Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Casual Doesn't Have to be Frumpy

Sometime ago a friend of mine told me that she doesn't like the regular, generic t-shirts because of the crew neckline. She likes a softer, more feminine, neckline. I, personally, like the longer t-shirts, but I have to admit that I'm not crazy about the crewneck, either. My "uniform" at Cajun Stitchery is a pair of blue jeans and a t-shirt with our logo embroidered on the left chest area. It is the ultimate in casual and after spending 35+ years in the professional work force, in law offices, and dressing in heels and suits everyday, I decided that my attire would be casual from here on out. Casual but not frumpy.  I've read and viewed projects for changing necklines with embroidery but those basically just add embroidery around the crewneck. It's beautiful, no doubt, much softer and more feminine than the stark crewneck, but still confining.

One of my favorite things to do is browse through all of our stock designs. The heirloom designs have always intrigued me. Some of them are necklines. I found a few necklines where the neck edge is satin stitches and thought that perhaps if I could embroider those necklines onto t-shirts and then just cut out the excess, maybe that would solve the problem. I tried one sometime ago and it did work. The problem was the small space between the shoulder seam and the beginning of the design, maybe an inch or two. I would have to finish those edges somehow. If I could get the design to start at the shoulder seam, that might work. I tried it. That doesn't work because the crew neck collar doesn't have the shoulder seam and the collar edges need to be finished. What I did was get as close as I could to the shoulder seams. Then I embroidered the new neckline with the satin stitched edges. Then I cut as close as possible to the satin stitches without cutting the stitches. The small area of rough edges above the embroidery is hand stitches into a rolled hem, or just folded back and stitched.

I changed the neckline on 3 of my old t-shirts.  I have pulled out a couple more old t-shirts that I want to try different designs, but the 3 that I've done have pleased me.  Yes, I've been wearing them in public.  What a great way to revitalize old t-shirts.  Now this is an environmentally friendly project.  Once you get the hang of it, it's simple to do.  You really don't even neeed to have the embroidery.  Simply take an old t-shirt, sew a straight stitch neck outline.  Cut the outline leaving enough fabric to turn under for a hem.  Hem around the neckline and you are done.  Some of the fancy stitches available on most sewing machine would finish the neckline hem beautifully.  Although I haven't done it, there's no reason to stop at the neckline.  What about a pretty, contoured edge on the bottom hem of the t-shirt or even on the edges of the sleeves?  Cut straight down the center front of the t-shirt, add a zipper, or whatever you like to finish the edges, and you have a light cover shirt/jacket.  You could even attach a collar and/or pockets.  For those cool fall evenings, use a long sleeve t-shirt.  There is no reason to throw out those old t-shirts that aren't stained or ripped.  Even then, with a little ingenuity, you could re-use them.  Put a pocket over a stain or mended rip, embellishments, appliques, etc.

One of my neighbors is in the Air Force.  Because my fabric tends to be very feminine, I asked him to give me his old uniforms, rather than tossing them out.  Oh my, he brought over a bunch.  Now I have the sand camoflage fabric.  I noticed that he left the stripes (patches) on the uniform.  I think that is because he is no longer that rank.  Anyway, I missed his birthday a few days ago and I needed a birthday present.  I also happened to be looking at the uniforms.  The rank insignia patch is the size of a cell phone holder.  He normally keeps his cell phone in his pocket and I've never seen him use a holder.  Well, long story short, I cut out 2 of his patches, sewed a clip that clips to your belt on the back of one patch.  I embroidered his name on the back of another patch and sewed the two patches together.  At the pointed tips of the patches, I sewed some Velcro.  He loved it.  I hope he was being honest.  I probably wouldn't do that one again, only because the patches are so thick and were hard to sew the edges on the sewing machine.  The outline design for that patch is one of my stock designs and I think would make some nice cell phone pouches for guys.

Again, this is the epidemy of environmentally friendly.

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