Free Tree Tees and more

I’ve been surfing the learning curve this week, figuring out my new serger, plus trying to nail down exactly what constitutes a knit. Most of the knit fabrics out there are things I never had anything to do with until I started sewing. I have the feeling new knit fabrics are being invented daily. So, I’ve got a stash of about half a dozen pieces from half a metre to five yards, all scrounged from discounters or thrift shops, all fibres unknown. Some have crossgrain stretch only, and some have four-way stretch. Those are two different animals entirely! Two-way stretch fabrics are at least somewhat familiar. They float. Four-way stretch fabrics sag.

I started with a small piece of something with four-way stretch, figuring the top would be short enough that the fabric’s sag would not be a factor. I used Grainline’s free Hemlock pattern. This is a pattern I tried about six months ago and didn’t like. Since then I figured the fabric had been a bad match — too drapey, not enough body for the boxy shape.

I added an inch to each side, front and back, and took a couple of inches off the bottom.

Here’s the result.

pink striped

I like it. The fabric looks familiar — I think I’ve seen men’s golf shirts made out of it. I actually got sleeves out of the piece, which was not even a yard long. That’s the advantage of a pattern like the Hemlock, which has a really shallow sleeve head.

I decided another piece of fabric also had enough body, so made a second one right away.


I had a nice piece of white fabric (two-way stretch) that I intended to use for a sleeveless version of the Hemlock, but after I pinned the pieces together and tried it on, I realized there wasn’t enough body. There was nothing to like, so I recut the pieces using my TNT self-drafted top/tunic/dress pattern.

I suppose two pix are redundant, but I’m showing off the blue wide-leg pleated pants that I posted about last time. I shortened them about an inch, and hand-hemmed them because I didn’t like the visible stitching line. I was heading in the wrong direction with them, thinking I needed a short or tucked-in top. I like both the blue Hemlock, and this white tee with them.

I’ve decided to christen the white one. Although it started out as a pattern hack, I think I’ve made it my own by now. So, allow me to introduce the Great Lakes Tee. Named in homage to where I grew up, always within spitting distance of one or other of them.

Here’s another.


I really like this blue fabric. It’s a cotton heathered blue, two-way stretch. It’s really airy. I found a crumpled bundle of it at a thrift store. There’s still about two metres left.

So, all those fabrics were pretty easy to deal with. What’s left are four-way stretch pieces that I find pretty unfamiliar. I did burn tests on most of them, and discovered that they’re all largely natural fibre, which was surprising. So here’s the last Great Lakes tee  for now, made from the saggiest of the pieces.

The sag doesn’t seem to be a problem. But  I can’t imagine making anything tunic length or longer from this type of fabric. It’s almost a beautiful colour, isn’t it? So close, but …. let’s just say that it reminds me of a beautiful colour 🙂

Edgey pants, or ….?

Some time ago I pulled out a 90’s Donna Karan wrap skirt and baggy pant pattern and went to town. I made two versions of the skirt, and then tried a pair of long shorts, using the pant pattern. This is the pic, in case you’ve forgotten, or didn’t see that post 🙂


Why do pattern companies use black for their envelop pictures anyway? Is it when they don’t want you to see details of the design and/or fit? I had a really hard time figuring out if the shorts fit. This was partly because it had been decades since I’d worn pleated pants, and the whole look was new. Although the size 16 was perfect for the skirt, I was taking in the size 14 to try to get what looked right for the shorts. I did discover that the lovely “paperbag” look was not for me.

I wanted to try the pants, straightening out the legs instead of going with the peg leg look. I actually went out and bought some fabric especially for the project. (I didn’t go so far as to buy it at regular price!) It’s a Kaufman linen cotton blend that’s so popular it’s actually for sale in two Vancouver stores.

I cut off the top two inches of the front and back pieces, as well as of the facings, to eliminate the “paperbag”. I had a pretty good idea of how to straighten the legs, but confirmed it by placing a wide-leg pattern piece on top of the Donna Karan piece.

Here’s the result.


I had to ransack my closet to find something to wear with them, as all the tops I’ve made are too long. I found this shirt, which I haven’t worn much because it was always too big. Looks like a decade in the dark caused it to shrink. I love the fabric, but it is a little tight in the bust, isn’t it?


I deliberately eliminated the pockets so I would have a clear canvas to examine size. I took a one inch  seam allowance  at the waist down to the hip, grading to 5/8ths. After finishing them, I finally figured out how to tell if baggy pants fit. It’s the rear end! Now matter how baggy the pant, if they don’t have an elastic waist, they’re going to fit properly across the derriere (notice how polite I’m being?). These pants didn’t, so I had to eliminate a slight outward curve at the hip. The side seams are now completely straight.

They’re still not snug enough to stay up without a belt, though. I think I could still lose about an inch at the waist.


I also think the waist to crotch length is a bit long. I find they fit best if I let them slide a little down from where they’re supposed to be. That means the crotch is hanging pretty low. I think I’ll make a horizontal cut across the front piece at least next time and take out an inch. That will necessitate a shorter fly, which will be a good thing.

I do like them. The fabric is just right for them because it’s really light weight. But in some of the pix I took, my  legs look somewhat shortened. Having legs disproportionately short for my body, I have found extremes in cuff width (too narrow, or too wide) can give me a stumpy look.


I was trying to put together a “look” above. The top is from   Simple Modern Sewing, one of those Japanese pattern books. But I’m not sure I want the tucked in look — again because of the leg/trunk lack of proportion. What I really need are some shorter tops that cover the waist, but not the pleats,  and maybe a knee-length sleeveless or sleeved cardigan — something that will add a perception of length. That’s the thing I’m discovering, as I try out different styles of clothing. You can’t just wear any top with any bottom. They have to complement each other in cut and design. You need to make an outfit. Who’d a thought???

Anyway, I’m open to critical comments, if anyone wants to take the plunge.