Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In pursuit of the perfect t-shirt

I am happy to lose weight, really I am. In fact, when I turned 52 last month I felt better that I had since my late 40's. It dissolved my fear that "it's all down hill from here". What's my secret? Wheat /gluten intolerance! My doctor figured it out and after only 48 hours of a wheat-free diet, the pain was gone. That means I cut out 95% of the bread, cookies and cakes. (I still have treats now & then)
I lost about a pound a month without noticing much (after all, the belly seems to be exempt from the weight loss process - HA!)
One day I forgot to bring a baggy t-shirt to pilates class, and what I saw in the mirror caught me off guard! I ran to the scale and discovered I was down 8 pounds. Since then, I am working even harder at pilates and yoga, out of sheer gratitude for this happy by-product of the wheat intolerance.

Why do I tell you this? Becuase none of my patterns fit anymore! waaaaaa! After all that pattern work and all that sewing for the last 2 years, I am back to an empty closet.
And despite all I have learned, I am as puzzled as ever when a garment doesn't fit well!
Enter the sewing buddies at Stitchers Guild. I can post a picture and get great feedback immediately. You know, is great, too. I spend more time at Stitchers Guild mostly because there are fewer women there and I am able to keep track of who is who. Patternreview is a huge community!

This gives you an idea of how much tweaking I did before I even got to the coral colored top in the photos below. I am using the t-shirt that comes out of Bernina My Label as my starting point. But it has no darts & no shaping, so I am adding some.
With a chest larger than an A-cup, I prefer darts and curved seams to work with the bod.

I whipped this up on Sunday and wore it to bebe Ilse's 7th birthday party (sorry Laura I forgot the camera!) The front is not bad, but it feels like there is fabric bunching under my armpits.
The back view is kinda hilarious. The area under my shoulder blades is where I have lost weight and toned up (pilates is a mysterious but very, very effective exercise regimen!)
So, in my glee, I thought, "hey let's show off that weird small space on my back!!" But now I think it looks just weird! ha ha

I have re-drafted the pattern to lower the armsyce and increase the area in the sleeve where it meets the bodice. I have also re-drawn the lines to hang straighter.
Now I am deep into work week, but next weekend I'll post the next version and show you the specific pattern adjustments.
At least I've got the neckline and the shoulder seams making me happy and comfortable. That alone is worth the effort.
OK- now I will just sew up another wardrobe. No biggie, right?
Hey it's Hump Day, wooooo
Now that my daughter and Howie's kids are young adults, it strikes me as the perfect time to become a stay-at-home mom. I mean I could sew all day, right? Kelly could use some work clothes that don't reveal her midriff when she writes on the chalkboard, Laura loves those crafty gifts I send her way. And Daniel, hmm, a skateboard slipcover? Dust cover for his guitars and basses? Oh yeah, he would love it.
OK, enough silly daydreams. But if I win the lottery, there will be an explosion of sewing!


  1. Gluten free takes some work doesn't it? There is a fabulous recipe for gluten free bread in the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special Cookbook. I made four for Easter and they were devoured. Good luck with the alterations.

  2. Great job on the new tshirt - it looks great! Congrats on the weight loss and toning!

  3. Congrats on the weight loss! The shirt looks good and looks like a good place to start making those little tweaks to make it perfect for you.

  4. Congratulations on the weight loss. The shirt looks good and as Summerset stated is a good place to start. Good luck on the sewing and the winning lottery!

  5. Weight loss is difficult at best. Congrats on that! Which means, you deserve a new wardrobe. Have fun making it!

  6. Congratulations on your weight loss!
    Your t-shirt does look great.

  7. Only sewing buddies can be empathetic about the downside of losing weight! I hope you enjoy your new skinny sewing, but what a pain to have to re fit.
    You are being really upbeat about the gluten free thing. My son was thought to have coeliac disease as a toddler and was on a gluten free diet for 2 years, it was quite tricky - but I have some great recipes now!.

  8. Congrats on the weight loss - yep, Pilates is sneaky, isn't it?! I allegedly don't have coeliac disease, but a "wheat intolerance" - the difference is an arbitrary number on a blood test. All I know is if I lay off the gluten my tummy doesn't hurt and bloat...

    Not sure if lowering the armscye is always the best move - you actually get a better fit and more freedom of movement with a higher armhole (which is why vintage patterns often fit better - they have a much higher armhole draft.)

    As in all sewing, I strongly believe that it's a matter of what works for you though!

  9. I read somewhere that some MyLabel users start with the tunic pattern to create a tee shirt with darts. Does that make sense to you? Thinking of buying MyLabel but I really need darts. I think the orange Tee looks good.

  10. Ruth, using the tunic pattern for a t-shirt is a great idea. You would have side dart, but no shaping in the back.

    I think an even better choice would be to use the BML fitted blouse bodice.

    In a few posts back, I show the 2 tunics I made, one with a higher armscye and one with a lower armscye. I think what I really need is a wider sleeve. My newest measurements in BML are not perfect yet, but I am getting there... more to come!

  11. I'm with Caity. Less gluten makes my life a lot less miserable. And keeps my weight more stable.

    Some days it's a pain avoiding all the allergens (dairy proteins, coconut, shellfish, gluten) but other days I'm reminded of how much pain comes from NOT avoiding them. For some reason I keep needing to be reminded.... It's definitely a relief finding an explanation for the pain.

  12. I am surprised at how many people suffer from gluten intolerance or celiac disease. But on the other hand, I am glad I am not alone in this.
    My food choices now start with what CAN I eat? Fruits, vegetables, meats, rice, quinoa and oats come to mind. At the health food store I can get gluten free pasta, granola and pancake mix.

  13. What pattern for a t-shirt with darts did you start with! I'd love to get my hands on a t-shirt pattern with darts... Do you think I could start with a darted blouse pattern but make a t-shirt?

  14. Hey anon, yes, you can use a blouse pattern. You can use any bodice pattern to get started. As you make changes to your garment (for example, if you take it in on the sides to make it more snug) go back and make the same change to your paper pattern.
    Rinse and repeat.


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