycra blend so I was wary of stretching them out too far but because of this that wide neckband really didn't want to lay flat around the inner edge, particularly at the tight corners of the slight boat neck. I was working on the white tee first and to solve the problem on this one I simply resewed the neckline with a large seam allowance, making the band skinnier and the neckline wider. This worked out quite well but I wonder if the wider neckline is what makes me prefer the grey over this one. When I came to make the grey tee I cut down the width of the band before construction so I've ended up with a skinny band which lays flat but the intended width of neckline.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pattern Fantastique Equinox Tee in Cotton Jersey from The Fabric Store

Anyway, once I'd battled through those little frustrations and have started wearing the tees they've become very valuable additions to my wardrobe and I plan on making more! Despite having reservations about how the fine lightweight jersey would work for this pattern as I had envisioned something a little more stable I've actually been getting a lot more wear out of the grey tee! It sits a little better on the body and looks neater tucked in to high waisted trousers and skirts. There's something about the white one that I'm not quite sure on and I'm wondering if I should go down a size for a neater fit on the shoulder (although it is designed to be slightly dropped) and do a bit of an FBA as I'm seeing some drag lines around the bust.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Molly Top in Stripe Merino Jersey Mushroom from The Fabric Store

When I was ordering the tee fabric I decided a long sleeve warmer version would definitely be useful too, especially to wear under my ever-growing collection of dungarees so I got a metre and a half of this Mushroom Merino Jersey Stripe too although I didn't have a pattern in mind at the time. Once it arrived I commenced another great big sewing pattern search but started with the PDF pattern stash on my computer first and found the perfect thing. Its too easy to overlook those digital files we have hidden away and get carried away with something new and shiny isn't it?!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Molly Top in Stripe Merino Jersey Mushroom from The Fabric Store

That pattern was the Molly Top & Dress from the Sew Over It My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break ebook and is this is the surprise star of this post! The fit is bang on and the striped merino is amazing, I just feel super comfortable and great in this top. I tested the Mia Jeans pattern way back when this was released and can't believe I overlooked so many of the other patterns in the ebook. It really is a great little wardrobe to sew up and I've got the Erin Skirt lined up next although perhaps I could do with a Molly Dress first!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Molly Top in Stripe Merino Jersey Mushroom from The Fabric Store

This pattern ticks so many boxes for me. Firstly the slim fitted sleeves. This is always my personal preference as I have very small wrists and forearms and don't like to feel like I'm swimming in fabric. It makes it feel like the top fits right when the sleeves are nice and snug. But the design of these sleeves is an added bonus as the top portion is 'grown on' to the body pattern piece and the shoulder seam is actually down above the elbow. Kind of similar to a dropped shoulder but the top portion of the sleeve is still fitted. This detail really lifts an otherwise fairly basic design. Plus I LOVE how this feature works in stripes. The top sleeve has the grain running one way and the lower the other so the stripes change direction and you get a lovely v-shaped intersection of stripes along the shoulder seam running down the arm. I'm particularly happy that I managed to nail the stripe matching for this!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Molly Top in Stripe Merino Jersey Mushroom from The Fabric Store

As well as the sleeves I really like the relaxed but flattering fit through the body which has just the right amount of ease. The size and shape of the neckline is also spot on for my preferences. The width and depth shows off a bit of collar bone without being so wide that it shifts about and slips off the shoulder and it works both layered under other tops/dungarees or on its own.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Molly Top in Stripe Merino Jersey Mushroom from The Fabric Store

I'm used to Sew Over It instructions so this came together incredibly smoothly and was such an enjoyable sew because the merino jersey behaves so well. I wash it in the machine on a 30 degree gentle cycle and use a cool to medium setting on the iron which it responds to really well. I absolutely love this stuff and can't get enough. I've not yet used much merino jersey in paler shades and I was concerned with this one that it would be a little see through as it is on the lighter end of the weight scale but it is nice and dense, the perfect thickness for a warm tee. I love the subtlety and scale of the mushroom stripe although it was a tough choice as The Fabric Store have got a great range of stripes in at the moment. I considered using the stripes in the opposite direction on the neckband as Lisa has in one of her Breton samples but thought it might look a little odd in a stripe of this width and am glad I kept it clean and simple cutting down the centre of one of the wide cream stripes.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Molly Top in Stripe Merino Jersey Mushroom from The Fabric Store

As I did with the Equinox Tees I used my usual construction method with knits and assembled the seams with a narrow and short zig zag stitch on my machine for accuracy and then finished them off on the overlocker. Hems I used a twin needle in my regular machine for. A stretch needle rather than ballpoint worked best on all of these fabrics. I have recently repaired some of the zig zag stitching on my well worn activewear and twin needled hems on other garments using this Maderia Aeroflock thread in the bobbin but didn't use it on these as I still only have black and was impatient! I picked up a cone from Barnyarns to try at the Knitting & Stitching Show and have been so impressed with the resilience it has given my stretch seams and hems! Similar to woolly nylon thread this slightly fluffy thread has some elasticity in it and also has a soft finish so is great for activewear seams in particular which may rub. I'll be purchasing a white/cream and grey cone for use on other projects for sure.

So there we have it. Three incredibly useful knit garments to have in the wardrobe, in quality fabrics, all whipped up in an afternoon! I have a feeling you'll be seeing a lot of all three of these as part of my ensembles during May!

10 comments:

  1. Tshirts are always something that I find I have to force myself to star sewing, but I actually love the speediness of sewing them and of course they are worn so much in the end! I really love all your tops, they look like such wardrobe staples. I especially like the molly, as you said the fit looks spot on and it’s gorgeous under your dungarees!

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    1. I used to be all about the complicated big projects but for some reason at the moment I'm loving the simple mindless sewing projects like t-shirts! I think it is because work is bit stressful and exhausting so when I get time to sew I just want to let my brain go on autopilot and relax!
      I'm really pleased with all these, thanks very much!

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  2. Love these makes as always especially the Molly that stripe matching๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ - thanks for reminding me about that one! It really is easy to forget the digital goodies๐Ÿ™„. Isn't merino wonderful? I love it. The grey tee is brill. The white - have you tried cuffing the sleeves? I mean just flipping the hem up...I think it might go with that stiffer jersey and cool old school look. Jersey's always a surprise when you buy on line, sometimes not a good one. I bought some Liberty cotton jersey with a touch of elasthane and it was a nightmare to cut and sew, stuck to itself all the time. Never again.

    I just bought Fantastique's Terra pants in print. I didn't get any of her tees because that instruction stuff put me off - seemed a bit cheap and kind of a rip off. I mean, how hard can it be to write an instruction sheet? Even just a basic one like Stylearc's for example ๐Ÿ™„. The pdf sounds awful. I bought one once which had tiny little crosses in the page corners and a strange numbering system all in faint grey! Worst ever and obviously never bought from the designer again ๐Ÿ™„

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    1. O yes those digital goodies end up hidden away on a computer and forgotten don't they?! The Molly is such a great little top.
      I actually really like the sleeves on the white Equinox, its more the way the neckline is sitting that is bothering me, I think I need to go a little smaller in the shoulders. I agree that buying jersey in person is a much better idea so you can get a better idea of how it will behave!
      Have you made the Terras? I'm very tempted to give those a go. Yes the instructions weren't fantastic for the tee but I get what she is doing and I quite like the idea that the more generic instructions give you options to play with so you can decided for yourself which finish you prefer and what would work best for your fabric. The PDF numbering system did REALLY confuse me though! I think sometimes a new system can be trying to be too clever when sometimes simple is best!

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  3. Dang. My reply just disappeared ๐Ÿ™„. Terra pattern hasn't arrived yet, I got the print... you could perhaps cut the shoulders a teeny bit smaller next time. FBA? Do you know how to put one in without a dart? Hate darts in tees. If you do, please tell๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—. But if it doesn't constrict I wouldn't bother, cos thicker cotton jerseys always get those folds , at least on women ๐Ÿ™„

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    1. There are a few tutorials around for dartless FBAs for knits, googled artless FBA and there are particularly good ones from Maria Denmark and Paprika patterns
      But you're right, maybe it's just my fabric choice and how that looks on me! Let me know how you get on with Terra

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  4. A fascinating read! This is why I can never bring myself to work with stretch fabrics, you have to be so much more flexible and responsive to the needs of the fabric, and it's different every single time :P I love your finishing, twin-needling the overlocked seam down just looks so pro.

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    1. Ah I'm so pleased to hear that thanks! I got halfway through writing this and thought 'does anyone really want to read about tees?!' But I find it so interesting comparing and contrasting different fabrics and details of patterns

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  5. Beautiful en-sables! Love the fabrics and the way they look on you!

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    1. Thanks very much! The fabrics definitely make these

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!