Thursday 13 March 2014

learn to sew - draft and sew a tshirt


For a while now I've wanted to have a go at sewing stretchy fabrics. Like many people though I have an illogical fear of them, but I was determined this year I was finally going to have a go. It became one of my resolutions.

Last week by coincidence I was on the CreativeBug website, keen to watch a ceramics video by wonderful claymaker Diana Fayt. Creativebug is a subscription site where you pay for access to creative and making video series on a range of topics.

They have an offer where you can get a month's access free so I signed up straight away to watch my ceramics tutorial and then started looking around for other interesting content. The role call of instructors on this site is fabulous, it includes Anna Maria Horner, Lisa Congdon, Heather Bailey, Molly Hatch and Leisl Gibson.

This isn't a sponsored post at all, but just something I've found that I wanted to share.

While browsing I found two videos by Cal Patch - 'Pattern Drafting a TShirt' and 'Sewing a TShirt'. Here was a chance to play a bit with pattern making and stretch sewing all in one project.

I love Cal's presentation style, so calm and easy to follow. Following her instructions I soon drafted up a pattern last Saturday. The next day I was keen to try it out and found some jersey in my stash. I cut out my pattern and sewed this tshirt.

I wish I could tell you it was trouble free. I wish I could tell you it was a perfect fit. In truth there was a fair bit of unpicking, there might have been some bad language, there was a tiny bit of despair.

But rather than throw it on the bedroom floor and be done with it I have perservered and unpicked and resewn and tried to resolve the things I didn't like. And in the process I have learned to sew stretch and not fear it, hoorah!!

Please accept Mr Flowerpress' photo of me wearing my muslin t shirt as proof. Not the most flattering shot but well, I'm a bit averse to selfies at the best of times!

I talked in my wrap up of last year about learning a bit more about adapting patterns to my shape and I learnt lots of things about pattern making from this very simple pattern that Cal helps you draft. It is a great place to start and the wonderful thing about stretch is how forgiving it is shapewise.

The bad things about sewing stretch are trying to hem the bugger in a straight and unpuckered line. After some googling around the interwebs though I found a hint to solve this, you use your handy walking foot. What a difference.

Where I went wrong.
1. I used the wrong, overstretchy fabric, but I was determined to have a no cost project from materials I already had. In future I will buy a simple cotton jersey.
2. I went for elbow length sleeves and had to take them in a lot at the elbow. I think I should have drafted the pattern for long sleeves and worked back.
3. The major problem which I couldn't resolve - I cut the neckline too deep. While there's no real cure for that I will know next time to alter the pattern. I also took in the sides an inch. This might be because of the extra stretchy fabric, but I think I will adapt the pattern when I make the neckline smaller, and move the shoulder seams in a bit while I"m at it.
4. This fabric is a bit uninspired but sewing a muslin from the stash felt good.

Now I do have an overlocker/serger too, I think that helps a lot. I used it on the shoulder and side seams and then the normal machine for the rest. Cal's videos though use an ordinary machine throughout.

If you have been putting off sewing with stretch this is a great place to start.


  1. It looks great! I haven't had a good look around Creativebug, but I think I should.

  2. oh my goodness i'm SO impressed! i think your T is adorable, and i like the low scooped neckline! one way to fix that, should it happen again, would be to put in a wider neck band. but you've probably learned your lesson. can't wait to see MORE T's! thanks for posting this; it made my day ;n)

    oh, if you feel like sharing in my flickr group too i'd be most honored:

  3. Yes to no cost making. Good on you Susie.


Thank you for dropping by and commenting :-)