The strange things I sew for my husband…

Every now and again Nerdy Husband likes to throw me a sewing curve ball. It’s always a good challenge and I truly appreciate his confidence in my sewing abilities.

But first, I realised while drafting up this post, that the NRHS Merino Top is not the first thing I have sewn for NH in recent times. I made a suit jacket for him once, it wasn’t what I would call 100% successful but it was great for me in terms of stepping up my technical sewing skills. It deserves a post all of its own and so it shall have it, at a later date.

The previous RNHS has all revolved around bicycles. Once I was asked to sew some velcro to an old rubber bicycle tube to make a chain stay protector for the shiny and newly re-painted Big Red Bike*.

Funnily enough Schmetz don’t make any needles labelled “Bicycle Tire” so I used a leather needle instead.

In the end I made two, my poor little Elna grumbling the whole way, I am ashamed to say it, but she gives as good as she gets and she gets looked after really well. For a “modern” machine, all plasticy, she takes a fair beating and keeps on sewing.

The next request was much easier, a workshop apron, to protect his clothing but also to keep tools handy.

I based it on my basic apron pattern with a few extra pockets and dividing stitch lines for various tools. It also has an adjustable clip for the waist strap, something about boys being unable to tie bows behind their backs, it’s not in their genetic coding I think.

He uses it a lot, as you can see from the state of it. I offered to wash it once…

So fast forward to a few days after Christmas 2012: Downstairs in the Mannex (or Man Cave, if you prefer) Nerdy Husband has his Pretty Green Bike* set up on the stationary trainer for indoor bicycling. After a particularly sweaty indoor training session he calls to me from the shower.

The best ideas always happen in the shower don’t you think?

“I have a really strange sewing request. It’s kind of hard to explain, I need to draw it at the same time…”

So after he is dressed we go to my room and he makes a scribble.

It’s a sweat bib thingee that will span between the handle bars and saddle and protects the paint and componentry from the acidic nature of perspiration. NH assures me these things do exist in bike shops and back in the Mannex, with some pattern paper and a tape measure, he points out some of the areas on his bike that are already suffering a small amount of corrosion and attempts to explain the concept a bit better.

The idea is that the bib will float above the top tube so as not to transfer the sweat to the paint and should run the whole length but still allow the rider to grip the handle bars comfortably. It is wide at the handle bars to cover the front brake and cables below, then it curves in to a sort of “T” shape as it runs down the top tube so as not chaff as the legs move past it.

The mass produced versions are obviously made as one-size-fits-all attached with elastic or long straps of velcro. This can mean, on a larger bike, that parts of the frame are left exposed. Variation in leg length may also mean a seating position that causes your knees to brush past the protector which is really annoying and will also cause chaffing.

So the mission was to make a custom version to suit the Pretty Green Bike’s frame.

We started with the paper pattern, roughly sketched while masking taped to the bike and then mirrored on the fold. The shop versions are often stretchy but we decided an old towel would do for the first attempt.

I also decided to use velcro instead of elastic because I thought it would be easier to remove, I am assuming it will need washing, and I am also already assuming that if this works there will be an additional order placed for a second one!

After a second fitting we added the velcro in the centre too, this brings the sides downward, creating a kind of hood effect and solved the problem of the edges slightly brushing past his legs.

In the end the “first attempt” ended up being the only attempt.

Handle bar detail

Top tube detail

Seat post detail

I try to make even the most simple (and weirdest) things neatly. This was supposed to be the trial run, I didn’t expect to get it right first time, and therefore I didn’t bother to change over any of the threads in my machines. I offered to make a second one but NH didn’t seem to mind a dark blue overlock stitch against a light blue towel and black velcro sewn on with white thread, he was too busy patting us both on the back for getting it right in one shot. The following morning he gave it a thorough testing it out and declared it a win…so there you go…

After it was all complete and it got the Bicycling Hubby’s seal of approval I decided to do some Internet research. What I found was surprisingly like what I had made, and provided some funny names. CycleOps call their version a Bike Thong (snigger) ;) and Elite refer to theirs as a Sweat Net, most others are boringly named as “Sweat Guard”…Bike Thong is my favourite – it does indeed look like some sort of weird de-constructed panty!

*I shouldn’t tease, NH owns several bicycles, I know the correct names for each of them and what type of riding each is designed for, I even have one myself. It’s just much more fun to give them funny names for the blog ;)

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RNHS: Rugby Jersey Finished

Normal service resuming in 3…2…1…

The Requested Nerdy Husband Sewing: Rugby Jersey is done! :)

And I am happy to announce that NH is most pleased with it.

Inside out detail:

You’ll have to believe me when I say it looks 100 times better on my actual husband, rather than Scarlett!

Stripe matching? Check!

I reinforced the shoulder seams with twill tape to prevent any stretching.

And here is the magnificent button placket…which wasn’t actually that difficult in the end. I just needed instructions! ;)

You may notice the lack of rubber buttons because I haven’t sourced them yet, although I think I know a store that may have something but it was closed when I last drove past it…NH is happy with standard plastic buttons for now. The jersey will have it’s first official outing for New Year’s Lunch…which will actually be the 6th, a minor detail.

The deets:

Pattern: Burda Magazine 04/2007 #130 “Men’s t-shirt” heavily altered to match existing All Blacks polo shirt

Fabric: “Rugby Jersey” Knit selected by Nerdy Husband from Moorelands in Palmerston North and white drill from the stash

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RNHS: The Rugby Jersey Pattern

RNHS (Requested Nerdy Husband Sewing) may just become a bit of an irregularly regular series, see, I even made a new category for it ;)

My newest super-sewing-fan is keen for progress on his new rugby jersey so on a rainy Saturday I began by altering the pattern.

I started with a polo shirt from Burda 04/2007, #130 and I traced the largest size, which I knew instantly would be too small. Part of this is due to the slim fit of the pattern style I suspect, that’s a European thing, and Nerdy Husband is not into European fit.

“Yachting Style”

Anywho, I compared my pattern to the “favourite” shirt and still high from the last RNHS success I set to work altering it.

The “favourite” shirt – no real surprise there!

I’m sorry I forgot to take some before photos but after tracing onto some leftover drafting film I just got right into it.

You will notice I am working with a full pattern piece, as opposed to an “on the fold” piece, I have the space and it will help me line up the stripes I hope! I am also working with no seam allowances so I can match with the true stitching lines on the All Blacks shirt. I will add them on with chalk to the fabric before I cut.

First up we needed some length – 5cm worth to be exact, and then some width, 4cm (2 cm to each side). I simply slashed my pattern piece and added it in, using “yellow trace”, my favourite tracing medium. I also raised the bottom of the button placket to match.

I applied similar changes to the back:

Then I realised that the armhole is much more relaxed on the All Blacks shirt so I added another 2 cm into them, which then meant I needed to take 2 cm out from my previous length addition. No problem, I just folded that back to 3cm. I also added the 2cm into the sleeve and ‘walked it’ around the armhole to check the final length, perfect! Strange that there appears to be no ridiculous amount of sleeve ease in this pattern.

Lastly I added length to the sleeves and here are my final pattern pieces:

My eyes are not used to looking at men’s pattern pieces, the shape and the size are so different, so I’m still not 100% convinced that this is all going to work out but it’s worth a shot!

Last night I prepared to cut it all out:

After I took this photo I rotated the pattern pieces 180 degrees before some very careful lining up and cutting.

The fabric overall looks like just repeating blue and white stripes but in actuality there is an occasionally repeating wider dark blue stripe that has a thin light blue stripe running through it. I wanted this at mid-chest and below the button placket but I also still wanted dark blue at the shoulder and hem and I could only achieve this by turning it all around.

The occasionally repeating wide stripe doesn’t appear again within the shirts length, this is either on purpose by design or more likely a fluke. Either way it’s fine by me!

Adding seam allowances

Don’t tell Nerdy Hubby that I traced the seam allowance on with my pink chaco pen and using pink pattern weights ok? He was meant to be overseeing the whole cutting operation but was far too distracted playing with the blue chaco pen and trying to work out how the chalk came out of it to notice ;)

Scientists!

And that is as far as I got – tonight I’ll be playing with the sleeves, hoping to get dark blue at the hem and still line up the stripes at the shoulder. I also need to dig through the stash box for some white drill for the collar and button placket and Nerdy Husband has requested rubbery buttons.

“Rubber buttons?”

“Yes, all real rugby jerseys have rubber buttons.”

“Umm, ok then…”

Requested Nerdy Husband Sewing

Black is such a hard colour to photograph which is a shame because I am so proud of this top.

Front

I am afraid you’ll have to put up with Scarlett wearing this man-sized and man-shaped top. I refer to my hubby by many names: Nerdy Hubby, Geologist Hubby, Once-again-in-the-good-books Hubby…but he refuses to be Model Hubby – even with a promise of cutting off his head (in the photo frame I mean!) but I don’t blame him really, this top is pretty much skin tight. Comfortable, but very fitted.

Back

Let’s rewind a bit:

Sometimes in Wellington it gets a little windy (hah!) and polypropylene is an essential staple in any Wellingtonian’s wardrobe. Ridiculous coloured stripey arms sticking out from under tee-shirts are very trendy. Or at least they used to be, I’m not exactly up with the current trends.

About 3 months ago Mountain Biking Hubby decided he wanted another polypropylene to wear under his riding clothes. His favourite one (both fit and colour) was black, its tag long lost after far too many washes.

He went out shopping for another rtw one and was so disgusted at both the price and quality of polypropylene and wool versions that he gave up.

Fast forward to another tag-along fabric shopping trip where merino and merino-blends were heavily discounted at an end-of-season sale. While my back was turned checking out the new spring-cottons nerdy husband was quietly digging through the merino bolts with gears quickly turning inside his head.

This is becoming a common occurrence isn’t it?

1.5m of black merino-nylon blend came home with us ($9.95/meter), as well as some marbled grey and dark grey merino for me. We chose the 80/20 merino-nylon blend in the hopes of slightly better durability and it also seemed to have better recovery than the straight merino.

I began by printing off the Pete T-shirt from BurdayStyle but after a quick comparison to the original black polypropylene it wasn’t going to work at all. Picky Hubby was quite adamant that the new merino top should be the same IN EVERY WAY as the original.

Free pattern alert!

Sigh. The Pete pattern was too short, too slim, too high-necked. The original also had a long raglan sleeve and the T-Shirt pattern did not. So I pushed it aside and decided to try this new thing everyone is talking about, a rub-off.

(*snigger)

I’m not going to show you my method because the true pattern drafters amongst you would be truly appalled. I don’t have a big enough pinning surface so I prodded and stretched and sketched and fudged.

The important thing is that it worked! Better yet, Nerdy Hubby loves it, and has already requested another. It’s a good thing then, that it only took me a couple of hours to put together, almost 100% on the trusty 4-threads-of-amazingness-overlocker.

Some details

Fashionable Hubby requested coverstitch detail on the sleeve attachment:

“I don’t have a coverstitch machine honey”

“But you have so many machines, one of them must do this” * pointing at cover stitch

“Umm, I only have two machines (that go)…and no”

“…but that big white one with all the extra threads..?”

“No”

silence

“I might be able to fake it”

“Hmm, ok, but only if it looks like this” * more pointing at cover stitch

“I’ll see what I can do”

I know I can do a kind of faux coverstitch on the overlocker, the Bernina lady showed me at my free lesson…that was almost 2 years ago!

But this was not the time for random experimentation, so the Elna got threaded up black, dial up stitch number 18 please!

I created my faux coverstitch by first overlocking the sleeve seam, pressing the overlocking to one side and stitching it down using the faux overlock stitch on my Elna. It’s a slow stitch but it looks pretty good I think.

Edit to add: I might not have explained that very well – the real 4-thread overlocked seam is on the inside, the faux overlock stitch (#18) is on the outside which you can see here.

Nerdy Hubby couldn’t tell the difference, “It looks so professional! You should do this on my rugby jersey too”

In all seriousness trusty #18 is a “super stretch” stitch and perfect for this application.

Here is another close up, you can see the wide cuff on the sleeve too:

I gave myself 3cm hem allowance at the bottom which I turned under twice and stitched down with the faux-overlock stitch too.

I don’t know what is going on with my hand in this pic, it looks so wrinkly!

The only hiccup was that I got a bit confused when I was attaching the neck band and put it on backwards. When Nerdy Hubby tried it on he asked why the join was at the front. Try as I might I couldn’t convince him that it was a design feature ;) He’s a smart cookie that one. So I had to carefully unpick a 4-thread overlock stitch and then re-attach. Lucky merino doesn’t really fray so it went back on without a hitch.

So, great success! Except that now Nerdy Hubby is asking about his rugby jersey! ;)