Sunday, 17 January 2010

Puffy sleeve test-run tee (30's style)

I've been testing my new overlock-machine for nearly a week now, and after sewing a bunch of scraps I began to itch to make something real. So here it is, my first serged t-shirt. A proper trial and error-project!

I based it loosely on a short sleeved cardigan that I like a lot, but since I didn't use a pattern and really wasn't as careful as I usually am it was a pleasant surprise that it actually came out wearable! Though I'm not sure how long it will be, 90-needles are not good for thin jersey, as I learned the hard way; the flatlock-seams in the center front and center back are lined with little holes (apparently that's what happens when you use a too thick needle in an overlock).

Hopefully I can mend it if it becomes too bad...

Like I mentioned, I made a rough copy of the puffy sleeves on the cardigan above. I can really recommend those of you who like puffy sleeves to try the method used in that cardigan to keep the puff high enough. As you can see below, high puffs are not a problem in this t-shirt!

 There's a strip of elastic sewn into the sleeve, on the wrong side of the fabric, that ruffles it in the middle as well as on the sides (where all the ruffles would be normally).

It was very easy to sew, I simply pinned the elastic ends and middle to the sleeve cap and to the part of the sleeve that I wanted to ruffle and stretched it as I sewed a narrow zig-zag along the elastic on my "normal sewing machine (a Pfaff Select 3.0, you can see its top-feed-dog in the picture right behind the presser-foot, it's such a great feature!). It ruffled up nicely as I went.

I think that this elastic-method would be especially helpful in drapey fabrics, that may not have body enough to create a puff otherwise.

The sleeve from the front and side, and the sleeve-pattern. I shortened the sleeve (below the armpit that is) to about half of what's shown in the pattern, I liked it better that way.
I made pleats rather than ruffles around the sleeve-cap, like I learned to when I made a toile for a 1930's dress-pattern before christmas.

So, what seams did I try for this test-run-project (the purpose of which was to try out different kind of seams)? Well, I did pretty well with the overlock side-and shoulder-seams, not so good on the flatlock middle front and back-seams (the fat needle punched holes along it), the coverstitch hem could have been a bit more elastic and the rolled hem around the neckl-line is a bit too rough for this particular style, but all in all... I'm pleased! The machine (a Baby Lock Evolve) is a dream to work on, and really really easy to use, even to change between coverstitch and overlock-seams, and it's no hassle at all to re-thread it (which I did quite a bit to try out the different seams).

And how many threads do I use (you can use up to eight)? Well.... three. It's a magic number, right (it's not that I'm lazy)?


  1. I love it! Enjoy your new machine. :)

  2. Fantastic sleeves!!! Glad you love the machine--looks like it's fun to learn!

  3. Love the sleeves! I'm a big fan of puffy sleeves. I have a t-shirt from H&M with similar sleeves and I was thinking about copying them. This post of yours is very helpful, although sadly I don't own an overlock...

  4. Wow! Awesome top! And great tip for doing the puffy sleeves, I didn't know that. I'm not that great at working with stretch fabrics. I've never been 100% happy with any stretch things I've made... I probably just need more practice!

  5. That's a gorgeous top! I like how you folded the puffs rather than gathered them, looks very "designer" that way.

  6. Oh great post babes! Thanks so much for all that detail!

    I've never really done a sleeve so long (in the pattern) and would love to try this!

  7. Can you ever have too much puff in a sleeve? What a lovely shirt, and thanks for the tip on the elastic in the sleeve. I love how forgiving jersey is... even if you mess up a bit!

  8. Hello there, I've been checking out your blog for a while now and am compelled to write because those sleeves are AWESOME! I've got an overlocker, but don't really use it, and now think I need to make a funked-up glam t-shirt too!

  9. That is a fantastic first for the overlocker - those sleeves are such a striking feature on an otherwise plain tee shirt. Not sure if you already know but I think for coverstitch machines you need an even more special needle than the normal thin ones, particularly if you're using the cover stitch function. I use Schmetz system ELX705 (80/12) which were designed for Elna but apparently can be used on all machines. I get mine sent from the US - cheaper than UK.

  10. I also left you a blog award at my blog :)

  11. Beautiful top,like those sleeves, and i like the whole look. Hope it will serve you long enought.

  12. Oh, what a great job you did! The shape is really flattering on you. Glad your overlocker is giving you lots of fun!

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