I am so pleased that I bought plenty of this Milly-Molly-Mandy striped jersey at Fabrics Galore on Monday. I am quite happy to have several things made from it in my wardrobe.
Yesterday I made this long sleeved t-shirt, using the Ottobre Creative Workshop 303 pattern (which you can buy direct from Ottobre here). This is a pattern for nine different versions of a basic women's t-shirts in UK sizes 8 to 26. It has a wealth of information about sewing with knits and adjusting sizes. I love its simplicity and usefulness - I just know I will be making tops from this pattern for years to come.
The pattern makes a close fitting t-shirt, perfect for layering or wearing under a cardigan, and mine turned out pretty much how I wanted. I added 2cm onto the length as I know I have a long body, and many t-shirts I buy come up too short - and I'm pleased with how that turned out.
I didn't add anything to the sleeve length, but next time I would add 2cm there as well. The sleeves are fine if I keep my arms down, as in the photo below, but if I am waving them around the sleeves creep up a tiny bit, and I'd like them just a touch longer.
The neckline was the fiddliest part of construction. Purely because the fabric is rather slippery and I didn't pin it adequately. It is bound - just like a quilt - and I like the way I got the stripes on the binding going the other way to the stripes on the top (purely accidental - I have a feeling if I tried to, I wouldn't be able to do it like this again next time!). The binding gives a very neat, flat finish to the neckline.
The Ottobre pattern gives a few different suggestions for hemming, but I didn't follow any of them in the end. Instead I followed the Oliver + S instructions (which you can get here) for making a lettuce hem on a regular sewing machine (no serger required).
The hems (on the cuffs and the bottom) have ended up being my favourite part of the whole top. I adore the simple, ruffled effect that you end up with. And as I always sew hems on skirts and shirts by hand, to make them properly invisible, I love the speed of hemming on the machine!
Both the Ottobre pattern and the Oliver + S website are reassuringly adamant that you can make beautiful jersey clothes on a regular sewing machine, and I would wholeheartedly agree with this. I'm sure if I had a serger I would use it and love it, but I don't feel any need to get one at all - my Janome machine does everything I need.
I have learnt a few jersey-sewing tips over the past few days, however:
Do use a ballpoint needle. A regular needle just chewed up the fabric.
Buy LOADS of reels of thread for your project, and wind several bobbins before you start. The stitches you need to sew jersey fabrics are all very heavy on thread.
You really need to pin before you stitch. I very rarely pin when I sew - preferring to carefully hold the fabric together - but jersey slips about too much for me to be this cavalier with it!
Don't be afraid of jersey fabrics - just have a go. Now I'm wearing my top, I can't believe I've been dithering for so long.
I'm moving onto babycord today - there are two Clothkits skirts (one for me, and one for O) cut out and ready to sew - but I'll be back onto the jersey tomorrow, and am hoping to have several more t-shirts in my wardrobe by the end of the week.