It all started with a stack of washed out black H&M t-shirts. They were out of shape, stretched at the hems, shrunk at the arms, bobbly with hints of shiny cheap elastane as they stretched around my body. Not cool.
I had this dream of the ideal t-shirt: Softest jersey, figure-skimming fit and a flattering almost-half-length length sleeve I’d seen on Isabel Marant garments. I also wanted it without the designer price tag…on a budget here, people!
….just kidding, we’re just getting started.
The class was brilliant, the teacher lively, humorous and patient (very), and what’s more, while learning we were surrounded with bolts of delicious fabric and indy patterns for sale, giving much inspiration and pause for thought!
What surprised me was that many of the class attendees were experienced dressmakers, doing all sorts of complicated things like making coats, but a handful of these advanced sewists had a fear of working with jersey. As the class went on, all soon discovered that with the right needle and sewing machine settings, sewing jersey can be a piece of cake!
As well as being my favourite fabric to wear (so cosy and snugglesome!) jersey is my favourite fabric to sew. It’s comfortable, forgiving, versatile (from lounge joggers, to ooh la la little black dress) and oh so wearable.
Labeled for beginners, the Grainline Lark pattern is a great intro to the world of stretch fabrics, and once you’ve conquered your first neckbinding, you’ll laugh in the face of knocking up a whole wardrobe of these. I’ve made a sheer wool jersey grey V-neck, a fitted black V-neck, a gold (yes, GOLD!) short-sleeved crew-neck, a tan 3/4-sleeve scoop…..and have plans for plenty more.
Without further ado here’s a pic of my black short-sleeved V-neck in a bamboo jersey. I nipped this one in at the sides to make it more of a fitted t-shirt (the Lark pattern tends to be a bit easy breezy). It’s getting on a bit now as I’ve been wearing it to death, but has dutifully held up and washed well over time.
Scroll down for my ‘sew-a-long’ pics of my tan scoop-neck and grey V-neck.
Sewing the Grainline Lark Tee
- Lay out the fabric, folding to the middle to cut out the front and back (for optimum use of fabric – this helped squeeze down the amount needed), then re-folding for the sleeves and binding. See the pic of the diagonal pins at the corner – a nifty tip from Fabric Godmother!
2. If you’re sewing with a regular machine (not an overlocker or serger), like me, then set your machine to zigzag and do a few test runs, stretching the scrap of fabric to see if the size of zigzag gives you adequate stretch and doesn’t skip stitches. Be sure to use a ballpoint or jersey needle – it makes all the difference!
3. Bloody excellent tip from Fabric Godmother: Sew a narrow piece of ribbon (you’ve probably got loads in your scrap basket!) to the shoulders to stabilise them and help stop them stretching out of shape.
I had this beautiful Paul Smith ribbon leftover from Christmas gift wrapping which makes me feel super smug knowing it’s inside my tee (pictures, left)!
4. Stitch the shoulder seams together…not forgetting to press the seams.
5. Attach the sleeves, right sizes together, lining up the notches and pressing. Kind of awkward to picture, but trust me, although it feels weird at first, it all works out.
6. Sew the ends of the binding together (snipping into the V for the V-neck), pressing the seams, then folding in half and pinning to the right side of the neckline (raw edge to raw edge).
For the crew and scoop, I like to stretch the binding a bit over my knee while I pin to the neckline to make sure the pins are evenly spaced, while also matching the all important notches.
7. For the V-neck, staystitch around the V, snipping to the line, then sew the binding from the point of the V, spreading it evenly to meet the binding. For the other crew / scoop, it’s easy peasy, just stretching and stitching as you go!
8. Apparently this is optional, but I think it’s a MUST have for a good finish: Press and run a line of stitching around the edge of the neckline from the right side. This helps anchor the seam allowance and, I think, gives a much neater finish.
9. Match up the underarms and side seams, stitch down to the hem, and press – total piece of cake.
10. Lastly, hem the sleeves and the bottom with a wider 3/4″ allowance, and you’re DONE!
Congrats, you have a completed sewing project that you will 100% wear to death. Whoop!
What is Me Made May?
I hear you, my non-sewing friends…what the hell is this Made May thing about….
This my first year and I’ve been wanting to take part for so loooong, but not had the time until recently with my travels to France.
Essentially it’s a whole month dedicated to sharing and wearing what you’ve made, whether by sewing, crochet, knitting, weaving…you name it. More detail here.
It’s inspiring to see what other’s have created, and I love celebrating the maker culture and being given a focus for my dressmaking among like-minds.
Check out the hashtag #MMMay18 to swoon over the latest makes.