Monday, 6 April 2015

Completed: Stripey Sailor Tee and a Cautionary Tale

Have you realised how close we are to Me Made May 15? We are about 4 weeks away and I have so much that I wanted to sew before then. I definitely want to take part this year, but it will be trickier as I'll still be off work, however the bulk of my handmade wardrobe is workwear. Still thinking about what my challenge will be.

Incidentally, Baby Boy will also be 1 in about 4 weeks. Yup. No idea, either.

Anyway, enter a quick and easy make that only took a few hours. This is the Marilla Walker Sailor Tee, a free pattern that I only discovered last week. I've discovered Marilla fairly recently through Instagram, and while I haven't bought any of her patterns, I am considering the Maya dress/blouse. Anyway, I was off down an internet rabbit hole when I came across this pattern. I love the shoulder gussets, particularly with a striped fabric, which just add a little something to an otherwise straightforward tee. The pattern can also be made into a dress.

Marilla Walker Sailor Tee
The fabric is from the stash. No idea of fabric composition, but it's drapey and a little sheer with very little stretch. I had earmarked it for a Hemlock, but those shoulder gussets won me over.

The pattern is really straightforward. It's really just a series of squares and rectangles, and very few pattern pieces. I struggled a bit with cutting this fabric. It's really shifty and I found it hard to keep the pattern pieces on grain; with stripes it would have been really obvious if something had gone awry. I also wanted to match the stripes which added a little more complexity. So, all in all, it took me about 1.5 hours just to get the pieces cut, which I achieved by eventually cutting the fabric in a single layer. Because it was such a bugger to cut, I omitted the extraneous parts - the pocket and the underarm gussets. The fewer pieces to cut the better and I didn't necessarily feel they added to the tee. After cutting this though, I am seeing that having a rotary cutter would be beneficial. With scissors, I found it really hard to cut accurately.

Small Boy was adamant I had to copy Marilla's pose, even though I have no underarm gussets to show off!
The pattern is only available in one size, which Marilla says is roughly a UK size 12 or a medium. I'm an 8/10, so this is probably boxier on me than intended, but I'm happy with the fit. The one thing I would change next time would be to add maybe about an inch to the length of the shoulder gussets. As they are they sit a little wide, and show my bra straps. I don't actually mind that per se, but it does feel a little big so I'd alter it for next time.

I added about 10cm to the length because it's designed to be quite cropped, and as much as I like the look, after 2 pregnancies and 2 c-sections, I'm not comfortable wearing it. In the end though I cut about 6.5cm back off, and stuck to the recommended 2cm hem. Otherwise, excluding the omitted bits, I made the pattern as directed. The observant amongst you will have noticed that it doesn't particularly look like I have lengthened the tee. That is because Cautionary Tale: I DID NOT PREWASH THE FABRIC. And guess what? After one wash, it shrank!!! Gutted was not the word I employed when I realised. However, as you can see, it's still wearable, if a little short for comfort. Also the armscyes shrank, meaning it's a little tighter than meant there, and meaning my rectangular sleeves are now a bit more trapezoid in shape.

Marilla suggests using woven or bias tape to stabilise the neckline. Because my fabric is a little sheer, I thought bias tape might be too heavy, so instead I used the selvedge from my fabric. This worked. Kind of. It worked in that it provides stability, but it does mean I have raw edges on the inside, which initially showed at the neckline. I had to trim the fabric right back to the stitching line, and to try to roll the seam to the inside. It also shows more because the stripe on the stabilising strip is perpendicular to the strip running across the top - so you see the black stripes. Also, because I misunderstood the instructions initially, one of my stabilising strips is sewn wrong side out. I think it looks OK though. Ditto the stripe matching, which is not perfect but not bad for a first attempt. Although the more I look at it the more it bugs me, so I'll just stop looking. Just realised I failed to get photos of this though, so you'll have to trust me on that one!

You can see it looks far boxier in this photo than the one at the top of this post, which I took pre-wash.
Gusset, plus selvedge used to stablise neckline.
Trapezoid shaped sleeve. Sigh. Oh, and a bit of stripe matching here too!
There's not much more to say about this really. I love the tee. Super comfy, interesting and a quick sew. What's not to love? My only complaint is that although the sun has been shining a bit, the temperature dictates that I wear a cardigan, thus covering up those lovely shoulder gussets!!

I am disappointed about the shrinkage. It's not the end of the world, but that alongside the slightly unmatched stripes and the too wide neckline are making me want to remake this. I have enough fabric, which I have now prewashed, twice just to be sure. I just need to psyche myself up to cut it out again!

Are you taking part in MMM15? And if so, are you panic sewing?



  1. Gah! Shrinkage is the pits...just as well you'd lengthened it first, huh!
    What a great casual top, and those shoulder gussets are such a lovely design feature. I love the way the stripes highlight it :)
    I'm in for MMM, and am not panic sewing. Just, er, motivatedly sewing ;) (If I'm still enjoying it, it's not panic...)
    One year old already? Seriously?? You must be pinching yourself - where did that year go?!

  2. I know I already said it on Instagram but I really love this make! The shoulder gussets really make it extra special. I'm going to do MMM this year but don't know what my pledge will be yet - i need to think on it some more. I'm sure you'll get loads of wear out of this, even if it keeps shrinking!

  3. I like this too, the shoulder detail is great. I am hoping to do MMM15 too but not sure what my pledge will be.

  4. Such a cute top, I couldn't tell it had shrunk at all. I can finally do mmm this year as I no longer have to wear a uniform. I've started doing simple knit tops and some cardigans that I can wear with jeans for uni, all my summer dresses I like to sew won't be worn in autumn unfortunately!

  5. I love the top.I have some similar fabric and am tempted to use it to copy you! I'm undecided about MMM .I did it every year, but just cannot think what to pledge...


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