Blue shirt

La Blue Shirt

Lekala 5672 strikes again.

No sooner had I destroyed half of this blue-striped fabric making a failed cowl-neck last spring, I knew it really had wanted to be this raglan top all along. I’ve lost track, at this point, of how many times I’ve made this pattern, nor is there really anything left to say—it’s my go-to for this style, though I still haven’t made it successfully with the kind of gathered bust in the original picture. Some of you may, more recently, recall that I made the exact same shirt in the red version of the fabric I bought at the same time, my Where’s Waldo shirt. Sometimes, you just meet the perfect marriage of fabric and pattern. This fabric wants to be close-fitted knit tees. Although I’m sorta hoping there’s enough of the red left to take a stab at Lisa’s Awesome Folded Mini-Skirt tutorial, sometime when I have enough brainpower to try anything creative (obviously that was not this weekend. In my defense, half of it was spent visiting my step-father-in-law in the hospital, as he just had a major back surgery).

Despite the absolute simplicity of this pattern, I still managed to stitch the sleeves in wrong-side out, and have to rip sleeve seams on one side due to accidentally stitching armscye to neck-portion of the sleeve not once, not twice, but three times. You can tell I like this fabric, because I generally don’t rip stretch stitches. I made this one, as with most of the knits I’ve been stitching lately, on my Janome rather than my serger. Although the serger’s much faster, I find the seams aren’t very strong, and tend to rip out and show the thread on the outside. Presumably this is a tension problem (although possibly a 3-thread-serger problem), but I think it’s one beyond my ability to fix, so for a garment like this that’s fairly fitted, it’s just better to suck it up and take the time to use the regular machine. The serger’s still great for seam-finishing, mind you.

I actually have a remarkable number of self-stitched long-sleeve knit tees at this point, but it seems like I can always use more. This sewing thing was worth it for the long sleeves alone.

There’s a wee bit of the blue-striped fabric left, if I’m good I’ll make something like this one for one of the girls. It’s a circular knit with a fairly wide width, which means I can get a long-sleeved shirt like this out of maybe half a metre of fabric. I love circle-cut knits—the cutting layouts are super-economical and it’s so much easier to get them folded on “grain”. Double win.

All of which is way more yakking than this shirt deserves. Warm. Comfy. TNT pattern. Done.

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26 Comments

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26 responses to “Blue shirt

  1. Amy

    You’re so good about sewing functional garments. I haven’t had any time to sew much of anything lately (science is going well, and I’ve learned that I have to work constantly to take advantage when things are working), but when I do get back to it, I hope to sew more every day wearable items – like this awesome shirt.

    • Well, the nice thing about this shirt is that it’s quick and brainless. Less than two hours, for sure, and that includes un-picking three seams. Of course, I should’ve been doing Science during those three hours, too, but sometimes ones’ brain explodes. ;)

  2. Love this shirt.

    You know, back when I first got my serger, I did a bit of research and found the overwhelming opinion online (at the time) was that serger thread was weaker and therefore sergers should only be used for seam finishing in garment sewing. Which confused me at the time re: knits (because of the whole stretchy seam thing) but I figured it made sense for wovens, maybe? Anyway, I don’t know if that’s actually true but perhaps?

    • Yeah, I’ve heard this, too. Of course, you can use regular thread in a serger, but it munches through it super-fast, which gets pricey. I dunno—there’s plenty of RTW knit that seems to be sewn by serger alone and doesn’t have this problem, but maybe it’s an industrial vs. home machine issue.

  3. I love knits, I want a better serger that can do the stretchy top-stitch. and Lovely shirt, btw

  4. A perfect everyday basic top! Now why can I never summon the energy to make these for myself?!

    • Well, if you can buy shirts with sleeves that don’t come an inch shy of your wrist, I don’t blame you for buying them, too. Before I started sewing again I hadn’t had a long-sleeved shirt I was happy with since I was about 12. In Canada, as in Scotland, that’s a bit of a problem. :)

  5. I’m taking a cue from you and starting on some wardrobe basics, I’ll have to check out this pattern, since I love the fit of raglan sleeves.

    BTW, have you tried changing your serger thread brand? I’ve never had good luck with Maxi-Loc (the thick/thin spots break often or wad up in the needle/tension discs) even though others swear by it, so I go with Metrosene–it costs a bit more, but it’s sturdier and feeds through my machine like a dream. Guetermann also makes some serger thread that isn’t bad if you decide that the Metrosene is outrageously overpriced or hard to find.

    • I don’t know those first two brands—I do have access to the Gutermann and it is way more expensive than the stuff I usually use ;).

      The thread strength is part of the problem, but in my machine there’s also a (tension related?) issue where when a seam is pulled open, little ladders of thread show on the right side.

      If you do try this pattern, just be aware that the bodice is drafted quite short. I add about five inches onto the bottom of it, not being into baring my navel so much these days.

  6. Amy

    I like the neckline on this–does it stay on your shoulders? I’m tempted to try it. My serger’s gone very loose in its seams, too, and I know the tension is messed up. (I’ve been so lazy–it’s not been oiled or anything for like 7 years…) I’ve tried the Metrosene thread. I don’t know if it makes all that much difference–it is a bit smoother or lighter-feeling, and nice on silks or something fine. When I first started using a serger, I just used regular thread because I couldn’t find colors and it really gets all linty in the serger.

    • I haven’t had any issues with the neckline coming off my shoulders in any of my versions—it’s very snug in “tight” knits, and I usually include some clear elastic in my neck-finish that keeps it from stretching out even in the looser knits. Mind you, I have pretty square shoulders, which probably doesn’t hurt.

      I’ve used regular thread in the serger for colour-match reasons, too, but maybe never for long enough to notice the lint. (It seems to get plenty linty with serger thread, too). My serger doesn’t like light-weight fabric at the best of times.

  7. I’ve used my serger for a long time on any knits that I sew (I have a White Superlock that was given to me years ago – pretty archaic!), and I’ve always thought the stretch stitch (y’know the stitch marked “|||”) on my regular machine did a much better job of sewing the knits properly. When I look at the seaming on RTW knits, they all seem to use that stretchy nylon whatcha call it serger thread that never comes in anything except the most basic of colours, and I personally think it’s more expensive to buy 4 spools of 1500m each (when would I ever use all that thread?) than to just use regular thread. But I have to say, after reading your posts on sewing knits as they come up, that I much prefer the stretch stitch on my regular machine after trying it on two garments now. I’ve never had a stitch pop, unlike the serged knit garments. I will sometimes just use the serger to finish the seam, which seems redundant, but it really depends on the garment.

    • My machine has a stretch version of the blind-hem stitch that they recommend for stretchy knits, so that’s what I usually use—although the straight triple stitch would probably be fine for fabric like this! I like the “pseudo-overlocked” look of the other stitch, though of course I could just run it through the serger for finishing, sigh. I think it depends on how stretched your fabric is going to be during wear… Glad I’m not the only one with this issue… :)

  8. Pretty as always! I’ve been on the lookout for striped knits lately, but we seem to get only weird color combinations… I picked up a few solid colored knits though (coral, green and… purple…ish) to make long-sleeves for layering! Though I’m still on the lookout for a nice pattern, I usually just take on of my RTW longsleeves for copying. :)

    • I watched this stripe in the two colourways for MONTHS before finally buying when it went on clearance ;). Although I really like the shirts I’ve made from it, I’m glad I didn’t pay more—it rolls like crazy and is kinda a pain to sew. (and hard to tell right from wrong sides…) Finding good stripes can be hit or miss, that’s for sure.

      Why not make a pattern off your fave RTW? Once you have a basic knit sloper it’s super easy to change up neckline, sleeve, or whatever, and it would probably be a wee bit faster than pulling out the shirt every time.

  9. I use my serger only for finishing seams (I have a rolled hem feature but it has yet to come in useful), and I do a stretch stitch with my regular machine on knits. I actually find that the most durable garments are the ones where I both use the stretch stitch AND finish the seams. I’m a stickler for durable, because part of the reason I sew is that I HATE how flimsy and nasty modern garments are. One reason why I don’t repair and remake very often is because the fabric isn’t worth it.

    That t-shirt looks great! I have my TNT for short sleeves now, but the pattern only has a 3/4 length option, no long sleeves. I’ll probably make the 3/4 sleeve and if that works, I can lengthen it.

    • Lengthening sleeves is the easy part, I think! :) … of course I do get lots of practice at it. :P

      My biggest issue quality-wise with my me-made knits is still hemming (which I skip on this particular fabric), as I find the twin-needle stitch I usually use isn’t quite stretchy enough for most of my knits. Someday I’ll totally splurge and buy a coverstitch…

  10. Joy

    That’s a shirt I’d wear a lot. Stripes make it so much more interesting than solid, and yet they still seem basic.

    I had problems with my serger threads showing on the outside until I realized I wasn’t getting the threads down in between the disks as they need to be.

  11. Looks great! As usual. I have a weakness for stripes and this looks perfect. BTW, I had the same issue as Joy, maybe that could be your problem? I thin you’re right about the coverstitch machine.

  12. Another great, functional garment. I’m cursing you, right now, just so you know. How do you do it??!!

    I need to find myself a good long-sleeve knit t-shirt pattern. I love to layer things, especially in the winter, and some bottom layer long sleeve t-shirts would be really handy right now!

  13. It’s a pretty cute top….. I hope the hospital et al isn’t too stressful!

    About sergers… I’ll tell you what I know from working in the sewing shop, selling and teaching sergers…

    3-thread and most 4-thread sergers are not engineered to also sew a seam. A 5-thread will have the serging function with a “chainstitch” line of stitching to serve as the actual seam. The thing about 3 and 4 threads is that you have your two looper threads and one or two needle threads. The needle threads are sort of to “anchor” the looper threads, but aren’t intended to be actual seam stitches. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes skip the machine stitching, though… The “ladders” you describe are perfectly normal and not likely a result of weird tension.

    Serging threads are of a lower quality than regular sewing thread. The idea behind that is in a serger you’ll use 3, 4, or 5 threads, so the combined strength should match regular sewing thread. This is also why you should NEVER use serger thread in your sewing machine. Ever. It’s just not made to quality standards, because it’s deemed redundant. It’s ok to use sewing thread in the serger, though it can become expensive.

    The other type of serger thread used in many RTW clothes, especially activewear, is called “Wooly Nylon.” It’s usually used in the upper looper. When used for swimwear and other high-performance clothing, it’s pretty good at stretching without snapping. If you use it for a rolled hem, the wooly nylon “expands” to fill the gaps between stitches, resulting in a more solid-looking but light rolled hem.

    What I usually do is stitch a seam with my sewing machine, then whizz it through the serger. Most knit fabrics won’t fray along the raw edge, but I do like to serge the seam because it seems to provide more stability and structure than leaving it unfinished.

    I’m pretty bad about not hemming my knits, too.

    • Aha! I thought it was something like this (although, having a 3-thread serger only, I had hoped that a 4-thread would be the answer). So, 5-thread is officially on the wish-list.

      I’ve heard of wooly nylon for rolled-hemming, although since my machine requires complex screw-driver adjustments and possibly a different foot plate (which I don’t have) to do one I’m not likely to attempt it.

  14. Ali

    This looks great! I’m always amazed at how quickly you sew and good for you, getting a good looking, handmade TNT!

  15. Pingback: Me-Made-May: Week One | Tanit-Isis Sews

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