The T-shirt Project #5: Boden Printed Summer Vest

Boden printed summer vest  love the neckline trim

As I alluded to in my call for patternmaking resources (I’m still all ears), this t-shirt proved to be an exercise in pointing out that I need to know more about patternmaking.  My construction is good, but slashing at will won’t really create the gathered sections like I had hoped (note the dimple, not the gathers at CF on the lower front).

Nonetheless, this shirt is far from being a total loss.  Am I annoyed that it doesn’t look precisely like my inspiration tee?  Yes.  Is anyone else going to notice but me?  No, except I’m pointing it out to you possibly because I know you all can sympathize with not being able to make something as you have it in your head.  I’ve corrected what I did in the directions below from what I did initially with the two gathered chunks as I think I know how to accomplish what I was attempting, but someone correct me if needs be.

**As for preliminaries on this project, you’ll need to use a jersey that is not 100% synthetic.  All of those pleats at the neckline means that you’ll have to press a lot to get nice looking trim.  ITY will NOT work for this top because it won’t hold a press long enough to be secured in a pleat.  I’m using a medium weight rayon spandex blend of some variety from Denver Fabrics.  It’s dense with awesome recovery and a soft hand.  If you’re not sure about what’s in your fabric, just press a little chunk of it and see if it holds a pleat.**

Boden Printed Summer vest

Prepping your front:

1.  Using your favorite t-shirt pattern, trace off a copy of your front.  Adjust the neckline if necessary to be more of a scoopneck (in my case, my base pattern, Jalie 2921 is a v-neck, so I matched up CF and seam lines and traced off the neckline only of Ottobre 5-2007-5, a scoopneck tee).  Aleah’s Simplicity 2394 is a perfect choice for this tee.  All you’d need to do to this pattern is add the empire line, sub binding for the pattern’s neck band and go on to step 3.  The tank in Simplicity 2603 also could work with the same alterations.

2.  Add a 1″ strip from CF to the hem of the now lower front.  Mark the top edge of the strip (closer to the side seam) with a star so that you know where to put your gathering stitches later.  Your CF fold is now the inner edge of the strip.

3.  Wearing whatever version of your base tee you’ve previously made, determine where you want the empire seam to be (hint, you want it below the girls–I measured from CF to the base of my bra to get an idea).  Make a line perpendicular to CF at this level and split your pattern apart.  You can skip this part if you hate empire seams.  I understand.  98% of the time I hate them too.  If you are full-busted, please take the time to add extra length over the bust points–you can do this via some sort of FBA or by curving the seam like I described in the Toulouse Tee.

4.  Split apart your pattern along the empire line you’ve drawn, adding 2 more stars to help you remember where you need to stop gathering at the bottom edge of the upper front and the top of the lower front and 1″ in from CF, just as the first star was in step 2.  Add seam allowances to each of these sections and you’re good to go as far as the drafting is concerned.  On to construction.

Constructing the front:

The bulk of your work in this tee is obviously the pleated section at the neckline.  This is a good time to make nice with your iron.  The two of you are a team.  Together you can create lovely crispness, so relax, and enjoy the process because it’ll take a little time.

1.  When you cut out your front pieces, make a tiny clip at the stars and at CF.  Make gathering stitches from clip to clip on the top and bottom of your upper front across CF and from clip to clip across CF on the top of your lower front.  I run 3 rows of 5.0 length straight stitches, but 2 rows is adequate.

2.  Pull up the gathering stitches where you’ve put them.  Adjust the gathers as needed and sew the top edge of the lower front to the lower edge of the upper front.

3.  Cut out a strip of binding for the front and the back (I’d love to be able to do this in one step, but the pleated section is sewn into the shoulder seam, not an after-the fact embellishment, so you have to bind front and backs separately) whatever width you usually prefer.  For me, I used 1.5″ X the length of the neckline seam on the front and back – 10% of that length.

2.  Fold your binding strips long raw edge to long raw edge and press.  Bind the back neck you would normally (I fold my binding in half, clip it at the half point, match it to CB and stretch to fit while sewing.  Then I press, flip completely to the inside, and topstitch it down).

3.  Bind the front neck except don’t topstitch it into place.  Instead, sew, flip to the inside and baste the folded edge close to the fold so that the binding stays in place.  I did this by hand because I find it easier to pull out the basting stitches later.

4.  Pleat time!:  Cut a crossgrain strip of fabric 1.5″X the width of your fabric.  Mine was 62″ wide, and I used maybe 56ish in the end.  Lay the piece on your ironing board upside down and the length of the board and fold little even pleats around 3/8″ tall, pressing every third or fourth pleat.  Continue until you’ve pleated the whole strip.  Take a breath.  Enjoy the beauty you just created.

5.  Cheat or be anal  detail-oriented–choose your own adventure:  you pleated the strip upside down because if you want, you can secure the pleats in place with 2 strips of Steam-A-Seam close to the edges.  If you want to do it this way, iron them in place.  Otherwise, hand baste the pleats down adjusting and re-pressing as you need to.  I did both because I’m a type A (+).  I know it takes extra time, but you will get a nicer result if you hand-baste.

6.  Secure the pleated strip:  Remove the Steam-A-Seam from the back of the strip.  Lay down the pleated strip along the finished edge of the neckline, overlapping the strip slightly over the edge, and letting any extra length alone at the top of the shoulders for now.  Fuse the strip down.  Topstitch 1/4″-3/8″ from the neck edge, keeping the pleated section on top as you sew.  Topstitch the other raw edge of the strip, letting the outer edge of your presser foot glide along the raw edge itself–this will give you a consistent width as you topstitch.  Cut off any extra length in the strip that you may have at the top of each shoulder.

7.  Construct the rest of the tee as normal.

3 thoughts on “The T-shirt Project #5: Boden Printed Summer Vest

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