So! I do love my superhero movies, and the current Avengers-centric movies have IMO been pretty good as the genre goes (except Iron Man 2.) The second Captain America movie was released earlier in April, and it’s not a spoiler to say that the Winter Soldier is in it because it’s in the subtitle.
The Winter Soldier’s costume design is totally sweet, and very distinctive; and while there’s obviously a lot more detail to it, you can pare it down to just the bare essentials of the black suit, metal arm and red star on the shoulder (as they do in the minimalist, near-monochrome closing credits) and it’s still entirely recognisable. I figured I could reproduce it in T-shirt form and still have it be approximately recognisable …
The pattern is the Coco from Tilly & the Buttons. It’s a lovely basic knit-fabric top that, crucially, is designed for stable-ish knits and to be manageable on a regular sewing machine rather than an overlocker, with a boat neckline and the option of hip or dress length, collar, cuffs and pockets. It’s aimed at beginners, and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it. Even including my modifications, it took maybe three hours from cutting to finished.
The fabric is 100% cotton interlock from Tia Knight Fabrics, which cut, pressed, and sewed beautifully. (And it only took thirty hours to dry after I pre-washed it …) I made the top-length variant of the pattern, in a size 7 graded to an 8 at the hip. (Tilly’s patterns, refreshingly, just number the sizes from 1 upwards and provide measurements, rather than trying to come in line with RTW sizing).
It comes up longer than I expected, and sits comfortably over my hips without riding up – exactly what I want in a T-shirt. The pattern has slits a few inches deep at the bottom of the side seams; I ignored those and just sewed the side seam all the way down. I also raised the front neckline to match the back, as I like my boatnecks flat and wide. In the event it’s loosened a bit; next time I’d probably stabilise the neckline as well as the shoulder seams.
The less-standard modifications … well.
The grey sleeve has six pleats in it, sewn down to look like overlapping plates. Rather than draw a whole new sleeve piece, I measured the length and width of the sleeve (64x45cm) decided how much extra length I wanted for the pleats (3cm x 6 = 18cm), arriving at dimensions of 82cm by 45cm in actual cloth.
I cut a rectangle of fabric 85 by 50 (to allow a bit of room for placement), marked and sewed all the pleats onto it …
… then cut the sleeve piece out of the pre-pleated fabric. Approximately a million times easier and only barely less fabric-efficient.
For the shoulder piece, I traced off the curve of the armscye and the line of the shoulder seam, and connected them up with a curve. I extended the shoulder seam of the grey piece over the edge of the main neckline to allow the curve to be more full. It ended up almost a quarter circle.
Then I cut it into slices, spread them, and stuck it all back together, to allow for pleating it the same way as the sleeve. Here’s the finished pattern piece:
The grainline was going to be all over the place whatever I did, so in the end I placed it with the shoulder seam on the cross grain, so the section running over the shoulder wouldn’t stretch out. I interfaced the underside to hold it steady, cut a hole, and reverse-appliquéd the star patch into place from the right side before I made the pleats. The star on the costume is more on the upper arm than the top of the shoulder, but eh, this works well enough.
With the shoulder piece all made up, I pinned it to the bodice and sewed the left sleeve to both layers. After the top was finished, I tacked the shoulder piece down in a couple of places to keep it in roughly the right place.
I sewed the innards up with a ballpoint needle and a narrow zigzag, and did all the pleating, neckline, and hems with a twin needle. The twin needle wasn’t ballpoint but it doesn’t seem to have done any damage. This was the first time I’ve used the twin needle on my machine, and it looks so neat!
I really love the finished effect. I think it’s obvious enough to be recognised if you know what you’re looking at, but still plain enough to just be a slightly quirky, asymmetric top to the non-nerds amongst us. It’s also incredibly comfortable and simple to make.