In early September, one of our local sewing machine dealers had a two-day event with Pamela Leggett, creator of Pamela’s Patterns.
Day one, part one was an overview of her background (which was extremely interesting) and discussion of techniques to improve sewing skills. Description: Are you ready to make the perfect garment? The difference between “just OK” and “fabulous” are often simple techniques in stitching, pressing and notions. This class will show you many unique was to make your garments look professional.
Some of these tips are in her Craftsy class, Fashion Sewing and Serging Techniques. She is an excellent instructor and I highly recommend the Craftsy class. (Craftsy classes are also available on bluprint.com, which is a streaming site with a monthly subscription fee).
Day one, part two was about upcycling oversized t-shirts, ill-fitting sweaters, polo shirts, etc and re-making them to fit. Description from her website: Do you have collections of those oversized T-shirts from vacations, school activities, concerts, etc? Thanks to Pamela’s Patterns, you can take those big T-shirts and turn them into fitted and stylish tops you’ll be proud to wear anywhere! The technique is simple and fast. In no time you could have a whole new wardrobe of cute tops.
Pamela has a pattern for the upcycling with instructions for the process. She showed us a variety of logo t-shirts that she downsized to fit, along with some very cool sweaters and cardigans. These garments came from discount or thrift stores, in large sizes so she could customize them. Her advice was to look at these garments as fabric. She has a pattern that is drafted specifically for the makeover process.
At the end of Day 1, Pamela measured everyone who was attending Day 2 (The Perfect T-shirt) so we could get started right away with pattern adjustments and cutting fabric.
Pamela also has a number of You-Tube videos for her patterns.
Day 2 was Pamela’s Perfect T-Shirt class. Description: A T-Shirt can be more than a comfy top you throw on to do housework. A nice-fitting T-shirt can be the most versatile top in your wardrobe. This selection from Pamela’s Patterns addresses all the fitting issues women face (rounded shoulders and back, full bust, hip room, etc.), and gives you a T-shirt you’ll be proud to wear anywhere! Make it casual, dressy, or anything in-between.
Pamela also includes a darted front pattern piece (to be used for a C cup or higher), along with a non-darted front (A & B cup users).
I have made this ‘T-Shirt’ a few times, so I wore one of them to the first day of class. Based on the t-shirt I wore, Pamela had suggestions for alterations I needed to make to the pattern. And since I had already made this I wanted to use a different pattern. One of the good things about her pattern line is all the garments are for knits. And the changes you make to one top or dress pattern, would be made to all the patterns. Necklines and sleeves are also interchangeable, so if you have a few patterns, you can make a variety of garments pretty quickly. This is, of course, unless you are like me and make everything more complicated than it needs to be. (You will see that next).
I decided to make the “Pleated Back Flowy Tee”.
We adjusted the pattern (reduced the shoulder length, and the width across the upper front and I used the darted front). That was it!
Pamela spent time in the class evaluating everyone’s fabric to make sure it was suitable (and worth your time to make the top). “Suitable” fabric is good quality, has good recovery & drapes well. The recovery property is key. A few people brought unsuitable fabric, so were able to purchase fabric from her.
I chose an ITY knit I purchased from FabricMart fabrics about a year ago. It has a striped effect, and I wanted the stripes vertical, so I needed to cut the pattern out on the cross-grain. The colors are black, beige and purple. IRL, the purple is darker – more like a burgundy-purple (I call that raisin) and the portion that looks white is really a beige. But you can see the stripe effect in the photo.
The front of the T-Shirt:
And here is where it gets complicated. I was placing the upper back pattern piece on the fabric when I realized I would need to MATCH STRIPES! You see, there is a horizontal seam in the back that creates the “flowy back”. And it is curved.
Oh my…so I looked around the room and found someone who had black fabric. She graciously gave me her leftover piece. I decided to cut a strip for the back as a separation so stripes would not have to be matched. Since the seam was curved, the piece I added needed to be curved. I cut a piece of black that was 3 1/2 inches high and the length of the seam. That allowed for seam allowances to sew the strip to the upper and lower back pieces and have the small separation. I then adjusted the upper and lower back fabric pieces to accommodate the strip. I also cut a strip of the black so I could use black to bind the neckline.
All those changes added enough time to my work that I did not finish the top in class. My final changes were to remove 2 inches from the shirt length, and 3 inches from the sleeve length. With my busy fabric print, you can’t see the pleat in the lower back, but it lays nicely. Pamela wore this top in a solid color sweater knit in class, and it looked nice in that fabric as well.
Several people did finish their “Perfect T-Shirt” in class and all of them looked wonderful. And they all fit very well too. Everyone was very happy with their creations.
Throughout the day, Pamela demonstrated a variety of techniques mentioned in the pattern, to ensure everyone understood them and could try them. The class was paced perfectly and Pamela is a patient instructor.
On to the next project – a woven blouse is in process.