Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pattern Transformation: Tee Shirt to Sweatshirt to Sleepshirt

Lately I've had a hankering for some new cardigan sweaters out of fleece or velour. As I mentioned before, I'm too cheap to pay for a new sewing pattern when I have already-fitted patterns that can be altered for style. That's why I pulled out Kwiksew 2900, a basic tee-shirt pattern that works well for not-too-stretchy knits. I've altered this pattern to fit and used it a dozen times or more.

My first attempt at a cardigan was quite unsuccessful, so I decided to handle the alteration in two steps. First, I selected one size larger than what I normally use. The bigger armhole and sleeve are necessary for a cardigan to fit smoothly over another garment. However, this produced a too-wide neckline and a too wide shoulder, and the test garment (a simple sweatshirt too unsuccessful to photograph) pulled up in the front.

To fix these problems, I recut the larger pattern using the smaller neckline front and back. I made the shoulders an inch narrower, and I made a full-bust adjustment on the front. The test tee shirt's finished bust measurement was plenty large enough for my measurement, but I've learned that adding a full-bust adjustment to a pattern often fixes the "pulling up in the front" problem. This knowledge took dozens of patterns, yards of fabric, and many hours of frustration to obtain--I give it to you here for free. Here are some good descriptions of the full bust adjustment, also free:

My second and third test garments fit much better. I made one out of an extra-stretchy fleece remnant, and one out of an unstretchy printed cotton jersey. Both fabrics produced well-fitting garments.

While I was at it, I decided to try the new pattern as a nightgown. I extended the length and width of the pattern pieces as described in my "shirt to nightshirt" pattern transformation. It's shown here made from a wicking knit remnant, producing a very warm winter nightie, suitably loose-fitting for comfort. I'll probably use cotton jersey, cut it considerably shorter, and make short sleeves for other seasons.

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