Drunk on the success of my first tank top, I was eager to press ahead and try a knit shirt with set-in sleeves! Bravely I downloaded the Lydia pattern from Burdastyle (my first paid download from there, by the way. I know, $1, big spender). I was a little surprised to find that the pieces for this close-fitting top were each more than an inch wider than my pattern for my tank top (even in a size 32… and I’m normally a size 36). I set out to narrow these pieces by the required amounts, figuring I would just move the folded edge over and adjust the necklines. I also compared the length of the sleeve to the length of my arm; it appeared that it might actually be long enough.
This may have been my first mistake.
Adjustments made, I laid out my pattern pieces; had a brief panic when it appeared there wouldn’t be room for the sleeve, but managed, through the miracle of tube-knit, to fit it in with the narrow end between my bodice pieces. Hooray for a length of fabric with no edges!
I googled and blog-trawled and researched tutorials on various knit neckline bands. Finally settled on one method, cut my binding, stitched down, added clear elastic, folded over, twin-needled it in place. Tried on the bodice—fit looked good. Neckband was firm but didn’t appear overly stretched-out. The back was a little high, but nothing unwearable.
Sewed the sleeves up and examined their attachment points. Oddly, the fuller part of the sleeve was cut to the front. I thought the fuller part usually went to the back. Perhaps I had my markings wrong (it wouldn’t be the first time).
So I sewed them in on the opposite sides. This was my second mistake. But they went in nicely (knits are so nice to ease in!), and I was getting very good at feeding the clear elastic through as I sewed, giving it just enough tension to hold firm without puckering the finished seam. I am so awesome.
And then, I went to try it on again. I could have puked. I didn’t take pictures—I couldn’t bear to. I went to try and fix it as quickly as possible… of course, there was no way.
The shoulders are WAY too narrow. Like an inch too narrow. Possibly that same inch I took off? It never even occurred to me that narrowing the shoulders along with the rest of the bodice would be a problem. Which shows what an idiot I can be, I suppose. I know I have broad shoulders. I know this. What on earth would possess me to narrow the shoulder of a pattern, regardless of what I was doing to the bodice?
Beyond this, my reversal of the sleeve created a big bulge at the back shoulder seam. Presumably this is caused by some combination of the too-narrow shoulders and, I think, the pattern shoulders being too sloped for me. Broad, square shoulders. So I attempted to stitch that down.
And, for some reason a huge hump of fabric had developed at the back of my neck. I literally took a 1/2″ tuck just below the band from shoulder tip to shoulder tip. And then another one just across the shoulders.
I would call this the billiard-ball method of fitting adjustment: bouncing randomly in various directions in response to the problem presented, rather than pausing to analyze its source. The Boy does something similar when he gets lost while driving, taking random turns without ever stopping to figure out where we went wrong or how to get back on course. It’s not very helpful while driving, either.
At this point, I don’t think there’s much to do. My ridiculous tucks got it into a parody of fitting, but nothing actually wearable. Taking stitches out of knit is pretty much impossible. At best, I suppose I can cut the sleeves off and turn it into another tank-top, maybe a racerback style. This at least would let me salvage the neck banding. Alternatively, I could chop the whole top off and make another tank-top just like my first one.
Ugh. I will take this as a sign to stop sewing for today. Tomorrow I’ll sew up a tank-top in the blue knit to redeem myself. And then I’ll have to bite the bullet and buy more practice knit, and try another Lydia.