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Nov 25, 2014

Keep or Return? or "The Unbearable Cheapness of Bean"



Is it me or have men's cotton turtlenecks nearly vanished from mainstream fashion?

I know you can still find them here and there (Ralph Lauren, L.L. Bean, Lands End), but they used to be everywhere.  How are men keeping their necks warm these days?

I was looking for a good quality cotton turtleneck last week and finally ordered one from L.L. Bean: $22.95 with no tax and free shipping.  When it arrived, however, I was disappointed.  While the cotton is soft, the fit is way off.  I'd ordered a size Small.  The torso is narrow enough, but the sleeves are wide enough for a pair of legs - make that two pair -- and the armholes hang down to mid-chest.  I mean, I know different brands use different fit models, but this is weird and nothing like the size Small turtlenecks I remember from the past.





Also, the cuffs and collar aren't particularly elastic -- not much stretchier than the regular jersey.   A look inside shows that the side/sleeve seam is serged, and I could easily tailor the shirt for a better fit.  I pinned a bit -- though not nearly enough -- to get a sense of how it might look if I took it in.





Here you can see the slightly tailored sleeve on my right.



I hate the idea of having to re-do RTW, but I know many people do this as a matter of course.  The shirt was cheap, and I could probably do a good job without too much of a time investment, but still, it irks me to have to restitch a brand new shirt.  The alternative would be to return it.

What would you do?

In other news, today I started tracing my coat pattern and boy, is it a chore.  I don't mind tracing per se, but seam allowances have to be added and this pattern calls for different seam allowances on different pattern pieces -- the lining pieces in particular are hard to figure out.





I'm hoping in the morning, when I'm fresher, I'll be able to make sense of all these numbers.





And that's it!  I hope to have everything traced by tomorrow so I can spend the rest of the week on the muslin.

This pocket alone (below) may take an afternoon!



In closing, aside from hemming a pair of pants, do you often have to tailor your RTW (ready-to-wear) clothing purchases?

Have a great day, everybody!

50 comments:

  1. For years, altering RTW was all the sewing I ever got to do. Beware those turtlenecks; they will shrink, and the collar will shrink the most. I come from a large headed tribe, and we have given up on them unless I make them.

    Why do the different pieces have different seam allowances? I'd just trace 'em and add the allowances later (habit from altering patterns).

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    Replies
    1. I did trace them. Seam allowances are tomorrow's chore!

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  2. I'd return it. But I can find that kind of item pretty easily (in store, if not as cheaply) and it'll fit well.

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    Replies
    1. I suspect I will -- I'm pretty "meh" about the shirt.

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  3. I guess whether you return of keep depends on how cold you are up there. As fast as you sew you probably should return and get some good fabric and ribbing. I do alter rtw because I have become very slow about cranking out garments and nothing fits without working on it a bit. I guess we'll all soon be sewing that sort of thing as all of the stuff for sale is so sorry now. At least you have the city to go hunt for fabric.

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  4. I can't even get a tee shirt for hubby or my kid anymore that doesn't have the grain of the knit way off the straight of grain. The shirt side seams usually twist around like th stripes on a barber pole. They want the same price or more and they can't make a decent tee shirt!!!

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    Replies
    1. Wow! Isn't that the truth!!!

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  5. Peter-- Return the turtleneck. The fit is way off the mark. I have a stylist friend who returns things all the time, so it's no big deal. Find another size that works for you or another company. Those Bean sizes always run a little large and shapeless.

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  6. I'd return it; even after taking in the side seams, you'll still be left with armscyes that are too low. You have easy access to better quality fabric and once you've got the fit where you like it, you can just batch them out! Irecently had a similar experience with cotton cardigans from Lands End; the body was acceptable for a Petite XS; the arms, however, were grafted on from a Woman's Medium regular - at the least. Back they went.

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  7. I feel your pain!
    If the return is free, I'd send it back.
    If you have to pay to ship it back, it might be worthwhile to alter it. I'd suggest you wash and and dry it (both high heat) a couple of times before making any changes.

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  8. Return it. I haven't bought from LL Bean for a while, but I didn't realize how far the quality had fallen.

    I do a lot of tailoring RTW, mostly hems, and some waistbands.

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  9. Peter, I'd return it. For the effort that it would take to alter it, you might as well make one from scratch.

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  10. I tailor everything for my man. He is short. Thus all the pants, shrts, etc. do not fit him correctly. Plus he has a very muscular upper torso and neck so some clothes have to be taken in from the body. I have made a promise to start and at least try to sew him as many clothes I can.

    I wouldnt bother with the turtleneck. Maybe study how it's made and make yor own using better quality materials?

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  11. I'm reminded of my old winter school uniform which included a blue skivvy top like this...
    If you can't find a top that fits why not make your own? I have an old Kwik Sew pattern in my sewing stash (I believe it's #1997) for this style of top. Maybe you can find something similar online?

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  12. Appologies if this is a repeat - my comment looked like it was deleted.

    I suggest Uniqlo. There were some nice women's turtles on sale yesterday. Maybe they have mens too. The fit tends to be a bit more fashionable and the fabric is usually nice.

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  13. Wow, tailor ready made- I have to do it all the time. Your turtleneck? Return it even with your fix it is not all that great.

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  14. Willie sighting!!! [his more flattering right profile, no less]

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  15. LLBean hasn't embraced the slimmer silhouette that is for certain. I guess that's the whole point of LL Bean. I second the recommendation to check out Uniqlo.

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  16. And they laugh at european men wearing scarfs around their necks all the time. . . personally most turtlenecks feel like they are strangling me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Choke city! Can't stand anything tight around my neck. I'd rather wear a scarf.

      Delete
  17. I would return it. As others say, I would've thought you could make one pretty quickly and in NYC, you have access to all the materials. Then you'd have a pattern for future use, too.
    I took up sewing because RTW often doesn't fit and I can't alter as I need extra length where there is no extra fabric available - waist for example, and often sleeves and trouser legs can't be altered enough due to finish eg mitred. I can't make what I want to, yet.
    We call this neck a polo neck, BTW.

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    Replies
    1. And, BTW, thanks for telling - as a non-English student of English, I'm always confused and intrigued by all the different names. :-)

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  18. Return it and just make one. I bet Jalie have a pattern, if not you'll find one somewhere. You've sewn knits before, and you've got access to great fabrics and trimmings.

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  19. Peter, the first thing that came to my mind about those numbers like 1.5 and 3 on the Japanese patterns is that they must be in centimeters. Also, I would make a knock off pattern copy of the turtleneck sweater, similar to this technique: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/53198839320760625/ , before returning the sweater.

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  20. Too much to fix with this one. Make your own by tracing off your fave.

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  21. I'd say return it.

    Also, do you have any tips for working with Japanese patterns? I bought a yukata pattern as well as 2 sewing magazines with plenty of patterns included in Tokyo this summer. I've never worked with Japanese patterns before, so I'm pretty intimidated.

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  22. I would return it - depending on the return policy. But If I kept it, I would definitely launder before tailoring.

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  23. I would return it. i generally get all my clothes thrifting - you did inspire me to start making my own undies when all i could get at target were the name brands that don't fit me well. i don't consider $20+ cheap. i would either find something at target or thrift and alter that or with you mad skillz - make your own. Thank you for an awesome blog - you keep my rss feed from being too serious and i really enjoy your posts.

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  24. It's all about body shape. My husband buys most of his clothes from LL Bean because it's one of the only brands out there that actually fits him. Husband is 6'2" tall, 52" chest, 40" waist - not a small dude. He gets frustrated when he sees the men's patterns because they don't make his size at all (exceptions: old Kwik Sew tops only require length alterations, and Hot Patterns). Have you looked for turtlenecks at Uniqlo? I think their sloper is more geared towards your body size/shape.

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    Replies
    1. Mens turtlenecks at Uniqlo are $7.90. How is that even possible???

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    2. I know, right? I love the Uniqlo t-shirts. They are really inexpensive but the quality is better than any other I've found. And the company is also socially responsible. Gotta love that.
      Ellie in CO

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    3. Stacey, a few suggestions:

      Pattern Grading - if you want to sew for your husband you can use vogue, burda or any multisized pattern. On etsy you can also find older mccalls and simplicity that come in bigger sizes. Simplicity still has some patterns that will fit bigger guys.

      I worked out alot for over 20 years, take a size 52 reg jacket etc and I am working on downsizing the muscle mass i added so I can get back into regular clothing. I always have to grade patterns if I am going to make something for myself. Multisized patterns make that easier, you can follow the sizing lines on the pattern outward and add the required amount for a size 52 jacket or top. Kwik sew also has many XXL patterns which fit 50-52 inch chest.

      Just a suggestion.

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    4. Re Uniqlo, it's all about buying power:

      http://nymag.com/fashion/features/65898/index4.html

      Spud.

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    5. Corey - I've tried to grade Burda, maybe it's my skills, but it turned out horribly. I had to grade too far! But Kwik Sew, yeah, I bought up a TON of their patterns before they switched away from thick paper print-outs, so I pretty much use those as starting points for everything my husband wants. Again, Hot Patterns' XXL fits hubby's measurements, I've bought a few from them I haven't had a chance to try out yet.

      Delete
  25. Peter, return it. You are unhappy with the fit. You are in NYC, go shopping and try things on, until you find one that fits the way you want. There must be stores that care turtlenecks. Its a basic clothing item.

    As far as fixing RTW, that is the majority of sewing that I have to do. It is rare to find a RTW brand that fits and also you always have to hem pants or fix a baggy etc. I get clothing from Value Village and Salvation Army, you can find some great stuff there, and I have to always upscale, and fix the clothing in one way or another. There are even people holding sewing classes on how to "upscale" your thirty shop finds.

    The japanese patterns, did you figure out what the numbers mean? Do they refer to 1.5 cm seam allowance?

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  26. Oh My Goodness. I have to alter nearly every ready to wear thing I buy. I'm a little larger and in RTW I should be 6'2" (and I'm a woman!!). So I hem trousers - always. I take at lest six-seven inches off the bottom of t-shirts and turtles. And I'm a near expert at doing decorative tucks along the shoulder seam to narrow the shoulders.
    Sewing from scratch is almost easier. (almost).
    Kathryn

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  27. No offense, Peter -- this turtleneck looks like what it is: really cheap rtw. Aside from fit issues, I'd return it for this reason alone.

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  28. I was in an LL Bean store not too long ago and couldn't believe the quality -- it's gone way down. I say return it and go to Uniqlo. :)

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  29. Turtlenecks are pretty much unisex. Maybe sampling a womens turtleneck will produce the close fit that you prefer.

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  30. Return it; you'll never like it no matter what - PLUS have had issues recently with Bean turtlenecks shrinking in the actual neck and strangling me, while the body/arms remain too large. I have to keep learning over and over to find a better turtleneck source.

    ceci

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  31. Peter, you've paid for the garment and now you are spending x amount of your time altering for an accurate size fit, so add your hourly rate to the price of the garment.

    Also: cheap RTW made in Cambodia ... perhaps it would be a good idea to confirm LLB's current social responsibility status.

    And honestly, given the fab stuff you sew - this is grannywear! Doesn't do you justice.

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  32. People in Cambodia need jobs too.

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  33. Return it. You can make a much better quality turtleneck with the fit you want.

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  34. Over the last couple of years I've undertaken a ruthless wardrobe clean-out (only a small quantity of items that I actually wear remain). Most items had to go because of poor fit. Half-way through the process I decided I would never again buy a garment that needed too much alteration. I've adhered to that principle and it has served me well. I'd return the turtleneck.

    While most of my poorly fitting garments were donated to charity I've kept a small number of good quality pieces in my fabric stash that could be: altered to fit (for practice/learning); or scavenged for fabric; or used as examples/templates of RTW garment construction.

    Spud.

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  35. My daughter buts almost all her clothes online. She always orders a larger size than she thinks she needs. So I get to alter all her clothes, she says she'd rather order larger than too small as she knows I can make the adjustments. What she doesn't know that I really hate doing it

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  36. Return it. Don't waste another thought on this one. After all, you sew so beautifully.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

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  37. My husband buys his turtlenecks at Lands End. They have the ribbed sleeves and neck. He's also slim and they fit him well. Of course, I'm not sure how long he's owned the ones he has, but I do know L.E. is one of the few places he'll buy from.

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  38. They make everything for large americans built like squares, I've found, except their Signature line. If you want I have a men's turtleneck pattern that I htink is in your size that I'd be happy to mail off to you. I know I'll never get James in one!

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  39. Absolutely...return it and shop at Uniqlo. LLBean stuff is for people who want LOTS of room inside their clothing!
    Good luck with the Japanese pattern. It should be very rewarding when you're done.

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  40. The best men's turtleneck I've seen lately was by Under Armour. More of a tech/athletic fabric but really nice looking black t-neck, if you don't mind the small logo on the side. The wearer said it was very stretchy and comfy too.

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