This week, I wanted to focus on something at least moderately related to my major : sewing. While I may not be a design student, nor a master seamstress, I do own and occasionally use a sewing machine. Many patterns I’ve purchased or otherwise seen seem to be for very outdated, boring (and usually frumpy) garments, so when I came across q2han’s youtube channel with its many contemporary sewing tutorials, I was very excited. I’d been putting off attempting them, but figured I’d give one a try for this week.
Here’s the garment tutorial for a basic halter top by q2han: https://youtu.be/ieh0QSW8NvU? (again, they disabled embedding, but take the slight extra step of clicking – its worth it)
If you want, you can strictly follow their instructions, but I decided to slightly modify them. I’d been eyeing this Freepeople top for a while and decided creating a DIY version of it would be not only fun, but somewhat less expensive as well. And with the entire pattern being based off items already in my possession and my own preferences, I could ensure the fit of the garment. I also figured this slight alteration would make my “artwork” more unique from the youtube tutorial’s, and slightly more desirable for myself since I’d been wanting to buy something like it anyway.
A few pictures of the look I was going for
Tools: For this project, you will need:
- A basic tee shirt
- About 1 1/2 to 2 yards of jersey (you may also use scrap from a very oversized old t shirt, but making the binding later may be difficult)
- Matching thread (and threaded bobbin)
- Ruler (see-through is helpful)
- Pattern paper or wrapping paper with gridlines on back (I tried to include a small piece for reference, but the photo quality is horrible – some wrapping papers have squares on their backs as a guide for cutting straight; this acts the same as pattern paper so you can make sure whatever you’re drawing stays even)
- Pattern marker (pizza-cutter-looking thing) *note: you can simply move the shirt around when making your pattern, but it may be more difficult and less accurate
- Sewing machine
- Some sewing skills (ultimately just be careful; sewing machines can actually be dangerous, especially to fingers)
- Loop turner (bubble wand looking thing) – only needed if you opt for seperate camisole straps in step 9.
Steps: Tip: you can start by watching the video to get an idea of what this process looks like, just avoid doing the steps that involve the back of the garment and pay attention to a few modifications (different seam allowances, more bias bindings, etc)
1. Wash and dry your fabric to prevent shrinking your final garment. Or, if you feel like living on the edge/are pressed for time like me, skip directly to step 2
2. Follow these steps from the video to create your basic pattern:
- Trace 1/2 of an unfitted t-shirt you own (this is where the tracing wheel comes in handy)
- Mark 3″ from center neck (I marked at 3 1/2″ since I wanted slightly more coverage)
- Bring in 1 1/4″ at lower armhole
- Make total length 12″
- Hem length is your waist measurement divided by 4
- Connect end of hem to new point at underarm
- Create new curve for armhole
3. This is where it gets slightly different. Add 1/4″ hem allowance, 1″ side seam allowance, and 1/4″ neck and armhole allowances
I apologize for the blurriness, but this is how my final pattern turned out. Don’t be afraid to erase and redo things, especially if you’re a ridiculous perfectionist like me
4. Cut out pattern. Be sure to not cut out your seam allowances.
5. Fold jersey fabric along grain, align middle of pattern with grain fold, pin pattern to fabric, and cut out.
6. Finish sides by folding over twice and sewing
7. Cut 7″ x 1″ neck binding (or if using my 3 1/2″ neck, then an 8″ x 1″ binding)
8. (You may want to watch the video again for this part) Pin neck binding to main fabric with right sides together. Stitch together about 1/8″ from edge. Fold neck binding over twice and “stitch in the ditch”. If you have no idea how to do this, much less what it even is (like I did), check out this very helpful video: https://youtu.be/JIpeaLlngOc
9. If you want camisole-style straps attached separately from the binding, skip to steps 9a-9d. If you prefer slightly thicker, attached straps extending from the arm hole binding, prepare two 55″ x 1″ bias binding strips and move on to step 10.
9a. Cut 1″ thick bias binding for the arm holes with length about 4″ longer than your arm hole length (you can trim down the rest later)
9b. Cut two 45″ x 1″ strips for camisole straps
9c. Fold each strip in half, pin, and sew no further than 1/8″ in from fold; trim excess, leaving about 1/8″ to prevent fraying
9d. Insert loop turner through hole, latch onto end, and pull through to turn straps inside out. Leave to the side for now.
10. Leaving 1 1/2″ extra at ends, attach binding strips along arm holes as you did with the neck binding (again, you may want to watch the video).
11. Finish the 1 1/2″ extra on the sides (as they finish the straps in the video) by folding the bias tape into thirds and then in half. Sew close to the fold opening to create the basis for your side loops. If you opted for camisole straps, skip to step 12. If you chose binding straps, finish the long leftover strip similarly to create straps. This part may take a while, but be patient and take your time.
Before being sewn in place, my straps looked like a super long, stabby caterpillar (be careful to keep the strap going straight and not stab yourself).
12. Cut a waist binding 1″ wide x 3″ longer than your bottom hem. Leaving 1 1/2″ extra on each end, attach the binding to the bottom hem. Finish these ends as you did for the other extra binding from the arm holes.
13. Fold over the small ends we’ve created to form loops large enough to fit your straps through. You will have plenty extra on the ends; pin these down perpendicular to the side seams to ensure even loops.
14. Sew on the loops by going back and forth along side seam (at least four times to ensure strength) and trim excess, leaving about 1/8″ to prevent fraying
15. If you opted for bias straps and they are already attached, move on to step 16. If you have camisole straps, you now need to attach them (see steps 15a-c and diagram)
15a. Pin each strap to the “right” side (part that faces outward/finished side) of the top corners of your top (where the arm hole and neck meet) with the longest part of the strap facing down (toward the waist).
15b. Sew a straight line across the top corner near its edge; go over the stitch a few times to ensure stability.
15c. Trim excess from smaller end of strap and invert so strap goes the correct way. You may want to tack down the smaller end to the back base of the top to prevent unraveling/inversion.
Here are a few hopefully helpful visuals for 15a-c:
Pretend the printed side of the wrapping paper is the fashion/right side of the fabric; attach straps where the bold line is, then flip up. (it’s actually quite easy, my directions just made it seem complicated)
16. Cross the straps and run through loops as in picture; tie in bow at the bottom (you may want do the tying while you’re wearing it to ensure proper fit).
17. Snip off excess strap until you feel your bow is the perfect size, then fold ends over twice and sew to finish.
And now you’ve made a great festival top! And, for probably less than half the cost of the original. And, you’ve made it yourself so you can feel even more awesome about it! Let me know if you try it and it works for you (or if there are any ridiculously confusing parts). Maybe you could even make some in white and use natural dyeing to create some really beautiful, really unique (and really hippie-minded) tops for summer.
Here’s my finished product:
It’s in no way perfect; many of the seams are incredibly wonky up close. But considering I haven’t sewn in quite a while, much less ever even attempted to use binding or the “stitch the ditch” method, I was glad to have made something even slightly resembling a real top. And, from a distance, it looks pretty dang good, so no complaints!
Hopefully this small project will be enough to push me to keep trying more of their patterns (and maybe even more of “my own”). Who knows, with time and practice maybe I’ll be able to sew practically all my own clothing. Or, if nothing else, be more confident in my sewing skills and be able to make things when I want to save a few bucks. I’ll update you guys on other pieces I make (probably over summer), and in the mean time, look out for a pizza tutorial I’ll be posting in the next few weeks (yeah, I said it, PIZZA)
If you’d like to find more amazing things to make yourself (or just to drool/cry over), go check out q2han’s blog at http://q2hans.blogspot.com
When attempting to create art, I usually sort of “wing it” and see where whatever I’m doing takes me. I’ve had to follow guidelines before, and sometimes they’ve led me to creating horrible things. This somehow really bothers me since when I’m making my own rules I’m usually able to fix whatever goes wrong in the moment. But, while having to abide by a strict set of rules seemed fairly daunting, having the option to create them myself made it slightly less scary and more fun. I do tend to think heavily about projects beforehand to figure out what will and definitely will not work, and I found myself doing so while writing my steps. Even before attempting them, constantly wanted to change my rules, since that’s how I normally work through problems while I’m creating. I tried to make my steps easy to follow and a bit forgiving so whoever tries to follow them may add their own personal touch, but it still felt fairly strange to me having to determine exactly how or how not to do things. I did end up with a fairly decent final product, but now that I’ve made it I have a desire to change my processes so it can be better for others or for next time I try to attempt it. So, while I do admire the people who can create masterpieces out of these rules and restrictions, for me, algorithmic art takes away some of the fun out of the experience of creating things. And while I do follow and create rules in my everyday life (how else would you make cakes or do your homework?), I find a bit of joy in slightly bending them to better fit myself. And even though algorithmic art may not be for me, at least I now have a pretty cool top I’ve (sort of) patterned out myself, and I’ve given other people a chance to make one of their own.