Monday, March 22, 2010

I promised!

I told you I had "real" sewing post coming up soon, so here I am. :)

My sewing area has been in upheaval ever since my sister announced her engagement. I think that in February I spent an average of 30 hours a week sewing, cutting, pinning, and ironing. That's not quite a full-time job, but it felt like it. Many times I told myself "I'm so glad I love sewing!" Otherwise, the month could have felt much longer.

I'm still tackling wedding sewing projects, though I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can't wait to take the time to organize and clean my sewing area! Right now it looks something like this:

Quite a mess, isn't it? Though, I admit, it has been worse. I didn't take a picture of my other table, to the left of this one. That one is piled high with projects that have been put on hold.

This week I was starting to get really tired of seeing those projects sit there and pile up, so I decided to forget about wedding sewing for a little bit and make some head-way on my other projects. It felt nice to sew something different....almost like a vacation. :)

I only took the time to make one shirt. It took me 4 hours, (not all at once; on two different days) and I'm happy with the result. I'd been designing this shirt in my mind for weeks (mostly while I was working on wedding stuff!), and it was great to actually make it. Maybe now I'll be patient enough to finish those last few wedding projects before I sew on my other stuff.

(Just a side note, lest any of you think I'm unhappy with all the wedding sewing; I'm honored that Heather is letting me do it! I'm happy. ...But even the best of us can get sick of doing something we love, so a break was nice. :)

I designed this shirt myself, but I "cheated" by starting out with the very shirt that inspired me; an old t-shirt in the most beauuuutiful shade of green:

Please pardon the wrinkles in the shirt, and the background mess. But you are free to admire the window frame behind my dress form; I sponge painted that myself. Doesn't it look nice?

Oh - and one more side note (I know, I'm awful at getting off the topic!): I think this is my first "finished" picture of my dress form. Last time I showed it, I hadn't made the white cotton cover, or the pincushion to go in the neck. I LOVE having a dress form - and my exact size, to boot! I named her Dorcas. :)

Anyway, back to my shirt.

I began by removing the sleeves with a seam ripper. (I think that's the only time I used it on this project; yay!) I wanted sleeves on my finished shirt, but only short "cap" type sleeves. The sleeve seams on the original shirt hung over my shoulders, so I decided to a kimo-seamless-style sleeve.

Then I created side seams, so I could shrink the shirt. I didn't want skin-tight, of course, but as-is it was rather baggy. It took a little playing around to get it right, but it turned out pretty close to perfect. (Sorry I don't have pictures of all this!)

That took care of everything except for the neck. I began with the idea of removing the (in my mind) un-feminine neck ribbing, but decided instead to cut it to half the width, and flip it under to give me some nice body to my neck line seam. (Is this making sense?)

After cutting it, however, I came up with the idea to serge the raw edge, and flip it out instead of in, to give me a little ruffle around the neck. I'm glad I did. It now looks like it was made that way!

Then came my favorite part, though it was the longest and most complicated in the end. I think it took about 2.5 hours.

Using one of the sleeves I had removed, a pencil, an empty spool of thread, and a pair of scissors, I traced 49 little circles on the fabric, and cut them out. Then I zig-zag stitched around their edges and began to connect them in clusters of 3, 5, and 2:

This was much harder than it sounds. My sewing machine wanted to keep "eating" these small circles while I was trying to zig-zag around the edges and sew them together. I wasted about 6 circles before I began to get the hang of it, and even then many of my "clusters" were far from perfect. In fact, I think only one turned out perfect.

Then came the fun part. I played around with arranging my "flowers" around the neckline of the shirt. When I had a look I liked, I tacked everything in place by hand.

Wala! A decorated T-shirt!

From This:

To This:

I wore it on Saturday, and love it. One thing I might do differently next time is make the sleeves an inch or two longer, but that's about it. All the petals held up well in the washing. When I first tacked them down they looked rather flattened, but a good washing make them all nice and curly again. My favorite part of the shirt is the color. It's vibrant and sunshine-y. It makes me feel happy!


Alethea Jordan said...

Oh, I really like it! =)

hannah said...

How creative! I don't think I would have had the patience to cut out and serge all those little circles. It made a unique shirt out of the previous one, though.

Ashley Nicole said...

I love it!

hannah said...


I just saw this photo of a t-shirt that I thought the style was nice and reminded me of this post. Wonder if you could fashion something similar? Just passing on some inspiration.:)

Amber said...

Thanks for the link, Hannah. Nice idea! I have 5 or 6 t-shirt ideas that I want to try out this summer. I'm always looking for new inspiration!