I’ve been dressmaking on and off since I learnt to sew about ten years ago but the hobby had never really stuck as I had struggled to make garments to fit and also couldn’t handle the cost of making my own clothes. However this year I began my dressmaking adventure properly in May. (Before then I had created a couple of shell-tops and a 1940s blouse from the GBSB book but all under the watchful eye of my Mum.) I started just after my second-year assessments at University, as a way to distract myself from those all-important but utterly terrifying grades. After getting into a serious Great British Sewing Bee fever in the run-up to my assessments, I had been reading sewing blogs and researching patterns for a beginner like myself. I was completely taken with Grainline Studio’s patterns as they fitted exactly my normal style. I am not a huge fan of clothes that fit too close around the tummy and I am also very straight, with a small bust and hardly any waist but broad hips so I’ve always struggled with fit. I also have very broad shoulders so again this is always difficult to work around. Because of this, and also because I am studying art and textiles, I pretty much live in tees and button-down shirts. (Oh and jumpers but my knitting skills are not quite there yet!) The Grainline Studio patterns all seem to hang off the body and skim any areas you might not like.
I had set in sleeves on my 1940s blouse so wasn’t afraid to start my adventure with the Scout Tee. Recently Jen has put up the prices of her patterns to compete with other Indie Pattern Designers, however her patterns are still amazingly affordable. The Scout PDF pattern is now $12 which equates to about £7.40 but when I bought it I think I paid about £5.50 which obviously was a huge bonus for a student budget.
The pattern is meant for beginners but obviously you do have to have some sewing knowledge before starting, especially when it comes to the bias neck or the set-in sleeves. A good pattern for an ultra beginner would be the Grainline Studio Tiny Pocket Tank. Also I think it is worth doing some research into seam finishing. As I was a novice I just folded the seam allowances over to hide the raw edges and stitched then pressed. This has stopped them fraying however after washes they look a bit messy and the frayed bits not stitched need trimming. I didn’t get an overlocker until my birthday in July so until then I was using this technique or french seaming but at the time I made these tees, I wasn’t happy about french seaming a sleeve head.
The construction is very simple with no darts (which I always have to move!) and the sleeve insertion was well explained. Since making these I have mostly put in my sleeves flat then sewn the side seams but this is also a really useful technique to master, especially if you want to add sleeves to a ready-made garment or something similar. When I began, the top took me around 4 hours (primarily because of my finishing technique on all the seams) but now with overlocked seams I have managed to make a scout in 2 hours. Both of these times exclude the printing, cutting, sticking, cutting again of PDF patterns but personally, although many others don’t enjoy the time wasted, I really find it really therapeutic and think of it as just another step of the process towards making a garment.
I made my first Scout in a heavy blue cotton with a print that looked like triangles one way and christmas trees the other! This wasn’t ideal as the fabric was perhaps a bit heavy for the garment but it was fantastic for a beginner. I made my second (the very next day!!) from a checked cotton which was a little lighter so draped a little better. I also made one a week or so later (when I’d run out of money) from a remnant of Ikea fabric I had in my stash. I had used most of it for a handbag but had just enough left to make a Scout. This fabric was a bit too stiff but I just wanted to sew something and I loved the print!
Overall the pattern is fantastic and I have used it again and again. It is a great basic addition to any wardrobe and is perfect for adaption and adding trimmings or decorations.
Pattern: Grainline Studio Scout Tee
Materials: Blue cotton and multi-check cotton both from Fashion Fabrics in Bath. Floral print fabric from Ikea.
Sizing/Alterations: Blue version – size 0, graded to a 2 at hip. Check and Floral version – Size 0, lengthened by 2″.
Cost: Pattern – One-off cost £5.50 approx.
Blue and Check versions – £6.99 per metre x 1.5m = £10.49 each. Floral Version – Stash fabric £0 (probably retailed for about £5 pm)