Over my sadly sewing-free Christmas vacation I had been window shopping (or whatever you call the on-line equivalent) for laser cut shirts. I don’t think the ability to laser cut fabric is that new, but for some reason I’ve been seeing a lot of really cool applications of the technology lately like lace patterns in leather. Of course I don’t have a laser, but with knits or other fabrics that don’t fray you could do the same with a scissors. I saw one shirt with a lattice / grid type pattern that I thought would be easy to duplicate. I was planning on just buying a RTW T-shirt and chopping it up, but then French indie pattern company Deer & Doe released a free knit T-shirt pattern, the Plantain T-shirt, that was exactly the swingy shape I was looking for. And then they announced a contest for said pattern and I figured, hey, why not kill two birds with one stone?
My alterations to the pattern were to widen it by about 2 inches and raise the neckline to give me a little more room to add the cutwork design. (By the way, in France a size 46 is apparently a 41″ bust? I expected the size chart to be similar to Burda, but I guess every European country does their own thing.) The length ended up being perfect. I like this so much as basic T-shirt that I will be printing off the 3/4 and long sleeve options and saving this as a TNT T-shirt pattern for the future.
The cutwork part of the project required some experimentation. First I pulled a tencel slate blue knit out of my stash because I liked the color, but when I tried cutting a couple squares out the fabric as a test I realized that because the tencel knit didn’t have much recovery the lattice pattern would distort under the weight of the fabric beneath it. Back to my stash I went, and I found this taupe slinky knit that had the right amount of drape but also 8% lycra so it wouldn’t stretch out of shape while wearing.
Next I experimented with methods of cutting out the squares to see what would be most efficient. A scissors worked well for my initial testing, but I was hoping for something where I could keep the fabric flat to be more precise. A rotary cutter, even a very small one, just did not have the accuracy for stopping and starting that I needed. I tried an xacto knife but the pointy blade dragged the fabric too much instead of cutting. Finally I found an Olfa brand craft knife I had bought awhile ago at Michael’s that had an assortment of different blades, one of which was a flat chisel shape. That worked perfectly to just push down on each side of the square to cut. If you wanted to do more organic or curvy shapes, I don’t know what you could do except use a scissors.
To determine what the grid would look like on the shirt I drew up a grid in Photoshop and printed a few pages worth to tape together then laid it on top of the shirt and cut it in a V shape that I wanted along the neckline. This step was probably entirely unnecessary, but I wanted to get an idea of what it would look like before I started cutting. Next I used my SA curve rulers to trace the seam allowance along the edges of the pattern with a washable marker. (I didn’t want to cut out anything within the seam allowance.) Finally I drew the grid lines in with a ruler, and I was ready to cut.
After I found the neckline didn’t take too long I decided to do the sleeves as well. A couple episodes of Breaking Bad and I was done with the cutwork. The rest was just boring serging. I also used a twin needle on my regular machine to hem, which I’m happy to say turned out really nice on a slinky knit with no tunneling.
Here’s a closeup of the finished design. I know I’m no laser, but not too shabby, right?