Last weekend I sewed up "my" Islander Sewing Systems Baja Shirt. I say it's mine because i'm on the cover but that was just by chance. It was designed by Janet Pray and I was simply in the right place at the right time when they needed a male model.
The first time I sew a pattern I try to follow the directions and sizing exactly without modifications so I can fully evaluate how the designer intended it to look. With that being said there were only two things I will change next time I sew this pattern. One was the sizing, and the second was the seam where the hood connects to the neck.
If I had paid more attention to the sizing on the pattern instructions I would have noticed that the pattern clearly states the finished sizes and I would have picked more appropriately. As it was I made the recommended size Large going off my chest measurement and ended up cutting 4" off each side before closing the side seams. Next time I'll be making the small size. I know it's supposed to be loose and all but this was a little too generous for a unisex pattern. Something else I noticed is that there's only a 2" difference in bodice length between the XS and the 4XL. I'll keep the large hood and pocket. The overall length I'll keep and just reduce the bodice and sleeve width.
The other issue I had was the seam where the hood connects to the neck opening. I remember noticing this on the samples we modeled at the sewing show. It's not graceful at all. This was the only place on the garment I used the serger and that was my attempt to "pretty" it up somewhat. In looking at some RTW hooded garments I notice they either serge this seam like I did or use a binding to cover over the roughness of the seam allowance. Since most people will hardly ever wear the hood up I suggest a quick fix by putting the seam allowance on the opposite side so it's hidden 90% of the time. Let's face it, if you're wearing the hood up you're likely not worried about fashion or seams showing anyway.. I look like a hoodlum with the hood up.... maybe down as well!
The instructions included with this pattern are excellent. The whole Islander philosophy is all about bringing industry techniques to the home sewist. These instructions were clear, verbose, and had lots of great illustrations. When you're accustomed to the regular style of cryptic pattern instructions Islander instructions are a joy to work with.
The fabric I chose for this first attempt is some sort of rayon/poly/spandex stuff I picked up for $1/yard at Walmart years ago. It's buttery soft, so absolutely luxuriously comfortable, and pills within hours of wearing it. I bought 6+ yards of this stuff so it's not the first time I've used it on a project. I knew it would pill so I expected this and obviously why it was so inexpensive in the first place. Anywhere the fabric rubs against itself or other stuff shows wear immediately. You can see here on the cuff. This is just beginning, it will get much worse. Eventually it will get a strange threadbare effect.
You'll also notice I made the sleeves long. Being someone with long arms I don't get to enjoy extra long sleeves very often. Since I reduced the circumference of the sleeve this extra length works great since I can also wear the cuff at my wrist and it won't slide down. If it was a baggier sleeve this extra length would annoy me.
All in all it's a great basic pattern to sew up. I think next time I'll try doing it in a t-shirt weight jersey. This could also be made with short sleeves. The simplicity of construction makes me think I'll be sewing a lot of it on the serger next time.
This is my first "baja" style shirt. I admit to being reminded of someone standing on the freeway on ramp with their thumb out. With that said I absolutely love wearing it. It's comfortable and casual yet has just enough detail to look cute at the grocery store. I remember not wanting to take off the samples when we were done with the cover photo shoot.
If you're looking for a easy project to make for yourself or someone else that will actually get worn pick up a Baja pattern. Just watch the sizing and you can't go wrong.
Disclaimer: This is not a "sponsored" blog entry. As compensation for modeling this shirt at the show I received three Islander sewing patterns as gifts. That's it, nothing else was implied or promised. In these days of blogging for cash I think it's important for you to know this.
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