Apparel: March 2011 Archives
My April Blog theme is Spring Wardrobe and I am prepping for a few knit pieces. As I have been preparing, I thought it might be a good idea to post my progress and some of my short cuts as well as tools that I have found handy for successful knit sewing on a conventional machine. If you could have seen some of my first knit projects, you would only laugh. You would probably pull out something similar from your project archives- filed under "Never to see the light of day again/Failure". My first knit projects were copies of t shirts that I loved and my instructions were a few tutorials here and there from blogland. Like a teenager with out of context instructions I was sure I knew it all and jumped in with both feet. I was aghast at my outcome. A few years, a few more tutorials and a few knit sewing books (read from cover to cover several times) under my belt, my projects are looking good and I feel confident. I am not the teenager -in sewing terms-- anymore but nor am I the wise old wizard, with a "been there, done that" attitude knowing that I have faced all situations. I am just a girl with a regular sewing machine sewing knits pretty well. Here's how I do it.
I prep. HARD. I wash all my knit fabric and wash it exactly after I wear the garment. This is SO important. As much as I want to give my fabric special treatment- I treat it like any other piece of knit clothing. Next, I press all the wrinkles out and then lay it out as though to cut it on my cutting table and let it rest for an hour or more (I sometimes get distracted). The pressing can stretch and distort the knit and letting it rest will give you a truer cut than cutting into it right away.
I stay away from light weight jersey and use medium weight knits. This is my preference. I like more weight to my fabric because of the drape and how it falls on my shape. I also prefer it to sew. Light weight jersey curls like Shirley Temple's hair and it is NOT fun to sew. I also find that it is harder to rip with a seam ripper but I really think that is all me. I am probably just projecting now. I love interlock and medium weight jersey; stable knits like Ponte are also really fun.
Knits have a smaller seam allowance so if you are not comfortable with that you can cut a bigger size.
Recently I made a muslin of a knit dress for one of my upcoming projects. I had a problem with the fit. The pattern had me pegged at exactly a size 14 but it ended up being too big. I receive a great comment from Michelle Louise suggesting that I not go by the size on the envelope but measure the pattern pieces themselves. This was a great tip and it has worked really well in helping me avoid the wrong size.
I use a walking foot and it has turned my knitting life around. A regular foot would always leave me with mismatched fabric not just lengthwise but it would shift widthwise as well. I would spend so much time pinning and shifting while sewing that sewing knits was not enjoyable. With my walking foot, I use just a few pins and my fabric stays straight, inline and matches all the way to the end of the seam. Sewing knits is not stressful anymore.
I use freezer paper instead of cutting my patterns. Since I can never be sure that I am cutting the right size the first time, I just trace my pieces onto freeze paper, cut them out and iron them onto the fabric. I don't have to pin and they are reusable. This works so well with my rotary cutter. There is very little fabric distortion due to pinning and weights.
As much as I look forward to spring, in my neck of the woods it comes with stiff breezes and biting mornings. You need a lovely scarf to take the edge off the changing of the seasons in a lightweight fiber that works in warmer weather or can fit in your bag when temperatures climb in the middle of the day. This simple but elegant Ruffle Scarf knit in a cotton/linen blend creates the perfect spring scarf. The neutral, subtle colors blend well with dark, jewel tones of winter and the brighter shades of spring. I recommend doubling the yarn to make this a quick knit as well as blending the variegated color in the yarn. I started the 2 strands at different ends of the ball, mismatching the colors (One ball started with pink and the other with green). I wanted to swirl the colors together so there would be an even distribution of the variegation.
The finished scarf is about 6 ft long and a gorgeous length of ruffle goodness and deliciously soft. The weight is just right to swag around your neck and add a bit of warmth or you can double or triple the scarf and couple with a jacket for blustery days and nights. This scarf works well with a weekend, casual outfit or can be paired with a suit or dress for a weekday or a swing coat and heels for evening. It is very functional and stylish.
I loved making it despite the upwards of 600 sts at the end. It was a nice relaxing garter stitch that worked well while sitting outside with the little one. Here's what you will need to make your own:
2 skeins of Berroco Linsey (64% cotton, 36% Linen) in Vineyard color way.
With the yarn doubled, cast on 150 Sts (I used backwards cast on). Do not join for knitting in the round.
Knit 2 rows,
R3: *kf&b, k1; repeat from * to end of round (300 sts)
R4 & 5: Knit
R6: Repeat R3 (600 sts)
R8: Bind off
Weave in your ends and enjoy your luxurious scarf! I love to pair mine with my Favorite Things Cute Skirt and Denim jacket.
Challenges are like rainy days; you enjoy the first one but after 2 or three it just gets old. This can also describe my take on binding; I like it but often not enough to mess with it. Arm holes sure but a whole dress like this Butterick wrap dress pattern that has been sitting in my pile for a while. I see binding as a challenge and a foe but not one worth engaging. It is not the making of binding I mind but first you must match it up on one side and sew it and then fold it over and sew it again on the other side, making sure to sew over your previous seam and catch it on the other side. UGH. Well, that is no longer a problem with the Janome Binder Foot. Now, there is a disclaimer: the packaging gives no indication what size binding can fit but our product description dictates 10 to 14 mm will fit. This not so modern, but very informative Janome video tells us to use ½ in. binding which is what I eventually tested and found successful.
I started off with ¾ in. binding that I had remaining from the Weekend Sewing Kimono Dress. After discovering the size problem I went with some premade bias tape that fit perfectly. It took a few tries to get acquainted with loading the foot. I suggest giving yourself some quiet time for this as it can get frustrating feeding a small piece of fabric through a tiny tube with holes in it. But once you get it, you're good! I loaded my binding with the foot off the machine, installed it and then loaded the fabric. The package does give some good recommendations for tension, stitch length and needle position but I found it worked best on my Brother machine to have the needle in the center position. Yes, this foot does fit Brothers. I do recommend sewing slowly so you can get used to the guiding of both the binding and the fabric. It is a lot like the ruffler in this aspect. There is a fabric guide at the front of the foot but you should ignore this. I am not sure why it looks like a fabric guide but it is not in a position to be of any help. This is a very helpful foot to use on big projects like the retro dress pattern above or small project like baby bibs. It will really save some time and hassle. I would not recommend it for bulky projects like the bias tape recommendation I gave on the Heather Bailey Marlo Bloom Bag with different handles. That would best be left to the old fashioned way. I am going to try it out this weekend by adding from binding to a plain tan trench I have. I envision it with from great navy with white pin dot binding. Follow me on Twitter to see how it goes.
Another month, another free knitting pattern download designed by Moi (Tara Miller- hi, there) exclusively for Fabric.com. I am super excited about this month's pattern, Argyle Cloche, because it is my first cloche. I have wanted to make a cloche for quite a while. I'm in love with the roaring twenties! I love the glamour and the chic looks. The cloches are my favorite because they really draw attention to the face. You notice the hair (which long or short looks great in a cloche), the eyes pop and for the girls bold enough to wear a red lip- a cloche is just the right accessory.
My Argyle Cloche is just the hat for the waning of winter into spring. It is knit from Tahki Coast, a 55/45 wool/ cotton blend in 3 tonal colors of Teal, Grey and Aqua. I am really digging argyle this year and think the tonal aspects of these 3 colors really distinguish the argyle without making it the one and only star. Another great detail in the Argyle Cloche is added length on half of the brim. This allows for a close, cloche fit without bearing too much skin to harsh weather. The extra length can be worn in front to cover your bangs and heat your forehead or in back, if you have shorter hair and want the extra fabric on your neck. This detail slightly exaggerates the bell shape of the cloche and makes it easier to wear. The crown decreases also form a star shape, as a little treat to anyone who glances upon you as you tie your shoe.
Due to the nature of Fair Isle and the heavy cotton blend of the yarn, it is important to make sure you gauge correctly and keep your knitting loose. You may want to increase your needle size and make sure you keep your stranding spread out. You can get more Fair Isle tips here.
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This first installment is not exactly going to register high on the glamor meter. It's muslin time!
Carole and I met and discussed the style of dress she wanted. She is a modern girl and didn't want to go with a traditional long gown, and the first and most important feature that she wants is (drum roll please): POCKETS! She was very clear on this issue.
That's my kind of girl. She knows what she wants!
Carole also brought me several photos of dresses she liked, and once we narrowed down our choices, we were off to the races. So I put together a muslin using some basic bodice and skirt slopers I have in my library, and we had our first fitting.
The muslin, in case you are not familiar with the term, is a first version of the garment made in an inexpensive fabric (usually muslin -- surprise! -- which is where the name comes from). This is used to test the fit of the base pattern and make adjustments as needed. Once you have your muslin assembled and adjusted, you can take it apart to use as your final pattern.
Here a few snaps from our initial fitting:
First, the lovely bride. Say "hello" to the people, Carole!
The first place that needed to be adjusted was the shoulders. They need to fit her frame a little more snugly.
Then, the back of the bodice needed to be marked for shortening.
Here you can see a full view of the back, including the lazy zipper insertion. Since this is a garment made to be taken apart, it makes more sense to drop in a zipper without any finishing than to set it in beautifully. The final garment will have an invisible zipper.
Now the lovely bride waits while I prep the first test in her real fabric, a beautiful dupioni. Stay tuned to see things develop!