Drafting success, fabric fail

We’ve all got pieces of stash fabric that are too good to cut, haven’t we? One of mine is a wool-silk-elastane jersey. It’s a rib knit, so looks the same both sides, but it’s so lightweight you’d think it was a single knit at first glance. The colour is a dark greenish grey. It came from Goldhawk Road some years ago and has been lurking in the stash ever since, waiting for the perfect pattern.

Well right now I’m trying to sew from stash (at least when sewing things for myself), and I need new tops, and I am a great admirer of Rick Owens’ skinny fine-knit jersey t-shirts…so it seemed the time had come to use the special fabric.

I like my t-shirts extra long and quite close fitting. For a while I’ve been using a t-shirt pattern I evolved out of McCalls 2401, but recently I’ve been a little unhappy with the fit on it. So for this project I started with the close-fitting jersey block from Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear by Winifred Aldrich. (This was actually much lazier than it sounds, because I’d drafted the block months ago for another project so it was ready to use.) The basic block seemed a bit boring for the special fabric, so I flipped through my Burda collection looking for interesting details to add. I didn’t have a lot of extra fabric to play with which limited the choice. Eventually I came across 119-01-2013 which has a gathered sleeve that I thought would work well in the fine jersey.

Burda 119-01-2013 technical drawing

I traced Burda’s sleeve and laid it on top of Aldrich’s. Burda’s seemed considerably wider in the wrist but I was fairly confident that the Aldrich block was going to give me the sleeve width I wanted so I narrowed the Burda sleeve. Here’s what I ended up with.

Burda 119-01-13 sleeve pattern piece

What I completely failed to notice was that the wrist end of the sleeve ends up on the crossgrain of the fabric. My fabric is one-way stretch, so the finished t-shirt has no stretch around the wrist at all. That might have been OK if I hadn’t narrowed the sleeve so much, but as it is I can only just get my hands through them. Not good.

The final result is wearable but not particularly quick to get on and off.


I think the sleeve detail looks quite nice once it’s on. You can see it much better in the picture below.


I’ll definitely use this pattern again, but with two-way stretch fabric. I don’t think I did the grey jersey justice with it, but at least I made something out of it that I’ll wear.

16 thoughts on “Drafting success, fabric fail

  1. Great detail on the sleeve – shame it is tricky to get on and off. I love details like that – a bit of interest can transform a relatively plain tee.

  2. Interesting sleeve detail. I do like that. And it does look great on, so no one will know how long it takes you to put on ;-). I love reading experiences like this and always hope that my brain will store the info away for future use. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I would not have thought of that either. It’s a nice shirt though, worth fighting to get it on. I’ve made a similar shirt which was just an extra long sleeve with elastic thread shirring down the arm placed similar to your dart. In a light weight fabric it looks quite similar when worn and keeps the sleeve end on grain but the banana peel dart is more intriguing. I do really like the Rick Owens knits, I hope you pursue those further.

    1. The neckline is finished with a folded band stitched to the edge, turned up, and topstitched. I left the hems raw because I quite like the look and I didn’t fancy my chances of twin needling them.

  4. But the overall fit is perfect! And the colour is a cross between my two favourites: grey and green. You may have tight sleeves but you have learnt something from this that you never had needed to consider before and you won’t make the same mistake again.

    It’s a great top!

  5. That’s such a cool top. Your experiment was
    still a success and you’ve got a really cool staple top pattern now. It’s tricky when you get attached to a stash fabric. I ruined one of the first fabrics I ever bought recently because I saved it for too long and then didn’t even do it justice when I used it. Bah!

  6. Your top looks great! And, you completely nailed the Rick Owens vibe. And, to echo others here, thanks for the cross-grain tip – I wouldn’t have thought of that. Do you plan to make others exactly the same (but, w/4-way stretch)? Or are there other alterations besides stretch you would make?
    Again – fantastic job!

    1. Thanks! I’m pretty happy with the rest of it although I’ll take another look at the boat neck. It needed a lot of pressing to make it lie flat and I wonder if I got the curve wrong somehow.

  7. I like the boat neck and the sleeves are tight but work with skinnies and so forth. You mentioned in your reply to quikkly that the neckline doesn’t lay falt easily without pressing – what does it do? I’m interested cos love boat necklines and am fishing for tips 🙂

  8. If you don’t think you’ll wear it because of the sleeves, what about taking the gathered seam out and adding in a small triangle of fabric or something like that? It seems a shame to not use your nice fabric! Wool-silk sounds divine and perfect for winter!

  9. I really like the finished design on you; it’s a great basic that will go with tons of things, and I love the colour 🙂

    It’s definitely the year for using special stash fabric! I’ve unconsciously been doing the same – it doesn’t do anyone any good sitting in a box, unseen – I figure even if the final garment isn’t as perfect as I envisioned, at least my lovely fabric is getting worn 🙂

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