Sunday, January 19, 2014

overlock & overload

I had an epic jersey stash-busting sewing marathon this past week. I recently organized my sewing room (see proof here) and sorted my fabric by type/content as well as fabric-I-want-to-use and wtf-was-I-thinking-fabric. I actually don't have a large fabric stash right now (a subjective statement), but I thought it was about time I make some room for new stuff. I hate storing slinky fabric that doesn't fold crisply or stack well, so I grabbed all the drapey rayon/lycra blend jerseys that have been slipping off my narrow closet shelves for several months now. 

To help tackle all these knits, I downloaded the PDF of Grainline Studio's free Hemlock Tee pattern. It's a slouchy-fit, drop-shoulder top, which isn't necessarily the most flattering look for me, but hey, a girl's gotta lounge. I've been wearing jeans more often lately because all my tights are ripped so I can't wear dresses. Instead of buying more tights, I'm sewing more tees so I can wear jeans more often. Hopefully someone out there gets my logic.

So all week I've been busting out Hemlock tees like it's my JOB. omg I wish that were actually my job. Please, someone. This pattern is drafted in one size and only includes three pattern pieces (front, back, and sleeve -- you draft the neckband yourself). The instructions (provided in Grainline's post here) show you how to make the tee with a serger (overlocker). I almost always use my regular machine as well as my serger for construction on knits. I just feel like I have more control and dexterity with my machine, which helps when matching stripes, matching underarm seams, or attaching neckbands that need to be pretty precise.

I made some modifications on all of these. On my first practice try, the neckline was too high for my liking and the sleeves too loose. Each of my subsequent necklines were lowered about 3 inches (!!scandal!!). I also lengthened each hem about 2 to 3 inches. The hem of the tribal/cross print one is curved up at the sides, and the hem of the striped one is curved up at the front and longer at the back. I used my coverstitch machine to hem everything. Ole Janome got quite a workout this week.

I made slimmer elbow-length sleeves on the tribal print version, and slimmed down all the others so they could be scrunched up. And obviously I left off the sleeves on the zig zag print version to make a little kimono cap sleeve thing, extending the shoulder seams another inch. Oh go on, call me a ~designer~.

All three of the rayon jerseys (prints, stripes) are from bought within the last year. I originally intended the graphic print ones to be dresses, but they're certainly too lightweight and sheer for that. The tribal print one was advertised as blue and red, but it's definitely purple and pink. And totally printed off grain, as is typical of Ah well. I made sure the pattern placement was alright so that I didn't have big crosses or pink diamonds directly on my b00bz. The gray striped fabric was going to be another Henley for Corey but he didn't like the fabric (what? Unbelievably picky, that guy). So now it's mine!

I was inspired by Makes The Things' sweater version of the Hemlock tee pattern, so I decided to make a heavier version with this turquoise sweater knit fabric that sweet Handmade Jane mailed to me all the way from the UK last year just because she knew I liked it. Seriously. She's a sewing angel among mere sewing mortals. See the raglan sleeve dress she made with this same fabric here. Thanks again, Jane! This one's definitely the warmest version, and goes to show that you can make this pattern with thicker knits, as long as they still have a bit of drape or airiness so the drop shoulder doesn't look too bubbly and weird.

The Hemlock has you choose your desired neckband width. I used a 2" wide quilt building ruler to cut all my neckbands out. All of them are folded in half wrong sides together then sewn/serged to the neckline with a 5/8" seam allowance and pressed up, except the short sleeve zig zag one, which was sewn at 3/8". Two of them I topstitched down and two I did not. I ALWAYS attach my knit neckbands flat instead of in-the-round, then connect the second shoulder seam after the fact. That way I can achieve my desired neckband snugness without doing any math or fiddly trial and error work.

The Hemlock pattern obviously sews up very quickly, so I recommend it if you want to whip up some basics, need to get out of a sewing rut, sew up some of your jersey stash, or, as in my case, all of the above. I've already worn mine to work, to the movies, to the gym, and/or to bed. Multi-purpose, gotta love it. Thanks for another great little pattern, Jen B. You're a superhero.

Who else is Hemlock crazed?