Friday, April 13, 2018

Sequined T-shirt using McCalls 7538

For the longest time I have wanted to sew a sequined knit t-shirt. I actually have one in my wardrobe that I bought ages ago at Loft, it's a burgundy color and I wear it often. It's just the thing when you want to be casual but a little sparkly. That one has burgundy sequins (same color as the t-shirt) in rows so it's a bit subdued, if a sequined item can be considered subdued. While I really wanted a blue or turquoise fabric, when the fabric fairy leads you something on your search list you just have to give it a try.
Consequently I made this.

Pink sequin top

I ordered this from Fashion Fabrics Online, along with a few other items, 2 jersey knits and a lightweight silk crepe de chine. And everything was a winner. That site can be hit or miss, for the most part I've had really good luck but choose carefully and generally order when things are on sale so the investment is not too bad in case they are not to my liking. I think this sequin cotton knit was about $5 per yard so I ordered 2 yards and got a very generous piece. In fact I have enough left to make a sleeveless summer version:).
As mentioned above I was searching for the tone-on-tone sequin look but hadn't seen anything like that so I figured why not, even though this one with the silver sequins was a bit more sparkly that I was thinking of. After I sewed it up I asked on Instagram whether it was cute or geriatric, and got plenty of comments that were pro-sparkle. As most people said, why not?

Sewing details - this one had me puzzling how to sew it up into a knit t-shirt. As often happens inspiration came from an existing item in my wardrobe, McCalls 7538. This knit is only a one-way stretch, so it stretches crossway only, not lengthwise. Which is workable for a t-shirt but I needed some way to finish the neckline. The sequins were stitched with regular straight stitch so made it not possible to use the fabric as a sewn on band. Plus it would be super scratchy to have the sequins on the neckband. I used this pattern as the starting point, as it had a turn and stitch neckline. Which I scoffed at when I made the first version but now it seemed like a good option.

McCall env template rev2
And as usual I didn't make any of the various variations on the pattern envelope, but used the round neckline and the t-shirt length. Here's the link to my first version in a stripe. 

In order to make use the neckline and sleeves but omit the diagonal seaming and piecing I placed the pattern pieces together, pinned them along the stitching lines and then just traced a solid t-shirt front and back.

pink sequin pattern piece modification

Jumping ahead here is how I finished the neck, by using bemberg rayon lining as bias binding. It was in the scrap box and a good enough color match. Originally I planned to make full sleeves with elastic at the bottom but it somehow seemed better just to make a bell sleeve. Way easier too! Same binding on the sleeves although I did sew that as more of a hem facing and hand stitched it on the inside.

pink sequin top neck binding

pink sequin top neckline

I'm pretty happy with my t-shirt hack and will probably use this as a base for other t-shirts, I could add a neckband and make it that way. Also - did you notice that I centered the pattern? Which I saw just as I was starting to cut out - so that the design could be symmetrical across the front. Perhaps it's not noticeable, but I think if it was offset it would drive me crazy! Although now I'm just noticing the placement of those symmetrical "X's" on the bust. Oh well...

pink sequin top on form

So far I have worn this top exactly once - to our Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event back in February. It was after a long day of teaching sewing classes at Hello Stitch Studio, so a sparkly t-shirt and black skinny jeans was about as dressed up as I could muster. But I think next winter and holiday season I will get the opportunity to wear it a lot. Although it's one of those memorable things  - do you wonder if people say to themselves - "oh there she is wearing that outfit again". Which is kind of silly as clothes are made to be worn and if certain ones make you feel good you should wear them often.

Frocktails group photo

It was a fun event, Chuleenan of CSews blog is the organizer and she does a fantastic job with finding locations and organizing everyone.

sequin top2

Goofy pose to show off the sleeve shape.

So that's the latest on sparkly sequin tops - until I make the summer version.

Up next more pink - just about finished with the printed  silk top that I showed in my last post, the course correction from that Burda magazine shirt to the Burda envelope pattern has worked out well and I love the result. And a pink/purple knit dress also in the works. I have too many projects going right now, so this weekend's vow is to complete everything in progress before I can start anything new. We shall see if I stick to it.

However tomorrow will be a gardening day - the weather is glorious and things are starting to really bloom. Which means a bit of work now but then come our hot July we can all lounge and let the irrigation system do the work :)

Happy Spring Sewing,

This afternoon was the plant sale at the local junior college horticultural dept. I have had the best luck with plants bought there - they propagate so many California natives and plants that are perfect for our climate and dry summer. So with our pink theme today, this is a pink mallow (lavatory) that I bought a year ago, left in the pot all that time, finally planted in the late fall and it is looking so good! Lately I'm searching for tall plants and this one is just that. Or will be soon enough.



  1. Very pretty that worked out well.

  2. Lovely match of pattern and fabric! Pretty Lavatera, ours are having trouble surviving winter so thanks for sharing yours!

  3. Having just sewn sequin-flip pillows, now I'm thinking of a tshirt-type top for the holidays. The fabric was easy to sew too.

    Starting the new plant shopping - in the land of endless nurseries ( oregon), they all seem to grow the same thing. It's a challenge to find something unique but suitable for the climate.

  4. I knew I had seen this before! Such a beautiful top!

  5. I love it! It's funny that you also mentioned the junior college horticultural sale in the post on the original striped version of this pattern! :-)

  6. I have used Fashion Fabrics online for years (well, not the online part for years.) They used to be a club with a swatch service which I miss a LOT. But they have (or used to have) a 100% guarantee, return for no reason policy. You have to pay shipping though, so sometimes if you got in on a great sale it's just better to keep it! I have gotten some of the best deals with this company, particularly on their silk fabrics.

  7. Beth, this is a great looking t shirt. Thanks for the details.

  8. Very beautiful job! It looks lovely on you.

  9. This is so SPECIAL! I love it!!! It fits beautifully as well.

  10. What a great T shirt. Lovely color and fit. I really like how the sequins were used for the geometric pattern and the tasteful amount of sparkle they add.

  11. Great fit! The bell-sleeves - and of course the fabric - make this a very special tee. I like it very much.