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Selfish sewing time has been completely non-existent for me the past several weeks. Boo. After closing down and moving out of our brick and mortar shop, there still seemed to be endless amounts of straggling items of business to do. It’s been one thing after another after another, which is fine. Then, when chance came for a spot of sewing, guess who put in for some new t-shirts?

Saying that Mr. AFS has been my right hand through all of this wouldn’t cut the mustard. He helps me with every part of my online shop now. He’s still technically “in training” but he’s doing a passable impression of CEO. Since the tee’s on his back were literally about to fall off (holes and everything) telling him “no” didn’t seem like an option. I even tried to talk him into a couple of tees from Ross (a discount chain store) – we were even there looking at them!! – and he absolutely refused. Spoiled. Now he’s beginning to understand the difference between having something custom made for him vs. trying to find something that fits, is the right color and features everything he wants at the store.

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Additionally, I thought it would be a good plug for our jersey knits and for me to chat about what goes into buying knit for our online shop. ha ha (nervous laughter). When it comes to knits, I am incredibly picky. I’ve made several knit projects that basically bombed after wearing because of the fabric choice pilling, or the fabric choice was so awful, I got half way through and tossed it. I’ve done a lot of online fabric shopping in my time and well, I’ve only ever had one problem with a woven fabric (it was a very bad color in person). Knits are a completely different story. I’ve bought a lot of knit online and I would say that a really good portion have been complete flops in person. I’ve noticed that the weight – the sheerness of the knit – is a huge deal to me. I think thin sheer knits are for the dogs. Ugh. Awful to sew with and I always end up having to wear something underneath anyway. Sigh. The other thing that is pretty tell-tale of a bad knit, is the wash and wear. Pilling is so unsightly to me. I’ve had a good jot of rayon jerseys that pill and so I’m very careful when purchasing those for my shop.

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I made a pattern from Mr. AFS’s favorite tee and then made a test wearable t-shirt (above). The fit was exactly the same as the original tee.

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This t-shirt was fabric from some old shop stock. 100% cotton mini rib knit. This stuff is really soft and I’m pretty sure it was organic. This pic (above) was taken just after Mr. AFS had kissed his own bicep. He must really love the way his arms look in these tees. Ahem. Moving right along….

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Second tee, I got a lot more creative. Made him a henley with a pocket and back yoke with pleat. This proves great in a solid colored knit because we can actually see the texture and details without trying to squint through a print. He’s loving it. This knit is one of our 10 oz. cotton jerseys that contain 5% spandex (the Burgundy if you were interested). They. Are. Awesome! They sew up like a dream, will last a good long while and they have great color retention. Really comfortable to wear too.

I used the button placket pattern from David Coffin’s Shirtmaking book and put it together like a placket on a sleeve. All went well as per everything I’ve ever done from his book – love it! If you haven’t, take a gander at our knit selection. Get a swatch or two! I’m totally into converting you to my way of knit fabric thinking!

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33 thoughts on “shameless

  1. My struggle is finding knits that have decent recovery. I can’t stand when shirts stretch out only to recover when I wash and dry them or sometimes they never recover at all and stay permanently stretched. I would love to see some more midweight knits with good recovery in your shop.

    1. I’ve found that spandex is a good thing in knitwear. I used to think that all synthetics were bad, bad, bad, but now I know better. A little spandex goes a long way, especially in knit fabrics. A medium weight cotton jersey with about 5% spandex is fantastic! I hope you do try one of our knits – I really do try to find only the best and am very particular.

    1. Thank you Kate! By the way – I see that you’re opening your lovely new shop in October. I might just have to pop by for the grand opening!!!

  2. You are a better wife than I! My hunnie has been asking me about tees but honestly I couldn’t reproduce the quality of his RTW tees even if I was willing to, because I’m just not that good with knits yet – plus it’s not that hard for him to get a good fit off the rack anyway…. yours, on the other hand, look fantastic! The button placket and front pocket are really nice details, and they look very professional! 🙂

    1. Thank you! I’m newer to knits than to wovens and I have found that while knits are easier, reproducing what you see in RTW knitwear is harder. You’ll get there. It’s a much faster journey than with wovens. Much faster.

  3. This post just makes me laugh. I’m in the same boat. Once I made my hubby his own t-shirt, he REFUSES to wear the store bought brands. Besides loving the Riley Blake knit I got from you, I’ve loooooooooooooved Nosh Organics Fabric. It’s great that you are still blogging too. Thanks for all your help!

  4. Do you use a coverstitch/overlocker creature?

    My stretch twin needle does okay enough for my own t-shirts and knits, but even I sometimes pop those seams. I want to sew some for my husband but I’m pretty sure I have to wait until I can get the machines to make sturdier stitches 😦

    1. I do have a coverstitch machine now. And I have a separate serger/overlocker. I admit that I do love my serger so much, but I do the main work of sewing knits on my sewing machine. However, for the hemming, I was so unsatisfied with the quality of a double needle that I finally broke down and purchased a coverstitch. I do love having it around, it’s pretty handy.

  5. I’m so intrigued. I’m an avid sewer, a perfectionist, and knit-phobic. I just can’t seem to get the hang of it and struggle with my serger to create anything half-way decent, which is far from my standards for sewing. Perhaps it’s the fabrics I’ve tried. Did you use a serger for these?

    1. I do the main bulk of my sewing of knitwear on my sewing machine – I feel I have more control on the sewing machine than on the serger. I do end up serging the seam allowance after, but if needed, I could just sew all knits on a sewing machine. I’m one of those that likes having a larger seam allowance on knit patterns too. Even if the pattern is less, I add on enough for the pattern to have 5/8″ seam allowance and then whack it off with my serger. I found that especially when teaching beginners to sew with knits, this proved much better than the teeny tiny seam allowance.

  6. Heh, love the photos! And Mr AFS obviously likes posing for them – I’ll have to show these to my husband for inspiration (he told me he doesn’t want to be one of those “reluctant looking husbands” or something along those lines).

    I’ve found it quite tricky to get knits that are suitable for mens t-shirts – the ones I’ve found have been too slinky, or not had enough recover/were too stiff.

    I’m curious as to the flash of yellow on the Henley, can you explain what you’ve done there? I know RTW mens shirts often have tape around the neckine, is it similar to that?

    1. Actually no – it’s just serger thread. I had yellow on my serger and my mister really wanted yellow on this tee, so I (reluctantly) agreed to use the yellow. But I do know what you’re talking about with the band around the neckline. I’ve found it’s usually knit, just a knit binding, but I suppose you could probably use bias tape too which would give the knit a little more stability over time. Hmmmm… something to try!
      And Mr. AFS LOVES posing for photos. And he LOVES seeing himself in them after and then laughing and being an all around goof. He’s always excited when it’s his turn to be featured on the blog. Ha ha.

  7. On the hems, are you using a coverstitch machine or a twin needle? If using a twin needle, what are your machine’s settings? I’m tired of the popped stitches and don’t want to drop good cash on fabric if I can’t get the hems right.

    1. I do use a coverstitch. I was very unsatisfied with twin needles. Ugh. Before the coverstitch I used to finish hems with the blind hem stitch on my sewing machine. Hmmmm…. maybe some tricks for sewing on sewing machines is needed.

  8. They’re great. What magic tricks do you have up your sleeve when attaching a patch pocket to a knit? Last time I tried something like that it was a stinking disaster, all stretched out and nasty. Epic fail….

  9. Yes, the shirts are fantastic as is the jersey knit. But what I want to know is how you got your cute husband to pose so nicely? My husband’s support goes only so far…:) what a good sport! Back to the knits, they hold their shape as though they’re stable. The maroon/red one especially. Nice.

    1. He is a very good sport. In fact, he loves his blog time and he loves being a bit of a star for a day. Loves. It. I’m pretty sure he has a secret evil plan to have me make all of his clothes all the time just so that he can pose for the blog.

  10. I will definitely check out your knits, I too am wary of purchasing knits online any longer because of the huge variance in quality.

    1. Yes, I have noticed this too. I’ve even ordered some for my shop only to find that when I received them, they were junk. Do check out ours – you can get swatches first, which I highly recommend.

  11. Your shirts look great. I’m tired of buying knits online that don’t meet my standards once they arrive. I’ve never purchased from you but next time I need knits I’m coming to you. It’s nice to see a shop owner that uses and cares about what she sells. Let me finish a slipcover and I’ll be ordering.

  12. I LOVE these t-shirts! And I think it is really wonderful that your Mr. understands your talent and wants you to make things for him!

  13. OK, you convinced me. I just ordered 1.5 yards of the Cottage Rose. I seem to like anything with gray in it lately, and love the idea of a bit of spandex in the cotton knit.

  14. These look great!! The pocket & placket detail are especially nice! I’m taking a textile science class right now, and we just learned that pilling happens when synthetic fibers break- the ends roll around on themselves and form a ball. Natural fibers like cotton are weaker so when they break, they just fall off the garment. The exception to this is wool, which can pill like crazy, but that’s because the fiber is so scaly that it snags on itself and forms pills. Geeky but kinda fun to know!

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