Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sewing with Knits: Part II

The next two subjects that I would like to talk about are the stitch type and length that you choose for project as well as the choice between facings and linings.

I like to take a "scrap" of my chosen fabric, put in a new stretch or ball point needle, and run some sample stitches to see what works best. There are many weights of knits: some are "thinner" or "slinkier" that others, so it is a good idea to preview your stitches. Sometimes the foot pressure may seem to heavy, however, I have found that if the knit seems to drag through the feed dogs, all you need to do is lengthen the stitch length a little. I know that machines now come with built in stitches for knits, but I still test to see which is going to give me the best finish. On the rayon jersey knit pictured to the left I chose to use a regular straight stitch setting of 2.5 for my seams and a zig zag stitch (W=2.5;L=3) for my hem. These two settings allowed my fabric to lie flat with no stretching issues. I just finished a Maxi skirt with the fabric shown here and it hangs beautifully! I call this my "15 Minute Skirt".  I will go over this in detail in an upcoming class on sewing with knits at the shop. It will be a two part class with the first being a "Prep" class (in which I will also share my pattern and techniques for this skirt); the second part will be a workshop where you choose between 3 or 4 pattern suggestions and we make a dress!

             Now, for the discussion of Facings Versus Linings. 
Most patterns for garments include facings rather  
than a lining as it might seem an easier way to finish off the neckline and possible sleeves. This method does use less fabric, but when you are working with knits, you either need to bind the neck opening and sleeveless armhole openings or just line the entire bodice. To me, lining the bodice is by far easier! All you do is cut another bodice front and back out of a lining fabric. Pretty easy! Of course, the issue becomes finding the right lining. A sheer lightweight knit is the best choice and, of course, Sew It Up does stock this in white and natural at this time. See how this drapes ----
Perfect for knits because it IS a knit. It will stretch along with the rest of the dress and lays beautifully inside your garment without any puckering!

In our next installment I will cover interfacing for a garment using a knit fabric as well as pattern and fabric choices as well as how to cut it out!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sewing with Jersey Knits: Part I

                 Let's get started! Today, I am going to highlight the necessary notions to have on hand before we start sewing.

1. NEEDLES: One of the most important items to have on hand when sewing with knits is the proper kind of machine needle. You absolutely without a doubt need a ball point/ jersey needle. (Also sometimes labelled "stretch") They do come in different sizes - so choose the size based on the weight of the knit you are going to sew. Most jersey's are lightweight, so I use a 70. If you are using something like a Ponte, then use an 80. I will talk about hemming later, but you will need a twin stretch needle to do this unless you have a serger that does a "cover lock" stitch.

2. PINS: Use glass head and preferably new ones as knits can snag easily. And, speaking of snagging,make sure that you do not have any dry places on your hands or nails. Maybe lotion up the night before and do a little light filing:)

3. THREAD: Most of the time I use regular sewing thread in my sewing machine, but only Gutterman or Metrosene. Occasionally I will use "wooly nylon" in my bobbin ~ if I need the seam to stretch a lot. If I am serging my seams, I put the "wooly nylon" in the upper looper of my serger (regular thread in the needle and lower looper).

4. INTERFACING: Sometimes you will need a little interfacing for your project and it must be able to stretch along with the knit. My favorite is the tricot fusible; it comes in white and black. Another one of my favorite is a fusible stretch tape for stabilizing seams and even hemlines. You can cut your own from the tricot fusible interfacing.

5. WHICH FOOT TO USE: If you have a teflon foot, I find that this works marvelously; however if you do not have one, you can still sew up your project with ease.

6. PRESSING CLOTH: Imperative! And, do not set your iron on the highest setting ~ cotton! This is where most of us leave our irons set at, so just be careful to change the setting to silk or poly. 

Tomorrow I am going to discuss how to cut out your project! You do not need to pre-wash your jersey knits as you are most likely going to wash them on delicate in cold water. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sew Sew Sew Serendipity!

              Last Saturday we hosted Kay Whitt, the designer for Sew Serendipity Designs for an event. She brought us all of her new samples for her three newest patterns: The Jade Jacket,  the Willow Tunic/Dress & the Tara Dress (which she is wearing in the photo to the left). She even brought the samples from last Fall Market which were: Fashion Formula Volume 3 (12 Skirts 12 different ways!), the Jordan Jacket (a denim jacket look-a-like) and the Ramona Wrap Dress. We oohed over all the delicious garments ~ they totally inspired all of us to go sew them up! I was no exception. Just this morning, I finished my first Tara Dress. I made it up in a beautiful light weight cotton sateen. After studying the fabric I decided that it simply did not need any complimentary fabric. I choose the mid-calf length with a single deep ruffle (3"). I made the tie, bias binding - everything out of the one fabric. I love it! The pattern directions were a breeze to follow and, believe it or not, I only made one small change! I like having elastic in the back rather than the tie going all the way thru the casing. You cannot tell at all when you have the dress on, but for me, it is just more comfortable. As far as fit, I cut out the Small, except the front bodice. I cut out a medium to help fit me better. Its perfect!

        On Saturday, for the event, I wore one of Kay's slightly older patterns, the Juliet Nouveau, which I had not made before. I had this wild idea to make it out of a jersey! I cut out the small for all pieces. For the bodice, I eliminated all of the facings and lined it entirely out of a stretch jersey lining. I will go into more detail about how I sewed it up in my next post! I think that I will make it my goal to make up as many of Kay's patterns in knits! I will keep blogging on the topic of knits. I know that it has been a great while since my previous post. I will try to do better!

Here is the Juliet Nouveau out of a jersey: