Harley helps.

Harley helps.
Harley, my hard-working sewing assistant.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Alabama Chanin t-shirts

I've been experimenting with making plain t-shirts lately, preparing for the day when my beloved Esprit t-shirts finally kick the bucket. (Why did you have to close all your US stores, Esprit, why, why, whyyyyyy...?) 

I made a size medium short-sleeved shirt from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, using black rib knit from Jo-Ann. (Used my machine. Sorry, Natalie.)

Love this fabric, although I get '90s Banana Republic flashbacks when I use it.

My super-fancy sewing blog pose. Guess I need to work on that.
It's got a bit more ease than this long-sleeved version, also size medium, using Alabama Chanin medium-weight cotton jersey fabric from one of their garage sales:

Although I do love the bell sleeves:

And my husband says, "Woo, I like that," every time I wear the Alabama Chanin version. 

Let me just put in a plug here for the Alabama Chanin fabric, though -- it sews like a dream, and it's really soft, especially the lightweight cotton jersey.

The pattern itself is super-simple, just front, back, and sleeve pieces. I'm not a huge fan of bias binding, which the book calls for, so I didn't use it -- just tucked the neckline under on both and stitched. I hemmed the short-sleeved version and didn't bother on the long-sleeved version (which is what the pattern calls for, actually -- you leave the sleeves and hem unfinished, so they roll). I like the unhemmed version a lot, but at some point I'm going to have to practice binding and/or finishing hems so I can make shirts to wear to work.

It took a grand total of 45 minutes to an hour to make each one. Low cost, low stress, instant gratification...I think I'll just make t-shirts from now on. (Although I'll always miss you, Esprit.)


PR review for posterity:

Pattern Description:

Alabama Studio Sewing + Design short-sleeved and long-sleeved tops. It's the same top pattern with different sleeve variations -- you can also make sleeveless and cap-sleeved versions.

Pattern Sizing: 

XS-XL. I made the medium.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

I think so, except I didn't use bias binding and I'm, er, not quite as skinny as the girls in the photos.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Yes, absolutely. They were for hand-sewing, though, and I machine-stitched mine.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I like the length (long enough to cover my big ol' beer belly). And I loved the bell sleeves on the long-sleeved version.

Not a fan of bias binding -- it just seems overly fussy to me. It's also fairly fitted (as you can see!) Alabama Chanin midweight cotton jersey fabric doesn't have a lot of give -- although I have faith that, as the book says, it will stretch out over time to conform to my body.

Fabric Used:

Short-sleeved version: Black rib knit from Jo-Ann (cotton/spandex, I think).

Long-sleeved version: Alabama Chanin midweight cotton jersey from one of their garage sales.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

I machine-stitched mine instead of hand-sewing and left them plain/non-embellished. 

The book calls for bias binding around the neck of each shirt and the sleeves of the short-sleeved version. It also calls for leaving the sleeves and bottom of the long-sleeved version unfinished. For mine, I just tucked the neckline under on both and stitched. On the short-sleeved version, I hemmed the sleeves and bottom; on the long-sleeved version, I left the sleeves and bottom unhemmed.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Oh yeah. Already planning more (and saving up for the next garage sale).


Practical, comfortable, easy to sew, and I love the variations. Definitely making this again.

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