I bought this fabric when I was in India a few years ago. That fabric shopping trip was overwhelming, and I have no idea what I was thinking when I chose most of the fabrics. I got home and discovered that I did not like most of them!
This fabric, though, I still liked. It was just different enough to not be like everything else I own, but still within my favorite colors. It was a drapey, sort of twill weave but turned out it was VERY loosely woven and in fact basically unraveled the second I cut it into the pieces. I quickly ran each edge through the serger but apparently that was only somewhat successful because after a day of wearing it, there is a hole in the armpit. I sewed that shut and after another wearing and a trip through the wash, there’s the beginning of a hole at one shoulder seam. Those seams were sewn with proper seam allowance; I think the fabric is just too fragile!
Sadly I think this one will never be worn again. But I proudly wore it for one fine spring day on a drive with a friend from LA to San Diego! It’s shown here under the pier at Newport Beach and on the rocks around Laguna beach.
Maggie told me to make it, so I did. She’s never led me astray before, and I’m so pleased with the results of letting her boss me around!
She specifically said to make a Plantain Tee (free with newsletter sign up!) in a bamboo jersey. When I was at Mood shopping for fabric for a dress to wear to a wedding, I stumbled upon the bamboo jersey section. When I got a staff member to cut the dress fabric for me I spontaneously said, “and let’s add a yard of something from over here… how about that one,” picking a color somewhat blindly. Yes, it’s in the teal family—what else? I gravitate to that color when I’m looking for color, what can I say.
Turns out to make the Plantain in any sleeve length but short you actually need more than a yard, but I didn’t know that, so I’m glad I only wanted short sleeves anyway right now! I cut the pieces out using the pattern pieces for the size 40 in the bust and the 42 for the hips, just grading it out as smoothly and evenly as I could. The bamboo was kind of slippery and quite stretchy, so getting the fabric set for cutting was somewhat stressful, but it seems to have gone well enough.
I used my serger to sew all the seams, and that went very smoothly. I didn’t topstitch the collar because the seam sat flat, and I don’t really have the best tools for topstitching. That’s why I had major issues with the hemming: turns out I am kind of terrible at hemming. When I made my Union St. Tee, I did a zigzag for the hems, and it came out great with no effort at all. So I guess I thought it would always be that simple. I secured all the hems on this Plantain with the zigzag, and wow it looked like utter crap. I sent Maggie a photo and she suggested it might “block out,” to use a knitter’s parlance, but I really thought I just did a bad job. So I picked out all of the hems and redid them, using just a long straight stitch, my walking foot, and extra care to not stretch the fabric AT ALL. The extra time to pick out the stitching was frustrating but definitely worth it, because the hems are drastically improved.
In the end, it’s pretty successful! It’s amazingly comfy, I think the deep scoop is flattering but not too revealing, and I definitely will want ones in other sleeve lengths. (I’m not sure about the elbow patches—looks cute, yes, but I fear my skills in sewing them down will just make them look like I hurriedly covered actual holes or something.) I don’t exactly know what’s happening on the back in that photo—it looks like it’s pulling in odd ways? But then, we’d just gone up and down a ton of stairs and were sweaty and maybe that was affecting it. Jason says it looked pretty normal when not frozen in a photo.
I wore it today as we explored the Sutro Baths and Land’s End in San Francisco. I’m a loyal (obsessed?) listener of 99% Invisible, so I’d heard the episode about the Sutro Baths. I honestly thought, from the podcast, that they would be remote, requiring some effort to find, and you’d not really be able to walk all over them—but I was very wrong. They’re part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (“Sutro District”), so there’s an info center and free bathrooms, and paths all around. Sure, it’s on the far western edge of the city, but we just hopped on the 38 R bus down Geary and it took us right to them! The ruins are on the edge of Land’s End, which has paths leading to amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a fun place to visit on our first day of a trip to SF.
I really ought to have just walked down to Union Street in Brooklyn to take these pictures; instead we’ll settle for a different street in Brooklyn just a few blocks away. (I’m guessing the pattern was not named for that street exactly, as I don’t think the designer lives here!)
After truly YEARS of wanting to sew clothing but being terrified and unsure, Friday night I bit the bullet and cut into a knit fabric. I made the Union St Tee, and though it is a bit big on me, and it has its issues, I’m over the moon for it!
A few years ago I sewed a handful of things—a Tova top, which I wear from time to time despite how heavy the fabric is, a Washi Tunic that I wear once in a blue moon because I really don’t like how wingy the sleeves are, and a Washi Dress that I absolutely never wear because it is completely not my style. Then I wished I were sewing clothing but felt stumped on what to make. So many cute dresses abound online, but what do I wear on a daily basis? Tshirts with jeans. So I should sew those.
My mom and I found this fabric at Joann’s, and I figured a simple T shirt was the way to go. I wanted some ease, so I made the Large, and it’s definitely too long on me, but I can still alter that. The stripes on the fabric don’t align from sleeves to body because I just didn’t have enough fabric to make that happen—I barely eked out the sleeves as it is, and that they match each other was hard too. They also feel a bit too long to me, too, but no big deal.
I used my serger to sew all the seams with what I feel is great success. It really wasn’t nearly as tricky as it seemed before I did it. However, in a glaring misstep, I sewed the neckline to the WRONG SIDE the first time and then had pick out the serged seam—boy did that take forever. When I redid it, I ended up with two small puckers. How infuriating, after the first, incorrect attempt had had no errors at all! I decided I can live with the puckers, because I am not going through ripping it apart again. I don’t have a twin needle so I did a simple zigzag on my normal machine for the hems. Even with the time wasted fixing the neckline, it took me only about two hours to make.
The pattern was fantastic. Despite my limited experience with garment sewing, I’ve printed and taped my fair share of pdf patterns. This one has layers built into the pdf, so you can pick which size(s) to print! No navigating a mess of slightly different lines, or guessing a curve when it’s a solid eighth of an inch thick because so many sizes are overlapping. You could easily print out two sizes at once so that you can grade from one to the other where necessary. i don’t understand why other designers aren’t doing this. In the future, I would prioritize one of Hey June‘s patterns over another, for sure.
It’s exciting to think I can now start actually making clothing I’ll wear.
Once I had my Washi Dress under my belt, I was keen on sewing something else, and I was also interested in finding out if I could get the Washi pattern to fit better for me—via a tunic.
For this, I actually did a muslin of the bodice at one size down from the size I used for the dress, and omgsotight; it was NOT an appropriate change! But it led me to focus on the dart; I made it deeper but kept it at the same location, to try to tuck the fabric under my bust more. (I could’ve done more on this, in retrospect.) I didn’t lengthen the bodice, which I’ll revisit if I do this pattern in the future. On the bottom I used only 2 pleats, one on each side, by cutting the Small size for the tunic bottom and making slightly larger folds just to make the pieces match. I wonder if this pattern could hold up to a no-pleats version well or not.
After trying it on, it just didn’t seem fitted enough. I know, I know, the Washi isn’t meant to be fitted, but that’s not my style! So I added waist shaping—in the most slap-dash way: I just drew some curves and sewed them atop the existing seams. A pass through the serger dealt with the excess fabric, and I’m a lot happier with the way it fits on the sides now. For this one, because the cotton was heavier, I didn’t bother interfacing the facings, and I didn’t even tack them down (I didn’t understand how to do that, anyway) but they stay put just fine.
As to the sleeves—there is no denying that the pattern gives a bit of a football shoulder pad effect. There’s a reason so many people are pictured wearing Washis with their arms akimbo! I wanted to mitigate that from the outset, and the only way I could figure out how was to increase the curve of the curved part of the sleeves. I could’ve gone even further, but I’m pleased enough with the result. I wore it to work (it’s the first of my sewn garments to be worn for real) and a coworker who is always stylishly dressed and has never once commented on my appearance (boring as it normally is) complimented me on my shirt, not knowing that I’d made it. Success! Farm dog Rex approves, too.
My final thoughts on this and all the garments I sewed in that week is that it’s time to graduate to “real” patterns. Though these are graded, they also are using design elements (like elastic and the gathering/pleating) to basically get around actually fitting the pieces. It’s time for me to get patterns that are truly more my style, learn to put in a zipper, and also explore some real fabrics. I’m ready.
Photos again by the amazing knitwear/handmade-wear photographer Caro Sheridan. I love our weekends away with knitting friends and yes, I made 3 garments in preparation!
I knew I was coming to a glorious location here in western Wisconsin (that’s the Mississippi River in the background—I had never seen the Mississippi before!), so I wanted an FO that I could rope my favorite photographer, Caro, into shooting for me. But I wasn’t going to be able to knit anything in time, and I wasn’t going to drag a quilt halfway across the country, so it was time to actually sew some clothing! I think the tight deadline plus the almost insane panic I felt that I would be missing out on gorgeous photo shoot locations were what I needed to finally get over my fear and start cutting into fabric for garments.
It was super steep on that bluff, you guys, and I was wearing flip-flops. (I stopped about halfway down to a stone ledge that friends were exploring.) So excuse any weirdness in these photos. But about this shirt, the Tova Top. I used a quilting cotton, which I knew would probably be too heavy; it hangs pretty well in spite of that. It does feel slightly stiff, though, and I’d be interested in trying this out in a more appropriate fabric—plus running it through the wash a few times.
The inset probably gave me the biggest trouble, because working around its corners was tricksy. I actually picked it out once; it came out much better the second time. The collar was also somewhat mysterious to me (fold over what?) until I actually did it, and then it was pretty clear—it came together without too much hassle. Confession time: Practically every seam in this garment had to be sewn twice! A combination of always forgetting to change a setting (lengthen stitch length for basting, but forget to switch it back!), being slightly confused by the black and white step-by-step photographs in the tutorial, and being almost a complete novice (those garment sewing classes I took 10 years ago are in my brain somewhere, but not at the front of my brain). In all, though, this top wasn’t hard to make at all and it came together in a 2-day intensive.
One major delay in the process was learning how to thread my serger and get the hang of using that. Illana gave me the serger years ago (she had a new one) but it had literally never come out of the box upon being transferred to my possession. And of course I got it threaded and ran out of thread soon after, so I am now an expert on threading that machine! But I figured if I was going to start sewing garments I ought to get them finished as well as I could. Caro, a professional, told me she peeked inside my garments and approved of the job I did, so: PHEW!
I’m looking forward to the weather turning so that I can wear this more! The flap at the front really is very revealing if you’re not standing still, so I’ll need to wear a camisole underneath, and if I were to sew this pattern again I think I’d add a button or somehow cause that to be more closed.