Monday, April 29, 2013

Grape Sorbetto

OK, perhaps it's not so much grape sorbetto as the result of a kid messing around with the slushee machine, blending some blue raspberry into their grape slushee.

I had been wanting to try my hand at sewing a sleeveless "shell"-type shirt and looked at about a million different patterns.  I picked this one because:

It's cute.  (I like the center pleat, although it would also be very straightforward to eliminate it; even I do not need instructions to figure out how that works.)

It's easy.  It doesn't have buttons or zippers.

It's not sloppy big.  When making something out of woven fabric that has to slip over your head, shoulders, etc., an overly loose silhouette can be a problem.  This one goes on easily but doesn't make me feel like I'm wearing a tent.

It's popular and well-blogged, so I got to read many other sewist's experiences in making, fitting, and wearing the shirt.  I also got to see that it looked good on people with a wide variety of sizes/shapes.

It uses bias tape around the arms and neck.  I have only recently discovered the bias tape product (I believe in reading the book Improv Sewing) and I was eager to try it out.  In looking up information about it on the Internet, I saw a lot of pictures of people making insanely cute kids' shirts with contrasting bias tape to finish the edges, and I was all, Waaaaah, I want to use it on a shirt big enough for me.

And finally, it's a free download

I got Robert to help me tape together the pattern pieces (fortunately, there were only two of them! but they covered over a dozen pieces of computer paper) and used some fabric I bought a long time ago (to make a skirt that I never made).  It was quite easy to put together.  I even learned how to make my own bias tape from normal fabric -- very cool.  The secret is using this little gadget (only $7) to fold the fabric, and then pressing in the folds with an iron as you pull the fabric through.

The finished product fit well everywhere except for the dreaded gaping armhole problem that regularly plagues the wearers of sleeveless tops, exposing your leopard print bra with the strap held on by a safety pin for the world to see.  (Note: I do not own such a bra.)  I fixed it by running some thread around each armhole by hand and tightening the thread to pull the armholes back toward the body.  This was kind of a pain in the ass, but it worked pretty well.  I don't think the scrunching around the arms is particularly noticeable, and to the extent that it's noticeable, I don't think it's problematic.

I just hope my fix sticks -- I feel that it wouldn't be hard to accidentally break the thread that keeps the armhole scrunched in.

I got two books on pattern fitting from Amazon and read the first one -- Fast Fit -- this weekend.  Interestingly, the method she recommends for fixing gaping armholes is very similar to mine (though performed on the fabric before the garment is completed):  it involves somehow scrunching up the fabric while sewing on the machine.  This idea makes me a bit nervous because I could easily screw it up by scrunching too much, too little, or unevenly around the armhole, but I will probably try it next time I make this shirt.  (Unless I decide reading the other fit book that there is a method I would rather try first.)

The grape sorbetto had its debut at Sunday's baseball game.  The weather was insanely perfect -- 77 degrees and sunny (but our seats were in the shade, which was awesome).  It's interesting how a shirt made from lightweight woven cotton can be cooler than a knit tank top.  I suppose it's some combination of the lightness of the material and the slight looseness of the shirt itself.  In any event, I declare the shirt a successful experiment, and I intend to make more of them.


mom said...

Do some practice scrunching on scrap fabric. I'm sure you will become very adept at it. and, remember if you use a larger stitch you could pull out the stitching if you're not happy with it. It sounds like it's similar to sewing gathers, which is also done before you sew the individual pieces together.

Sally said...

Good idea - I'll definitely try practicing first! It probably is the same as gathers; I couldn't remember the term for that, actually. :)

Tam said...

Looks good. And I do think woven fabrics are in general cooler than knits. This is why I only wear woven pajama bottoms.

Sally said...

Tam, hah - just today I decided that I really prefer woven to knit pajama bottoms also.

Debbie said...

All I have to say is: victory is yours!

jen said...


Sally said...

Thanks for the nice feedback, guys!