Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A Few Basics

It's more fun to begin a project with star potential. You know, the piece that outshines whatever sits under it, over it, or around it. But there are times when I discipline myself to make some basics. And the truth is that it satisfies my creative cravings equally well.

Navy cotton-lycra knit Urban tee with Helix pants in a fairly beefy rayon knit.

Recently, I finished two successful tees that I will undoubtedly wear a lot. First up was a cotton knit tee in navy blue. The fabric is inexpensive, easy to sew and comfortable to wear. I returned to the old Urban tee shirt.

I tried to use it recently as just a basic tee - front, back, 2 sleeves - and I failed. My calculations went awry. So this time, I kept the basic design and eliminated the front cascading drape. I was a bit gun-shy in the drafting of my new size with the added adjustments for a simple asymmetrical center front seam. And it worked!

I am fairly certain I'll make the Urban tee shirt this way again, perhaps with cap sleeves for warmer weather. It works on its own or as a layering piece. I am extremely fond of the little pocket though it's only deep enough for a tissue. 

Even the neckline worked out great. I used Linda Lee's 7/8 rule for measuring the neck binding and it fit beautifully. 

With knits, the stretch and recovery varies widely. I find it daunting to sew with them. This cotton-lycra knit from my favorite local fabric store - Gail K - has good recovery and sufficient stretch. It does not have sufficient stretch to consider pants, but just right for a tee shirt. 

I used the same fabric in a yummy chocolate brown for a swing tee, blogged previously. It's a bit long for layering under every jacket it matches, but a great shirt nevertheless.

Next I made a black rayon jersey tee using a favorite pattern - the Odette - also from the Sewing Workshop. I have mixed feelings about rayon, but it looks and feels great. It was easy to sew too. I washed the fabric on cold and dried briefly. I know that it will not remain black long if I continue to machine wash it. But I do hate to have it dry-cleaned, which is neither dry nor clean. And it's not low maintenance. For now, I love it.

The Odette is a good tee shirt pattern because it has interesting lines but still fits nicely under a jacket or vest. I made a white one a while back and constantly reach for it. This will be a favorite too.


I had to carefully label the front side of my fabric after cutting each piece of each of these tee shirts. Both are jerseys and so the horizontal stretch curls to the right side. Also both have different left and right fronts. The Odette is more complex than the Urban, with many more pieces. 

I am also continuing to recycle pants that are too big on me. I find that very satisfying . The red ponte knit pants were not only too big, but they were faded. When I took them apart, I used the other side for the front and now they look fresher and brighter. 

I no longer had any remnants from it (what was I thinking?) so I had to use a different ponte for my added waistband. Since my waistband never (ok, almost never) shows, that's OK. They are so comfy!

Here are the red Helix pants - the cropped version - with a favorite layering piece, Hearts A Flutter from Cutting Line Designs.

I thought I had the Helix pants just right. I added a waistband and adjusted the rise to accommodate that. But just when I think I have got it, I use a ponte with different amount of stretch. I was thinking that ponte is ponte, but not at all. This one has about 5-10% stretch (I now realize).

This ponte is from Marcy Tilton. I love the muted multi color design, black, navy with a touch of light brown. It works with many of my tops and even jackets. Now that I've worn them a bit, I know I need to make further adjustments. I will start by scooping the crotch because that is where it is uncomfortable. Fingers crossed.

Lastly, I uncovered some nice wool knit in stash, probably from Gail K. I stitched them into super comfortable and slimming Helix pants. These are a success all around. And the weather is up and down, so even though it's April tomorrow, I can still wear them some. I'll be happy to pull them out again when it turns cooler. 

I washed a piece of this wool knit and even dried it. It does not look bad but I do think I may take these to the dry cleaners. There is just something about wool that makes me leery of machine washing. I think over time they may become wimpy with less recovery and more wrinkling.

These are hemmed with a bias strip of black silk dupioni, one of my go-to trim fabrics.

There is enough left for a topper of some sort. I was sad to discover that the fabric contains moth holes, another reason I washed it. It was pretty easy to cut out the pants and miss the holes. Making a topper with the damaged fabric will give me an excuse for some boro or kantha mending.

I am ready to sew for spring. It is still that in-between time here when you need a jacket in the morning and short sleeves in the afternoon. Perfect time for these basics, but my creative juices are ready for color! Perhaps we all are ready for bright color, as the promise of a post-COVD time seems possible.


  1. Fabulous additions to your wardrobe! Nice work.

  2. Muchas costuras exitosas, eso está muy bien y las telas primaverales y coloridas😍😍

  3. Martha, I love your reviews. Thank you so much.

  4. Martha, where,when did I miss your journey to a new size?

    1. Anne - you are so sweet to ask. I've not highlighted it. It was deliberate and I'm glad to be a bit slimmer. I feel better all around - sleep, exercise, and, yes, sewing!

  5. You and the clothes you make are stunning. I always look forward to your reviews.