Once upon a time, I used to be really into high fashion. I adored it. Every season I collected the magazines with runway reports (yes, I was in high school around this time, pre-worldwideweb), cut them up to create mood-boards and collages and then tried to hack those looks in cheap stores or behind my sewing machine. Years passed and with all available fast fashion, presenting the newest trends even before photos of the runway reached me, this urge to get inspired by high fashion slowly but completely died away. However, after starting to sew for my kids, I now increasingly sew for myself again. And though I feel no need to copy high fashion, I am regaining my pleasure in getting inspiration from it.
So, after diving into photos of the latest Fashion Weeks, I decided to try to recreate my own subtle impression of one of the more wearable trends: geometric motifs. Check out this runway report by Harpers Bazaar if you'd like to see for yourself: many bold and bright squares, chevrons, triangles and more. All over geo figures would be a bit too much for me, but I did want to do something with it and decided to sew myself a Union St Tee, to decorate with some subtle painted squares.
Union St Tee
Since most of the knit in my stash is in a dark colour, I decided to use an old light blue shirt of my husband's to upcycle into a Union St Tee. After all, what's the use of painting if your fabric is too dark to notice the print anyway? Bonus was that this made the sewing REALLY fast, since I was able to use the existing neckline, hemline, sleeve hem and even the shoulder seams.
I cut up the side seams and underarm seams, then folded the shirt in half lengthwise, placed the Union St Tee pattern pieces on top of it, with the shoulder seam of the pattern a bit above the shoulder seam of the cut up shirt, to account for the seam allowance, and cut the front bodice. I repeated the same method for the back bodice and then already had a poncho-like t-shirt shape. All I had to do then was cut and sew the sleeves, close the new side and underarm seams and securely finish the end of the seams, since I used the existing hemming. Usually, you'll hem after sewing the seams, thus creating a perfect neat and lasting finish.
However, when you re-purpose an existing hemline, the hem is already done when you get to sewing the seam, leaving some not very polished raw edges at the bottom, that easily get undone. So I first threaded the chain of my serger thread that was still hanging at those ends through a large needle and pulled them through the seam allowance. After that, I stitched half an inch of the seam allowance down, to prevent it from getting undone in washing. Anyway, this was just about as fast as driving to a store to buy a shirt and way cheaper.
The fit is lovely around my body, not too tight, not too loose, and I'm looking forward to sewing another one with the lovely deep neckline that comes with the pattern.
How to add geometric shapes to the shirt.
Then the fun part: painting! I love using textile paint on projects, often with freezer paper stencils. However, for these basic geometric shapes, I didn't even need a real template, I just used painter's tape. It did require some precision, and it worked out wonderfully.
- A garment to paint on. Make sure it is pre-washed, otherwise the textile paint might not last well.
- Textile paint. Check the instructions on your particular brand to see how you should fixate your paint when you're done.
- Painter's tape.
- Paint brush.
1. Place a piece of cardboard or plastic between the layers of fabric, to prevent the paint from going through to the next layer.
2. Using the tape, mark the large square. The inside of this square should be really neat, without waves, pleats or anything.
3. Using the tape, make a small square inside the large one. On this one, the outside of the square should be really neat, so use scissors to cut the tape, instead of just tearing it off.
4. Using as little paint as possible, paint between the two shapes. If you use too much paint, it could bleed under the tape. If the colour is too light to your liking, apply an extra layer of paint after the first one has dried instead of using too much paint in one round.
5. As soon as you're happy with the colour, carefully peel off the tape.
6. Let the paint dry completely and repeat the process for more shapes. If your shapes don't overlap (or don't all overlap) you can do more at once of course.
7. After you're done painting, set the paint according to the instructions on your brand of paint. For me, this means ironing it for a while.
Of course the sky is the limit with these ideas, you could make very nice chevrons or stripes as well, using tape as a template. I'd love to see what you come up with, let me know here in the comments or via social media! Besides on my blog, you can find me at my Facebook page, on Instagram and Twitter. Go get the Union St Tee pattern now and be sure to tag @UpCraftClub on Instagram to show us your creations.