Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Tale of Two T-Shirts

Hello again! Yesterday I finished my first Renfrew, just in time for spring.

I know a million other bloggers have already covered how completely awesome this pattern is, but let me show you why am so in love with it personally. I present Exhibit A, since we are all friends here:

This was my first attempt at a t-shirt last fall, and quite possibly the worst t-shirt ever made. Completely, utterly, hilariously bad. I used one of my 25¢ remnants from Fabric World and the pattern from my Sew U Home Stretch book. While that book contains lots of great information and tips for sewing with knits, the patterns are pretty boxy and not as idiot-proof as the Renfrew. I mean, look at this collar band!

This is actually an improvement over the original. It was twice as wide and looked like a weird mock cowl, and I tried to save it by folding it over and stitching it down. Um, no. It was doomed.

The sleeves are probably the best/worst part because the hem won't stay down: 

One good thing to come out of this project is I learned I have a bad habit of holding the fabric taut as I feed it into the machine. Not such a big deal with wovens, but a terrible habit for knits. I definitely stretched out the sleeves as I was hemming them.

Fast forward six months, a better machine, and a fabulous pattern:

I got this tissue knit (how else?) on clearance at Joann's, completely forgetting that the pattern calls for a stable knit. However, in the Sewaholic blog entry on choosing fabric, one of the commenters helpfully recommended doubling up thin knits to make them work better for this pattern. It worked like a dream. It's a little too heavy for summer, but it'll be a nice transition piece for spring and fall.

I did have some trouble with the collar band, but I think that was just inexperience. In my first attempt I tried to use a single layer, but the fabric was so stretchy it grew four inches as I sewed it in. The third time was a charm, and the twin needle was totally worth the wait.

I cut a straight size six and am pretty happy with the fit. Next time I might go up a size in the shoulders, but it was really nice to work with a size chart specifically geared towards my pear-shaped figure. I also loved that the pattern had 5/8" seam allowances. The first shirt had 3/8" and every time I went to finish a seam, I felt like I was walking along a narrow cliff and I worried I would accidentally serge over the seam. I will definitely be making up several more Renfrews!

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