So I have a clothing problem. Or, more accurately, I had one clothing problem, and now I have a different one. At the end of the summer, I finally took a long, hard look at my overflowing closet and realized that I wasn’t wearing most of what I owned. I just didn’t like a lot of it, and some of it was completely worn out, and my skirts were all too short– which is an entirely unexpected side effect of nearing my thirties. I donated a ton, which felt amazing, and I could see my closet floor for the first time in years! But now my wardrobe is pretty sparse, and I need some basics. Without being religious about it, I’ve loosely set a goal to make or thrift most of my clothing.
I came across Grainline Studio’s Hemlock Tee, which is a free pattern, and a perfect wardrobe staple. I’m coming around to the fact that I’m just not a woven top person, so I need to work on upping my knit-sewing game. So far, I’ve made two Hemlocks and two basic elastic waist skirts, and I’m in love with the pairing. I need about ten more of each!
The Hemlock Tee is one size, and I made it exactly as is, other than shortening it about three inches at the body for my shortie waist. The fabric is a light cotton french terry that I found as a remnant from a local discount store. It’s heavier than the original tissue knits in the pattern, but I feel like I’m wearing a fancy sweatshirt from Lululemon (which, even in the clearance section wouldn’t have been the $3.20 I paid for a little over a yard and half of this fabric). I did have a little trouble with the sleeves, but that was entirely operator error. When I followed the directions as written, hemming the sleeves at the end, I had a hard time working with the narrow tube, and I stretched it all out. When I couldn’t fix it, I cut them off and tried again, so the sleeves are almost two inches shorter than the pattern or I intended. Other than that, though, the fabric sewed like a dream.
Most of the sewing was done with my serger, but this hem is my new favorite technique, and it only requires one inexpensive accessory for a regular machine. It’s a twin stretch needle, which sews two lines of stitching at once. I think I read every single tutorial on the web, but in the end, it was as easy as threading my machine with two spools of thread together. As you sew, the bobbin thread creates a zig-zag between the two rows of stitches on the back, which is why this is a great technique for knits. I also think it elevates my homemade top into something a lot more handmade.
The skirt is Kwik Sew K3794, a gathered skirt with a flat front and elastic back waist, made from a textured woven cotton magic fabric that I picked up at Handcraft Workshop, a lovely, relatively new shop in Mt Airy. Seriously magic. I went back and picked up more for a dress and another skirt, yet to be made. It has such great drape and it just does not wrinkle!
Version two! (and a nicer batch of pictures from a ramble in the park)
My second Hemlock Tee is made from another mystery remnant, a cotton-and-something blend. It’s definitely more drapey than the french terry, which made it a bit challenging to work with for a knits-novice, but the finished hand is sooooo nice, and I’ve been wearing it non-stop. It’s the perfect weight for this last-ditch summer heat we’ve been getting in the afternoons with cooler morning and evenings.
I did hem the sleeve flat before sewing them up to avoid the waviness I got last time. I don’t know if that’s approved sewing technique, but I definitely like the result. I also lopped about three inches off the body on this one.
This skirt is the simplified version of the last one, so easy it’s almost ridiculous: two rectangles sewed at the side, folded over elastic casing waist and turned hem. I half followed this PDF tutorial from Meghan Nielsen and half winged it. The fabric was a seersucker I got during a recent 40% off sale a Joanne’s, because I am nothing if not an equal opportunity sale fabric purchaser. (That’s actually such a strange turn of phrase, if you think about it. I’m quite sure I’m more than that, but I do love a good price on quality material!)
I could definitely tuck in the shirt if I wanted a cleaner look, but I’m kinda digging the over-sized drapiness of it all. I simultaneously feel like I’m wearing sweatpants and that I’m a modern dancer, which is pretty much all I want out of any outfit, really!