Sunday, 12 November 2017

DIY Band Shirt Tutorial

We've all been there, we get to our favourite band's merch stall and all they have is a vast array of large mens Tshirts. Well it need not ever be a problem again. I've made a simple tutorial on how to customise your men's size t-shirt into something unique! Best thing is, to do a simple version you don't really need any advanced sewing skills.



My friend Andy just released his debut album with his band Black Thunder Revue, and along with that got some awesome new shirts printed. I was lucky enough to nab one with promise that it would be hitting the blog, so here we go....

Step one:
Chances are your shirt is going to be a little too long. I put the shirt on and marked where I wanted the back to come to. I think I took about 22cms off, right the way around the BACK only. Measurements are all very variable depending on original shirt size, torso shape etc. For some sort of vague gauge, I started out with a Medium shirt and I'm roughly a size 10 in UK high street sizing.

Step two:
Find the centre front of your shirt (easiest way is to match your side seams and fold at the centre). I marked a straight line 22cm up from the hem at the centre front.

Step three:
Mark in from the side seams at your 22cm line about 10cm towards the centre front. I then joined up the centre front at the BOTTOM of the shirt to these new points with a straight angled line, so you've got what looks like two triangles coming down at the front. I softened the angles off a bit where the 'triangles' join the body.

Step four:
Cutting! So now you want to cut away excess fabric- be neat though as you may want to use some of the cut offs later down the line! You want to be removing the bottom of the back and then slope down at the front to your ties. Next cut upwards along the line marking your centre front. I cut away a sort of keyhole shape at the top just to make a little more room for a knot when tying up.

Step five:
Now would be a good time to try on. You want to check the back is the right length and also that you are happy with where the knot sits. I decided to cut out a little higher at the centre front to match my waist height.

Step six:
Remove sleeves. I cut right around the seamline

Step seven:
Remove neckband. Again I cut really close to the seam. You might want to keep your neck and sleeves in, I just wanted to change the overall shape and style.

Step eight:
I guess at this point you could easily get away with calling it a day, you've made a pretty cool DIY shirt that looks like you should be hanging out on the back of motorcycles. People are definitely going to be asking you where you got your limited edition band tee from. But depending on your original shirt you might want to have a further play around with fit. Firstly I took some out of the shoulder seams, a good few cms tapering up to the neck a little, BUT be careful you don't end up making your shirt too short by taking out too much. I then removed a little of the excess fabric around the front of the arm hole, leaving the back alone. I took a couple of cms from the back neckline so the neckline sat at the bobbly bit at the top of my spine.

Another try on and I decided I wanted to take some bagginess out of the side seams, only a few cms in a straight line from bottom of the arm hole to the bottom of the shirt. Just have a play around and get it sitting happy.

Step nine:
Again this is optional. The biggest fitting problem you've got by now is probably that gapey bit in the armhole to boob area. This can look fun and casual and relaxed, and the gapey-ness can be a good excuse to flash a bit of your velvet Noelle bra, but it's not too hard to put a couple of darts in to remove that excess fabric. It's up to you, no pressure. All we need to do is put the shirt on, start on one side and mark the apex- usually about 2cm away from your nipple. If you're pinching your excess fabric this is the narrowest point of the pinch. Then at the widest part by the armhole, mark the top and bottom of the dart triangle. Got it? Okay, take your shirt off then put a pin through the apex point so you can see it on the wrong side. Match up the two marks you put at the top and bottom of the dart at the armhole, then fold a straight line down to your pin. Chalk a line from your armhole point to your apex if you like, pin and then stitch.
Try it on. Looking good?? Of course, you're looking a little more fitted and showing off your assets. To do the other side it's easiest to just work from the one you have done so that they match. You might want to mark your bust point first so you have a point to work to.

Step ten:
Your shirt is definitely good to wear, but you might want to go that extra mile. Using the excess fabric from the bottom back that we cut away I cut x2 strips 4.5cm wide. I made sure they were long enough to reach round the armholes.
Its always a bit trial and error to get the right length, you want to be a little shorter than the hole so that the fabric stretches round, but not too much otherwise you'll get puckering. The only way I know how is just to pin it on, try it on, then keep taking some off the band length until it sits nicely. At least once you've done one you know your other side should be the same length.
Then, right sides together you want to overlock the band to the armhole. You can probably do this with a zigzag stitch on a normal machine but it's not something I've ever tried.
To finish off, I thought I'd go whole hog and put a band on the neck too. Same process, same width. Take your time and it will be fine.

Has anyone else ever done anything fun to customise a tshirt? I used to use wool to stitch up the sides when I was in year 7!!! I had a Joy Division shirt that I wore to death that had the wool treatment! Only very recently cut this up to make a back patch for my denim jacket.

Would love to see your customisations!

Big thanks to BTR for the shirt :)


Location: Sheffield Railway Footbridge/Foodhall Sheffield
Currently listening to: Ghosts In The Machine, Death and Vanilla

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Simplicity 1070 Stretch Crop Top

The big draw to the Simplicity 1070 pattern is the jacket pattern which I've already had a go at, which meant in the past I totally overlooked the crop top pattern which has my name all over it.

The pattern packet features a lovely leopard print crop top with three quarter length sleeves. So me! Sadly all out of leopard print, but did have plenty Autumnal orange left over from my skater skirt. The pattern only took up about a meter of fabric in total. I was umming and ahhing which size to cut, even looking on actual measurements (which should be smaller than the body due to the stretch of the fabric) I decided to cut a size down from what closest matched my measurements. Tight and cropped!!

The pattern gives choice to make either a cropped or a full length top. I was drawn to the shorter of the two but with my winter abs (!) on the way I thought it might be better to add a little extra length in! The longer version is literally the same cut only longer in the body to reach the hips. A bit too long if anything!! So I decided to cut the long version a little shorter to get perfect length. The top features a two inch hem on the bottom and the sleeves so bear that in mind when altering length.

The fit was good- a good decision to cut a size 10, though was quite baggy in the arm area, so I took out a few cms from the underarm seam from just above the elbow up to the arm hole seam and gradually back out to the side seam of the body.

The neckband length in the pattern was a little too long for my neck hole. This happens when your fabric is stretchier than the pattern suggests but shouldn't really cause any major problems. I always pin the neckband on first then try on to assess how it sits. If it's too long then it will stick up a bit funny on the shoulders, too tight and the top will pucker around the neck. It can be hard to tell exactly what's going on when it's all pinned up and also a bit awkward to get on and off, so be careful! Even after all that I managed to cut the band a little too short!! Agh! Any shorter and it would have been a disaster, but I think I just about got away with it.

The 2 inch hems on the sleeves are a bit tricky as the armhole is narrow and you need to get your needle right inside. It's easiest to sew from the inside, so is a bit of a surprise how your stitching looks on the front when you get it off the machine! I would have loved to use a twin needle but it just wasn't possible for the sleeves.

The bottom has a 2 inch hem too, which I did do with a twin needle. The top flares out at the side seams for the hips, making it impossible to hem as it is so much wider at the bottom. To avoid this I took the shaping out of the side seams and the hem allowance fitted inside nicely.

Has anyone else made anything else from the Simplicity 1070 pattern? This top is simple but a lovely wardrobe staple for Autumn


Location: Norfolk Park, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Rolling out, Moon Duo

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Madalynne Intimates, Noelle Bra II

I love the Noelle bra pattern from Madalynne so much that I decided to make another! Incase you missed my last post- the pattern is a FREE (!) PDF download from Madalynne's website. Just click the link and you could have your hands on it right away!

With experience of making one already on my side, I was armed with a few ideas before setting off with my second Noelle. First up I took a little off off the pattern at the waistband. Really I just evened out that slant as my underbust before you get to my waist is a bit more | | than \ /.

This time I didn't bother to hide my seam allowance between the outer and lining fabrics. Instead I just stitched the seam as normal as it would be easier to adjust if I found the bra to be too big at try on stage.

I cut from red velvet from my stash for the front, stretch lace from Abakhan for the back and band and lined with a 4 way stretch mesh from Amazon. I used the same lovely lace trim as I did before as it worked so well.

Where I attached my band to the bra I decided to follow the instructions (!) and use zig zag stitch instead of overlocking. This makes for a flatter seam and therefore less bulk whilst wearing.

Also this leaves a seam allowance ideal for attaching the elastic to without having the stitching showing on the outside. This only took 4 attempts to realise!! But well worth the unpicking. The elastic gives secret support without showing at all on the outside.

Again I recycled old bra straps for the straps. This time I did plan to make my own but Abakhan told me they only did bra elastic in white (mental). The joining hoop is actually from a woodwork shop! This is what you get if you ask your dad to source bra supplies while you're at work! Does the trick though!

Only mistake was a pretty annoying one though..... I got the nap of the velvet the wrong way round!! So stroke it upwards not downwards! Or better still mate, don't stroke me at all. It did make me feel slightly better though when I found a velvet skirt in high street shop Peacocks with nap going in the same direction. Maybe it's perfectly acceptable ;)



Location: Ball Street Bridge, Kelham Island, Sheffield
Currently listening to: (Ghost) Riders In The Sky, The Ramrods

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Self-Drafted Gemma skirt

I was on the train platform waiting for the 9:11 to Manchester when I saw a girl totally dressed for autumn in lovely shades of muted orange. As luck would have it I was just about to hop on the train to visit Abakhan, and in the bargain bins downstairs I found this lovely jersey in the exact same shade! I bought the lot without really knowing what it was I was going to make. I knew a full dress in orange was going to be a bit too much for me no matter how muted the shade, so decided instead on a circle skirt for swishing around in the leaves.

Without a pattern in mind I decided to draft one from an old shop bought skirt. The skirt is made from four equal panels, cut with straight grain down the centre of each and a simple waistband reinforced with elastic.

To make the panel pattern I drew around half of one of my skirt's panels onto pattern paper then cut it out on the fold so I could be sure it was symmetrical. I made sure the length was the same as my skirt and also importantly, that the width of the panel at the waist was the same. I then added a 1.5cm seam allowance around the top and sides as well at 1.5cm for the hem.

For the waistband I simply measured my waist where I wanted to wear the skirt and drew a rectangle that long plus 3cm seam allowance x (the depth x2 plus seam allowance x2). So, my depth was 4cm plus a 1.5cm seam allowance making 5.5cm x2 for the inside and out.

Once everything was cut out of my fabric the first step was stitching together all 4 panels then testing the fit. It feels a bit loose at this point but obviously it's all brought together when the waistband is attached. If it had been much too loose it would have been easy to increase the seam allowance on the panels to make for better fit.

I cut a length of 4cm wide elastic to match the length of my waistband. I stitched together the waistband ends, making sure the elastic ends matched the raw edges and also each other. Next step was to turn the waistband right side out and fold it over the elastic, encasing it inside. To attach to the skirt I matched up centre front and centre back points and stretched the waistband out a little as I overlocked the two together.

A quick hem to finish stitched down with a twin needle.

Easy! Will definitely be making another Gemma!


Location: Hawkstone Park and Follies, Shrewsbury
Currently listening to: Satellite, Sultan Bathery