The fact that I’m sewing basic t-shirts and couldn’t find any time to photograph them in natural light pretty much sums up the state of my sewing right now. Such is life! With that said, I find these simple knit tops extremely relaxing to sew, and I wear one almost every day in the winter, so this is total win in my book. Hooray for my everyday wardrobe! Plus, I have some thoughts on my first time sewing with the new Art Gallery knits, so hopefully you’ll find something interesting in this plan vanilla post.
Now you may be thinking, “Carolyn, didn’t you mention something about drafting your own pants a few weeks ago? Why are you showing me boring t-shirts when you could be writing a juicy post on pants?” Umm, ok, you’ve got me there. Let’s just say that the pants have been sitting in the corner of my cutting table, patiently awaiting the day when I have enough brain power to revisit them. The fact that this post is about t-shirts should give you a clue about the brain power I’ve been able to dedicate to my sewing lately. 🙂
Pattern: Sewaholic Renfrew, for the millionth time (or something like that). I must be getting close to 20 at this point!
Fabric: Robert Kaufman Laguna jersey in hot pink and royal (blue); Art Gallery Utopia knit in “Specks of Carambola” (yellow print) by Frances Newcombe. I believe both are 95% cotton and 5% spandex, and I used 1.5 yards per top.
Modifications: I used my heavily modified Renfrew pattern and took 1.5 inches off the length compared to my previous versions, since they wound up being just a bit too long.
Level of crafty satisfaction: These tops are not all that exciting, but I can never have too many of them!
My first impression of Art Gallery knits
All right, sewing friends, I’m going to be honest here: I really wanted to hate this fabric. These new Art Gallery knits are expensive ($16/yard for cotton jersey) and have gotten a lot of hype on blog tours and other marketing venues, exactly the type of hype that drives me crazy and often completely turns me off to whatever is being pushed down my virtual throat.
But… and you know what I’m going to say here… those prints. They really do have some very lovely prints, often much nicer than I can find in other good quality knit fabric, either locally or online. So I decided to give into temptation and give them a try. I bought 1.5 yards each of 2 prints (this yellow one and another that I haven’t sewn up yet) and went to town with my favorite t-shirt pattern.
And you know what? I didn’t hate it. In fact, I think I actually like it.
The fabric is a solid medium weight knit with good stretch and recovery, perfect for a t-shirt, in my opinion. In fact, the fabric is actually pretty soft and cozy, and it almost has the feel of brushed cotton or a light flannel. It was a pleasure to sew with, as the flannel-like texture allows the fabric to stick to itself, which was great for aligning edges. And as a bonus, there was minimal curling of the cut raw edges, always a nice surprise in a knit.
The print was printed on the fabric clearly and cleanly, and there wasn’t any “heavy ink feel” that I’ve seen on other printed knits, which often means that the printed areas don’t stretch as much as the non-printed areas. All good so far!
My only complaint about the print is that it seems like all the Art Gallery knits are printed on a white base, even prints with a dark background, which means that the white will show through in areas that are stretched during wear (like across the chest). It isn’t noticeable in this yellow and white print, but I’d be very hesitant to buy a darker print for this reason. Something to consider if you’re thinking about trying this fabric.
I’m also curious how this fabric will hold up in the wash. I pre-washed the fabric twice, as I always do with jersey, and put it through the dryer once. So far so good, but some jersey just keeps on shrinking over time. We’ll see. I’m also curious how the print will hold up over time. I’ll try to report back on this in a few months.
Based on my initial impressions, I’d give this fabric the thumbs up! Yes, it’s pricey, but I think (I hope!) I got what I paid for. I can’t afford to sew all my t-shirts in this fabric, but if I see another print that I can’t bear to be without, I might just snap it up. 🙂
Laguna jersey Renfrews
I’ve worked with Laguna jersey on my previous batch of Renfrews, and I’m very happy to report that it’s been holding up extremely well, despite weekly wearings and washings. In other words, this is my absolute favorite knit! I have no doubt that I’ll slowly but surely buy yardage in every color and crank out a whole wardrobe of comfortable and hard-wearing t-shirts. I realize these Renfrews are not the most exciting, most glamorous, or even most flattering garments I could choose to wear, but in dealing with many months of cold weather and the necessary layering that goes along with it, these shirts are a life saver. 🙂
I think my new pink and blue t-shirts will pair nicely with my GeoPop Moss mini, which is quickly becoming my favorite handmade garment. Here I’m wearing them with an old RTW skirt that is bordering on too short for my age. Then again, the short hemline doesn’t stop me from wearing it (with opaque tights), so whatever. 🙂
When sewing t-shirts (or anything really), always remember to have your sewing supervisor close at hand. The supervisor performs valuable functions including depositing white cat fur all over your dark fabric, batting your pin cushion onto the floor, and meowing loudly until you stop to give her dinner.
After sewing so many V-neck tops, I’m finally happy with my technique. It’s a little tricky to get the V looking neat and clean, but this one seems to have come out well. My trick is to sew the majority of the neckband to the neckline, leaving the point of the V unsewn for about 1.5 inches on either side of the point. I then go in with extra pins and get that area positioned just right, and sew the point slowly and carefully, pivoting at the center with the needle down.
I used my serger for all the construction seams except attaching the neckband and topstitching around it. I know many of you prefer using a twin needle for topstitching the neckband, but I’ve been happy with a simple zig-zag stitch. It just seems like so much extra work to load up a second spool of thread and change out the needle. 🙂
That’s about it for today! Sometimes a pile of simple knit tops is all it takes to keep me motivated to sew another day.
Now my question to you: Have you tried the new Art Gallery knits? What do you think of them, and how well do they hold up over time? In your experience, are they worth the hefty price tag?