Today, you’re going to be getting a two for one deal! Last time you saw me, I was showing you how I dyed custom stretch minky fabric… this time I’m working with the other fabric base I got from Over the Selvage: Bamboo Lycra. First, let me talk about bamboo lycra. I love it, especially when it comes to custom fabrics. I find the cotton lycra to be a little stiff from most places and the bamboo helps give it that little bit more. More soft, more drapey, more luxurious. It might cost a little bit more, but when I buy custom I’m going for bamboo over cotton these days.
While I was waiting for these to come in, I started planning what I wanted to make. I have a secret Pinterest board for planning out ideas that I can’t share yet, and I was being drawn to a shorter bishop sleeve. I thought it could make this geo print look really beautiful draped along the sleeve, and then decided I wanted to try out a square neckline and see how it went. The other option was a keyhole with a high neck, but I don’t like actually wearing high neck tops.
There’s lots of patterns I could have used as a base for my hack, just from what I own I could have used any of these options:
5 Out Of 4 Jessie
A Sparkly Baby Ultimate Tee
Ellie and Mac Be Graceful
George and Ginger Drama
Love Notions Classic Tee
Love Notions Laundry Day Tee
Made for Mermaids Adeline
Made for Mermaids Ella
Made for Mermaids Joy
Mama Can Do It Priscilla
Patterns for Pirates Favorite Tee
Patterns for Pirates Hepburn
Petite Stitchery Sapphire
Rad Patterns CYOA Fitted Tee
Rad Patterns First Day Redux
So Sew English Seattle Tee
I settled on the Patterns for Pirates Hepburn. Mostly because I knew how it would fit, partly because it’s a dress without a waist seam which makes playing with the length easier. I also wanted a more fitted shirt to balance the sleeves, and it doesn’t take too much fabric. Now, let’s get on to the hacks!
Part 1: Change the Neckline.
One of the reasons that I chose the Hepburn as my base pattern is the starting neckline. It has a crew neckline, which means it is narrower than your usual scoop. I wanted to start there because I didn’t want my neckline very wide, I was afraid starting with a wider neckline would be harder. It’s always easier to take more off later, it’s very hard to add more.
Step 1: Measure how far down you want to move the neckline and draw a horizontal line across your pattern. I think I started with 2″, which doesn’t sound like much… but with a square neckline, you may run into more problems relating to bra coverage than a scoop, since it doesn’t curve in. In my final version I lowered it 3.25″. From the shoulder line this is a total of 6.25″ straight down.
Step 2: Draw a straight line from the top edge of the neckline straight down to your first line. Again, this changed for my final version: I ended up angling this line out towards the arm 1/2″. To do this, I started at the corner point between the two lines, measured out 1/2″ and then used my acrylic ruler to draw a straight line from point to point.
Step 3: Measure your neckline; from the center front point, up to the shoulder, and across and the back neckline that we haven’t touched. (Keep in mind that realistically you should be trueing the back and front patterns to each other, but it shouldn’t cause a massive issue for us here.) Take this measurement, remove the seam allowance (for me that’s 1″: two seams at 1/2″ each) and then double that since our pattern is on the fold. Write this down, trust me.
Step 4: Calculate your neckband. Most bands you’re going to calculate will be somewhere between 75-90%, depending on how tight you want the band to pull in. I didn’t want it to do much so that the shape would be kept, so I used 90%. You also need to decide what you want the finished height of your band to be to calculate the width. See calculation on the right.
(27.5 * .9) + 1 = 25.75
(.375 * 2) * 1 = 1.75
Now, let’s talk about the neckline and band for a minute. This is the easier way to do it, but there’s a more involved way you could choose if you’re feeling ambitious. It involves a double v neck, though, so if you don’t even want to think about it, skip to the next part!
I didn’t want to mess around with this and take extra time, but I think it could look really awesome. You’re going to do really similar measurements, but the band will actually be cut in two pieces. Start with the bottom horizontal line (double the measurement since the pattern is on the fold!) and then do the same calculations as above. Let’s say that measures 7.5 – your first band piece is actually going to be 7.75 (6.75 before seam allowances). Then, you need to repeat that for the rest of the neckline: 18.5 * .9 = 17.65. You will then use your typical V neck construction to sew the bands together, baste onto your neckline and insert. You could either overlap the bands or use the triangle method – it depends on how you want it to look. Tag me if you try this out!
Part 2: Bishop Sleeves
Step 1: Prep your pattern by taping together. I also straighten the side seams and for my final version shortened the 3/4 length by 2″. I straighten the side seams to add a little width and make it easier to spread.
Step 2: Cut strips 1″ apart through the entire sleeve, leaving a tiny bit attached at the top. I start at the center so that I have a center point to start with, you could also cut it so that the center piece is one solid inch.
Step 3: I like to use a large piece of paper for this, but you could just add scrap paper instead of tracing a new piece. Begin spreading the strips apart evenly, taping down as you go. You want everything to lay as flat as possible, there will be a point that is spread too far. It laid nicely for me by spreading 1.5″ per piece.
Step 4: Smooth everything out, making sure the bottom has a nice curved line. You’ll also want to add some height to the top center since spreading it apart loses some height. I did this by hand (and then decided I wanted a little more) but you could also print a new piece and use that as a guide.
Step 5: You need to create a band to gather the bottom into. Long bishop sleeves usually have a very tall band, but since this would sit just above the elbow I wanted something a little smaller. I decided to go with a finished height of 1″ (so my band should then be cut at 3″ width) and I measured my arm where it would sit and decided 10″ finished is what I wanted, so 11″ cut. You can use the same length calculation here to figure out a good starting point, if you want.
Once you’re sewing, you will need to gather the bottom curved edge to the size of your band and then attach it. There’s lots of methods out there and you can do it flat or in the round (band it and then sew up the sleeve, or sew them both and then attach the two circles).
I made a few other small changes to the pattern, that you may or may not need. I have narrow shoulders and decided after v1 that I would need to narrow them a little. You can see in the image above how my armscye changes to take off about 1/4″ at the shoulder. Also, the shirt itself was extended 3″ past the top length, making it longer, but the side seams stay the same. That’s it! It’s really not that hard, once you break it down.
It’s been a whirlwind few weeks, and we’re already in the midst of holiday craziness – plus Miss Sass turns 5 very soon – but I’m hoping to start working on some more interesting pieces and thinking about what the next year will bring. I know it’s going to be busy since we’ll be moving 1300+ miles and hopefully buying a house, and we’re homeschooling – but I’m looking forward to our life once everything settles. Do you have any major plans coming up this year? (I may have more things up my sleeve, but I’m not even giving hints, yet!)
Are you interested in seeing a price breakdown like Paulette started doing on Petite Font? I don’t usually figure it out, but sometimes it’s nice to see.
The pattern costs $9 if you get it at normal price, I did test this one, but since that’s more expensive than just buying it I’m going to add it into the price.
My test fabric is a rayon spandex purchased on sale from Sincerely Rylee last year, I got it for $3.50/y and this took me almost 2 yards, bring that to $7.
My final fabric was provided to me by OTS to sew up for promotion, but if you were to buy it on preorder pricing, it’s $24/y, bring that to $48.
The current NYS minimum wage is $11.10. I would say that pattern prep time all together was about 2 hours, bringing that to $22.20.
Finally, we need to figure out actual sewing time. This is a pretty straight forward sew for me, but gathering takes some time and is a pain, plus I made two shirts. I’ll add another 2 hours, for another $22.20
$9 + $7 + $48 + $22.20 + $22.20 = $108.40
Keep in mind, that’s only charging for the bare minimum supplies. I didn’t include needles, thread, electric, maintenance for my machines, paper and ink, etc. I also only paid myself a minimum wage.
This shirt isn’t available to anyone else, and it is custom fitted to my body. The closest you can get to finding something like that to buy is to go to high end stores, so I went looking for similar items from designer labels. I found a range between $295 to $350 to $450 and up. So while sewing may not be as cheap as Walmart… I think I’m doing better than those prices.