Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

Sewing machine out of action: what can I do? Using the overlocker to make colour-block t-shirts

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My sewing machine has been out of action for most of the lockdown, although it is working now. So I thought I’d document what I did manage to do and sew, when I just had my overlocker in action.

I had quite a few jersey remnants and I decided that I could put some combinations together to create some new t-shirts. I decided to take a look for t-shirt patterns that used colour-blocking in different ways. I then got totally obsessed looking at different t-shirt patterns and colour-blocking inspiration.

Here is the colour-block t-shirts spreadsheet with the list of patterns. They are arranged, in alphabetical order, by pattern company.

I have also tried to stick to those patterns that are more suited to t-shirts rather than sweatshirts. There are lots of raglan-sleeved t-shirt patterns, which are good for colour-blocking as you can make the sleeves in one colour and the body in another. I probably haven’t included them all here as there are so many.

Apart from the raglan sleeves, there are a few, like the Ensis Tee where the colour-blocking uses different fabrics on the top half and botton half of the t-shirt. There are also some different ideas with side inserts or triangular blocks, which look interesting, like the Geodesic Top.

Of course, it is possible to go completely wild and do your own colour-blocking, so I looked at RTW t-shirts too for inspiration and saved the most interesting designs onto a mood board on Pinterest.

I also found some good tutorials for making your own colour-blocked design. This tutorial shows how to colour-block with the Sweet Tee from Patterns for Pirates to create a contrast yoke and upper sleeves. There is also a colour-block hack for the Hemlock t-shirt, which is a free t-shirt from Grainline Studio. This video from Angela Wolf, uses some unusual style lines and doesn’t specify a particular t-shirt pattern as the starting point.

I already had the Ensis Tee from Papercut Patterns as a PDF pattern in my stash, so this was the first colour-blocked t-shirt I tried.

Ensis Tee

Short-sleeved Ensis Tee

I used some plain white jersey for the upper half and a remnant of this berry red-white striped jersey for the lower half. As I had limited fabric, it is short-sleeved,rather than long-sleeved as per the pattern. And sadly, I couldn’t cut the lower back all as one piece, so it has got a centre back seam. I think this is an acceptable compromise rather than using another fabric. I don’t think the back seam is particularly noticeable as I pattern-matched it very carefully.

The pattern is a very simple t-shirt, but I was particularly happy with the shape and fit. I made no adjustments to the sizing and used the my size (XS) as drafted. The t-shirt skims the body rather flatteringly I think. It is tighter around the bust and shoulder, but less figure-hugging around the waist and hips. I have seen a few versions of this t-shirt before and noticed the combination of a striped fabric with a plain fabric has been made many times, it works well.

Short-sleeved Ensis Tee

A nice simple t-shirt that uses some fabric remnants

When I finally got my machine working again, I finished the hems and top-stitched the neckline.

I accomplished a particularly pressing objective with this project. Firstly, I have used up some fabric scraps. I have found over the last couple of years the remnants pile has become overwhelming. Secondly, I have found lots of inspiration to help me eliminate more fabric scraps. A win all round, I reckon!


Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

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