“I make things with my bear hands” Emmeline Tee

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When I drew my friend Jen in our work secret Santa draw my immediate reaction was “YEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSS”.  Jen is a fellow crafter and my initial thought was that she would be easy to buy a gift for.  But then when I thought about it I realised I wanted to make sure I did something really good.  I knew she would be more than happy if I just bought her some fabric, but at the end of the day that wouldn’t require much effort and she can buy herself fabric anytime.  So I started thinking of what else I could do.  Jen is known as ‘Bear’.  I remembered a t-shirt I had seen in Asda ages ago that had a bear on it holding tools and it read ‘I fix things with my bear hands’.  And it got me thinking whether I could make her a similar t-shirt, but craft themed to read ‘I make things with my bear hands’ instead.  Of course I decided that I couldn’t just buy a plain t-shirt to print on, but instead needed to make one from scratch.

I love The Little Tailoress blog (http://sewinglondon.co.uk/) and had been looking for an excuse to purchase the Emmeline Tee pattern (http://sewinglondon.co.uk/emmeline-tee/) for some time, but had been trying to resist as I have so many sewing patterns that I have yet to do anything with.  But I felt making a t-shirt for Jen gave me the perfect excuse to add this pattern to my collection.

I purchased the PDF version of the pattern.  PDF patterns can be a faff to stick together, but then so is tracing a paper pattern, which I try to make myself do so I always have the original to go back to.   I do quite like PDF patterns for the reason that you always have a permanent copy that you can print as many times as you like.  So if you need a different size, ruin a copy, or want to make any modifications you can just print another copy.  Plus, in printing on paper your pattern is more robust than tracing paper.

The Emmeline Tee pattern includes 3 versions all of which can be made in woven or knit fabrics, detailed instructions for which are included.  I decided to make version 3 using a grey marl t-shirt jersey I picked up from Lili Fabrics (http://www.lilifabrics.com/) stand at the Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts show at the NEC, Birmingham in November.

Version 3 of the pattern only has 3 pattern pieces (front, back, and neckband).  So it was super quick to cut out the fabric.  I cut out a size S for Jen, but to the largest size on the hem to give a tiny bit of extra length in the body.  When I come to make myself an Emmeline Tee I think I would want a bit more length in the body so will have to lengthen the pattern.

Following the instructions I started by overlocking all the raw edges of my pattern pieces.  Then it was just a case of sewing up the side seams, attaching the neckband and finishing the hems and edges using a twin needle.  The pattern is so clear and straightforward that it makes up in next to no time.

I enlisted the help of my husband Steve for the design to go on the front as he is very good at graphical stuff and design.  So I told him what I wanted and he put it together for me.

Once the t-shirt was made up, next thing I had to try and figure out was how to get it printed.  I did quite a lot of research into the various methods of printing.  The cheapest is to buy an iron-on transfer.  There are many websites that allow you to upload your own design and they will post you the transfer for you to iron onto your t-shirt yourself at home.  However, I read that iron-on transfers aren’t really made to last and can perhaps only withstand 4-5 washes.  I wanted Jen’s t-shirt to be more durable than this so I looked into other options.  I decided that what I wanted was direct to garment printing so set about trying to find somewhere that would be willing to print on my own t-shirt rather than one of theirs.  Fortunately I found ExampleUK http://www.exampleuk.com/ who happen to be based just a couple of miles away from where I live.  They were more than happy to do a one-off print using my design and t-shirt and I was so pleased with the result.  I think it looks so professional.

I was soooooo excited about giving my secret Santa gift.  I knew Jen would probably guess I was her secret Santa straight away, but I didn’t care as I was just dying to know what she thought of it and she loved it!

Here is the finished article:

© 2016 Jennifer Richardson

I am looking forward to making myself a few versions of the Emmeline Tee and already have fabric lines up to make about 3-4 different versions!

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