Saturday, 6 June 2015

Completed: Breton Brigitte Tee

Sometimes you get great photos for your blog post. You're in the mood, you make the effort; brush your hair and put on some lippy, the light is good, you are having fun and have some semi-decent poses. And sometimes they are just awful. You can't be bothered, you wear the top with trousers that don't even match, because changing them would require taking your shoes off. The sun is in your eyes, you are sleep deprived and you are pushed for time. Even your t shirt is grumpy and the stripes refuse to behave, jumping around all over the place*. But even though you hate them, you really cannot face having to do them again. Guess which camp this blog post falls into? Ah well, onwards and upwards!

*I believe the technical term is "moiré".

My second and last make during Me Made May, made in direct response to seeing a gap in my (handmade) wardrobe. That feels really good.

Boden Breton L/S Tee
I posted a round up of my MMM thoughts separately, but I have mentioned already that I was struggling a bit with not wearing my RTW Boden breton stripe tee. I have had this tee for 4 or 5 years and I wear it all the time. Probably at least once a week, unless the weather is really, truly hot. It's my perfect tee. I love the shape; fitted but not tight. I love the fabric; cotton, not too thick, not too thin. Not drapey, but it doesn't bag out either. I love the colourway: navy with white stripes, which looks great both on its own, and under a bright cardigan.  I love the neckline; bateau but with a slight scoop. I even love the little design details like the pink twill tape at the neckline (mine is pink - the above picture has yellow). And although my preferred sleeve length is 3/4, the long sleeves on this tee make it much easier to wear under cardigans in winter.

I have known for a while I wanted to try to replicate this. I could just buy another, but where's the fun in that? My difficulty was in finding the perfect pattern and the perfect fabric (in the perfect colours). I don't ask for much.

I did consider altering an existing pattern. The Renfrew for example gets lots of good press (although wrong neckline), and the Bonnie tee was nearly there (but I didn't want the gathered shoulder) ,but something always made me hold off. Probably the lure of other exciting projects.

I finally found the Tessuti Brigitte tee and it seemed to tick all the boxes. Bateau neck, slim but not tight fitting, a few sleeve length options. Perfect.

Tessuti Brigitte Tee

The fabric is 100% organic cotton interlock, which I'd first spotted on the The Village Haberdashery, but when I eventually got round to buying it, she didn't have enough left. I googled the manufacturer (C.Pauli), and found a new to me website called Maude's Fabric Finds, which had the colourway and quantity I was after (and more besides. It took a lot of self control to not buy anything else. I will go back though). The colourway I bought is called Smoke Blue/White, and it's a beautiful grey blue colour. The fabric is lovely. It's thick and beautifully soft with reasonable recovery considering it has no elastane. Both websites said to factor in 5% shrinkage so I bought 1.25m, and I pre-washed it twice just to be sure, but I have plenty left. Enough to make Baby Boy some trousers or a tee.

I cut the size 10 as per my measurements, but I decided to scoop the front neck a little - about 1.5cm , as per my Boden tee. I'm glad I did, as it now sits at the base of my throat. Next time I'll scoop out about the same again as I'd prefer it ever so slightly lower.

I wanted the stripes to match as well as I could manage, so I spent a lot of time cutting out. I find drawing lines perpendicular to the grainline, onto the pattern piece really help. It was trickier than normal, as due to the stretch of the fabric, the stripes wiggled around a bit,, but I got there in the end. When sewing, I pinned every second stripe. It took a lot of pins, and it took ages, but I think it really helped. I also splashed out and bought a walking foot. At around £30 they are not cheap, but it's already earned its place in my sewing box. It's fantastic and I want to sew everything using it! In the spirit of honesty, some stripes still went awry, particularly on the sleeves, but on the whole, I am very very pleased with my stripe matching, and it's certainly no worse than a lot of RTW. It is difficult to do, but the satisfaction achieved, and the professional look is definitely worth the extra thought and work put in.

Stripe matching at the side
*Some* stripes match at the sleeve, especially lower down, which was where I concentrated on, TBH.
I mentioned that I liked the pink tape at the neckline on the Boden tee. I thought I would emulate this, and so used some swallow print tape I had got free with Cloth magazine a couple of years ago. The colour match is spot on. I used it on the back neck only, because you never really see the front neck insides and as the tape was 1.5cm wide, but not bias tape, it proved difficult to sew to the curve of the front neck. I'm delighted with this as a finish. It looks really good, and again, just gives that little professional detail I love so much.

It also hides the really unsightly overlocking on the back neck. My overlocker and I are not getting on much these days. I cannot get the tension right, and it always looks messy. I only managed to overlock the necklines on this before 2 of the threads broke. As the fabric doesn't fray, I just left the raw edges unfinished - I couldn't be bothered to battle with it any further - but I really do need to spend some quality time with it to rekindle our relationship.

The twin needle, on the other hand, was a dream on this fabric. No tunnelling whatsoever! The only problem was that I got so carried away with my bird tape on the back neck that I forgot to twin needle that part. So the front neck is twin needled and the back is standard straight stitch. The back neck is also a different colour thread, as I sewed that first, then decided the thread wasn't a good enough colour match to continue with, but neither was it so bad that it was worth unpicking. I'm calling it a design detail.

Awful pic of the back
On the subject of forgetting things, I also sewed quite a lot of this with a standard straight stitch, because I forgot to change it to the lightening bolt. In the end, only one bodice side seam and one sleeve and bodice (the sleeves are inserted flat) are sewn with the zizag and the rest are straight stitch. It seems to be OK so far though. Fingers crossed the stitching doesn't break!

During construction, I did have an issue with the notches not matching up. I don't know if this is something I did, or if it's a problem with the pattern. For a stripe this narrow it didn't matter, I just ignored the notches and matched the stripes, but for a larger or less regular stripe it would have been a problem. Something to think about for next time, as I do fancy a larger stripe version.

Fit wise I'm really happy with this. It's spot on in the body, and neck. The only thing I noticed (and really I only noticed it half way through the first day of wearing it, but then of course I couldn't stop seeing it) is that the shoulder seams are sitting really weirdly. They are fine from the underarm up to nearly the top of the shoulder, but then they suddenly veer off towards my neck, as if the very top of my shoulders are too wide. I don't have particularly broad shoulders and have never had to adjust a pattern here, so again, not sure if this is something I have done during construction, or just the way the pattern is drafted. The flat pattern piece looks fairly standard, so if I extend it, it's going to look really odd,, and I'm not sure how to approach as I don't want to add any width anywhere other than the very top of the shoulder. Any ideas?. It's not going to stop me wearing this version, but it definitely needs addressed for future versions.

Here is a a lovely photo of clouds reflected in our kitchen window, and our burglar alarm. Oh, and the wonky seam at the shoulder! See how it just wanders off to the right about half way up the armscye?
This will be a really great wardrobe basic, as I already know its the sort of thing I wear all the time. I definitely foresee more of these, in both stripes and solids. Maybe even a combo of both? It's super comfy to wear.

And P's comment? "You made that? That's the best thing you've ever made!"

I'll leave you with some timer outtakes, that somehow make me look like I'm dancing, because I have to find something good in these photos, and these make me laugh.



  1. This top is right up my street! Your stripe matching is excellent, I don't think it is possible to match more on a sleeve. As for shape at top. It might be the pattern (see pic of their stripey version). Unless you need a smaller size across the upper bust? I am not a fitting expert but I usually find I can figure it out when I see it in the flesh, it's much harder from photos. Speaking of which, I do not enjoy having my picture taken and always instruct the children to take my pictures quickly then I just stick them on. Life's too short to worry about such things!! X

  2. Super-impressed with those stripes!

  3. It's lovely! I really like the tape at the neckline too. It's a great match.

  4. Super lovely. Great pattern matching and the style in general is so stylish. I wouldn't have noticed any issue with the shoulder seam. A version with large stripes would be perfect too.

  5. This is gorgeous! Your stripe matching is excellent & that fabric looks such good quality. It must be so satisfying to have recreated your perfect tshirt!

  6. Your strip, with such small stripes as well!! Your top looks lovely, love the tape on the back neck.

  7. I love the details on this top - the stripe matching (for which you get full marks) and the tape on the neckline. It is really you. I'm sure we'll be seeing other versions.

  8. Wow this is my dream top! So lovely. I really like the tape you've used in the neckline. It suits you perfectly. I've just ordered some flowery jersey and might attempt this pattern too. See you in July 😃😃😃

  9. Oh, your opening paragraph made me laugh! I can so relate...
    I just love this; everything about it is so exactly right. The fit, stripe-matching (!), the neckline tape - just perfect. I'm going to have to add this pattern to the wishlist (which I'd just been congratulating myself on whittling down...).

  10. Wow, super! Bravo on matching the stripes!!


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