Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekend Project: Copy Cat

Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.
~ Pablo Picasso

I finally managed to squeeze in some sewing time this weekend! (At the expense of doing our taxes - Uncle Sam will understand, won't he?)

I decided to try to copy this knit top. Step one was to cut up the old, stained and worn top to create the pattern pieces. I've never done this before, and was mildly proud of myself for thinking to mark the front and back of the sleeve pieces (with slits), just in case they were not symmetrical.

Here are the 4 pieces - one front, one back and two sleeves:

Then I folded the front and back pieces in half, to create my pattern pieces on tracing paper. The back lined up nicely when folded:

Sammy served as my paper weight as I traced the fabric:

But when I pulled out the magic marker to add the seam allowances, he left...

I don't think he liked the smell. Or maybe he just thought that the new fabric needed to be put in its place...

I didn't fold the sleeve:

Everything was going peachy keen until I went to make the front piece. Take a look at what happened when I doubled that:

Yikes! I guess years of wear can do that to a garment... I spent quite a bit of time debating how to deal with this asymmetry. Notice the ribs in the texture of the fabric? I finally decided to use those to identify the original and true center line. (The alternative was to start by aligning one pair of seams - the shoulder seams or the side seams.)

I had a scary moment, after cutting out the front and back pattern pieces and then lining them up on my cutting board:

What the...? I couldn't believe that I had messed up that badly! I started to put the 2 cut-up shirt pieces together to see if they were off this badly, when I realized that the 2 center lines of the front and back pieces aren't necessarily supposed to line up. It's the side seams that are supposed to line up!

Ahhh! That's better! :) (Phew!)

My new fabric is a beautiful, rich purple knit.

The majority of the top went together in less time than it took for me to thread the serger! Shoulder seams, attach sleeve caps, and then extended side seams (including underarm seams). Hemming the bottom and sleeves (with a cover stitch) was also a breeze.

The neckline, however, was where not having a pattern got me into trouble. I just cut a strip (not on the bias, as I figured the knit material would stretch), attached it around the outside of the top (right sides together) and then folded it to the inside and went around with another cover stitch.

The problem is that the neckline is too large for the top - it stands up (instead of lying flat) and is wavy. I am guessing that I should have cut the binding strip shorter and then stretched it as I sewed it on. Although, how much shorter is a mystery to me...

It was a bit of a disappointment. :(

Poor Oliver was really worried about it too!

(He just knows how to hide his emotions - brave little fellow...)

I'm going to wash it and see if that helps. If not, I may have to take it off and try again... Oh well, live and learn! ;)


debbie said...

Did you try steaming it back into shape after you sewed it? The coverstitch will slightly stretch it.

If I'm doing a neck finish as you did I generally do a one to one ratio. Where you have to be careful is not to stretch the neckline as you're sewing the strip on.

katherine h said...

Oh dear, it was all going so well up until that point.

One of my stretch books says to cut the binding 6% smaller than the length of the neckline. It varies with fabric, but this is a good place to start.

Becky said...

How disappointing! I hope you can fix it--it's a really nice color.

AZ Barbara said...

The neck band can vary anywhere from 5% less to 33% less than neck opening depending on the fabric and the depth of the opening.

I frequently will serge the neck edge and top-stitch it in place. Could skip the serge if using a coverstitch. This finishes the neck without adding a band and still looks nice. Loes Hinse does it this way in a lot of her patterns.