It had been a couple years since I started sewing, and I hadn’t tackled any clothing projects. Last summer, I intended to make a button–down, relaxed–fit bike jersey, but the pattern intimidated me a bit and I couldn’t find a material I really wanted to work with. A year or so ago, I also began an attempt to make my own wpb ski bibs, starting from the ground up and creating my own pattern. That proved to be more work than I had time for.
Recently, it became winter! Here in Minnesota, it was actually first winter, which should not be confused with final fall or actual winter, because it only hangs around for a couple days before the weather regresses almost entirely back to summer. But the cool air prompted me to start a new project. I really like my long sleeved Cap Cool Merino shirt from Patagonia. It’s incredibly light, wicks well, and dries faster than almost anything else I’ve owned. I have run in it and worn it both backpacking and to work. It’s a merino/polyester blend, so the durability should be okay, but I am worried about long–term use based on the number of people that bring them in for warranty replacements with the shirts basically shredded.
An idea I had was to see if I could replicate the shirt, which I also like the fit of, in a slightly different material, namely 100% polyester. I found a lightish–weight printed polyester knit at my local fabric outlet and followed a couple YouTube tutorials on how to make patterns out of an existing shirt. I made a pattern from my Cap Cool Merino and cut the pieces out of the new material. The construction process was actually quite easy. I was thrilled to discover that shirts aren’t all that difficult.
As a bit of an experiment, I “flat felled” one of the seams that joins the arm to the torso and left the other seam as normal, just using a zig zag stitch to bind the edge and prevent unravelling. This was to see which method I preferred while wearing, and I can definitively say the flat felled option feels much better.
I learned a lot from this construction process, but rather more importantly I gained a lot of confidence in constructing garments. It’s always nice when things work out well. The shirt will have to go through a few more sizing revisions. The difference in thickness and stretch with the discount polyester means that it feels tighter than the merino and drapes differently, too. But I can look forward to these challenges as learning opportunities and know that whatever happens, they’ll turn out just fine.