As you may have noticed, I have a thing for knit fabric. You'd think by now I'd know how to sew with it.
The asymmetrical neckline drew me to McCall's 4517 (discontinued), on the left. I made this in 2005. This pattern introduced me to my one true love, clear elastic. That's what makes the lovely gather at the bottom of the v-neck. Go ahead, click the picture so you can see the details. Isn't that neckline awesome? Less so are my visible bra straps, which keep me from wearing this shirt with anything but my knit purple suit. (Versus my woven purple suit. Yes, I have two. Don't you?) The front also features some fitting on the fly. This fit like a tent before I hacked away some of the front. Another thing I didn't notice until the end was that the pattern cheaped out and called for unfinished hems. So this shirt is shorter than I intended.
LESSON 1: CHECK THE FIT
LESSON 2: READ AHEAD
On the right is Simplicity 1916, a runner-up for Pattern Review's 2012 Pattern of the Year. I followed the advice of some of the reviewers to build up the neckline so I could wear it without a camisole. I added a half inch, which also took care of any potential bra strap issues. I was still congratulating myself for being so on top of it when I noticed I didn't have to stretch the neckline facing as I sewed it on. Now, the word "STRETCH" is printed right on the pattern piece, so you know it's important. But instead of stopping to think, or to check out advice from sewers extraordinaire like Lladybird, I pressed on ahead. Turns out stretching the facing is what keeps your wrap shirt from flopping out all over the place. But instead of picking out the facing and fixing the actual problem, I futzed around with the side seams, taking them in to create a tighter v-neck. In doing so I ruined the front gathers, which are the key design detail. Instead of gracefully ruching to the hip, the fabric droops right over my belly. HOTT.
LESSON 3: STOP AND THINK
LESSON 4: FIX, DON'T FUTZ
In case you're thinking, "WTF, those shirts are fine," allow me to show you the back.
I've got some back fitting issues. I suspect what oonaballoona calls "posture du dancer" and my physical therapist calls an inflexible mid-back without the normal spine curvature is at play. (I like oona's description better!) So I've always got extra fabric flopping around my upper back. On the left I added tucks with moderate success. The bottom of the shirt is also not great, but not terrible.
However, like a Detroit coney dog, the shirt on the right is one hot mess. Instead of tucks (or cutting a scoop neck, which would have meant picking out my neckline facing), I tried taking in the center back seam. I pinned the excess at the top, then graded the seam down to nothing at the waist. It might have worked if I hadn't already pulled the side seams out of place with my front adjustments. There is also something funky going on with the sleeves.
I wanted to give the Simplicity another go. But, once again, I made things more difficult by cutting the pattern out and then leaving it on the floor for Roomba to crunch up. It was the first time in years I've cut a pattern instead of tracing it. And probably my last!
LESSON 5: PROTECT YOUR PATTERNS
With some reconstructive ironing and taping, I think my pattern pieces are ready for attempt number two. Let's hope I can keep these lessons in mind and get a better result!