This is my Christmas outfit. And my little photobomber. We were quite casual around here today. Hello wrinkled shorts. :-) What's all that green stuff, I hear you northerners asking. Why, that's grass and tropical plants. Hee hee. No White Christmas here. But then I'm guessing you also weren't dripping sweat as you pulled the Christmas ham from the oven. ;-)
This is the fit of the Tonic, pretty much out of the "envelope" ... (pssst ... there's not really an envelope since it's a downloadable PDF). After deciding on size (more on that below), the only change that I made, and kept, was my square shoulder adjustment which I made before cutting the pattern. I also added 2 inches to the bottom length and 1 inch to the sleeve hem on paper, and then ended up cutting both off in the fabric after sewing the sideseams and trying on the tee. So, while at 5'5" I'm not technically a true petite, I am a petite in the chest, shoulders, and armholes. Something I've known and usually have to adjust for in other patterns. Armholes are ALWAYS too low on me as drafted, but not this one! How nice. Also, no FBA was done or needed.
The photobomber strikes again.
The sewing instructions are simple/easy but really good and very nicely illustrated. Some PR reviewers commented that there is no instruction to stabilize the shoulder seams, but this is NOT a teach-you-to-sew pattern so I'm OK with that. Besides, I don't stabilize every shoulder seam I sew anyway. It depends on the fabric. (I did use Design Plus on these shoulders.)
(Mini rant ahead.) I'm of the opinion that you if you're serious about your sewing projects, you should be serious about educating yourself. In other words, reference books either purchased or borrowed from the library, videos, classes, sewing friends with a little more experience, and even free blogs and YouTube. Yes, it's nice when you learn something new from a pattern or blog but I don't expect to learn it all from one place at one time and I always give myself permission to use a different method than a pattern instructs if I know what works better for me or something just isn't making sense. Just jumping in as a newb to start is great, but after dipping your toe, knowledge is power. I feel empowered and much more confident when I've equipped myself with information before I start a project.
So, back to the pattern. The only quibbles I have is with the print-out of the pattern. I'm really glad I read the PR reviews first, because I probably would not have caught that the individual sheets are to be butted up against each other instead of overlapped as with most other PDF patterns. But since most home printers don't print to the absolute edge of the page, some of the pattern lines go missing. On this simple (and FREE) tee, it didn't bother me at all. But I'm not sure if I would feel quite the same on a more detailed pattern. I think it really would depend on how the layout landed on the page tiles. But on the other hand, I LOVED not trimming the pages and overlapping before taping. This pattern printed in 16 pages and I had it off my printer and taped in 30 minutes or less.
Once I had it taped together, I got out my TNT Ottobre tee, which has been my Holy Grail of tees and tee morphs for years now. My Ottobre is NOT from a straight tracing out of the magazine. The pattern was a good foundation but there was also some finessing to get it to Holy Grail status. So, to see how similar the Tonic was hot off the printer was a very nice surprise. And a little bit of a shock. ;-)
I traced a straight XL (from the Curvy Chick side of the size range) for the front. For the back, I blended from XL at neck/shoulder/armhole to XL + 1/2" at the hips. The 1/2" is pretty much right in the middle of the XL and 1X, and was where my TNT "told" me to blend. The waist shaping of the Tonic lined up well with my Ottobre, which told me the SBCC petite body length would work for me. As I mentioned above, I added 2" to the bottom which I ended up cutting off. But I always cut my tees too long because
Overall verdict: Winner winner chicken dinner! It fits great out of the envelope, nice instructions, and it was free!! What more could you ask for? Oh, the link, you say? Well, here it is again: SBCC Tonic Tee
Before I sign off for some sleep before starting my woooSEWCATIONwooo tomorrow, here are a couple of tips for sewing the neckband of this tee (and others, as applicable):
The pattern comes with a piece for the neckband, to be folded in half WS together and pressed flat. It is intentionally longer than the actual neck hole. You are instructed to leave one shoulder seam open so you can apply the neckband in the flat. (I don't mind the minimal extra bulk at the last-sewn shoulder seam. I do this all the time when using my CS binder.) You are also instructed to gently stretch the neckband around the tighter curves of the neck opening. This is all well and fine. But what if you don't know how your neckband fabric is going to behave?
Well, get out the pins!
Put the tee on your sewing table, not your lap, so you can work flat and eliminate fabric dragging down with gravity. Leave a little "grabber" end and then start with one pin at the open front shoulder. (If you leave the right shoulder open, when you sew on the neckband you'll be sewing the already-sewn/serged left shoulder seam allowance to the back naturally as you go over it, instead of trying to wrestle that seam allowance and the neckband at the same time.) Then work your way around the neck opening 1-2" at a time, gently stretching the neckband as you go. Don't stretch enough to create actual gathers and curls in the tee fabric, but only enough to create gentle waves.
Now here is the scandalous part. Leave the pins in and SEW OVER THEM. Sew from the top so you can see the neckband and keep your stitching even on it so you'll end up with an even band, and just sew S-L-O-W-L-Y and steady, leaving the needle down if you need to adjust as you go. I guarantee that as long as you are sewing slowly and steadily, your needle will not hit a pin and instead it will work its way around a pin to find the fabric, just like it's actually engineered to do. You only break needles when sewing over pins at Danica Patrick speed.
Below, you can see the backside with my stitching ... and the pins still in place. I practice what I preach. ;-) Most of the time I don't use this many pins but the print is a poly knit and the neck band is rayon/Lycra and they just weren't behaving nicely together. It's a lot faster to just pin the suckers down than to fight with them on the sewing machine, so sometimes I do actually use a crap-ton of pins. As with most everything in sewing, it just depends.
Another tip ... leave the tails at the beginning and end until you've sewn the second shoulder seam. It will give you something to hold onto when starting or ending the seam.
Final tip of the night ... press the seam allowances to the tee with steam and then lay your clapper on the front neckband until it cools to create a shape memory in the fabric (before topstitching or edgestitching). If you don 't have a clapper, something heavy but porous over a press cloth works too. It has to be porous so it can absorb the steam/moisture.
And, t-t-t-t-hat's all folks. Good night!