I don’t know about you, but I started lockdown with big dreams of finishing a “big” project which would make me feel in some way worthy and would help manage my mental health. I cut out (at last!) a coat, thinking that I would pick at that on a daily basis and be able to make good progress.
And I mean, I have made some progress. I’ve got as far as zip insertion, which is pretty good really. But for various reasons, not least the fact that I’m now working from home at my sewing space, so am back to setting everything up and putting it all away again every time I sew, I haven’t found myself wanting to chip away at a big project.
I first got distracted when I saw Eleanor (a wonderful, local sewing friend) post on Instagram about the masses of scrubs she was going to be sewing. I figured I could help out a little and offered to make up two sets to help her out. She was kind enough to drop two fully cut out sets off for me to make up whilst on her daily run (please understand that I am a very, very long way from ever running to her house and back again!)
Then the biggest girl, who struggles enormously if things don’t “feel” just right, had a growth spurt and none of her pyjamas were long enough in the leg. This made the nightly bedtime battle a million times worse, and so I made up a couple of pairs of bottoms for her. And several t shirts. And then leggings which were actually long enough for her legs without falling down.
Then of course the littlest girl “needed” a tshirt and leggings (she didn’t actually need them, her wardrobe is very well stocked, but it’s not always that straight forward with siblings!) And then there was a birthday t-shirt for a friend’s little boy, and a bunch of headbands with buttons on to wear with face masks for a friend who’s an NHS nurse…..
All this made me realise that what I actually need to sew right now is quick wins. And so, I had a mammoth cutting out session and pulled out this rainbow striped jersey I got from Fabricate Mirfield (it’s one of the Tilly and the Buttons fabrics) and the t-shirt pattern I got towards the end of last summer.
The pattern in question is by French Navy. You may remember me raving about their free pattern, the Stellan tee, which was a staple part of my wardrobe last summer. When the Astair tee was released, I decided it was well worth a try, but then autumn rolled around and I never got around to it. But I had had it printed first : well done, 2019 me!
The sizing on this seemed a little strange. I normally have to grade out one size at the hips, but for this one, it was two sizes. I dithered for a little while, but am glad I did go the whole hog. It would have been rather clingy if I hadn’t!
This project should have been so simple to make up, but somehow I had one issue after another. The first, and fairly major one, was when I didn’t cut the front bodice pattern piece out correctly. I didn’t clock that the centre front line wasn’t the edge of the piece of paper, and so managed to increase the width of the front piece by about 2″. And of course, the fabric was so lovely that I’d squashed a t-shirt for the biggest girl, 3 scruchies and another headband out of it, so there was no question of recutting!
After leaving it alone to think about what it had done overnight, I decided that I would just have to sew a seam up the centre front. Annoyingly, I didn’t quite get the stripes to match up, which is frankly ridiculous, but they’re at least right at the top of the shirt, which is something.
The pattern has split seams at the side, allowing for a more movement, and my next error was to not read the instructions carefully enough. One of the first steps is to fold the bottom hem up, front and back, to allow for that split hem feature and for reasons known only to God, I sewed it wrong sides together. And had to unpick on jersey. The only vague silver lining was that my overlocker’s playing up a bit, so at least I’d sewn it on my machine and not trimmed as I went.
And then, as I went to sew the sleeve cuffs on, I realised that one of them had a bloody hole in!! Quite how, I don’t know, it must have been a mishap with my rotary cutter, because it was a very clean cut right in the middle of the pattern piece! I managed to darn it and attach it so that that side won’t show, but I was feeling pretty annoyed with myself by then.
I put all the mistakes down to my distracted, stressed out lockdown brain rather than the pattern, which is pretty clear and well illustrated. It also has the back neckline finishing trick from the Stellan which I absolutely bloody love, it just looks so gorgeous! When attaching this, I decided that the “Perfectly Imperfect” label was the right choice.
Then inspiration struck. How could I transform this catalogue of errors into something I could wear with the joy that the fabric deservered? By embracing the errors of course, and making myself a logo for the pocket, using heat transfer vinyl.
(I wasn’t that foolhardy, by the way: the pocket wasn’t attached at this point, so I could have just binned it if things didn’t work out!)
I made up a design using Cricut Design Space (the font and shape were included, I just put them together and messed about with curving the writing), then cut Happy Fabric Happyflock in white out using my Cricut ExploreAir2. Twice, because I placed my vinyl wrong the first time and part of the design didn’t fit onto the scrap I used: there’s clearly a theme to this blog post!!
Pocket attached, I decided that I would embrace the super bright and just wear the damn thing with pride. And I’m so glad I did. Partly because the bright colours really did help me feel better. But mostly because the biggest girl smiled (rare at the moment) and insisted on wearing a matching top and scrunchie. She even accessorised her bear to match.
And those smiles are pretty damn priceless right now.
All that is to say, this is another great pattern and I can see many more in my future. If you were contemplating this one, go for it!
And fingers crossed we all make it out of lockdown sane and healthy.
Pattern French Navy Astair tee
Fabric single cotton jersey by Tilly and the Buttons from Fabricate Mirfield
Size cut D at the bust, grading to F at the hips
Adjustments made Just grading as above
Future adjustments? Nope, love it just as it is
Make again? Yes, definite TNT potential