Belated FOs: The plaid tee and black puff sleeve

Belated FOs: The plaid tee and black puff sleeve

Someday soon I’ll be ready to do some spring-into-summer wardrobe planning, and am imagining once again including this little plaid top in my closet inventory with the words “never blogged,” followed by all the natural questions about it. So instead I thought Gee, Karen, what if you blogged it! And actually there are two of them from the same pattern, neither one ever properly recorded, so I’m here today to correct the record.

Both of these tops were sewn from a now out-of-print Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity pattern #2472. I can be that specific because I have this 6-year-old blog that has a much better memory than I do. Having just tripped back through a search, I can report that when I got the urge to take up sewing again after learning to knit, the first thing I sewed was this crosshatchy quilting cotton version after seeing this one on Make Something. I’ve made several of them over the years, always tampering with this simplest of patterns, but the two above are the ones that have stuck around and been worn.

The black one (from early 2014, just before I left Berkeley) is in a chambray I had left over from another project, just barely enough to squeak out a cropped version, which I love. With those gathered sleeves, it’s probably the girliest thing in my closet! But it looks great with wide-leg pants, and can be worn in just about any setting, so even though I wouldn’t want you to see the inside of it, it’s a keeper.

The plaid one is sewn from a translucently thin cotton plaid I bought from Drygoods Design in early 2015. All I did with this one is adjust the length, shorten the sleeves and hem them — no gathers. It was the last thing I ever sewed on my old machine, after the *#@!er acted up while I was topstitching the neck on this beloved and delicate fabric. It’s also wonky because the fabric has biased considerably over time. So it’s another case of something that might not pass muster with any scrutinizing sewers, and the fit is not quite as intended, but it has nonetheless proved to be a useful member of my closet for three years now.

I had some of the plaid fabric left over, and bought a couple more yards from Fancy Tiger not long after, and have been hoarding it. Despite the biasing, I absolutely adore this plaid. It’s hard to see in a photo but it’s black and grey and golden-tan, and the grey reads almost as lilac or pale blue depending what you put it up against. It’s just lovely. But given how thin it is and how it behaves, I have yet to figure out the ideal use for the yardage that remains.

RE the pattern, though, you can easily replicate this with the Fen top or Shirt No. 1. Just tinker with the length as you like, make the sleeve flaps elbow length, then gather them to your liking and finish with bias trim.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: My first sweatshirt

21 thoughts on “Belated FOs: The plaid tee and black puff sleeve

  1. If someone were ever to point out the bias or imperfect fit on the plaid, you could always cross your fingers and say, “Yeah, that’s why I stopped buying cheap stuff from H&M.” ;)

  2. Love the plaid – with those colors it reads as a neutral. I always wash those gauzy fabrics before sewing, then I can see if there are any changes. Most times that takes care of any wonkiness.

    • I wash all of my fabrics before sewing with them. This is one of those things that happened gradually over a few washes and wears, and fortunately it’s not really evident with this particular top. (I don’t imagine anyone can tell from the photo, for instance.) I have a friend who made something much more tailored out of it, and it’s more evident. But we both love the fabric so much we don’t hold it against it!

  3. I have several beloved items that bias. In particular, there are two knitted linen tank tops from Eileen Fisher, worn year round for 7 or 8 years (linen prevents whatever is on top of it from clinging), but they bias like mad, and I just iron them back into shape. This is much easier to do if I lie them out flat on the bed instead of trying to use the ironing board, as I can see the whole shape. Sort of a pain, and it prevents them from going traveling with me, but nevertheless worth it. (and it doesn’t actually take that long to do!)

    • I think that’s a hallmark of linen knits. I’ve never owned anything that didn’t do that, and have always wondered if I were to knit my own linen sweater if it would hold true. I have knitted 3 linen sweaters and they’ve all gone to live with my sister — I should ask her …

      • What about your Linen Quill cardi ? I’ve just finished a Purl Soho’s Lightweight Raglan with Linen Quill, and the sleeves biased with the first wash (I don’t mind at all).
        Oh, by the way, I might blame you for a new yarn addiction on Linen Quill :-)

        • I knit a beautiful pullover with linen quill which I wore constantly for about a year and the fabric only seemed to become even with wear and washing (machine washed, cold, line dried)–then I accidentally washed it on warm! Now it lives with a friend’s nine year old.

          For last year’s Summer of Basics, I knit a fisherman’s rib tank top out of Q&Co’s linen Sparrow, which has also gotten a lot of wear and regular machine washing. I haven’t noticed any biasing or wonkiness. Ditto for the lacey garter stitch top I made with linen Kestrel. Maybe it depends on the kind of stitch?

      • I have made a lot of linen knits, mostly out of Euroflax, and mine don’t bias, but lots of people complain that their knits do and there was once a long Ravelry discussion about it. Linen isn’t plied; it functions as a single which is only loosely twisted and it seems that a lot of it comes down to whether ones personal knitting style and habits add or subtract twist. I throw my yarn when I knit , but even more importantly, I let my hand wound round ball roll around on the floor. Knitting off of the cake will add twist every time the strand goes round the cake…puting the cake on a yarn buddy will go a long way towards maintaining the twist as it was intended and reduce biasing. IMHO.

        Linen Quill is a plied yarn (I happen to have a skein of it right here on the table), and its twist is well balanced, so its behavior would be quite different from something that is 100% linen, The same might be true of the sort of linen yarn that has been manufacturesd into light knitted tube. The same holds true for hemp vs hemp blends.

  4. What if you actually used the plaid fabric on the bias? Maybe that would take care of the problem. Of course, you would have to be satisfied with the plaid on the diagonal. I have found that tops made on the bias actually have a beautiful drape. Just a thought.

    • I love this idea! It would be best to rotate the side seams and shoulder seams so that they are still following the grain – at diagonals across the body – that way there’s no need to actually sew anything on the bias, which is objectively THE WORST. Plus the new seams constitute “style lines” and add interest.

    • Yeah, I really think it would be best used in a situation where it’s either used on the bias or voluminously gathered or something. So I’m always on the lookout for the right idea for it that’s also something I would really wear!

        • Fibercraft, those are all great tips, but I was thinking of actually changing the pattern so that the seams lay along the grain — no longer side seam or shoulder seams per se, because they’d be in totally different places. If the garment as a whole is on the bias but the seams lie along the grains, said tips are unnecessary, there is no stretch to deal with while sewing, and the whole process is much easier. It’s technique Vionnet employed a lot with her garments, but doesn’t seem to be used much these days, a least not with commercial patterns or ready to wear in the States.

          • Interesting. I’ve not heard of this. I’ll have to see if I can find info on that technique. I must say, though, I haven’t had problems sewing on the bias. It probably depends on your fabric.

  5. Thanks! This post reminds me I have a similar pattern (thrifted it, it was from the eighties I believe) that I want to make a top out of for this summer. Love the plaid fabric, by the way!

  6. love those tops – and I don’t always click through on links when reading blogs, but this time I did, and OMG I want all the sewing patterns. Thank you for sharing that lovely resource. :-) I know HOW to sew but am not particularly good at it, and I think these are right up my alley. Maybe I will use up that fabric stash someday. :-)

  7. A verb For Keeping Warm in Oakland has CA union cloth on their most recent post…you might want to check it out.

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