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Sew Along Knit Shirt: Week 1

TERMS AND CONCEPTS

SELECTING A PATTERN

KS3766Since we set out to sew a knit shirt, we will want a knit pattern! As I mentioned in my Boxers: Week 1 post, you will want to select your fabric to your pattern, and your pattern to your fabric. Using only fabrics that are recommended on a pattern envelope is a hard rule you should not break unless you really know what you’re doing.

With knits, this goes double. Knits pattern are crafted with the stretch of the fabric in mind; each pattern has a special bar marking, right along the edge of pattern envelope, to make sure your fabric can stretch the necessary length to accommodate the project.

To test the stretch of your fabric, hold the selvage edge of your fabric against the indicator bar on the pattern envelope.  Holding the fabric against the envelope with one hand, use your free hand to grasp the fabric at the “non-stretch” end of the bar. Then, pull the fabric horizontally. You should be able to stretch the fabric to the end of the entire bar without damaging the fabric.

SELECTING YOUR FABRIC
KS3766_BackSince we are making a knit, we will obviously want knit fabric. Knits are fabrics that can be stretched, in one or both directions, and can come in a wide variety of fibers and thickness. Clothing items like t-shirts, sweatshirts, and yoga pants are commonly made from knits. If the clothing item has to stretch in order to fit on your body (doesn’t have any closures, ties, sewn-in elastic, etc) it’s probably a knit.

For this project, we will be using a one-way stretch knit. Jersey or interlock (a light to medium fabric with a fine rib on both sides) would work. The important thing is that the fabric have 35% stretch. For now, stay away from two-way stretch fabrics like spandex.

For a great detailed account on different types of knits, check out this webpage from Denver Fabrics. Don’t let all the different types confuse you; for right now, all you need is a jersey or interlock knit, in the length appropriate for what size you are sewing.

I will be sewing a size Small, in View A (the long sleeve), so I bought a little over a yard and a half.

INTERFACING

This is the first project in which we will be working with interfacing. Interfacing is a stiffer type of material used to stiffen or reinforce different parts of a sewing project. Interface is hidden, adhered to the wrong side of the fabric, usually through heat bonding (heat-adhesive interfacing is called fusible interfacing. I far prefer it to the sewn kind.) With a sharp eye, though, you can still spot when interfacing is used-in a crisp collar, on a button hole, or to help hold the shape of a sewn wallet.

You only need a very small amount for this project. 1/4 of a yard of light (but not featherweight) or medium weight fusible interfacing should do it.

PREPARING FABRIC

A big advantage of knits is that they are incredibly easy to take care of, at least for people who do their own laundry. I can wash my knit fabric just like I would all my other normal clothes. (This isn’t universal, of course; always make sure to double-check the fabric care instructions on the end of a bolt.)

Best of all, knits don’t have to be ironed! I iron mine anyway, because I’m obsessive about wrinkles, but once your fabric comes out of the dryer, you can pretty much get straight to pinning and sewing!

SEWING TOOLS

Sewing tools are essentially the same as with other projects, EXCEPT the needles.

  • Sewing needles. You will want to match the needle to your sewing machine. I have a 1970’s Singer, and the Singer needles still fit it perfectly.
    • Pay special attention to the size of the needle you get. Choose the size of the needle based on the weight of fabric. You’ll probably be sewing either lightweight or medium weight fabric, so choose either a 11/80 or 14/90 needle size. 
    • When sewing with knits, you will want to use a Ballpoint needle. If you use a regular point, you will ruin your fabric. Use a Ballpoint Needle. (I am emphasizing this because I once forgot myself. Bad things occurred.)

OPTIONAL TOOLS

  •  Seam Gauge. I usually end up using my tape measure if I need to hem something. I’m sure a seam gauge is handy, I just haven’t figured out how yet.
  • Rotary cuter and cutting mat. My quilting friends swear by these, but I don’t have a surface large enough in my house that I could use a decent-sized mat on. Hopes to use this in the future, though.
  • Thimbles. I don’t use these when hand sewing, because I take the saying “put blood, sweat and tears into your sewing projects” literally. Especially the tears part.

RIGHT/WRONG SIDE
You’ve got your pattern, your gorgeous and well-cut fabric, and your sewing tools. You’re all set for Week 1!

The very last thing we’ll discuss is the Right/Wrong side of fabric. This is something we’ll be coming back to over and over again, so best cram this last term into your head before we turn our gaze to next week, when we’ll start laying out the pattern and cutting.

Prep for Week 2: Buy your pattern and fabric, wash your fabric, and assemble your sewing tools.

Next Week: Ironing, Laying Out The Pattern, Pinning and Cutting

-Thwarted Needle

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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February Sew Along Announcement!

KS3766Hello everyone! With the end of January fast approaching, I am gearing up for my next Sew Along. For February, I have decided to try… a knit!

Since this is my first time officially working with knits, I will be keeping it simple, sewing a straightforward long-sleeved T-shirt. If you wish to follow along, the pattern I will be using is Kwik Start 3766.

Since February is a more condensed month, I’ll be adjusting the Sew Along Schedule a bit. Since I already covered a lot of basic pattern envelope reading in January, I won’t be dedicating a full week to pattern/fabric choice in February. You will still get an entry, since knits require their own special explanation, but we’ll be jumping into the pinning/cutting a lot sooner!

Below you’ll find a detailed schedule for the February Sew Along: Long-Sleeved Knit.

1 2
3 4 5 6
#1: Pattern and Fabric
7 8 9
10
#2: Pinning and Cutting
11 12 13 14 15 16
17
#3:Steps 1-_
18 19 20 21 22 23
24
#4:Steps_-_
25 26 27 28

*I will be finishing the January Sew Along on February 2nd.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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A Pants Hemming Adventure

I have never hemmed a pair of pants. My excuse is I thought bottoms dragging on the ground was the style. Nothing says sexy like dirty, frayed hems!

Overly long pants proves a problem in the gym, however. I’ve actually knocked my head on the bench press bar because I tripped over my sagging bottoms.  Since it’s the first week of January, my New Years resolution obviously involves going to the gym more (or, in my case, going to the gym at all) which meant a new pair of pants to potentially trip on. Time to embark on my first hemming adventure!

I tried looking up hemming tutorials online, but found them absurdly complicated. Use measuring tools to cut the material to the exact length? Whaaat? Aw, who needs em-I’ll just wing it!

My current nemisis

It…. went about as well as you’d expect. See if you can spot the mistakes below!

1) Put on the pants (will probably require removing current pants. Get a friend to help!)

2) With the help of your new pants-friend, roll the bottom of the pants to the desired length. Mark with pins… I would suggest pins placed horizontally, parallel to the floor, so you don’t prick yourself while removing the pants.

3) Turn the pants inside out.

Here’s where I decided to march to my own drum. Most tutorials suggested ripping out the seam of the previous hem, ironing the new crease, and then measuring the distance from the end of the fabric to the new turned hem, to make sure the hem is even.

But geez louise, who has time for all of that? Ironing, schmaerning, let’s just get on with it! I attempted a different technique on each leg, to see which one looked better.

RIGHT LEG

4) Fold over the extra material so the top of the fabric lays right alongside the bottom of the hem. A double hem! That way, I only have to sew once, right? Genius.

I quickly discovered the problem with this was two-fold: it made the material thicker, and thus more difficult to feed through my machine. My yoga pants are knits: knits are made different than woven fabrics, so that they stretch. They usually stretch more in one direction, and can be made of the same material as woven; the major difference is in how they are processed. I’ll cover knits more in depth later, but the most important thing to remember about them is that:

  • Knits stretch, thus requiring different sewing methods including a zig-zag stitch and a ballpoint needle

And I… totally forgot to use a ball point needle. A-whoops.

Anyway, since my yoga pants are stretchy, and thus a knit, I switched my sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch. If you use a straight stitch on knits, when the fabric stretches, the thread will break because there is no give in the stitching.

Behold the glory

My genius idea of using a double-hem turned out to be not the best, so I tried something different on the left leg.

LEFT LEG

4) Using a zig-zag stitch, I sewed along the hem. Since it’s a knit and stretches (yes, there will be a quiz at the end), I pulled the fabric at both ends while I fed it through my machine. This caused the fabric to stretch while being sewn into, (hopefully) making the stitches stronger.

5) I then cut off a lot of the excess fabric, and using the same technique sewed 1/4 inches from the top of the fabric.

Overall, I like this technique much better. The only downside is that I have two rows of stitching on the outside of the pants, which doesn’t look as neat. Okay for gym-going yoga pants, but not desirable for Grown Up Work pants. (I also only had dark purple thread, not black. Generally speaking, you should match your thread color to your fabric.)

Double hemmed for your pleasureSo, my first Pants Hemming adventure didn’t go off as well as I’d hoped. Serves me right for trying to be all individual and I-totally-know-what-I’m-doing. I wonder if next time I’ll try hemming the pants, cutting off the excess fabric, and then only sewing along the cut edge, instead of along both the hem and the cut edge. That’s… probably what I should have done in the first place.

But I’m still using purple thread, cause I’m a rebel. And cheap.

-Thwarted Needles

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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