A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Plantain Reboot

Last weekend I downloaded the update of the free Plantain t-shirt pattern.  I've made the pattern a few times before, but I'm up a couple sizes since then, so I decided to use the new pattern and refit it from scratch.

I started with a size 42 shoulder for my 38" high bust, and then used this method from Maria Denmark to do a dartless FBA.  Usually on knit tees, I do a "cheater" FBA where I just extend the bottom of the armscye out to the size I want.  This works pretty well, but not perfectly, so I wanted to try something else.

Maria's method is to pivot the pattern piece from the outer shoulder and swing out towards the side seam for the amount of space you want to add in the bust.  There is another step at the end that you must take if you don't want to add extra width all the way down.  I did need the extra width since my bust (42"), waist and hip measure a size 48, so I skipped that step and traced the side seam at the "swung-out position."  I added 1.5" to the side seam of the front piece at the bottom of the armscye.  I cut a size 42 shoulder for the back piece, grading to size 48 at the waist and hip.  I also did a 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment and used the size 42 sleeve, but added about 1/4" to the upper sleeve.

I made the first shirt out of a cotton/lycra jersey from my stash.  It was too wide in the shoulder and  too big from the bust down, but the sleeves were a bit tight.  I ended up taking in the side seams 5/8" on each side, ending at the sleeve/armscye join.  The fit is ok in the front, but the back is a hot mess.

I made some changes to the pattern before I sewed the second one.  I kept the 42 shoulder, but I narrowed it on the outer edge 1/2" on both front and back pieces, tapering to nothing a couple inches down the armscye.  My back pattern piece was between a 40 and a 42 at the bottom of the armscye, grains out to a little beyond the 44 at the hem.  I also added about an inch in length to the back piece. My front piece is now about 3/4" wider at the bottom of the armscye, than the size 42, swinging out to about 2" wider at the hem.  I also widened the top half of the sleeve to about the width of the 48 at the widest point.  The fit still isn't perfect around the shoulder and armpit (this is an area that I haven't quite figured out how to properly fit on myself in a close-fitting knit shirt), but I really like the resulting shirt.

The second shirt fabric is a lovely rayon/lycra jersey from my stash (originally from Fabric Mart).  It was a pre-cut bought on major sale last year, and it has a really nice weight to it; not flimsy like a lot of rayon jerseys.

For my third Plantain, I scooped out the armscye a little more.  It wasn't enough to get rid of the excess fabric I had there.  (Learning from my previous mistakes of not keeping adequate notes on patterns I sew, I scooped out the pattern piece a bit more so that it will be ready the next time I make this pattern.)  I also lengthened this one 1/2" so that I could hem it, but then I ended up not hemming it.  

The fabric on the third one is a rayon/lycra Jersey from the stash, also a pre-cut bought from Fabric Mart last year.

I made the tees at night and in the dark and in the mirror, they looked fine.  I have no idea what is going on with the twisty sleeve seams on the last tee; I can only assume that the sleeves are still too tight even with all my adjustments and that they got stuck that way when I put this top on for the pictures. As I was studying these photos, it occurred to me that the sleeve for the Renfrew top fits me much better than this sleeve; maybe next time I'll use that sleeve instead.  

I like the second tee the best although I think the third actually fits better - but this is definitely down to fabric choice.  The heavier, dark bird-print jersey doesn't reveal my back lumps the way the thin lavender jersey does, and then of course there's the wonky sleeve.

This is also the first time I've ever made a Plantain in a cotton/lycra blend, and I won't be doing that again - the shape of the front shirt needs a drapier fabric to avoid the tented maternity look.

I'll be back in a couple of days with a round-up of my January sewing and fabric purchasing (eek).  Thanks for reading, and see you soon!


  1. I've only sewn a handful of things with knits, but I find them incredibly frustrating to work with. Each fabric is totally different, and patterns handle completely differently with different fabric content. And price is not necessarily an indication of quality (although often it is). I've not really found a knit pattern that I want to sew again, and I've not found knit fabric that I care to wear, really. I have a few lengths in my stash that I suppose I'll give another go at some point, but I'm so off knits right now.

    I'm glad you're having a fine time with them! I think the shirts look okay (the middle one is the best, in my opinion). Looking forward to reading your monthly round up!

  2. These are awesome!!! Now I can't wait to see a Plaintain/Renfrew hack!


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