While I’ve been sewing (mainly quilts) for a while, garments are something I’ve not really attempted. The most I’ve even tried before this summer were some super simple pajama pants; no real fit concerns, no worries about knit fabric stretching while sewing, and no real concerns about the possibility of wearing them out in public and having others see them!
But when I started working at Fancy Tiger at the beginning of the summer, I found myself in a bit of a pickle. Seven years of wearing a uniform at my last job had decimated my closet to a much smaller work-appropriate wardrobe and I had very few comfy work clothes, particularly ones for the summer months! Luckily, we had just started the #ftcsummersewingchallenge and I was excited by the encouragement of my coworkers to jump right in!
The Strathcona Henley Tee by Thread Theory was a great place to start! It comes in a long sleeve version, as well as with an optional Henley placket, but I decided if I was going to take the plunge into garments, I’d keep it as simple as possible to start. I started with keeping true to the original pattern, using size XL, and found that the construction instructions in the Thread Theory pattern were great and straightforward! I considered the first go as a wearable muslin, as I was practicing with using a serger and knit fabric, two different components I’d not done before! While not perfect, the first finished shirt was a great learning experience and it’s a shirt! Seriously, there’s a magical moment when you turn a garment inside out after that final construction seam, and it’s something recognizable.
For the next shirt, I made 2 adjustments to the pattern as I found the original Strathcona a little too fitted for my torso. I added just about 1 inch to each of the sides of the front and back panels to give me just a bit more ease that I just graded into the armhole. I also kept the sleeves a bit longer than the pattern called for. I used a great Carolyn Friedlander Crosshatch print in the color Stratosphere. I love it! It’s lightweight, a great length, with the perfect amount of ease for my torso.
After that, I was hooked! I snatched up the last bit of a fun pink cotton knit print that has all sorts of animals on it for my second shirt. This definitely added some punch to my growing wardrobe! This sewed up in even less time than the first. The knit is just a bit thicker, and while it doesn’t affect the feel of the finished shirt too much, it did make the serging go just a bit easier as the pieces didn’t shift around while sewing.
For my third tee, I went with something just a bit fancier. I loved the Lady McElroy Bridal Bouquet print when it first came into the store. The combo of the chartreuse flowers with the bits of teal that just pop made me really excited to step outside of my comfort zone. Because it is a 97% Viscose/3%Spandex blend the fabric has just a bit more slip than the other knits I worked with. However, patience and a few more pins helped with the construction. Construction was the same as the other tees with the only change being the addition of some clear elastic sewn into the shoulder seams.Because of the drape and weight of the Lady McElroy fabric, I wanted to ensure that the fabric didn’t sag with wear.
So far, that little addition seems to be working great, and I’m loving being able to wear my new summer wardrobe to work! I’m excited about making more versions of this tee, including trying the Henley and long sleeve versions for the coming fall!