Shirred T’Shirt Tunic

I love to be inspired by ready-to-wear.  This shirred top ‘spoke’ to me enough to purchase it down in Houston last fall.  It is commercial chain looper shirring up the center, through v neckline to the shoulder, and up the sides.  3 rows in each location, then seamed wrong sides together at center front and center back and side seams.  That’s IT!

Aqua Knit Shirred Top

Since one of my episodes for Series 900 on It’s Sew Easy TV (PBS Series)  was on shirring, I thought it would be a great idea to ‘whip up a copy’ to wear for the taping.  However, this design was sleeveless, and most of us don’t want to expose our arms on TV (can’t understand why the big networks keep putting their gals in sleeveless either!)  Though I got my version cut out, I hadn’t completely decided how I’d adapt it to a raglan sleeve style…so on the table it stayed until this Valentine’s Day afternoon when it became something far different than I had ever imagined!  However, this is exactly the kind of creative sewing I love.    Here’s how I started out with adapting a simple raglan peasant top pattern.  Note I cut the center front down into a V-Neckline.

Slashing pattern to yield shirring length needed.

I set 3 rows of shirring with Elastic Thread in the Bobbin Technique  at the following locations as I taught in my recent ‘More Elastic Thread Shirring’    and my initial post:  Londa’s Hints for Shirring with Elastic Thread.  

* Up each center front, starting 1/2″ from cut edge, then spaced by running the side of the presser foot along the last row stitched.  Go all the way to the raglan front sleeve seam.

*  Up each center back in the same manner as the front.

* Starting at the notch on the raglan seam on the fronts and backs in the same manner as the center seams.

* From that notch level straight up the center of the sleeve and on either side a foot width away.

Three rows all around the neckline upper edge, top of sleeves – continuous from center front, around to center front.

* I also initially shirred up the sides as well – but ultimately removed that for my final garment rendition.

setting shirring rows - 3 per side of center front and back. Stitch WRONG sides together.

Setting shirring rows – 3 per side of center front and back. Stitch WRONG sides together, front to back at centers AND raglan seams after shirring.

After stitching the sleeves in and up the underarm ad side seams, I had the following garment…. Obviously, my shirring had shirred more than on the aqua garment.  I know from my experimentation that I’d have duplicated the aqua garment more closely if I’d used Dritz Elastic Thread because it is thinner and doesn’t shirr as much.  Also, if i had used the regular presser  foot (instead of the embroidery foot) and a shorter stitch length – these two techniques would also have reduced the shirring. This mannequin is far narrower shouldered than me, and kind of off my shoulders it looked pretty good at the top – just not the bottom…..So, what to do?

This is the top I came up with to begin with...NOT tight enough, and TOO shirred.

This is the top I came up with to begin with…NOT tight enough, and TOO shirred.

My thoughts then turned to my  whole ‘T-Shirt Re’Birth’ idea as I’ve developed and continue to work on as I’m soon to teach on the  Sew Fun Cruise to the Caribbean.   Lucky Day – in my stash I had a perfect Russell (80 poly 20 cotton) Tee.  Here’s what I thought I could do – using just the very top of this creation and the T bottom half for the bottom of a tunic top….

T-shirt bottom for the my tunic bottom ...

T-shirt bottom for the my tunic bottom …

Taking a deep breath, and cutting LONGER than I thought I would want it (just in case), I cut off the bottom of my top.

Cutting off the bottom...leaving more length to the top than I thought I might want...

Cutting off the bottom…leaving more length to the top than I thought I might want.

 

At this point, it was easy to see that I needed to remove the side seam shirring on both the front and the back.  That led to cutting off even some more length from the bottom of the top.

IMG_8705

Extra lower half width could come from the sleeves, so I cut them out and started playing.  Initially, I thought a curved shape inserted into the side seams as a godet would work, but …. it didn’t.  Then I cut them with an angle as shown below.

Cut sleeve at an angle from underarm to top.

Cut sleeve at an angle from underarm to top.

Seaming and serving the angled edge, then roll hemming prepared the sleeves to become godets in the side seams when opened up to fit.    See them installed below.  I had the angled seam on the ‘outside’, but used conventional seaming for inserting the godets.  Caarefully matching the hemlines of the T and the Sleeves created a pre-finished hemline.

 

Side seams with inserted godets.

Side seams with inserted godets.

Bottom 't' portion lapped over top so 't' cross-grain edge will roll to the outside for a 'finish'. Read below regarding casing.

Bottom ‘t’ portion lapped over top so ‘t’ cross-grain edge will roll to the outside for a ‘finish’. Read below regarding casing.

After stitching uppermost rose about 3/8″ from the T’ edge, lay 1/4″ elastic down to determine where to move the needle position (to the right of center) for stitching a perfect width casing.  Stitch leaving an unstitched area at the center front.  Using a safety pin, insert elastic into casing.  Fit, adjust, then close lowermost stitching at the center front.  Steam the edge to assure the knit ‘T’ edge rolls.

Lettuce Edging was done with a 2 thread served edge, short stitch length and differential feed at the highest, PLUS stretching the edge front and back at the serger.  This edging was worked at the lowermost sleeve edges and the neckline edge.

Finished Tunic Top.

Finished Tunic Top.

 

 

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