It just so happens that Cannabis sativa, along with its other virtues, produces a pretty decent and very versatile fabric called hemp. (And though you can sew on it, you shouldn’t sew while YOU are on it–insert machinery warning here, along with a warning about the pig’s breakfast you are likely to make of your project.)
I like hemp. A bast fabric, it’s incredibly versatile. You can find it in heavy canvases or lightweight fabrics that are hard to distinguish from linen. It blends beautifully with cotton or silk. (It does have one odd characteristic–it’s hydrophilic. It draws water from the air, and in humid climates, it can feel like it came out of the dryer too soon–good news for the plant, no doubt, but not necessarily desirable for clothing if you live in, say, a rain forest. Or Indiana. I once made a canvas jacket while I lived there, and while I loved the jacket, it hardly ever completely dried out.)
But now I live in New Mexico, so when I started getting this catalogue from a British outfit called Poetry, and I saw their offerings for cotton/hemp jersey knit tops, I let the moths out of my wallet and ordered one. It instantly became my favorite t-shirt. So one was not enough, but the catalogue prices were a bit steep for my Yankee frugality, even though import duties are included.
The solution was obvious. Soon I was the proud owner of one piece of hemp/cotton jersey from The Sewing Workshop, and two pieces of jersey and one French terry from Hemp Traders. And these tops are the first two results. (Both of the tops shown here are from the latter, and in both cases the fabrics were a bit brighter than was shown online; the marled piece from Sewing Workshop, shown below, was spot-on, so I don’t think it’s my monitor.)
The green one, above, is the Style Arc Kim Swing Top. I really liked the neckline finish on this one–and you really do need the narrow Style Arc seam allowance for a finish like this to work. It’s a very easy top, and I will be making it again–but not necessarily in this wonderful fabric.
The hemp/cotton jersey has what I would consider a moderate-to-limited stretch–it isn’t as stable as a ponte, but it stretches much less than, say, a cotton/bamboo jersey. It’s also a bit warmer than pure cotton, or cotton/bamboo. It seems to me that this pattern would benefit from a bit more stretch, and while this will be a useful transitional garment, you wouldn’t want to wear it in Phoenix in the summer. Here in Albuquerque, it is a September-through-May kind of top.
As Jane Austen’s Mr. Bennett would say if he lived in New Mexico, “Summer has delighted me quite enough.” Enough with the 90 degree (that’s 32.2 Celsius) nonsense! Maybe if I make a fall top, Mother Nature will get the message.
So here is the Style Arc Kaye Tunic, which is available either as a printed pattern or a download. (If you order the download, Style Arc will provide the patterns for one size smaller and one size larger in separate files. If you order the printed pattern from them, you will get the single size that you order. If you order from Amazon, you get a multi-sized pattern. Go figure.)
Even though the pattern calls for a woven fabric, I didn’t hesitate to substitute the hemp/cotton jersey because it is fairly stable. And it worked.
I will repeat my usual caveat for Style Arc patterns: the instructions leave a lot to be desired, so even though the patterns go together well, and a top like this really is very simple, a beginner may have trouble. For instance, I have a vision of a newbie somewhere with her version of this pattern. The pocket ends with a raw edge close to the armpit, because nowhere do the instructions say, “Fold pocket facing to inside and hemstitch.” You go from sewing on the pocket facing to sewing the pocket in place, except that you really shouldn’t.
But one puts up with a lot from the pattern companies we love.
Here are the remaining two pieces:
The port marled jersey will, I think, be a remake of a vintage top I made twenty years ago. The black French terry project will require some experimenting, but it will be a knock-off of an arty dress I saw in a chichi Santa Fe boutique–because if I cavil at pricy t-shirts, you can imagine my feelings about $900 sweatshirt dresses!