Style crisis: getting practical – a Selja Knot Tee

Selja Knot Tee knot shot

At the end of my last Style Crisis post I mentioned that I was contemplating a navy linen shirt – probably as an unconscious reaction to the doubts I had regarding the print pattern on the shirt I’d just blogged. One of our customers called me up: “Noo! Don’t make the navy shirt!” she pleaded. “Blimey” I thought. “She must really mean it. Maybe I’ll think again”. So I did – and here we are with the ‘Selja’ Knot Tee by Named Clothing.

I had two concerns here.

First – to get back on the horse as quickly as possible. I had a day without any commitments at the weekend and I wanted a quick result.

Second – I was determined to have another go at colour and pattern. That navy shirt might still be on my list but I’d been well and truly warned off retreating to my comfort zone before time.

A top to go with jeans (in the first instance at least) was still top of my list on the basis that it would get plenty of wear and immediately give my daily ‘uniform’ a lift. The priority then was practicality – plus a quick win was what I needed.

The pattern

I was brought up a ‘Vogue Patterns’ girl. In the days before YouTube I was taught to sew by my mother, my grandmother and the instructions in Vogue patterns, as well as a healthy dollop of ‘make it up and try again’. Stepping into the burgeoning world of independent pattern publishers has been like stepping into the unknown for me – but I’m inordinately excited about some of the designs out there and am steadily working my way through the different publishers. I’ve liked the look of Named Clothing’s Selja Knot Tee for some time and we’ve suggested it for a number of our single knit jersey fabrics.

Selja Knot Tee by Named Clothing

Selja Knot Tee pattern by Named Clothing

The simplicity of the cut appealed to me – as, in this instance, did the apparent simplicity of the make. Single knit jersey fabrics are perfect for playing with stretching and draping – and this design seemed to allow for just that – but without too much fuss. Fitted on the shoulders, the knot helping shape it just enough with an interesting asymmetry, but without too much fabric swinging around.

I had one concern in that on the model, the top appears to sit on the upper part of the hip which is never a good place for me.

(Is it for anyone? Really? Surely I’m not the only one who picks up the cardigans in M&S and just cannot comprehend why they cut them like that. Square, down to ribbing which sits on the top of the hips; no shaping; folding inelegantly around the midriff like a toad flattened under a stone. In my opinion.)

I just hoped that the asymmetric drape of the Selja Knot Tee pattern design would avoid any such toadiness.

The fabric

Obviously it was going to be a bit of a drag, sifting through the ClothSpot jersey collection, *rolls eyes* but happily I had snaffled an offcut of our ‘Shadow dance’ red, blue & grey floral viscose jersey fabric a few weeks ago. It still has a soft tomato red in it, but also blues to pick up my denim and lots of subtle neutrals to calm the horses. Based on my previous experience it also seemed appropriate that the print pattern was a much larger scale and more abstract in nature.

This is a particularly soft-handled viscose jersey fabric with some stretch in it – helping with the drape as well as the fit. Perhaps a little bit more ‘gentle’ than my usual work clothing but I decided to be a grown-up and give it a go.

The making

I’m a latecomer to sewing with jersey and so still getting to grips with what my machine can do. Its predecessors were unpredictable and stretch fabrics would often end up being consumed by the feed dog – however my current machine and my overlocker made sewing this fabric as easy as pie. Of course I still managed to make a mistake – I was distracted while stitching the side front seam and took it all the way down to the bottom instead of stopping level with the hemline to leave the two ties free to knot. Doh. I can now tell you with authority that unpicking a stretch stitch on relatively fine jersey doesn’t work. Shamefully, two more front pieces had to be cut and re-sewn.

Aside from that debacle, it was all plain sailing. Aside from my re-cut, the top would have easily come out of the 1.4m of fabric required – in fact I could have got away with less as this jersey is quite wide and there are only 5 pattern pieces to contend with.

Selja Knot Tee cutting layout

I used a decorative stretch stitch to sew the neckband (although that probably wasn’t my finest hour) and the only point where I (respectfully) disagreed with the pattern instructions was to overlock the inside edge of the neckband and not turn it under before top-stitching. I figured this would make for a flatter finish and indeed I think it did.

Slja Knot Tee chest shot

More practice required…

I had toyed with the idea of lengthening the sleeves to above the elbow, but decided not to. Partly because I was working with an offcut of fabric; also because it was warm and I thought I’d see how it looked once finished. I might reserve the right to fiddle in that department with a future version.

The wearing

I was pleasantly surprised at how practical this top is – and how comfortable I was wearing it. Starting at the top, for a round neckline, it sits at just the right point – not so high as to cut my neck off or make me feel throttled. It was a warm day and I didn’t feel overly hot either – the relatively light weight of this jersey helping there. I liked the sportiness of the sleeves – and the fit across my broad shoulders was just right – so for reference the sizing is pretty true-to-size, perhaps bordering on slightly generous.

The biggest relief was the fact that it sat nicely around the lower part of my hips. There was no M&S cardigan toad factor and that angled drape even managed to do something rather elegant across my middle. I was probably least enamoured with the length of the ties – they were a bit dangly for my liking but that’s just an issue of personal taste and easily remedied.

Selja Knot Tee mannequin blog

The acid test was that I went to put it on again the next morning – it did two days on the trot. It even weathered a photography session, which involves me attaching my fabric clips to the hem of whatever I’m wearing. For that reason, dresses are a pain on photography days – but tops are handy – and this one worked a treat.

I still got the inevitable knowing smirks from my colleagues – but they were tempered with (apparently) genuine noises of approval – and I even received a compliment from someone who didn’t know that it was a Style Crisis experiment. (And yes – I admit it was my mother – but it still counts – she’s not short of a direct opinion as previously noted).

The feeling

In terms of a learning experience on the style front, this top taught me lots. I’ve learned that I’m definitely more comfortable with larger, more abstract print patterns; also that my fit preferences (close on the shoulders, a bit of shape through the middle) work well for me. I will also keep an eye out for garments that work some asymmetry into the torso – since they make the most of my wider upper body and bring a sense of movement. (The side front seam in the Selja Knot Tee is a subtle design element but it definitely adds something).

I also learned that I have pushed my tolerance for drapiness just about as far as it will go. Floating sleeves, for instance – or any additional frippery on this design, would have pushed me over the edge. I like the sportiness of the upper half of the top which allows me to feel OK with the draping and knotting around the hips.

I enjoyed the punchiness of the red in among the subtler shades of blue and grey and could easily have coped with more on the colour front. Most importantly though, I felt like me. Admittedly it didn’t elevate my sense of self to ‘creative superhero’ level – or break any new ground – but it fulfilled the ‘practicality’ brief as well as teaching me a good deal too.

The decision

It’s a keeper. It might not sum up every aspect of my inner style self – but it’s easy to wear, has a bit of character and probably a bit more elegance than I am used to. I haven’t tried it with my jackets and although I’m keen to see if it works with those, I’ll definitely do a re-run in due course.

Alice in Selja Knot Tee

Oh, go on then…

However having done two tops, I am now feeling the need to cater for my bottom half. Primarily because even I can’t live in jeans forever and my pants collection isn’t really worth of display. Also, though, because my making is beginning to feel a little piecemeal and I’d like to try coming up with a whole outfit. It might just be a dress – or it might be time for summer trousers. Or both!

Do let me know what you think – as I discovered last week when I was redirected from that navy linen shirt – opinions and guidance are not only appreciated, but apparently, necessary…

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18 Responses to Style crisis: getting practical – a Selja Knot Tee

  1. Sarah Skinner

    Oh yes; I like this on you – the soft colours and draping are very flattering and suit you. Yay !

    July 7, 2017 at 6:32 pm
    • ClothSpot

      Hurrah! *wipes brow* Thank you very much, Sarah – ‘Yay!’ indeed!! Onwards and upwards….

      July 7, 2017 at 6:36 pm
  2. Shirley

    Yes, yes, yes, and not a hint of toad!

    July 7, 2017 at 6:50 pm
    • ClothSpot

      Phew! On the right track, then. Thank goodness I was prodded into it!

      July 7, 2017 at 6:54 pm
  3. Cheryl

    Love it, really suits you. Now I am very tempted to try that pattern, I feel a shopping spree coming on!

    July 7, 2017 at 8:20 pm
    • ClothSpot

      Thank you Cheryl – reassurance greatly appreciated! The pattern was an easy win, too – I can recommend it!

      July 10, 2017 at 8:41 am
  4. Jenny

    Those colours are fab on you Alice. I love the top. I like the same elements you do, the sportiness of the shoulders and the asymmetry. I discovered jersey last year and had a Tilly’s Agnes top spree which was very successful. No darts or fastenings required – yay. I have very narrow shoulders so making my own was a revelation in fit. My fallback if I don’t know what to wear with something is an ancient slightly fitted lightweight denim jacket, goes with everything except jeans! (Even my teenage granddaughter has borrowed it). I always think denim is for clothes as green is in the garden, it brings things together. So maybe your trouser foray for summer could be in a lightweight denim, but not jeans, say just above the ankle? And you can add colour with a bit of piping on the pockets, or (easily changed) buttons to make something into an outfit rather than two separate items.

    July 7, 2017 at 9:25 pm
    • ClothSpot

      That’s so kind of you – thank you Jenny! I have eyed up the Agnes myself – and oddly enough we have a couple of denim chambrays that I was eyeing up for summer crops – I am right on your page! I can fit my trousers now – it’s building in the ease in the right places that challenges me, so something slightly less fitted for summer might well be a winner – much appreciated!

      July 10, 2017 at 8:44 am
  5. Marion George

    It looks great on you. I think it suits your coloring, to a tee, pun intended! Both of your mAkes have been on the dark side. How about branching out with some lighter shades?

    July 8, 2017 at 7:35 am
    • ClothSpot

      Thank you very much indeed, Marion – and for the unforced pun, too! Try lighter shades you say? Mmffffff…. Does not compute…does not compute…*spins cogs, bashes into wall*

      July 10, 2017 at 8:49 am
  6. Di

    Well done Alice. That really suits you.

    July 8, 2017 at 1:05 pm
    • ClothSpot

      Thank you Di – and for nudging me out of my navy blue comfort zone! So pleased you did 🙂

      July 10, 2017 at 8:50 am
  7. Marian Lane

    Wow!! Looks fab, Alice: be proud!!

    Definitely go for the summer trousers – i’ve just done the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers pattern and have managed to produce a comfortable result, but am slightly concerned at their easily being mistaken for pyjamas!! Probably a bad fabric choice. Would be very interested in your take on a similar project – I’m thinking of something less fitted for the next effort, something wide-legged and flappy without going to the extreme of Oxford bags, possibly in a cool crepe or similar. What do you think?

    July 8, 2017 at 6:47 pm
    • ClothSpot

      Marian, you’re too kind – thanks very much! I may well take you up on your Ultimate Trousers pattern challenge! I do love the idea of wide-legged trousers and I have a pair literally hanging around in the ClothSpot workroom waiting to be finished (Note to Marion G – they’re actually light-coloured 😉 but I’m unsure about the waist and hip fit on them (all will become clear in due course). I either need to adapt my pattern block to be cut lower in the waist (or find a pattern that does that nicely). Suggestions welcome – and I will have a hunt around. Watch this space!

      July 10, 2017 at 8:57 am
  8. Denise

    Looks fantastic Alice. Although quite busy, the colours blend well and are really suited to this garment. A*

    July 9, 2017 at 9:08 pm
    • ClothSpot

      Thank you very much indeed for my A*, Denise – I haven’t had one of those before! I’m glad you like the fabric choice – it had been sitting in my personal stash for a little while and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. (I promise I don’t raid the stock *very* much…)

      July 10, 2017 at 8:59 am
  9. Hayley

    This is fab, well done! Oh how I can relate to continuing to sew past the point where I should stop. Someone told me to put two pins next to each other at the stopping point, and it has definitely helped.

    August 31, 2017 at 2:34 pm
    • ClothSpot

      Thank you very much indeed, Haley! Oh yes – how I wish it was the only time I could own up to that particular ‘hiccup’…it’s pretty fatal with jersey as I found out – thank you for the tip! (Now I just need to remember that the next time… 😉

      August 31, 2017 at 2:37 pm

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