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Two More T-Shirts

19 Nov
T-Shirt Front View

T-Shirt Front View (click to zoom)

Guess what? I finally made a t-shirt that fits. This is the last t-shirt from my project to resize Large shirts to Small shirts. Except for some small folds near the shoulder/chest (which I will explain below) it looks good to me.

Blue T-Shirt

Blue T-Shirt

I also made this blue t-shirt, but the fit here is too loose for my taste. For this blue shirt, the pattern is (if I recall correctly) one inch narrower than my brown t-shirt. However, for the black t-shirt, I really went crazy and took off 2 inches from each side for a total of 4 inches narrower in the front and 4 inches narrower in the back. That was definitely a good idea because the black one looks much better in my opinion.

Now I think I have come up with a good sloper pattern for a knit shirt. Too bad it is too cold to wear it today.

Weird neck folds

Weird neck folds

Here is my theory of why all these shirts have folds in the shoulder/chest area. I took the photo above while I was cutting this “Medium” shirt down to size. The front side is on the right. Although the fabric is totally flat, you can see a big wrinkle under the front neckline. Why? This doesn’t make any sense to me, because I would think the fabric should be FLAT. However, there is no way to make it flat (except perhaps by tearing out the neck ribbing).

I have a feeling that if I am cutting knit fabric from the fabric store, rather than repurposing t-shirts, then I will not have this problem. I will also not have the problem of folds appearing in the shoulder/chest area, which you can see in all my photos.

I almost wonder if this is some “3 dimensional fabric” or something. I can understand why this fold exists — chubbier people have bigger chests than me. But, I don’t want that fold on my clothes.

T-Shirt Side View

T-Shirt Side View

All the shirts’ sleeves are cut from the same pattern and I think this sleeve looks pretty good.

T-Shirt Back View

T-Shirt Back View

Back looks okay to me (shoulder folds appearing again, though).

T-Shirt Hem

T-Shirt Hem

Here is the way I was told to do a t-shirt hem. I ran the serger along the hem, then folded the serged hem allowance into the inside of the shirt. Then I sewed it in place with a row of straight stitches (length 4mm). On my machine I had the presser foot pressure set to “4″ (out of 10) and I didn’t need to pull on it or have any problems with gathering or anything like that.

All the other seams in the shirt have also been serged for durability.

The only thing I did not change in these t-shirts is the neckline… I just left the neck as it was with the ribbing in place. Some other time when I am doing a shirt from scratch I will have to learn how to do a neckline…

 
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Changing the Size of a T-Shirt

15 Nov
Shirt size comparison

Shirt size comparison

Here is an update on my project to change large sized shirts into smaller sized shirts. Above you can see the first shirt I “converted.” The brown shirt was a size Extra Large and the orange shirt underneath it is a size Small. So, you can see that I was able to make the brown XL shirt into an S (actually – shorter than S).

There were a few problems though as you can see in the next photo where I am wearing it.

Front view

Front view

Here are some problems I see: 1) the neckhole is off-center, 2) there are folds in the upper chest/shoulder area, and 3) the shirt hem looks bad.

Side view

Side view

You can see in the side view where I had to cut a side-seam to make the shirt smaller. The original t-shirt did not have side seams, so I made some, following the grain of the shirt.

Back view

Back view

In the back view, there are folds in the shoulder area again, just like in the front. I am not entirely sure why these folds appeared.

It does makes sense for the XL shirt to have more depth, since it is made for a bigger person than me. However, I thought the pattern I traced from the small shirt should have been the right size so that those folds would not appear in the modified shirt. I don’t know what happened to cause that, but I think it must have to do with my pattern. The only other explanation is that the fabric itself is distorted in some way.

Pattern pieces

Pattern pieces (click to zoom)

Above is the pattern I made from tracing the outline of my size Small t-shirt.

Cutting shirt

Cutting the shirt

Here you can see that I ran into big problems with the shoulder area. I was surprised to find that the size XL shirt had completely different shoulders than the size S shirt. The small shirt had more of an angle to the shoulder, or at least in the way I traced it, it seemed to. Since I didn’t want to have to re-sew the shoulders and neckline, I had to sort of guess where the shoulder should be. (In the photo above, I have already cut the back and the pattern piece is lying where I will cut the front.)

I did notice that the shirt grainline was off and the two shoulder seams were different — one was slanted and the other was straight. The shirt seemed very poorly constructed, even before I made my modifications to it. Because of the slanted shoulder seam on one side, that shoulder is 1 cm longer than the other after I cut it. That is probably why the neckhole isn’t centered around my neck in the first photo.

Uncut sleeve

Uncut sleeve

The sleeves on the XL shirt were also very different from my size S shirt. As you can see, the XL sleeve is almost rectangular, and it has a small bulge on the hem. There is very little rise on the top part of the sleeve compared to the one in my pattern.

Sleeves cut

Sleeves cut

Here is the sleeve pattern piece I made (lower right), after I cut three shirt sleeve pairs from it.

Sleeve close-up

Sleeve close-up

Overall I think the sleeve came out acceptable. Maybe not great, but not awful either. I think the seam would have been smoother if my pattern had been more like the size XL sleeve, without the big rise on the top and more rectangular in shape.

I have learned a lot about sleeve-fitting and drafting from this project, but I think I still have a long way to go before I can make a nice looking t-shirt…

 
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Making a T-Shirt Pattern

08 Nov
Shirt Front

Shirt Front

I have decided to try to make a t-shirt (again). My first attempt, using a store bought sewing pattern, was bad.

Later, I tried drafting my own pattern, but that didn’t end so well. My self-made pattern for a shirt didn’t fit. Also, at the time I only had muslin fabric to test it with, so it was a failure in two different ways. A prototype in a woven fabric isn’t going to work when the final shirt is supposed to be in a knit fabric (due to knit fabric’s stretchiness). I didn’t write a blog post about that one because it looked ridiculous.

What I’ve decided to do different this time is to trace a pattern off of one of my old shirts. I found the oldest, worst t-shirt I had and took apart all the seams. (I didn’t want to ruin a good, newer shirt.) I am now tracing a pattern around each piece which I will use to cut a new shirt.

Shirt Back

Shirt Back

Interestingly, the back and front of a store bought t-shirt is in one piece. I had to cut the side-seams with my scissors to make it into two pieces. At the factory, the shirt must come on a tube of some sort, to make this possible. As a home tailor, though, I am stuck with using flat fabric pieces.

Another thing I noticed is that no matter how I try to make the shirt lie flat, there are a few folds around the arm holes. In the photos above, it is more obvious in the front, but you can see it in the back too. I am guessing this is for guys with a bigger chest – to give more room in the shirt, like a dart. But for me, being flat chested, I think I can get away without having this particular “feature.” Also, I am not sure how I would cut a shirt that way, without a dart.

Detached Sleeve

Detached Sleeve

The main reason I chose to take apart an existing shirt to make a pattern, rather than drafting my own from scratch, is for the sleeve. As you can see from above, the way a sleeve attaches to an armhole is really odd. The sleeve is not a simple horizontal or vertical piece because your arm is curved. So, this makes for an unusual shape in the sleeve piece.

Shirt Sleeve

Shirt Sleeve

Here is what the sleeve looks like when it is unrolled. I wonder how one comes up with a shape like this when drafting a new pattern to make it fit into the armhole? I don’t like “fitting” and prefer just to have it right the first time. The sleeve/armhole pattern seems like it would be difficult to draft from measurements alone. Luckily, I can just copy someone else’s work for now.

You may notice that the two sleeve pieces look a bit different. I was thinking maybe the right sleeve is opposite of the left because the front of the shirt is bigger than the back (or something like that). However, after spending a lot of time measuring and comparing the two, I think these sleeves are actually supposed to be identical and the reason they look different in the photo is just due to sloppy cutting at the factory.

Armhole Size

Armhole Size

The reason I believe the back and front curves of the sleeve piece are supposed to match is because when I compared the back and front armhole length on the shirt, the length was the same. To me, this indicates that the total length of the sleeve-armhole seam should be the same length on the back and front.

Sleeve Pattern

Sleeve Pattern (click to zoom)

With this in mind I drew a matching curve by folding my pattern paper in half. The other lines are from measurements of the sleeve piece.

I haven’t finished copying the shirt pattern yet, but the sleeve was the hardest part – the rest of it should be simple tracing.

You might wonder what fabric I will use to make my new shirt. Well, here it is…

Shirt Size

Shirt Size

Other shirts are going to be the source of my knit fabric. These shirts were donated to me and are all too big for me to wear. I am going to cut them up and use the big shirt fabric pieces to make smaller pieces to test my pattern (and also practice my knit-sewing skills).

Shirt Tags

Shirt Tags

Here is something strange I found while looking at these shirts. Despite being different sizes (XL through M), the shirts from different manufacturers have completely different sizing. One manufacturer’s “Medium” is the same as another manufacturer’s “Large.” XL is the largest shirt (as expected). However, Hanes Large is the identical size as Fruit of the Loom Medium. The orange shirt is a size Small I was using for comparison.

 
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