Sunday, January 27, 2013

Birthday T-Shirt: PASS

Last week I asked myself, "What if I broke the birthday shirt post into two? I could use photos from last year, the writing would be quick, and I'd have time to sew!" I congratulated myself on being clever and efficient. Then I went on a six-mile family bike ride and promptly forgot about this idea.

Ah, well.

On Birthday Eve 2012 my son presented me with a crayon drawing of a rainbow-striped shirt with a silver six in the middle. "Mama," he suggested, "I think you should take the day off work tomorrow and make me a rainbow six shirt." After my heart melted and reassembled itself, I said of course I'd make him one.

Skipping out on short notice is frowned upon at my workplace, so from 8 till midnight I cut t-shirt strips, sewed them together to make fabric, traced around one of his shirts for a pattern, and constructed the new shirt using instructions from Built By Wendy Sew U Home Stretch. In the morning, the boy and his papa sent me this photo, a response to my note asking if he liked his rainbow six shirt.
"I do like it."
This year I thought I'd get a jump on the process. Birthday shirt design began a week in advance. I really, really wanted to use Made By Rae's Flashback Skinny Tee pattern. I suggested a close fitting shirt with long sleeves this time, which were approved. (Yay!) Then I sketched a rough outline of a long-sleeve shirt and asked my young designer to color it in. Surprise! Rainbow stripes, this time with the addition of pink and black. My son has always had an eye for color and was very specific about the order of the stripes. Design orders in hand, I got to work.

The fabric-making process was much the same as last year. I cut strips and sleeves from old t-shirts to take advantage of the prefab hems. If you look closely, you'll also see velvety purple stripes cut from scraps from my failed wrap dress and black ones from my "perfect" knit dress.

Even with all this advance planning, I was still sewing late into the night. Many seams had to be unpicked and re-sewn as a result. Choice words were uttered to a serger. An iron slightly melted a vinyl seven, damage which may have been camouflaged by green Sharpie marker. But in the end it all came together beautifully (and on time).

The Flashback pattern comes with clear, well-illustrated, instructions and tips on construction. The only adjustment I made was to let out the sleeves, which were pinching at the elbow. I'd love to whip up another one of these shirts before the boy grows to the next size. This time in a solid fabric. I think I can only do rainbow stripes once a year.

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