It took me a while to figure out the shirt preferences for my boys. Actually, when I say boys, I really mean my 4.5 yr old. My 2.5 yr old does not really care for his shirts and will wear anything, as long as it has buttons somewhere: Think button-downs, henleys, polo shirts, etc. My 4.5 yr on the other hand, is very particular about the kind of fabric and style. It has to be minimalist without too many restrictive features, should be easy to put on and take off and hopefully, should include a cape somewhere..Now, the last requirement, I tolerate to a large extent, thanks to the excellent tutorial by Girl like the Sea. I love her innovative tutes and completely out of the box thinking. Another one of my absolute favorites by her is this tute for adding peekaboo pockets to any t-shirt.
Now, getting back to what I was saying, my 4.5 yr old has stringent requirements where his shirts are concerned. I have narrowed down his likes and overall aesthetic principle to the following: he likes to MOVE! Hence, he likes clothes that allow him the maximum potential to do that. Given this, I found that the Figgy’s Banyan tee was an excellent choice. I enhanced the t-shirt with all kinds of capes, peekaboo pockets, appliques, fabric painting, cowl neck and image transfers. For more on that, go here. I also loooove the Fishsticks Designs’ Tank Tee; It is a free pattern and as with anything from Fishsticks, has an excellent fit.
However, I am always on the lookout for new t-shirt patterns. Round necks can get a bit boring after a while. When I heard that Mel Henry of Filles a Maman was seeking testers for her new Marc pattern, I jumped at the chance. Now, I love Mel. She is just the kindest person I have met on the internet and I really like the European vibe her patterns offer. I have made her Agathe and Theo slouchies earlier and I liked how it was not your regular cargo, flat front, board-style pants/shorts. It had pleats in the front and a tapered fit near the ankles or wherever(you can also make it into capris) and best of all, they are beautifully slouchy. You can read more about it here. The only other style that came close to this was the Oliver + S Sketchbook shorts which I have made a ton of. However, the sketchbook shorts are woven and I personally love knit shorts for the comfort it provides the boys and the speed at which I can whip one up.
Now, let me tell you when I started testing Marc, I was as usual over-confident and knowing Mel, sure that this would be an easy-to-follow pattern. I got completely drunk the night I started testing. For the uninformed, you might want to go to the FB group “PDF Pattern Sales and Promotions” and type “completely drunk” in the search field and check out my posting and tell me what you think. It sent shock waves through the sewing world and most serious testers knew I was nuts. And, I WAS……
I failed to look at the illustrations, I glossed over key markers that Mel had highlighted throughout the pattern and the craziest thing: I plowed through the entire pattern as clumsily as I could. EPIC FAILURE…..
I realized later, when I was sober, that the pattern had features that were new to me. As much as I have sewn plenty of button-downs and various styles of t-shirts, Mel had a very novel and quite a radical way of constructing her collar and placket and I was lost. I confessed to Mel that facings were my anathema and I would like to gracefully back out of the testing process. Mel agreed and things were fine. Till such time as I saw the tester pictures coming back of her new and improved design and I was amazed at how a simple t-shirt could really be taken up several notches. So, I decided to test again; This time, I drank coke and gave the babies some alcohol instead such that they would sleep through the night and not bother me (haha). And I followed her wording AND illustrations and the beautiful shirt started taking shape. When I was done, it was not with the usual “aah, that was a quick t-shirt” or “aah, wow, this t-shirt looks so cool with this reverse applique” sigh of completion that I normally experience upon sewing a t-shirt, but more like “wow, I just sewed a t-shirt which has some amazing detail and kind of looks formal like a button-down with the ease of knit”…..I simply loved the final look and I guarantee you, so will you.
The strongest aspect of this pattern has to be the very cool collar with a excellent facing construction. I have actually seen some instances of the girl version of this pattern, called Mimi, being made without the collar and with the facing on the outside for a really unique look. I see myself experimenting along those lines in the future when I would like to leave out the collar and place the facing on the outside. Speaking of which, the collar, facing and shoulder are all woven, including the hem facing – so you can really mix and match different prints and get a shirt that is both unique and comfortable.
The Marc is on sale for the next couple of days and I would strongly encourage you to get it as soon as possible. As with all of Mel’s designs, it is not just a t-shirt or just a pair of slouchies – it is that, but with a distinctive European flair which makes you work a little, but is completely worth it.
I will leave you with some pictures. You can also look at this Flickr pool.