Shelley, our regular contributor from Down Under, is coming back today with another one of her fantastic creations. You might remember that a few months ago she shared her Metro T-shirt keyhole modification. Well today she is going to show us how she customized another Liesl + Co pattern, the Bento Tee. Take it away Shelley!
Hello Oliver + S readers and sewers. Happy New Year to you all from me. Today I’m going to show you how I solved a problem I hadn’t even realized I had (best kind of problem really, in life and in sewing!).
First up, a confession: I am a stripey top addict. I have many, but for a little while I had been dreaming of making a striped top that looked just like one I’d seen in the fashion pages of a French weekly magazine. It had dropped shoulder sleeves and the stripes changed direction at the shoulder/sleeve seam. I was about to start adapting the Weekend Getaway Blouse when the Bento Tee pattern was released. Perfect I thought to myself.
Only it’s not quite as easy as that. The short sleeve Bento works very well in a stripe. I was instantly in love with the blue/white striped version shown when the pattern was released. The sleeve cuff, as it’s turned up, has the stripes perpendicular to the body. I wanted just that look but with long sleeves.
Here are what the original pattern pieces of the Bento tee look like:
To make a long sleeved version work, we need to square off the top of the sleeve and transfer that part onto the body front and back sections.
Start by tracing all your pattern pieces in the appropriate size. Take the sleeve pattern piece and draw a horizontal line across the sleeve about an inch or so below the points where the sides meet the shoulder line.
Then fold the sleeve pattern piece in half.
Now, lay the folded sleeve pattern piece over the front body pattern piece with a ½” overlap. This is how it would be if it were sewn with a ¼” seam allowance.
You can see now where the new seam line will be. If it’s too close to the armpit, or too far down the sleeve then simply redraw the horizontal line in a new, more favorable position.
Once you’re happy with the position of the shoulder/sleeve seam, cut the folded sleeve along the horizontal line you’ve drawn.
Retrace the front pattern piece with the new extended shoulder line. Be sure to add 1/4” seam allowance, as shown, to where the sleeve will be attached.
Here’s where the Bento Tee pattern does hand us a gift. The front and back pattern pieces, with the exception of the neckline, are the same. So to alter the back pattern piece, simply lay the front pattern piece you just finished over the top. Match the shoulder notches and then retrace the back pattern piece using the newly adjusted shoulder line. You’ve already added the seam allowance, so that’s all you need to do for the back.
Finally, you needed to add 1/4” seam allowance to the sleeve pattern piece at its new horizontal shoulder seam.
Now you have your pattern pieces redrafted and ready to go for a perfect striped Breton style top. The construction will be exactly as per the instructions.
As for how to cut knit fabric with stripes? Well that could be a whole blog post or three on its own.
Some people ascribe to the method of laying the fabric flat and tracing around the pattern piece, flipping it on the fabric and then tracing the other side. Personally, I find that harder, as everything looks straight until you flip the pattern and realize it wasn’t.
Probably the best way, is to trace your pattern double so that you can cut it as a true single layer.
What I do is this (may not be recommended for everyone). Pour a glass of red wine, put something good on the TV and settle on the carpet (non slip) in front of the telly. I fold the fabric and then I pin stripes to stripes at very regular intervals until I’ve covered an area big enough for my pattern piece, which I then boldly cut on the fold.
Again, the beauty of the Bento Tee pattern is that symmetry of pattern pieces. If you cut the back pattern piece first, by whatever method works for you, then you can use the back pattern piece as a template to cut the front. Spreading the fabric single layer, lay the cut fabric back down and align it until the stripes match and the cut back piece almost disappears due to being camouflaged. Cut another back piece and then use the front pattern piece to trim the neckline to the correct shape.
The same camouflage cutting technique can be used to make sure your sleeves are identical.
So, if your style is more bouillabaisse than bento, you might like to show some solidarity with the French and get your stripes on too!
And if you’ve noticed the other modifications I made to this top, or if you’re wondering what I thought my blog post was going to be about before I discovered the sleeve stripe problem, or if you just like a bit of schadenfreude in your blog reading, come over to my blog where I reveal the parts that went horribly wrong!