Remodelling t-Shirts

t-Shirt With Lowered Neck & New Neckband

With the medallion quilt completed, today, I turned to clearing up the piles of stuff in my sewing room. At least six weeks ago I pulled four t-Shirts from my closet with the intention of lowering the neckline. The shirts had originally been high crewneck long sleeve t-Shirts which I’d bought so I could shorten the sleeves and end up with sleeves just above my elbow – that’s not something you can purchase, trust me.

I wore them last year, but realized I wasn’t wearing them this year because the neckline was too high. So I moved them from the closet to my sewing space intending to remodel the neckline. Finally got to that today. Started by cutting off the crewneck ribbing and dropping the front about 2″. Then I cut 1 3/4″ x 24″ strips from some t-Shirt fabric I have on hand, serged the folded strip to each t-Shirt neckline. Remodelling complete. The contrasting neckband doesn’t look bad at all. And it lays flat – I tried them on. (I should have used dark serger thread to stitch on the new neckband, but hey, the stitching can’t be seen on the outside.)

Remodelled t-Shirts

It’s true, t-Shirt weather is just about over here in Nova Scotia – maybe one more day warm enough to put on a short sleeve top. But these shirts are now ready for next warm season.

Dropped Neckline

Advertisements

Stretch Cotton t-Shirt

This is actually the second t-Shirt – the first was a disaster (too big and too long – the culprit was the light weight black and white knit I bought in San Francisco – too loosely knit, I think). It went into the trash pile.

I bought the fabric for this shirt at my nearby Pfaff dealer who stocked some very nice stretch cotton knit this summer. This red stripe was the only one of those fabrics that suited my colouring, too bad. 0.8m (60″ wide) was enough for a t-shirt for me. The fabric sewed easily – didn’t have to fight it.

Red Stripe t-Shirt

Given my floppy upper arms, I like a sleeve that comes almost to my elbow so I lengthened the short sleeves. The pattern also uses a facing for the neck edge – nobody finishes a t-Shirt neck with a facing – I serged a doubled (24″ x 1 1/4″) strip to the neck edge (1 1/2″ shorter than the length of the neck so I could ease the neck edge into the seam). I also cut 1 1/4″ from the bottom edge – I’m short, and didn’t need the shirt to come below mid-stomach.

I cut out the shirt a couple of days ago. I was able to sew it up in under 2 hours this morning. I pressed the neck band toward the body and top stitched it 1.5mm from the seam to keep it flat. Cover-stitched the sleeve and bottom hems.

The Pattern is a Burda pattern I’ve had for ages (I tried finding some hint online about when the pattern was first released but came up empty although many people have made it – lots of photos of finished shirts). The size 14 fits me reasonably well. It’s easy to make with the 1/4″ seam allowances included in the pattern – makes fitting sleeve curves straightforward because you don’t have to fight the excess fabric in a 5/8″ allowance.

Burda 3197 Pattern (Vintage)

Now I need to go through my fabric stash and see if I can find another suitable knit to make at least one more of these shirts (then I’ll be able to cull some of the older ones in my closet).

Beige Pants

Same pattern, cut out with the same modifications I used with the pink pants, and these came out larger – had to take in the sides 3/8″ at the top and from mid hip to hemline. Obviously the difference is the fabric in spite of the fact there’s no spandex in this fabric either….

The front has turned out fine, happy with that, but below the bum is a wee bit baggy. Not much I can do about that at this point – the pants may tighten up a bit with washing, although I prewashed the fabric. Sitting in them may also round out the backside some.

The pants are certainly wearable. 

This morning I dug out some navy cotton twill (no spandex) that I will wash tomorrow, as well as some prewashed beige cotton twill – both will get made into pants when I get back from Toronto (going to my niece’s wedding coming weekend). I also found a prewashed length of French navy blue light weight cotton/linen blend to use for a loose shirt. Once those garments are done, the pants with the stretched out spandex will go.

Tomorrow, I intend to interface the silk dupion I’ve had waiting to be made into a quilt. I’ll get that project started next.

Pink Pants

These pants were cut based on the modifications I made to my basic pattern in San Francisco – a small addition to the centre front crotch area, a 3/4″ drop in the front waist, and 1/4″ addition to the side seams because the fabric had no spandex.

This is a jeans pattern but I thought this wool/polyester fabric was a bit too “dressy” to turn into jeans so I left out all the top stitching, omitted the back pockets, and used a single seam for a neat hem.

Have to say they turned out pretty well – although everything that could go wrong did! I started by putting the zipper on the wrong side of the fly front, had to redo it, pockets went in fine as did the side seams, but I screwed up threading the embroidery machine and I had to take out a stitched (not yet cut, fortunately) buttonhole not once but twice. After rethreading the machine and doing a practice buttonhole (which I should have done in the first place) the third try was fine. Only then did I cut it open.

I’ve just finished cutting pants out of a beige fabric which I will sew tomorrow. The beige fabric I used for pants in San Francisco turned out to be dreadful – it’s a stretch twill and it now has a permanent stretch across the front where the spandex has failed – very visible. So once these new beige pants (with almost no stretch) are done, the SF pants will get tossed. 

That’s the same fabric I used for the light and dark blue pants I made earlier in the spring – they’re starting to show the same permanent stress marks across the front so they’ll have to be replaced. This time, I’ll use a cotton twill with no spandex in it. The original fabric wasn’t a cheap fabric, either. 

So lesson learned – stay away from fabrics with any amount of spandex – they may be intended to provide a comfortable fit with some give but the quality and durability is variable and pants take a good 5-6 hours of work. Too much time for such a limited result!

San Francisco 6

The sewing retreat ended around noon today. People who live closer to the west coast have already departed the city. I couldn’t make connections all the way to the Canadian east coast work so I don’t leave till 8:10 tomorrow morning. 

Had lunch with another gal who has to spend the night here, then we went fabric shopping. Linda wanted to purchase some, I was happy to tag along. 


Britex does have some lovely if expensive fabric. A week ago I saw this silk panel that reminded me of the paintings of Gustav Klimpt – the colors and detail are simply gorgeous. Each 60″x60″ panel was priced at $125. I thought it stunning but couldn’t think what I’d make with it – my present life style is more LandsEnd than Tiffany. So I walked away. I was hoping when I returned today it might have sold – nope, it was still there. Again, I looked at it but in the end I walked away – I had no idea what I would want to add to my wardrobe.

I stopped on the third floor to look at the petersham (a softer, more pliable version of grosgrain). I was expecting a few colours – I thought I’d pick up a yard of a couple – forget that! The adjacent shelves held rows of shades from white through grey and beige to black. With no specific project in mind it was impossible to choose any.  I left Britex empty handed this time which is just as well since there is no room in my suitcase for one more item.

I love this window display. It caught my attention two years ago. It’s still there. It’s a clothing store next door to Britex. There are garments in a window further along but three of the windows are filled floor to ceiling with these antique machines. Wonder where they’ve found so many.

I can’t imagine walking in anything like these shoes;

Or these.


The Apple Store is wide open to the street on this sunny afternoon. The Apple people in their green jerseys are just waiting there to help you. I had no questions or concerns today so we walked on by. I wonder whether there are any other Apple stores so easily accessible.

I have had a great week, the women were all experienced sewers, all were deeply involved in learning more about fitting and sewing technique. Sandra Betzina is a whiz at fitting. I followed her most of the morning just watching as she spotted adjustments that people could make to their garment muslins then grab a pen and make the corresponding changes to the paper patterns – 3/8″ here, 1/2″ there, opening it out, taking it in. Several modifications to each pattern. At this point in the week those muslins were fitting pretty well.

An early night tonight. I have to be ready for the Airport Shuttle which is picking me up at 5:45 in the morning. I haven’t looked at Halifax weather all week. Hope it’s not snowing when I get back!

Pants #4

I spent all weekend working on Pants #3 and #4 using what I’d learned from the two failures from last week. Same two fabrics – a 20% stretch cotton/polyester denim/twill in a mid-blue and a navy.

This time I constructed the pants front first and made sure I put the front waistband on when I’d finished the fly and pockets! So the side seams lined up as they should have.

Pants #4 – Front

I made the pockets smaller (shorter) and positioned them higher – closer to the yoke seam. I didn’t bother decorating the pockets, just topstitched the top hem. They’re now a better size for my bum and sitting  better.

Pants #4 – Back

The side seams (and inseams) are straight.

Pants #4 – Side

This fabric is actually quite difficult to work with. Because of the amount of stretch I needed the pants to be close fitting – so there is no escaping some wrinkles. However, I’ve had them on since early this morning and they are snug but very comfortable – the back waist stays in place when I sit (a huge plus – my renovated jeans all pull down in back) so the back crotch must be long enough and whatever curvature I left on the side seams at the top of the back seems to hold the pants up over my hips.

I’d prewashed the fabric in warm water (which is what I use for all my washing) and it “shrunk”a bit when I steam pressed it. However, it loosens as I’m wearing the pants. Pants #3 needed washing after two days – I’m hoping they’ll tighten up after they’re laundered. Also, I have no idea whether the fabric will shrink in length (no stretch along the length) so although the pants look a wee bit long I made them my standard 27 1/2” inseam.

That’s it for pants right now. I have pant lengths of khaki and white fabric which are in my take to San Francisco pile – I’ll make up both pairs during the sewing retreat there consulting with Sandra Betzina about refinements with fitting. What these two pair (#3 and #4) have accomplished is a reshaping of the crotch and legs by removing excess fabric from the side and inseams rather than using the mid-back dart and they’ve turned out reasonably well.

And as I’ve said, they’re comfortable.

Pants #3 – Back

Pants #3 – Front

Pants #3 – Side

Jeans #2

Back #1

Back #2

OK. Not impossible. I took a deep breath and unstitched the waistband (which I’d put on upside down). Turned it around, stitched it back on. Added the waistband facing and stitched it down.

I did it, not to salvage the pants – there are problems with how the back of the legs is hanging (because of the fact that the side seams are out by 2″, right?). It’s the bum I was interested in and I can see it’s not bad (click on the images to see the fit more clearly). Had I done the construction correctly, the back would be fine – except for the pockets which are too low – for me, the pockets have to be almost on the yoke seam and not 2″ below which they are (which means I have to attach the yoke before putting the pockets on the back). If raised, the point of the pocket would be in a better location.

There’s also a problem in the front –

Pants Front

the front waistline has to be dropped half an inch – with it that bit too long, the front crotch has “smiles” – which is something I definitely don’t want. (Part of the “smiles” is because I’ve been sitting in them while writing this – but I will shorten the front rise that 1/2″ in the next pair).

Also I’m rethinking adding 1/4″ to each side seam – having had the pants on for 15 minutes I think the legs may actually be fine as they are (given the 20% stretch in the fabric).

Other than that, the pants aren’t too bad. They have served well for a muslin. Nevertheless, they’re still going into the “send to Value Village” pile – but the NEXT pair will be PERFECT! Really.