A few weeks ago while browsing sewing blogs, I came across some discussion about wardrobe planning. At this same time I was going through the biannual chore of moving winter and summer clothes from attic storage to dresser drawers, a necessary job when you live in a small house with limited closet space. It was a perfect time to analyze my winter clothing choices and make some sewing plans based on wardrobe needs, since taking inventory of the things that you have and then making a list of the things that may improve your outfit options is part of the wardrobe planning process.
After looking over my freshly folded long-sleeved shirts, I decided that a couple neutral colored long-sleeved t-shirts would be a good addition to the drawer, along with being quick, easy sewing.
I jotted down a few notes about color and possible pattern construction in my journal and quickly moved to my favorite part~fabric shopping! Three knits were ordered from fabric.com ; a blush pink cotton/polyester interlock knit, a grey with black flecks jersey knit, and a dark brown Ponte knit. The dark brown piece will become a jacket based on a similar jacket already hanging in my closet. The grey and pink pieces were the more immediate t-shirt projects to be made from McCall’s 6964.
When making notes in my journal, drawing out some images, and looking at current fashion trends, I had decided to create a bell sleeve on the grey shirt. I liked the idea of having a neutral, basic shirt with a little trendy flair…
***warning, this is where the “something happened…” part begins, warning***
The bell sleeve addition seemed like a harmless, interesting twist when I was making my plans, but then other thoughts started popping into my head, “what about adding the ‘cold shoulder’ trend?” “no, maybe split the sleeve and add eyelets with lacing?” “Oh, trim the split with leather and lace it up with a leather cord!” “YES! that’s IT!”
See how quickly my simple grey t-shirt wardrobe basic became something else entirely?!?
And since Thanksgiving was right around the corner, what better time to unveil this new “wardrobe basic” than Thanksgiving Day…insert late night sewing here…Wow, does my head ever turn simple life into “YIKES!” or what?
After tracing the long sleeve pattern piece onto interfacing, I measured from my shoulder to elbow to determine where I wanted the bell part of the sleeve to begin. From there, I cut the new sleeve pattern piece into two pieces; a top sleeve and a bottom sleeve. The top sleeve piece was kept intact, I would split the sleeve later. The bottom sleeve was then sliced vertically from the hem up to the elbow line, but not through. The slits were then spread apart with the elbow line acting as a hinge. After eyeing up the desired new fullness of the sleeve hem, I pinned and traced the changed sleeve bottom onto another piece of interfacing. Finally the new two-piece sleeve was cut from the fashion fabric.
Once the top sleeve was cut from the grey knit, I folded the sleeve in half length-wise to determine the the line on which the sleeve would be split, a one inch strip of knit interfacing was applied to both sides of the slit to support the knit and prevent the sleeve from stretching out of shape until the leather binding was applied. Next, the shoulder seam of each top sleeve pieces was sewn to the shirt front and shirt back, leaving the shoulder seam not sewn, so that the leather binding could be applied to the shoulder seam, making the lacing go from neck edge to elbow.
Now the shirt was ready for the leather binding. So that I could launder this new shirt at home, I used faux leather. Once the binding was attached, the neck binding was applied to the neck edge and the sleeve bottom piece was attached at the elbow. Now my shirt was nearly complete. Silver eyelets were applied along the faux leather binding, suede leather cord was laced through the eyelets, top-stitched hems were sewn to finish the shirt and sleeve bottoms and top-stitching was done around the neck edge to prevent the neck binding from flipping inward and give the finished shirt a more professional appearance.
My new wardrobe piece is very trendy and fun to wear, although the stiffness of the leather binding works against the light weight knit…some adjustment while wearing is necessary to keep the presentation picture perfect. If I were making this shirt again, I might consider using the grey knit as the binding and lacing, which would make the shirt more of a wardrobe basic and the wear-ability might be improved, but then it would lose its “edgy” quality and my creative concept wouldn’t have been satisfied. It seems I struggle to sew everyday ordinary items for myself. The practical thoughts in my head can give a million reasons why it is a good idea, but then as soon as I finish the list, the creative thoughts flood out and I can’t be satisfied until these one of a kind ideas become reality.
Don’t try to do dishes with these sleeves… 🙂
I did force myself to sew the blush pink knit into a plain, ordinary, long-sleeved t-shirt. I had several embellishments pinned(and even sewn) to this very neutral shirt, but after realizing what I had done to my grey shirt, I forced myself to unpin the extras, hem the sleeves and shirt bottom and be grateful for a the new shirt in my drawer.