Saturday, February 15, 2014

Three Little Tees and Three Muslins

Yes, I have been busy, not so much with sewing but with a lot going on in my other life.  The first part of moving the practice has occurred - still lots to sort out, but we are there.  So I haven't had much time to sew, nor have I had the right sort of mindset - I have been distracted and this is when I tend to make sewing mistakes.  What I do in these sorts of situations is continue sewing, but usually I work on muslins for the next set of plans.
Before I show you the recent muslin attempts, I will show you what I made in January.   I am a novice when it comes to sewing knits - I know that they are supposed to be easy, but I think learning to sew anything new does require a learning curve.

And these certainly did.

I had a piece of very lightweight white cotton jersey in my stash and thought this would be ideal to make a cool summer t-shirt.  I used New Look 6216.


I decided to make version B with the little arm bands - it is otherwise exactly the same as C but I liked the look of the bands. 

I have made this top before in a drapey knit, which was easy to sew, but a nightmare to get right with the stripes - they had to be level at the hem.  I used C and made the neckline smaller and added quite a bit of tension to the black knit band I added.  It's quite a little bit on the A Line side, but looks nice and is comfy to wear:

New Look 6216 View C
As there is some tension around the neckline, I decided to cut the slightly smaller neck size but to loosen the tension of the band (ie not stretch it so much).  This resulted in a slightly lower and larger neck, but not as wide as the original of the pattern which would have slid off my shoulders.

A simple five minute job to cut out, and I anticipated a quick sew.  Eager to start, I put a ballpoint needle on my machine.  I started.  The seam had skipped stitches - lots of them.

I hummed and harred.  I changed the needle to another ballpoint needle.

The seam had skipped stitches - lots of them.


I wondered if my machine had developed a problem.  I used the same needle and stitched a piece of voile.

The machine did not skip stitches.

The machine did not have a problem.  My white jersey fabric did.  It did not like the ball point needle.

I changed machines to my Janome electronic (that I usually only use for buttonholes).  I put on a ballpoint needle.  The machine skipped stitches. 

I got fed up and hungry.  I went and made dinner.

In between stirring things, I looked through my needle collection.  I found needles that called themselves Universal and claimed to be able to sew all fabrics especially knits, as they had a slight ball point.

These needles only fit the Janome, so I inserted one.  I stitched a seam.  There were a few skipped stitches but decidedly less.

I rescued the dinner (which I really wasn't paying attention to).  I decided it was late and I better eat and clean up.  DH is usually in very late after seeing patients in the evening, so his was put aside and I went back to the problem.

With a large sigh, I decided that perhaps I should read the Janome manual.  I discovered that two stitches on the machine were two stitches dedicated to fussy knits.

I tried one - it worked.  I tried the second - it didn't.

I concluded that I was working with a very fussy knit indeed.

And that it was going to take longer than a quick half hour to make.  And was not going to be so simple after all.


That's sewing!

 This was the result:

I found the neckband quite slow and tedious to put on - the domestic machine is a little different from my old workhorse.  And the stretch stitch had the tiniest stitches - so it seemed to take forever.

The rest of the seams were quick and simple on the serger.

The armbands were simple to serge on.

The I had the hem to do.  I tested a hem edge - just a one inch turn up and stitch sort of hem. Quite simple, even if a bit slow on the Janome.

I pressed the test hem.  It wanted to buckle.  It was not going to lay flat.  It was not going to behave.

What now???  I racked my brains and decided to serge the hem on, like a little band.

The result:  A bit sewn on looking, but much better than the test hem.

Here it is on me:

The band sticks out a little bit, but overall, for an around the house, hot weather, after a shower throw on with loose pants sort of  t-shirt, it works!!

I also made a little t-shirt from my modified pattern from view A- the long sleeve t-shirt.  I folded out the body fullness and shortened the sleeves to view B and added bands.  This t-shirt has less fullness than the one above:

Still sticks out a bit at the bottom, but I prefer the fit of this one - still loose but not quite so baggy.  Another, around the house, hot weather, after a shower through on with loose pants t-shirt.

At least they are not complete wadders :)

As I had a bit of jersey left, but not enough length for a t-shirt, I decided to get inventive.  As the bottom of the t-shirt is quite loose, I thought I could use a strip of voile at the bottom, and also use voile armbands.  I was pleased with the result:

My self timed picture of this t-shirt is less than flattering, but believe me, it looks nice on.  I'll show you another day.


I now consider that I have been well introduced to the pitfalls of sewing knits, so it should get easier from now on!

My knit practice will be useful for the t-shirt I have planned for pattern review's contest "Inspired by the Movies".  I will be making a Breton t-shirt using Kwik Sew 3766.

I have made a muslin from a cheap polyester knit:

As you can see, the lines of this t-shirt look a lot nicer on me than the baggy A-Line Shape of New Look 6216.  It's just that in very hot or very humid weather, baggy feels better!  But this sort of line looks better on me. 


I was very pleased with my muslin for Vogue1316:

The muslin:

I just used bits and pieces and didn't actually follow the colour blocking in the pattern.  I was only interested in the fit and whether the pieces went together.  It fits beautifully, but I'll show you this on me when I do the post for the finished garment.


I also wanted to try a Style Arc pants pattern - everyone says how good they are and how the fit is just right.

So I decided to try a simple pant, the Style Arc Barb's stretch pant.

I looked at the pattern pieces and decided to keep a very open mind - after all, everyone says how good these are.  I found a piece of stretch fabric in the stash that I really don't like, and made a muslin.  I knew it wasn't going to work for me, so I didn't sew the band on.  Have a look at what I mean:

These are going to sit far too low on me even with the band on. My tummy pokes right over the top of them - that's what I am pointing at.

A side view tells the whole sorry story:

Yes.  Not as good look.  And I still have saggy under bottom wrinkles even with these pants that supposedly fit perfectly.

Not on me.  But I shouldn't really be surprised.  Because RTW doesn't work on me either.

These pants are cut for a pear shape figure with a low bottom and a flattish tummy.  I do not have that sort of shape.

So I altered the pants to waist height and cut out another muslin out of stretch fabric I am not overfond off:

This suits me much better - I agree, that the hip line does fit nicely.

Lets look at the side (and this photo is a bit blurry):

Much better look over the tummy.  I have cut the back rise high - I have a high rise, and wasn't sure where to end it.

The back looks quite good as well.  But there is a big problem.  I can't sit in them.  Or move.  They are tight.

As it is not the height of the rise that is the problem, it has to be elsewhere.  Only one place.  So I opened the seam.

Here is the result (Warning - you need a sense of humour for this picture):

Yes.  Right there.  I need extra here.   And if you look at my shape, I have a triangular bottom, not a pear shaped bottom.  I need more in the rear crotch.

Sigh.  Back to the drawing board...

Style Arc is not going to be the right brand for me for pants.  Back to the search for the perfect pants solution...

And that is the round up of the last few weeks...

Sarah Liz :)


  1. Oh what an interesting time you have had! As always your sewing output is prodigious.

    I've gazed at Style Arc many times and wondered if they would suit me. So many other bloggers rave about them. One day, just not yet!

    With regards the knits, I would suggest using a more stable knit like those used in rugby shirts for practice. Perhaps a husband make not a SarahLiz make?

    Loving your humour!

    1. Thank you - I'm never sure whether to be humorous or not, but why not!

      Thanks for the idea about a DH t-shirt - I never know what to give him, so you have solved two problems for me :)

  2. For some reason I can rarely get a New Look pattern to work for me. I love the way the Vogue dress is working out, and I had to laugh at the back pants picture.

    1. Yes, New Look seem to be a little roomy - it's funny how different companies have such different pattern shapes.

  3. Pants again... easyto sew difficutlt to fit. I have to pick up my pants project one day. Anyway I know I will not buy any other pattern.
    I will work out the ones I already have.

    1. Hello Beata - yes, pants again - they are just so tricky, as you say.

      One day success perhaps :)

  4. "I got fed up and hungry." When I read that I almost fell out of my chair laughing.
    I understand that COMPLETELY. A sense of humor is an absolute necessity when sewing.
    Your shirts look very promising. I especially like the more fitted version of the white tee (KS 3766) as it is extremely flattering on you. The one with the voile bands looks superb, also!
    As for the pants, does the front hit you at your waistline? It looks a bit tilted in the side photo.
    I love following your progress. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Juliane, I'm glad you like my blog.

      Yes, sewing does need a weird combination of patience, humour and creativity.

      You are right, the trousers are up and down - the original pattern had a lower front, so I was still following those lines.

  5. You have really accomplished a lot.. I love the way you added the voile to the t-shirt ..Just beautiful.
    I really like the kwik sew t-shirt patter..
    Proud you have the moving almost done.. Best wishes and Happy sewing.

    1. Yes, the voile does add a really nice touch.

      You are right, the Kwik Sew t-shirt is a lovely pattern .

      And thank you for your kind thoughts :)

  6. I love the last tee with the voile. I know that when I sew knits
    --once the stitching is working--the seams need to be steamed or pressed to shrink the fabric back in place after the feed dogs and presser foot have stretch them. Sometimes they need to be washed before they look "right." I love sewing knits. Yours are looking better than you might think.

    1. Thank you Annette - yes, we are always a little critical of our work, but I think this helps us improve. Thank you for your hints and tips - I did wonder if washing would help.

  7. I sew a lot of knits. I have a vintage machine so I just put it on a short stitch and a narrow zigzag. 99 percent of the time I use a universal needle. But....the worst behaved knit I've sewn was a thin jersey. For that I used a microtex needle. Also, using knit stay tape on troublesome seams helps too. I love your experiments. Your pants photo made me laugh:) but at the same time it was very helpful.

  8. I am struggling with fitting pants right now (New Look 0916). I know how you feel -- RTW and patterns tend not to fit my body. But for being busy, you are a gal who can multi-task! Good luck with getting settled and back into a sewing routine.

    1. Pants are an endurance test - I still don't quite get the fine points. It's not only the fit that is the problem, but the style lines as well.

      Thank you for your well wishes - I'm looking forward to settling into normal sewing routine again soon as well :)

  9. Only sewers will get the last photo but the things we do to get pants to fit us. You have been very productive over the last 2 weeks and look forward to seeing the real garments.

  10. I love, love, love the white shirt with voile bands! Isn't it great when running out of fabric leads to such a creative result!

  11. That is a huge amount of sewing for one month, Sarah - you are amazing! I had the same trouble with a jersey fabric and ballpoint needle, and my local Scaffs store sold me a 'stretch' needle, which works beautifully. I have no idea why but whatever works is ok by me. Love your white tee shirts, and the Vogue muslin looks very interesting, not to mention complex. Can't wait to see the finished version. So funny re the pants - I almost give up on getting a good pants fit, but you are such an inspiration.

  12. Ah, yes, I know the trials and tribulations of EVIL knit fabrics well. It has made me so wary of even sewing with knits now. And, you have certainly done a lot of sewing, nice work!