the alaska totem pole raglan tee

gray totem pole t-shirt

For my mom’s birthday in July, my family went on a very special adventure: an Alaska cruise!

As with any planned adventure, this gave my mom and I an excuse to try and sew a few new wardrobe items for the trip. My favorite is this raglan tee, which I have taken to calling “my Alaska totem pole shirt”.

gray totem pole knit fabric

I picked up a giant piece of this fabric at my favorite Cleveland-area thrift store, possibly my favorite thrift store ever (Unique on Northfield Rd., if you’re nearby). This piece measured something like 60″ wide x 2 yards, which was a wonderful surprise. Far too often I’m rearranging pattern pieces for an hour to try and fit everything on some scrap of fabric!

I just love the small motifs adorning this fabric – I think they lend it a charming Native American feel. I figured it would make a perfect little long-sleeved raglan tee to wear on our day in Ketchikan at Potlatch Park.

totem pole - seamonster at potlatch park, ketchikan, alaska

Here’s an incredible seamonster who looks over the lake! The detail of its scales just blows me away. The Potlatch website actually has pictures of the steps to create the sea monster, which is pretty awesome. Apparently each scale was painted by a young visitor to the park!

gray totem pole t-shirt

This giant eagle has a not-so-big hole in its belly – that is actually how the dancers get into the tribal houses for ritual dances. According to our tour guide, the costumes are rather elaborate, so I would imagine it’s often a challenge to get through!

gray totem pole t-shirt

Here’s a closer view of my new shirt! (forgive my “mid-cruise squishiness”!) I love sewing in raglan sleeves because they are so easy. I also used my new serger’s cover stitch to finish the bottom hem and stitch down the neck line, which made me feel like quite the professional.

The fabric is a little bit scratchy, most likely due to a high polyester content (hey, thrift store shoppers can’t be choosy!), so I tried to make up for it by using one of my softest heather gray knits for the ribbing on the sleeves and neck. This way, when I roll up the sleeves, I still don’t notice the fabric’s scratchiness. The thickness of the fabric also means this shirt fits more like a sweatshirt, so I wear it with a gray t-shirt underneath.

totem pole workshop at potlatch park, ketchikan, alaska

My favorite part of the park was the workshop, which held giant in-progress totem poles. They carve away at the trees, little by little, until they show the totems they had hidden away inside. A magical process. The inside of the workshop smelled absolutely incredible, since all the totem poles are carved from cedar trees.

whale totem pole at potlatch park, ketchikan, alaska

And, just like I do, the Alaskans love their whales. Some of them get pretty creepy with those big grins, but this guy sure looks friendly.

Of course, I’m not in Alaska anymore, so I haven’t had much opportunity to wear my warm totem pole shirt. But fall is certainly starting to show itself, and as always, I’m loving it. My favorite season without a doubt.

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2 Responses

  1. Marie says:

    everything you make looks so professional! I love the shirt – can’t believe you found the fabric at a thrift store! Great score and I love what you made out of it :)

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