great wardrobe basics: flashback skinny tee

A few weeks ago as part of Me Made May, Libby (of Truly Myrtle) and Ioana started a hashtag on Instagram, #greatwardrobebasics. I've contributed a few snapshots, not in any particularly organized way, but when I've made and shared something that feels like something that could be worn every day, I slap that hashtag on there. 

Case in point: the Flashback Skinny Tee. I've sewed up this shirt more times than anything else for both my kids, though Anya is more likely to wear fitted tees by this point than Daniel, so she has gotten more of them lately. (I'm currently exploring options for sewing patterns for 10yo boys that will actually get worn. Suggestions welcome.)

I feel like I've made about a thousand of these shirts, and could happily make a thousand more if they would be happily worn.

Anya seems pretty happy with hers, don't you think?

This is the pattern that helped me finally, finally get over my fear of sewing knits. There were failed attempts, to be sure. Once I used recycled jersey from Stuart's old t-shirts, and the fabric wasn't stretchy enough so the seams popped and the shirt felt too tight. I had to experiment with stitches and stretch thread and nearly gave up completely in frustration. I feel like I should do a whole post about what I've learned about sewing with knits, but I would have to take pictures and spend a lot of time trying to recreate those mistakes and I'm not sure it's worth all the effort.

I can, at least, share a few things that work for me, and if you're interested in more details please let me know in comments and I'll write up a longer post about it. 

  1. I don't use the serger. Frankly, I'm just afraid to. If anything goes wrong, it's virtually impossible to undo a serged seam. Also, my serger is a cheapo one from Joann's I bought in the early 2000s. It functions fine, but changing the thread is a pain in the ass, and it's hard to do anything nuanced like a tight or curved seam (like attaching sleeves) so I just avoid it.
  2. After messing around with zigzag on my regular machine, I found a stitch called "tricot stretch" and it's amazing for sewing knits. That stitch is virtually indestructible (and virtually impossible to unpick if you do something wrong like attach the waistband instead of a cuff to the bottom of the leg of baby shorts....ahem).  It also eats up thread like crazy but I don't care.
  3. I use special needles, like ballpoint, or jersey, or stretch needles. I honestly don't know what the difference is between all those, but they all seem to work so it's fine.
  4. After much experimentation (and frustration), I figured out that Maxi-Lock stretch thread is a wonder for sewing with knits, but ONLY IN THE BOBBIN. If you use it in the needle it turns into a knotted mess. 
  5. Hems are tricky. Sometimes I skip them completely (like on the sleeve in the picture at the top of this post). If not, I used a double-sided fusible tape to stabilize the edge of the fabric before sewing. 
  6. I use a twin needle for hemming, and also for stitching around the neckband and cuffs (if I have cuffs around the sleeves). In this gray shirt for Anya, I even used the twin needle to stitch along the shoulder seams, both for stability and because I thought it would look good.
  7. Laguna jersey knit by Robert Kaufman fabrics is perfect for this pattern.
  8. I don't usually use different fabric for neckband and cuffs, mostly because it's hard to find 2x2 rib that matches perfectly whatever jersey or interlock fabric I'm using for the main pieces. Anyone else have this problem? It's kind of annoying. At least when I'm using stretch jersey, I can just cut the cuffs and neckband on the bias or along the stretchiest part and it works out fine.

What about you? Do you have any basic patterns to share? I'm working on some things for myself, but have yet to find THE perfect basic pattern, mainly because I keep getting sidetracked with knitting (yes, this is mostly a knitting blog) and making things for my new baby niece, who I swear gets cuter and chubbier by the day. I miss her.



Julie said…
I totally needed this post. I have been seeing beautiful fabrics, but don't sew because most sewing is with cotton fabrics, and I hate ironing- and I'm not aware of much sewing that doesn't involve boatloads of ironing. I had thought that maybe I could try starting to sew with knits instead of cotton fabrics... but clearly that's a whole other kettle of fish! Sewing isn't for me.

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