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Hazel and Me and Three Lark Tees (plus a Seafarer Top)

I first started sewing 7 years ago with the intention of sewing for myself.

I dove right in and sewed a couple of skirts and a couple of tops.  But I quickly realized that I didn't care for wearing quilting cottons and my stuff looked really handmade, in a bad way.   The pieces I made hung in my closet, unworn.

At the time, there weren't a lot of fabrics on the market outside of quilting cottons, at least not where I live, and no where near what's available online now.  So I decided to focus on sewing clothes for my kids instead.

Another reason I've been hesitant to sew for myself is because my body has pretty much been perpetually changing.  Jude will be 11 next week, which means that for nearly the last 12 years, I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding or both.  I have only had one year out of the last 12 where I wasn't doing either/both and that was the year after we adopted Tia.

I wasn't one of those pregnant women who was all belly.  I ate a healthy and balanced diet, but I gained 40 lbs with each of my pregnancies.  So my body was not just changing, but changing dramatically and not just my abdomen.  Needless to say, my clothing size was constantly changing, too.

This discouraged me from investing too much time or money in a handmade garment being I didn't know how long I'd be wearing it.  Dan and I never set out to have a certain number of children, we just took life as it came to us, so I never knew whether any of my pregnancies would be my last.  

Also, I never exactly understood why people would bother sewing a tshirt when they are so widely available and also inexpensive.

It wasn't until I started sewing with knits for my kids, that I realized how much I disliked my store bought knits.  My former favorite brand, Everlane, makes tshirts that look great when you first put them on, but they have no recovery.  After a couple of hours, they look rumpled, saggy and stretched out, like they were pulled out from the bottom of the laundry hamper.

I thought about how good it feels to have clothes that fit you well, no matter what season of life you are in.  And also how quickly knits come together.  They're so fast!

A few months ago, Kristin introduced me to Kelly's blog, Cut Cut Sew, and when I saw her Lark tee, I knew I needed to start sewing my own tshirts.  So this is my Kelly copy.  :)  I liked hers so much, I wanted one just like it!

For this pattern, I measured a size 4 in bust, a size 6 in waist and a size 2 in the hip.  So I cut a size 4 for the neckline and sleeves and a size 6 on the side seams.  I was really happy with that sizing for this short sleeve version.  

Next, I made another Lark tee with the cap sleeves.

I think next time I would either size up to a straight size 6 for a roomier top or size down to a straight size 4 for a more fitted tee.  The fitted top and sleeves with the looser body feels a little maternity-wear to me.

I'm going to wear it and wash it a few times and then decided whether or not I want to take it in at the side seams, depending on how it wears.

I made my third lark tee in a light, gauzey sweater knit that felt a lot like a linen knit.  I found it (and the other charcoal knit above) at JoAnns.

It was a pain to work with but totally worth it in the end.  I see myself wearing this one a lot.  I added two inches to the sleeves and left all the hems raw, because they curled like crazy.

I made this one in a size 6 for a more relaxed, flowy fit and it was just right except for the neckline.  I am pretty narrow in the shoulders and the boatneck was so wide it kept slipping off of them.  I ended up adding binding to the neckline which fixed the problem.

And finally, a couple months ago I made a Seafarer top which I had been meaning to blog.  It's been in regular rotation.

I sewed an extra small for the neckline and sleeves and size small for the side seams, and on me it was too tight in the abdomen.  Because of the dolman sleeves (which I love!)  I was envisioning a more relaxed/flowy body.  So I ripped the side seams and sewed them with a 1/8" seam and on me, it's still a fitted look.   If I were to make it again, I think I'd size up to a medium and use a 1/8-1/4" seam allowance to make it even looser - just a personal preference.

I do wear this top a lot though, especially under cardigans where I prefer a slimmer tee.  I made it with Mirabella rayon jersey which is amazing.  It holds its shape so well and doesn't wrinkle.

This sewing for yourself stuff is pretty great, if not addictive.  I definitely plan to do more of it.   Thanks to all of you self-sewers who have inspired me.  


  1. yay, Rachel! I'm so glad you are taking time to sew for yourself. I had also asked the t-shirt question ... before I started sewing my own. It is so hard to find a good RTW tee that doesn't shrink like crazy in the wash or bag out like crazy after an hour of wear - or both. When you sew your own you can control the fabric (and I like to wash and dry my knit fabric a few times before cutting). All the tees look like go-to wardrobe staples and I particularly love the long-sleeved one.

  2. They all look lovely, Rachel. I like all the colours you've used, too. I struggle to find decent knits to sew tops for myself with - what kind did you use for the lark tees?

    1. Thanks, Marisa! I bought the two charcoal colored knits from JoAnns. I looked for something with a little spandex in it and both had really nice drape and are lightweight. The olive colored tee is a medium weight jersey by Robert Kaufman, I believe. I bought it awhile ago though so I am not 100% certain.

  3. They look fabulous on you! And sewing tees for myself is totally addicting. I am kind of in the same boat about not wanting to sew too much for me when my size is still changing but it is nice to have a few flattering things at each size. ☺

  4. YAY!!! I love these! T-shirts are a really great and addictive item to sew for yourself. You can make them quickly and you wear them a TON. It's like the gateway drug for self-sewing. When I realized I could sew for myself without making fitted dresses or other items that are very fit-heavy, it was a huge breakthrough for me, in part because of the body changes you describe, and also my own tendency to choose the comfortable items, day in and day out. It's okay to have a daily uniform - embrace it!

    You and Hazel are so cute!!

  5. Rachel, you look gorgeous.
    Since I have had so many babies my clothes have to be custom made or they just don't fit.
    Your tee's look lovely and I will following up on all of them.
    May I recommend the Ginger jeans? They are very easy to sew and fit.
    As someone who has spent 18 years feeding or pregnant or both I can heartily agree you have earned some nice new things.
    xx Nicole

  6. Yay I'm so excited you are sewing for yourself!! For me it just took a couple of successes and I built from there - just like I did when I started sewing for E back when. Keep it up girl, you're clearly on a roll. :)

  7. You sure have produced some lovely things. I've enjoyed seeing the girls in their new dresses. You look beautiful. So youthful : )

  8. I like the fitted one on you! And hurray for selfish sewing! Maybe you can join in the SEW IT-challenge by Celina Bailey? The idea is that each of the participants sets herself a goal to sew at least one particular item a month. Most of them chose to do some more selfish sewing, and the Facebook group has been really busy conversation about the best ladies patterns :-)

  9. I love all of these! I keep thinking I want to sew more t-shirts for myself because, like you, I have been disappointed with store-bought brands. I too have tried Everlane and have been disappointed. I think it's time to dive in -- I will have a look at these patterns!

  10. Oh Rachel, I love that you are sewing more for yourself! These tees look amazing. I love the colors you picked and both patterns look really comfy and cool. Sewing tees is kind of addicting, right? I've sewn one for me in December - using the Day Tripper by Shwin Designs - and, all of a sudden, I had sewn seven tees in a row! I just wish I would be able to find nicer knits in my local store. Since this store carries mostly remnants from RTW factories I never know what I am going to find. Some times it is really good quality stuff but really I nedd to be lucky...

  11. Woo hooooo!
    Can't say how happy this makes me, but you look awesome! The brown one is my fave, so either the fitted tee really is for you, or I just love brown and you wear it so well!

  12. So many great shirts! And especially the drapey gray sweater knit!!

  13. Smiling at you. Glad to see you enjoying yourself =)


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