The Sew Sew Def Saldana V-neck T-shirt grabbed my attention straightaway when it dropped this spring. It was the first women’s sewing pattern from the first issue of Sew Sew Def magazine.
Sew Sew Def is the brainchild of “sew-lebrity” Mimi G, who gave some knock-out talks on sewing and entrepreneurship at the Sew Pro convention. After Sew Pro, I started fangirling Mimi G pretty hard. When she announced Sew Sew Def, I was psyched to see how she wanted to connect with the sewing community through a publication.
The Saldana is one of those better-than-basic basics that I’m living in these days. I was attracted to it because it’s feminine without being form fitting. This is the recipe for fashionable AND comfortable!
Here’s a behind-the-seams look at sewing the Sew Sew Def Saldana:
Construction details for the Sew Sew Def Saldana
I sewed an XS (recommended for measurements of 34-26-36). The finished-garment measurements for this pattern were very helpful; I knew the XS would fit great.
For the fabric, I used a cool-to-the-touch rayon-elastane jersey from Mood (sold out, whelp!). It’s stretchy and thin, with drape for days. The stripes are one-inch wide.
One of the things about this pattern that caught my eye was the opportunity for color blocking, thanks to the upper front and upper back panels. When I settled on the striped rayon, I still hadn’t given up on color blocking. I wanted to match the opposite stripes (blue with white and vice versa) on the upper panels and front and back pattern pieces. I thought it would be eye catching to break the solid stripes.
But — and I’ll get into it more in a second — the easing required between the upper panels and main pattern pieces was not conducive to ANY stripe (un)matching. So if you want to make this pattern in a striped fabric, be OK with the stripes not matching.
And another thing about this fabric — these photos show the second time I wore this top. I didn’t wash it after the first time I wore it, and I hung it up in my closet between wearings.
I wish I hadn’t hung it, because the neckline moved south on me! I’m confident that washing my Saldana will shrink the neckline back into place. Now I know that I need to FOLD — not hang — this shirt! It’s a consequence of life with slinky fabrics.
The instructions tell you to hem the sleeves at three-quarters of an inch, roll them three times, and hand tack in place. I skipped hemming and used the one-inch stripes as guides for rolling. I rolled four times and machine tacked the sleeves in place with three spots of stitching that were parallel to the stripes.
When I tried on the shirt, the sleeves looked too long and droopy. I found a pic of the Saldana T-shirt, modeled by Mimi G. Her sleeves weren’t as long as mine were, and her tacking was vertical (turned 90 degrees from my tacking).
I rolled my sleeves one more time and added vertical tacking. If I were to make this pattern again, I would make the sleeve pattern pieces shorter so the rolls weren’t as bulky.
What I love about the Sew Sew Def Saldana T-shirt
The rounded high-low hem is feminine and on-trend. When I stitched the hem, I first pinned it, pressed it, and basted it (from the wrong side). The basting stitches gave me a wonderful guide for topstitching. (That’s a little topstitching tip from me to you!)
I love love love V-neck shirts! They make your neck look miles long, show off necklaces against your skin, and highlight your babelicious collarbone. (Everyone’s collarbone is sexy; that’s my final verdict.)
This V-neck is relatively deep. I don’t have cleavage, so the V doesn’t look va-va-va-voom on me, and I dig that. I have to be careful, though, that when I have my toddler on my hip that he doesn’t yank on the neckline. That’s not the sort of visible bra look I get into.
I hunted for a blue-and-white stripe knit fabric for ages when I came across this fabric. I made a different T-shirt pattern a couple of years ago with narrower blue-and-white stripes, but it was a poly knit that clung like CRAZY. And it was hot (no surprise).
I turned over that shirt to the thrift store, but I mourned those cobalt blue stripes. They were a fresh take on red-and-white stripes which, while classic, also can look either a.) pirate-y or b.) “Where’s Waldo?”-y. I love blue. I love stripes. Now I have an even BETTER stripey blue shirt. #winning
I don’t think it’s intentional, but the panel seams of this V-neck contribute to a quasi-peplum look. I like it; I look good in a peplum. The un-peplum comes from mega-ly easing the front into the upper front panel (and the back into the upper back panel). Let’s call it a study in fabric volume.
How the Saldana could be better
So. The easing in the Sew Sew Def Saldana. It is… excessive. Yes, I’m going to go out on a limb here and call it excessive. Look at this (the red marks are notches):
You can see from the pattern pieces how much easing needed to go down. I double checked the pattern pieces, too, to ensure I didn’t trace off the wrong size. Nope; those are the pattern pieces for an XS.
I don’t mind easing, and I’m good at it, too. I subdivide and pin with the best of them. (On a related note, someone who is new to sewing knits would F-R-E-A-K out with all this easing, especially because the instructions don’t call it out!)
Once the upper front panel and front (and upper back panel and back) were sewn, I could see that my easing was even. And it looked nice and smooth after I pressed and steamed it on my ham. “This is going to look fine on my body, because my body is curved,” I thought.
And it doesn’t look bad on my body. Those seamlines and the easing deliver the quasi-peplum, which is cute.
Should I make this pattern again, I will make the front and back upper panel pieces a bit longer so the easing isn’t as extreme.
Speaking of easing, after all the easing at the panel seams, I figured the sleeves would be a beast, too. But there was ZERO easing for the sleeves. Weird.
The seam allowances
This is fairly minor, but the seam allowances are 1/4 inch. Small seam allowances are standard for knits, but this was a little uncomfortable with a slinky knit on a conventional sewing machine.
Obviously I powered through to make a cute top, so it’s not impossible. It’s good to know when you don’t have a lot of wiggle room.
Over to you: Have you made a pattern from Sew Sew Def magazine? How do you feel about slightly wonky stripes? What are your best easing tips? Please sound off in comments! Thanks for reading!
P.S. Here’s my post from last week, ICYMI: How to clean finish a knit with woven bias tape. It covers how I used WOVEN bias tape to finish the hem of my KNIT Megan Nielsen Briar top (which has become one of my favorite shirts!).
P.P.S. P.S.A., sewing peeps! Mimi G has some great interviews over on Sew Sew Def’s YouTube channel!
P.P.P.S. Check out these other garments I’ve sewn for my spring/summer sewing capsule wardrobe:
How I sew a muslin + Sew Caroline Larchmont T
Cali Faye Collection Pocket skirt + How to use basting tape like a pro
M6696 update: Worshipping at the altar of Nancy Zieman (this shirtdress is a WIP, BTW)