Tag Archives: sewing project

Dissecting style, a t-shirt intervention

There was a nice green t-shirt in my dresser drawer.  Nice, but I never wore it because … well … I didn’t like it.  An indefinable not-liking.

It became unwearable last November when I dissected it.  By picking apart the features that bothered me, I hoped to learn more about its character and nature.  The colour was great.  But not the band around the bottom and not the little gathered bit in front.  Surely there was a better way to put this garment together.

The interesting thing about dissection is that one knows it won’t go back together the same way. Ever. It’s like getting the recipe for a favourite dish a friend makes, and you have all the ingredients, but it doesn’t taste the same as your friends when you make it.  It’s like when a friend, spouse, family member shares something that’s normally hidden.  You can maintain the routines and habits, but the person is different, the relationship is different.  It’s risky to share, to look at the underside or inner workings.  I could truly wreck the t-shirt, but that was cool.  It was stuck in a drawer anyway.  Although, Goodwill or some other recycling enterprise might have found a better home for it.

So a choice had to made:  throw it out or reinvent.

And there the green tee sat on my workroom table next to a bright green and orange print fabric from already cannibalized blouse which had three really cute, tiny covered buttons.  The t-shirt sat for the whole month of December in the flurry of holiday card making and last minute sewing, flirting with the green bits in a brown print skirt, destined to be remodeled in 2013, or 2014.

Same nice t-shirt as the green with the original styling.

Same nice t-shirt as the green with the original styling.

Reinvented, and should be a bright Kelly green as you'll see from the sister tee beside it.

Reinvented, and it really is a bright Kelly green as you can see from the sister tee above.

So as the snow fell in January, the plain, proper, nice little t-shirt was reinvented into something a little different.  I will wear it now because it’s gone from nice to being fun.  It has some depth.  And if it had a voice, I could hear it praying for me to finish the brown print skirt, which was finished but also in need an intervention and became another victim of dissection by seam-ripper.  The skirt was nice, but not fun. Not flirty, or flattering … or interesting enough to wear.

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The memory quilt from t-shirts

cutting the t-shirts

cutting the t-shirts

Like all children, my daughter has grown up.  Now, we’re always sorting out closets, deciding what can stay, what should go,  reminiscing all the while.   She came up the idea for me to make a blanket from some of her favourite and well-loved t-shirts.

I’ve made traditional quilts, and crazy quilts from blue jeans, but never worked with knits before.  Joyce’s Sewing Shop on Wortley Road had a beautiful four-way stretch fleece that looked like shearling, so I didn’t worry about stabilizing the blanket.

the layout

the layout

Planning the blanket was a challenge.  The t-shirts and their logos were different sizes. So I approached it by cutting first, planning later.  The logos were cut out with generous borders and to get a sense of how to put them together, I laid them out on the table.  Nothing matched up.  In the end, I decided to make four rows and fill in the spaces with extra t-shirt fabric AND old photos!  I didn’t tell my daughter about the photos.

joining the logos and pictures with strips

joining the logos and pictures with strips

The design was kept to rectangular and square shapes, and because I wasn’t going to be fussy about squaring the corners and a consistent grid, I sewed the top so the selvedges were showing.  I figure after a number of washings, there will be a nice rag look to the borders of each piece.

joining top and back

joining top and back

Because of the thickness of the fleece, I didn’t put a layer in between top and backing.  I finished it by tying it at regular intervals so the blankie could stretch without tearing.  If I’d stabilized it, the folks at Joyce’s could have quilted by machine for me.

And my grown girl loves it!!

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My Singer Sewing Machine

Sewing the collar on the green sweater

It feels like cheating because I’ve chosen to drop the knitting needles and romance the sewing machine.

Historically, the Singer and I have gotten along quite well.  She’s the more dependable on in our relationship.  I get antsy and crazy with lust over fabric but find hard it to settle into her warm glow, to appreciate the machine oil smell of her cast iron body.

But when I’m focused, when there’s a mission to accomplish, we get it done.
We made a sweater over the last couple of weekends–just like that.

It’s a re-purposed garment.  I had made a cotton fleece sweater that was loose-fitting and only seamed at the armholes and down the sleeves.  There was lots of fabric to work with.  I enjoyed picking it apart.  It’s like a meditation.

Fitting the green sweater on the Judy.

Next, I dyed the natural-coloured fleece green.  It’s turned out to be the best green colour ever!  Then the I pinned the body of the old sweater onto the Judy and fitted it.  I used the skirt of an out-of -style cotton dress for the bias trim.

One weekend, I adjusted and sewed the main seams, and even got the sleeves in.  This past weekend, I did the finishing:  collar, zipper and hem.  And it’s done!  A bit odd and funky, but it’ll do the job.

This green sweater is a stepping stone to the knit one.  It’ll keep me covered until I have time and courage to connect with the knitters’ group that meets at the library.

Love,

Laura

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