When I first started sewing, and I was excited to make ALL THE EXTRAVAGANT THINGS, I remember thinking – ‘why would anyone want to sew boring t-shirts?’ WHYYYYYYYYY? ??♀️ I wanted to sew the coats, the dresses, use all the different buttons, and learn all of the finishing techniques. I did NOT, under any circumstances, want to whip up a T-shirt in a couple of hours using only the overlocker. Dull, much?
Well, it took me a couple of years, but… I’ve made a T-shirt ? And I can’t believe I waited that long, actually. Maybe I’ve matured? Nah. I’m not ready to adult ? Despite the fact I’m going to be 35 in a couple of months, I still don’t feel ready to be a responsible grown-up (tell me it’s not just me?).
At the start of the year, I put an unspecified T-shirt pattern into my 2019 Make Nine, because I had a sneaky feeling that it was one of the garments I wore the most, but had made the least of (and when I say ‘least’, I actually mean zero). It seemed to be a staple of my daily uniform, and yet my other handmades festered at the back of the wardrobe, unworn, in favour of these store-bought T-shirts. What was that all about?
When I got all nerdy and analysed my Me Made May results, the findings did indeed show that I regularly reached for T-shirt’s to wear – so I’ve started working my way around various Tee sewing patterns trying them out.
I’ve previously made a handful of woven scouts (which you can see here and here – okay technically the husbeast made me that second one but ??♀️) but they didn’t really count in my definition of T-shirt, so I made a couple of knit fabric Scouts – the pattern is written for wovens but I couldn’t really see why it wouldn’t work in jersey, and I’m pleased to report it’s fine (and will, of course, give a full report on the blog soooooon). Another pattern I’ve tried is the one I’m presenting to you fabulous people on the blog today ?
I often use my Minerva Blogger Network makes as ‘trial runs’ for new patterns – that way, I don’t have to go steaming in on some precious fabric that I’ve been saving, and I can make fit adjustments on that first go and get an idea of whether I want to proceed with a ‘real’ version. Last month for my Minerva post, I made the Megan Nielsen Rowan tee.
The Rowan has quite a reputation in the sewing community for being a good pattern, so I was quite hopeful of it being a success. This is definitely a pattern that falls into ‘wardrobe builder’ territory, with six versions being included in the one pattern:
1. Short-sleeve tee/crew neck
2. 3/4 sleeve tee/V-neck
3. Long-sleeve tee/turtleneck
4. Short sleeve bodysuit/crew neck
5. 3/4 sleeve bodysuit / V-neck
6. Long sleeve bodysuit/turtleneck
Phew! That’s a lot of combos.
I’m not into V-necks (or bodysuits really, seems like a bit of a faff to have a wee) so I chose the round neck T-shirt version. The Rowan is intended to be made with negative ease – that is, the finished garment is smaller than your body, and will stretch to fit once you put it on. Similar to leggings, and leotards and that kinda thing. I’m not a fan of skin-tight T-shirts either, so even though I measured a small/medium (bust 36, hip 40) I cut an extra-large which had a finished bust measurement of 35 inches. Yep, extra-large. I figured that way, it would be snug-ish but not super-strained over the boob area. What I find a little… surprising is that the extra-large is meant to fit a bust up to 42 inches ? I mean, that’s some serious snugness. I for one know FOR SURE that I really wouldn’t want my tops to be that tight, but maybe I’m the minority? I can’t help thinking something that tight is gonna chafe under the armpits too.
But, I cast my doubts aside and went ahead. Sometimes you just gotta leap and hope the safety net appears.
The one thing that T-shirts do have going for them is that they are SUPER quick to make. Like, just an hour or so. It takes me longer to tie off all the coverstitch ends than it does to make the whole shirt ??
I chose an 80’s-vibe, neon lights jersey from Minerva for my Rowan. This jersey is a nice thick and stable knit, so it’s not gonna stretch about all over the place like some of those slinky jerseys. It’s beginner-friendly, for sure (unlike the jersey I used for this Kielo dress, which was an absolute fecking nightmare ?) so if you’re dipping your toe into stretch fabrics, this one is going to be your friend.
I sewed all the T-shirt seams on the overlocker – no sewing machine required! If you don’t have an overlocker its no drama – just use the stretch stitch on your sewing machine, it’ll work just as well. You’ll need to finish the raw edges of your fabric though (using whichever method you prefer) – that’s the one bonus of the overlocker, it stitches and finishes in one go ??
One thing that did confuse me about the Rowan is that mid-make when it came to attaching the sleeves, I hadn’t marked on my pieces which was the front and which was the back. I had traced my pieces from the original pattern, but if there were any markings on the original I hadn’t transferred them on to my traced pieces. So I had the long task of unfolding the actual pattern only to discover that no, I hadn’t forgotten to trace them, there actually weren’t any markings. Then I thought, maybe I have a faulty pattern, perhaps they forgot to print them? I went digging through the instructions to find any reference to the sleeve front/back and it turns out that the sleeves on the Rowan are symmetrical. Hmm. But are our arms actually symmetrical? No. No, they’re not. The Scout (and pretty much every other close-fit sleeve I’ve encountered) has a front and a back, but the Rowan sleeves are same-same. Hmm. I guess as the fabric is stretchy, it doesn’t really matter, but I would have still liked a front and a back.
Once the T-shirt was assembled, I decided to get creative with my coverstitch threads and have one blue thread and one pink on the sleeves and hem. I love it! It just adds to the 80s feels for me. I’m really into 80s trends right now – something draws me to those neon lights and the retro vibes.
I was quite worried that the size XL would be a bit big on me, but turns out I didn’t need to fret (I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I went up three sizes and it still fits?! ??♀️) It mostly has the ease I wanted, but there’s this weird little pooch of fabric at the front of the armpit, and a wrinkle across the front of the chest. I’m sure both of these things would vanish if I made the size small, but then I’d have had that Baywatch look across the chest. No thank YOU.
After wearing my Rowan for a day, I decided that actually, this pattern isn’t for me. Not in the short sleeve variation, anyway. The front of the neck felt like it was choking me – I had to keep pulling the upper back up and the front down so it didn’t feel so restrictive around my neck. It just didn’t sit right. I remember doing this a lot with my Pauline Alice Cami Dress, so I’m sure that means there’s an adjustment I need to be doing for weird shoulders or something ??♀️ (If you have an idea of what it is, lemme know!).
It’s had its chance, and with all the pulling about I was doing on it while wearing it, it’s lost it. I can’t be wearing a top that feels that uncomfortable or that I have to keep faffing about with all the time just so I don’t feel like I’m choking. It fails my ‘low maintenance / no faff’ policy for clothing, spectacularly. It will be remade into something else – probably boxer shorts for the husbeast.
(I’ve also just spotted that fold of fabric on the far left! ???♀️)
Despite the underwhelming result of the T-shirt, I do actually absolutely LOVE the pattern on this fabric – so much so, that I bought another metre of it to make me a beloved Scout tee ? The print goes so well with my 80’s-acid-wash-mom jeans that I’m so in love with, and should also co-ord perfectly with my leopard print Dawn jeans which I’m hoping to finish this bank holiday weekend ??
I’m kinda disappointed with the Rowan pattern but I do still want to make the long-sleeved polo neck for winter (because I wear them like ALL THE TIME), so I’ll perhaps give that a try in the size small, or medium (or large ) and see how it turns out… just in case. One shot is all it’s getting though.
The next T-shirt’s on my list to try are the Basic InstincT tee from SecondoPiano, the Neptune Tee by See Kate Sew (but I have concerns over how neatly the triangle cut-outs are finished on the inside ?), and the La Brea Tee from Halfmoon Atelier which gives me all the retro feels (and has a D cup option too, which would eliminate boob-stretch!). I’m excited to try those bound edges ?
I never thought I’d be sewing T-shirt’s. In all honesty… I wanted to make all of the ‘fun’ things – not T-shirt’s! But, I’ve realised that the ‘fun’ things don’t get worn every day – they just sit in the wardrobe. I love to create, and I love using all the cool fabrics, but I also want to wear (most of) the things that I make. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I’ll still sew with all the cool fabrics, but I’ll be considering more carefully the garments that I make with them. It’s such a waste to use up some awesome, precious fabric on something that doesn’t fit into my wardrobe and have it just sit there, collecting dust.
So that’s my musings on sewing boring basics, lol.
In other news… we’re still cycling to work, and are down about 20lbs between us so far ?? I’ve been hitting the weights section of the gym, and am slowly but surely getting stronger – when you’re starting at rock bottom though, the only way is up ?
Even though we’ve got a savage heatwave here in London this weekend, I’ve well and truly moved on from summer makes now having made a grand total this year of about – oooh, THREE ?. BUT – I did make a test version of the Gemma Tank, which was a success (yay!) and so will feature in my summer wardrobe next year.
This tee went live on the Minerva blog a few weeks back, so if you’d like to have a gander (and purchase some of the jersey fabric I’ve used for the tee), head on over to the blog post here.
Next week here on my blog, I’m going to be willing Autumn to arrive by telling you about my many (many) plans for coats this winter! But for now, before my blog turns shades of burnt orange and burgundy and 90% of things are made with wool, enjoy some bright colours ?❤️?
Next weeks post is some serious coat porn – subscribe below to have it drop straight into your inbox! ??