It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Sisters Tilton and Their Fabulous T's! (Craftsy Class Review)



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.
The Pattern - (Included as part of the class fee) Vogue 8793,

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!

My T-Shirts:
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.

40 comments:

  1. I've already purchased this class, so I was happy to see your positive review. Until recently, I did not enjoy sewing knits. I made it a point to learn about and perhaps come to love sewing them. I'm happy to say, I no longer fear nor dislike knits and I'm looking forward to working through this class.

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    1. Yay! I'm kind of the same way - once I started sewing knits, there's been no stopping me!

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  2. I've never tried one of these classes- now I will!

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    1. I think they're getting popular for pretty good reason!

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  3. Love your tees, especially the black and white. You certainly have an eye for combining fabrics. A very well written review, congratulations.

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  4. Oh Jilly, that black and white top is just fabulous. I enjoy everything that you make, but that is a show stopper!!!

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    1. Thanks Rhonda - I thought of you and all your sleeves when I hit on that one :)

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  5. The black and white is a winner!! Love the sleeve detail you clever minx:)
    Nice thorough review.

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    1. Thanks Lynne! Minx eh? I like that lol!

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  6. What a great review of the class. I intend to sign up for that one when it goes on sale next time. Great t's too!

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  7. Thanks for such a thorough review. I've been wondering if the on line classes were worth the investment. Your t-shirts are just wonderful. Can you share where you found such lovely fabrics?

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    1. Kathie the fabrics came from a mix of places - the swirly brown was from Emma One Sock (several years ago!) That & the other brown were leftovers - large scraps - from other projects. I think the other brown came from Fabrix in SF - the b&w print was definitely from Fabrix. The 2 b&w stripes were from Stonemountain & Berkeley.

      And I'm amazed that I even remember all that lol!

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  8. Great review...and I agree with your assessment. That black and white tee has my name all over it...:) and I love the sleeves!

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    1. That b&w really DOES have your name on it!

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  9. Jilly, Thanks so much for your honest review. You really made those T-shirts your own, with your fabric selections and especially that sleeve treatment. Love 'em all!

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    1. Thanks Sandra - I think that one of the biggest benefits of the class for me was gaining more courage to experiment and make a basic tee "my own" :)

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  10. I also love your tee and especially your black and white tee, Jillian! What an interesting sleeve treatment and I like how you turned serendipity into a design element. A great review of the class!

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    1. Thanks shams! :) Love those serendipitous happenings!

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  11. A great review of the class. I have a free coupon for any class on Craftsy. This is most likely the one that I am going to choose. Love all of your tee's !

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    1. Thanks Jen - a free class; yippee!

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  12. Thanks for the review of this class. I've had it on my Craftsy wish list for awhile, but haven't pulled the trigger yet, so it's very helpful to read your honest opinion of the class. Beautiful tops! I have to join the list of those who especially love the black and white one.

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  13. Your black & white tee is my favorite. I would never have noticed the white stripe effect if I had sewn your top, thus missed that delightful gathering feature you employed. I hope to use the "Jilly Sleeve" in the future!

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    1. Thanks Carol - don't assume you would have missed that effect; it really jumped out at me!

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  14. It's a great class and such fun to take my time on a tee...I started to just rush through my TNT patterns but now treat them more respectfully. Thanks for the full review and sharing your lovely creations.

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    1. Exactly Mary! Another good reason to practice "slow sewing" on even the most mundane of projects :) You never know how fabulous it might turn out to be...

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  15. This sounds like a great class. I love your black and white T!!! The gathering at the bottom of the sleeve is great.

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  16. After this great review, Craftsy should send a coupon for a free class to you! You did a great job on the tops.

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  17. You look adorable! Thank you for the new "Jilly sleeve" effect. I bought the class but have not had the time to start it nor the fabric to think about creating such darling results!Fingers crossed the brides slow down and I can tackle and learn the techniques in this class. Love your selection of fabrics and even though you mention the bulk of the should/neck junction seam, it looks nice in the photos.

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    1. Thank you MrsM! I'm sure an abundance of brides is a good thing, but so is sewing for you!;-)

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  18. Your t shirts are terrific, what a great eye you have for combining fabrics and prints and adding special details.
    I love your sleeve treatment on the black and white stripes.
    Your review is very thorough and clear, thanks for writing so informatively. I have taken 2 Craftsy classes so far, and learnt from both of them, and am considering this one now too. You are a good ambassador for the Tilton sisters, with your wonderful creations from their patterns.

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  19. Wonderful T's! I love the one with the striped neckband and also the neckband with the piping. I took their class too...very good.

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  20. It's one thing to post a good review; it's another to be able to show photos of things made from the class that look so professional.

    What is your favorite method of applying neck binding?

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  21. Oh gosh - I did mean that as a compliment! YOUR tops look great!!

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  22. The black and white with the striped neckband? Absolutely charming. WANT WANT WANT.

    p.s. your model is so CUTE. ;-)

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