Many of you are probably already aware that Marcy and Katherine Tilton are offering a Craftsy Class called "The Ultimate T-Shirt". This class was on my Wish List - I'd not taken a Craftsy class yet, but this was one that was definitely calling to me, so when I received an offer to review the class on my blog in exchange for receiving the class for free (woo hoo!) I jumped right on it! Regarding honest reviews, if you know me at all well, you will know that if you ask me for an honest opinion/constructive criticism, an honest opinion is what you'll get! So I approached this class with an assumption that I would probably get some valuable info from it, but also kept a critical eye wide open, actively looking for areas I thought could be improved on.
The Class Basics, and Format - "The Ultimate T-Shirt: Fitting and Construction", taught by the Sisters Tilton (Katherine and Marcy). This was my first Craftsy Class, and overall I'm quite impressed! I must say that I think the Craftsy website could use some tweaking to make it easier to navigate and quit freezing up, but that's a separate issue *(I posted some notes at the end of this review) - this class, in my opinion, is definitely a winner! The format is easy to follow, with several segments covering different aspects of the class, including:
- Fabric Choice - very nice, succinct review of easy to difficult choices in knits.
- Fit (fairly basic; you are expected to already know a bit about your own body's fit needs), but their tips on fitting-as-you-go can really help take the mystery out of some fitting issues, and are fabulous in terms of working with different fabrics, which can behave very differently. They give great tips both on marking and trying on at the pattern level, to tweaking at various steps along the way. There are helpful hints and/or reminders for the more experienced, and some invaluable info for those who are new to knits.
- Neckline - They each give very detailed instructions on their favorite basic necklines - Katherine teaches a wraparound bound neckline, and Marcy teaches what she calls a "classic" neckline. I was dying to know details about some of their more elaborate and arty necklines - perhaps another class, ladies???
- Sewing Tips, including seam finishes and tips for working with rolling fabric edges, several different hemming options, and tips for sewing in sleeves.
Katherine's Zipper Collar t-shirt. I already had the pattern, and have made a couple of T's from it, (blogged here). I thought I loved this pattern because of the unusual collar; now I also love the pattern because I see how versatile the basic T is, and I have a new understanding of how to alter, tweak, fit, embellish, and design a myriad of T's from one basic pattern! Stoked!
The Instructors - if you've followed my blog for any time, you already know that I'm a huge fan of the patterns and artistic visions that both Marcy and Katherine have developed. I've never taken a class from either of them, and I'm delighted to say that I would jump at the chance to take another class from either or both of them! Their teaching manner was very easy to follow, and they were clear, concise, informative, and easy to listen to and follow. Their years of experience are so evident, and their friendliness and willingness to share is a delight - reading the questions put on the site by students, and their clear and thorough answers, is another treat that expands the class experience wonderfully!
Who Should Take the Class - I'm certainly no knit expert, but I've turned out a fair number of knit t-shirts and other garments that I'm very happy with, and I've picked up a lot of tips along the way....but I definitely loaded up on several very valuable hints thanks to this class! I also got a kick in the butt to start being more consistent with a few habits that I often let go by the wayside (like always stay stitching the neckline starting at the shoulders and stitching to the center front and center back). If you have basic sewing skills, but limited experience with knits, this class should set your mind at ease and put you well on the road to sewing knits with more confidence. The only reason that would hesitate to recommend this class for someone who has NEVER sewn with knits before is that a few tips that really helped me when I started are not included - one for instance is the importance of finding an accurate grainline before cutting (I might be a bit anal about this, but my first experience with cutting knits was with someone who stressed this, and I've always really appreciated that!). And perhaps at the other end of the spectrum - someone who considers themselves a Complete Expert at sewing with knits - might not pick much up. ANYone else - go for it!
Criticisms - I messed up in one spot, and this probably has more to do with how I tend to do things than it does with the class itself, but I'll toss it out there anyway. I do tend to jump ahead of things when I think I've "got it", and/or I assume that a step was skipped over (as is often the case with both patterns and teachers!) so I do it my way and keep going.....and then, later on, sometimes discover that it wasn't a skipped step at all! (and out comes the seam ripper.....)
This happened at the shoulder sewing step - only ONE shoulder is sewn, and then you move on to the neckband. I, of course, did NOT listen to the whole class before diving in; I was sewing as I listened, and on this step I sewed up the second shoulder seam before getting to the neckband. For someone like me, it would have been nice to say something like "We'll be sewing up the other shoulder seam AFTER sewing on the neckband." (Note: I prefer to have my neckband seam at the BACK of the shirt, instead of at the shoulder seam, which is why I skipped ahead here. The Tiltons both place the band seam at the shoulder seam, but I, personally, don't like the extra bulk it adds there, so I did not unpick my sewn and topstitched shoulder seam on my first t-shirt, and did the neckband my way instead). I did use their method on my second t-shirt, and while the neckband turned out very well, I still didn't like all that bulk at the shoulder seam, so I'll probably continue to place my band seam at the back, no matter what sort of band I use.
Conclusion - Two Thumbs Way Up, for sure!
Using Marcy's "classic" neckband,
with double stitching details
I used 3 fabrics, all rayon jersey knits of varying weights.
For this T, I used my variation of sleeves from the Au Bonheur Asymmetric T (blogged here)...
...and I added some piping to Katherine's version of the neckband.
It was so easy to make alterations on the basic T-shirt, thanks to their guidance!
For my third version, I used Katherine's neckband,
and I used the sleeve bands from the original pattern.
All three t-shirts are being worn and loved - I have summery sleeves, a warm weather featherweight fabric in the black & white T, and a cooler weather T in the brown & green fabrics.
Some details about the b&w T: When I draped the striped fabric on my arms, trying to figure out how long I wanted to make them, a rather serendipitous folding of the fabric happened. I really liked the way the white stripes popped out - this was the fabric actually folding itself so that the white folded outward, and the black settled back:
So I decided to play that up, and cut the sleeves long, then gathered the ends of the sleeves:
Once I gathered the seams, I stitched them in place,
creating a curve when the sleeve was placed flat:
The sleeve gathers at the wrist, and the white stripes pop out:
This black T is probably my favorite of the 3, and is getting the most wear - love those sleeves!
Overall, I highly recommend this class, and I'm delighted to have it in my repertoire! Once you've purchased a Craftsy Class, you can refer to it over and over, so it's kind of like having your personal instructors right there in your sewing room with you! Thanks so much to you, Katherine and Marcy!
*I e-mailed Craftsy and received immediate responses to my issues about navigating through the site. I don't know yet if all of my issues were addressed satisfactorily (I still sometimes have to switch browsers in order to fully access the class), but I will say that the folks at Craftsy were VERY responsive and helpful, so big pluses there! One note about the class reviews - they ONLY publish the most recent positive reviews for any given class, which annoys me because you don't get to read about what folks did not like - that's constructive criticism, and in my mind, is VERY valuable information. However, you CAN contact the Craftsy folks and ask for a full set of reviews for a class you're interested in, which they will provide.