top-halfs wardrobe

Vanessa Pouzet – Wanted Shirt

The Pattern: Wanted by Vanessa Pouzet
The Fabric: 100% cotton jersey by Ralph Lauren from Mill End
The Size: 32 at bust graded to 34 at hips
Alterations: Post-pattern cutting, added two 5.5 cm panel to the width of bodice

I found this fabric at Mill End in Portland, which should come as no surprise to you long-time readers, as a single yard, end-of-the-bolt for $10. It’s 100% cotton, which means that there’s no elastane or synthetic to give it the kind of stretch (and likely recovery) that you’d expect out of a jersey knit. However, it also gives the fabric a structural quality, which I thought would work perfectly for a fitted shirt so as to hide whatever self-perceived lumps or bumps I might imagine on any given day.

I measured as a size 32 bust to 34 waist/hips, so I graded the pattern accordingly. But by the time I had sewn the shoulder seams and attached the sleeves, I realized I had made a major mistake in sizing.

You see, this pattern is in French, and I speak enough French to order in restaurants, haggle at fleamarkets, and occasionally have fun constructing nonsensical sentences. I definitely don’t speak enough French to read sewing instructions, but I figured it’d be okay to fly somewhat blind with my co-pilot of cumulative prior sewing experiences. Especially on something as simple as a t-shirt.

And I figured wrong. Because while I might say my prior cumulative sewing experience is pretty long and deep, my sewing-with-knits experience is the shallowest, saddest kiddie pool you have ever seen. And it has a hole at the bottom. This top is actually only the third knit garment I have ever made in my life.

The most consequential thing I ignored to research is the required stretch percentage, and, of course, the fact that a fitted knit shirt would include negative ease instead of positive. Stretched as far as possible, I could barely pin it above my upper bust and I know that even if it miraculously fit around my torso down the entire length, I would still have an issue getting it on. Fortunately, the sleeves fit perfectly around my arms and needed no alterations. I had to put the shirt in timeout at that point, and I spent the night, half-asleep*, wondering what I could possibly do to save this garment.

*Clearly, I have very important things to lose sleep over.

I landed on a panel that runs the entire length of the side into a small underarm gusset. For the gusset, I winged an arbritary triangular shape, and I got extremely lucky, because the angle I chose to taper off at actually lined up nearly perfectly for the gusset stripes to match those in the sleeves.

Friends, can I share something with you? I haven’t had a sewing high for a very, very long time. Sewing brings me joy, yes. I love a lot of things about it; the technical aspects, the feel of the various textures, the hum of my whirring Bernina. It brings me into a creative zone I can rarely achieve otherwise. And I get highs off of the results of my sewing, from compliments, from feeling proud of the fact that I make my own garments, from my ability to manifest my dreams into reality. But, I thought I could safely say my honeymoon phase with sewing ended somewhere in 2007. Sad, right? I don’t actually remember the last time I felt a real high from the act of sewing itself. And this moment in making this shirt, with the gussets and the panels and the stripes all lining up on a shirt that I winged and nearly banished to the eternal WIP pile… this moment in my act of sewing gave me a happiness high. You guys. It’s so good to be home.

Fortunately, even beyond the pattern-matching-happy-chemicals, I was able to salvage the shirt. There are a couple problem areas, like you can see that it’s a little tight in the shoulders, which pulls and gapes at the side neckline. So in addition to making this shirt in a jersey with more stretch, I’d also likely size up in the future. I do, however, really like how this top feels in a thicker knit and would likely use a lighter-weight ponte or similar. And I can imagine it being easily adapted into a body suit or even a fitted dress a la Sweet Shard.

The instructions call for you to finish the neckline right after the shoulders, but I held off until the top was fully constructed so that I could gauge where it fell in terms of cleavage level. It turns out that wasn’t actually necessary, because the neckline is less a binding and more a wide band and covers much more than the bodice alone does. With that said, since I left finishing the neckline until the end, it stretched out a smidge and I had to redraft the length of the neckband.

I did a little crazy thing in the construction and flat-felled every seam with a narrow zig-zag stitch. I know it’s unconventional to do this with knits, but my obsessive brain wouldn’t let me move forward without it. And, perhaps because it’s such a stable knit, the flat-felling worked just fine.

I left the bottom hem and sleeves unfinished, though I may end up going back to finish it at a later date.

This was also the first time I had encountered a PDF that required no trimming of the edges before taping together. At first I was skeptical; my printer is the cheapest print/scan combo printer I could find on Amazon by a brand I trust, and I have no idea about it’s paper feed accuracy. But it turned out just fine, saving me a half hour with my cutting mat.

From what I was told via IG Stories, this is a pretty common practice in France, and the response is mixed; some people love it and some people hate it. Personally, while I can imagine something going truly wrong with this method, I think I’ll continue to love it until something actually does.

One thing to note, though. This pattern only comes in A4 paper formatting, and since there is no trimming of edges, you actually do need legit A4 paper. While many printers and processors in the US can handle A4, the paper itself is something you’d have to source.

I’m super happy with this top, and, actually, so is John. While he rarely gives me negative reviews on the clothes I make, he does always give his honest and thoughtful opinion. And, surprisingly, what he loves about this top is it’s nautical nature. In fact, he insisted I wear cropped pants in the photos in front of the Kinderdijk Windmills, “like a sailor”, rather than a high waisted gathered skirt a la the sample photos. He’s now egging me on the make some True Bias Lander pants in navy to wear paired with this top. John, I might just make your dreams come true.

By the way, John and I took a road trip through the Netherlands last week, which is where we are in these photos. You may not be able to see it in these photos, but that may be the most baseline windy place I’ve ever been! Apparently Windmills need wind to keep spinning! Who knew? 😉 Anyway, I’m excited to put together a round-up post of Me Made Netherlands in the coming days <3

I hope everyone’s week have been fantastic so far! xxoo


7 Comment

  1. OMG you are killing me with that perfect strip matching in your self-drafted gusset! Wow. You nailed it with this make, very flattering, congrats.

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