Monday, April 28, 2014

A T-Shirt for L and my MMM '14 Pledge

Pattern: Oliver + S Schoolbus T-Shirt
Fabric:  An old 100% white cotton jersey t-shirt, size L, and leftover scraps from L's Elephant set
Sewing needles: Ballpoint needle, Stretch twin needle
Notions: coordinating thread, clear elastic, fusible interfacing (for elephants)
Size: 2T

Hello, hello! What a great weekend. It was my birthday and my husband planned a whole day of lovely surprises for me, including a visit to a museum that specializes in the preservation of traditional breeds of farm animals in Brittany. There were many different kinds of animals: cows, horses, sheep, goats, chickens, geese, many of which had little ones. L was absolutely over the moon and nuts for all of them. He also learned to say 'donkey'. For a fiber-lover like me, it was heaven. Although, from what I've heard, the wool that comes from moutons d'Ouessant is quite harsh.

As a quick weekend sewing project, after finishing my cardi (pictures to come, hopefully), I made the Oliver + S Schoolbus T-shirt. I chose to use one of my grandfather's old t-shirts. It was a basic shirt with a 100 % cotton jersey for the main fabric and a white rib knit crew neck. My grandfather hangs on to things for ages but each time he visits, he brings me old clothes to refashion. I decided to liven it up by adding the little elephants from little scraps left from L's elephant set.

My plan was to save the rib knit to use for the new neckline and to save the hems. Upon inspection, I realized the fabric on the original shirt wasn't on the straightgrain at all, so I scrapped the idea of saving the hems. I proceeded to carefully pin along the straightgrain since this fabric was a bit clingy and hard to straighten out. I traced the pieces onto the fabric and used a rotary cutter to improve the accuracy and to avoid stretching it out of shape.

The first thing I did was to apply the elephants (interlock knit) which I had interfaced  to prevent them stretching out as I stitched them onto the main shirt. I zig-zagged around the edge. I then proceeded to sew all seams with a zig-zag stitch (I don't have a serger. My machine is a basic Singer, Singer 8280.)

Here, they used a contrasting fabric
Now, I looked at a lot of t-shirts before making this to get an idea of the different stabilizers used for the neck and shoulders. Most used a long piece of the main fabric cut along the grain, which was then applied to the shirt for extra stability across the back neck. Does anybody have a good link on that neckline stabilizer with self-fabric? So far, I haven't found anything. For shoulders, the most common thing I found was clear elastic sewn into the shoulder seam. A few had nothing, and one even had a thick non-stretch string sewn into the seam to prevent stretching. I chose to use a clear elastic for the first time for stabilizing my shoulder seam. Mine is called 'Framilastic T6' by a German brand called 'Vlieseline'. I had read in many places that clear elastics are really hard to work with but this went in like a dream. Even on the practice piece. I experienced no sticking to my presser foot. Perhaps it's the elastic. It does seem to have a little bit of texture on it.  My machine had no trouble with it and I sewed it in with a zig zag stitch on a 1:1 ratio with the main fabric so as not to create any gathers. (Colette has a nice post on sewing with elastics) I pressed it to the back with the elastic facing up to touch the wrong side of the shirt back and not my baby boy's skin.

Everything went really smoothly. I enjoyed putting in the rib knit neckband, which I then finished with a twin needle. Because of the precautionary steps I took at first with cutting, my sleeves matched up perfectly. I finished the sleeve hems and body hem with a twin needle. I didn't end up with any ripples along the hems and nothing seemed stretched out! Youpee! I have a feeling I'm going to make a lot more of these shirts (and I do have a few more t-shirts to refashion.) I think it fits L really well and I bet my grandfather is going to be pretty pleased to see his old t-shirt fashioned into something new for his great grandson!


 I really wanted to participate this year in the Me-Made-May garment challenge and I've decided to do it! The beauty of it is that each participant tailors the challenge to suit their needs. As I don't have many me-made garments yet, I wanted to challenge myself to wear them as much as possible. I think this challenge will also help me realize which garments I should make for myself. I can think of one right off the bat. Dresses! I've never made a dress and during the warmer months I wear them almost exclusively.

My Me-Made-May '14 pledge:

'I, Alexandra  of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I will endeavour to wear at least four handmade garments each week for the duration of May 2014' 



  1. First I want to say that I love the t-shirt. Your creative use of the remnants from the elephant pj set is fabulous. Thanks for sharing so many details about your sewing process.

    1. Thank you! I'm working on figuring out what processes gives me the best results and I'm so happy to be able to share my experiences here!