Last summer, I made some t shirts from knit fabric which I had smocked, using Counterchange/North American smocking. I was very pleased with them, and wore them frequently. The best thing about them was that I was able to use up some of the very thin and clingy knits that I had bought over the internet, thinking they were more robust than was the case.
Due to overwhelming demand (well, one or two half hearted requests) I wrote a tutorial post for the smocking. This so exhausted my enthusiasm for counter change smocking that I left the smocked fabric I had made for the tutorial abandoned in my too hard pile instead of making the intended evening top to wear to a New Years Eve party.
I have a hectic social life, which mainly revolves around driving my daughters to their friends' houses. Nevertheless, I need an evening top by Saturday. My sparkly gold knit rayon with lycra knit from Gorgeous Fabrics seemed just the thing, particularly as I had already done half the work.
This time, I wanted the smocking to be on both the front and the back of the t shirt.
I had smocked further from the border of the fabric, so that I could use the unsmocked edge as a facing.
I draped the smocked edge around my dressform, and holding my breath, cut out an armhole at the right side, after pinning the pattern piece to the front for approximate placement (the pattern is t shirt 112 from Burda Style 08-2010).
I marked the shoulders with pins, then lay the fabric flat and cut out the side seams and left armscye following the pattern and my original cutting.
I then returned the pieces to the dressform, and hand sewed the left shoulder seam across the smocking whilst the pieces were draped on the dressform. I sewed the remainder of the shoulder seam by machine. I used the walking foot, 3 step zig-zag at 1.0mm width and length, and a size 60 stretch needle. Sewing this fabric was still rather difficult, due to its incredible stretchiness, and tissue-like thickness.
As the fabric is so thin, I had cut out another layer of the fabric for the fronts and backs, intending to use this as an underlayer, and to sew the facing to the underlayer to keep the neckline in place. However, once I had sewn in the sleeves (one is inside out and backwards - the price of mid-week evening sewing, but I am not unpicking this fabric!) and tried on the t shirt, it seemed that the incredible stretchiness had made the t shirt around 8 sizes larger than the last time I used this pattern. (I am very glad that I orginally intended this t shirt to have a very high neckline). This new oversized style removed a lot of the clingy potential about which I was concerned, so now I also have a stretchy gold singlet that might be the base for this years New Year party oufit as well as this winter evening top. There is nothing like planning ahead ;)
I tacked the facing at the necklines to the outer fabric at some of the gathering points at the smocking, so that it is not visible from the outside.
The back has a cowl effect that I quite like.
I finished the sleeve hems by hand, using catch-stitch, as I wanted a very narrow hem and did not trust this fabric under the coverstitch. I did not finish the hem at the body, as the top is almost dress length, but I will be wearing it tucked in. It is now an evening top with built in petticoat!