Black is such a hard colour to photograph which is a shame because I am so proud of this top.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..?”
“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! 😉
I realize this is an old post, but I found you while searching out how to sew stretch merino . . . I have some merino long underwear for which I wanted to replace the waistband (waaaaaay too tight elastic!). I diligently unpicked all of the original stitching to remove the elastic, measured and pinned everything perfectly, but now cannot sew it! My thread keeps either breaking or getting tangled beyond hope. Do you have idea what your tension setting was for this project? 🙂
That’s ok Linda, happy to try and help – I can’t remember if I changed my tension at all, probably not – I think the needle selection is the most important part of sewing merino (or any stretch fabric). I own “stretch” needles, “jersey” needles and “ballpoint” needles – I do a test to check which will sew that fabric the best. Individual fabrics respond differently, you need to chose the needle that penetrates the fabric cleanly so it can engage the bobbin thread. Also use a new needle, nice and sharp, no snags. I hope that helps?
Thanks so much for responding! I took your advice and it worked like a charm — good lesson for me to replace my needle more often 😉
oh, I wonder if I can find (affordable) merino here in Belgium, I live in merino base layers throughout the winter – on and off my bike – but I really struggle with the cost of them!
That’s why I started making Nerdy Husbands merinos, they are so expensive in the shops and not always good quality but we are lucky here in NZ (so many sheep!) that merino is easy to get a hold of 🙂 I hope you can perhaps find somewhere that gets in NZ merino.
That looks great! Thanks so much for detailing how you achieved this! I’ve been struggling with ways to nicely finishing knits!
Happy to help – It’s always nice to achieve that professional look so it doesn’t look like the dreaded “home made” garment 😉
Pete T-shirt… man i must be famous in NZ.
So are you now taking orders for tight fitting clothing now?
I think we have to get “Hubby” to model some clothing, just so we have some fodder to use against him one day…better yet.. blackmail material so you get a machine that can do cover stiches!
Gah, you found me! 😉 Haha – I like how you think re:blackmail, and Christmas is coming up too… *evil laugh
Looks great! I feel your pain on having to undo the neckline as I have done that many times before. The end result looks fantastic too 🙂
Ah yes, I know it won’t be the last time either 😉 and it was worth it in the end.
Looks great, and I love your coverstitch approximation. I too will be looking for a stitch like that on my machine. Although I’ve got the 1150 MDA as well, so if you figure out how to do a fake coverstitch it on that then make sure to post about it!
Thanks, I am quite proud of it, love a good challenge 😉 I just got an overlocker book out from the library – the lady at the Bernina shop showed me so many amazing things but it was all a bit overwhelming for a beginner and I’ve forgotten it all! Anyway, this book has some great stuff that rings a bell, I want to do some experiments and I’ll post my results 🙂
Your husband is so attentive! I love that he’s specifying the stitches required. lol
Oh yes, when he wants specific he can be very specific 😉 but I love a good challenge!
Ah yes, aren’t these requests and their caveats just fantastic (rolling my eyes here). Great job on the top – it nearly makes it worth giving up valuable time that we could use to make ourselves something when they love it 😉
Nice! Your conversation made me giggle (how many similar conversations have I had…). I also tend to fake the look of a coverstitch for hems, at least when I do things for others. I like the stitch you used though, might have to try that one in the future. And it can be nice to sew for other people when they are appreciative… but then it is even more fun to get back to sewing things for yourself afterwards (evil grin and greedy rubbing of hands).
I think I should create a conversion chart, something like:
1 top for someone else = 3 dresses for me
That sounds like a good ratio, no? 😉
Nice job on the faux coverstitching – I’ll have to see if I have a similar stitch on my machine.