Archives: June 2018
Posted in Product Reviews on Saturday the 30th June 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Wendy Ward’s new book, A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabric, is absolutely brilliant. It is filled with lovely photographs and clear, concise instructions. There are six projects in the book: two tops, trousers, lounge pants, a skirt, and a cardigan. Each design includes different variations which means there are plenty of options to create stylish and comfortable wardrobe staples.
Want to know how to tell the right from the wrong side of knit fabric? Are you curious to learn about which fabrics work best for which clothing style? Have you ever wondered how to take care of your finished knit garments? The first section of this book is devoted to answering all of these questions and many more. And, not only does the book include basic tips about knit fabrics, but it also has an informative and truly helpful techniques sections. There is everything from correct tension and common sewing machine problems to a chart telling you which stitch to use for which seam. These techniques aren’t just for the patterns in the book. Rather, they’re basic, important skills necessary to sewing any knit fabric project.
One of my biggest struggles sewing with knit fabrics is knowing which type of knit fabric to pair with the chosen pattern! Just like wovens, the variety of knit fabrics can be overwhelming. You have to consider weight, stretch percentage, and recovery. As someone who primarily sews with wovens it feels like stepping into an entirely new world. Which, in a way, it is! But Wendy has covered all the bases. In the introduction of each design there is a section explaining exactly which knit fabric you need and it details how much stretch percentage is needed and whether your fabric should have spandex/elastane in it!
The pattern I chose to make from the book is the Kinder Cardigan. It is a loose, oversized cardi with massive pockets. My favorite! I took one look at the design and immediately fell in love. I knew I had to sew it.
I did find tracing off the pattern pieces rather tedious, but tracing patterns has always been my least favorite part of the sewing process. I would have found it easier if the book had a list explaining exactly which sheets had which pattern pieces. But it wasn’t too difficult to figure that out. Also, the fact that the pattern sheets are all on sturdy paper is a HUGE plus in my book. I hate dealing with crinkly, easily torn tissue patterns. I’m just too rough on them! Since I did have to trace things off, having nice paper made an unpleasant job much easier.
Due to the oversized nature of this design, there were no fitting adjustments needed. I made a size Medium and if fits perfectly. I was able to sew the entire Kinder Cardigan on my serger; however, I did use my sewing machine for any topstitching. It only took me one afternoon to make the cardigan. How great is that?
I used a lovely mint Ponte Roma Knit Fabric. The color is so springy and bright! It goes with literally everything in my wardrobe. If you don’t know, ponte knit fabrics are on the heavier weight end of the knit fabrics spectrum. They are incredibly stable with less stretch and drape. All of these details make ponte knits an excellent choice for a first attempt at sewing a stretch garment.
Okay, so if you have read any of my posts for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network or on my Emmy Couture blog you will know how much I appreciate a good pocket. They are pretty much the best things ever. And the pockets on this cardigan are no different. They are huge and I love them! But what makes them even better is the fact that they are attached to the cardigan front before the side seams and front band are attached. Super easy! No fiddling about with in-seam pockets. Just hemming the top of the pocket, topstitching to the front, basting at the sides, and then you’re done. This is my favorite way to do pockets, but I’ve only seen this particular technique used on one other pattern: an apron.
I’ve worn my cardigan nearly non-stop since I finished it. I made it right around the time there was a particularly cold snap here in Virginia. It was amazing to have a cozy cardigan to layer under my coat or wear while at work. I really like wearing it with my dresses or skirts that don’t have pockets. Then I can just pop my phone or keys in the cardigan pocket and go. It makes life much simpler!
In conclusion, I think A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabric has something for everyone. If you are a complete newbie to stretch garment sewing, it has loads of helpful information that will have you feeling more confident about tackling a new skill. But even if you have sewn a handful of knit t-shirts or dresses, like me, you are sure to find tips and tricks that will make your finished projects even better. It is definitely worth giving it a look. I am hoping to find more cute and fun knit fabrics so I can make a couple more patterns from it.
Posted in Projects on Friday the 29th June 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Here on the coast we rarely get snow. We dream of opening our curtains to find deep, billowy piles of the stuff but to be honest this year even we are totally over it and ready for the sun to kick in, so when I saw this pretty floral Jersey Knit Fabric at Minerva Crafts, it screamed out to be used for the summer robe pattern by Patterns For Pirates. They are a PDF only company but don’t give up at this point if you are not usually a fan of PDFs as their patterns print out ready to stick together without the need to trim any of the edges and assemble quickly.
The fabric has a lovely soft feel and is a slightly heavier weight to the jersey I’ve used before. This actually makes it perfect for a summer cover up to pop on when things get a little chilly later in the evening and your strappy top isn’t enough, or on days when the great British weather isn’t playing.
If you are new to sewing with jersey this would be a great place to start, the fabric isn’t as structured as ponte roma but is fairly stable as far as stretchy material goes plus a robe is a forgiving pattern without any fitting to worry about. This particular jersey was extremely easy to cut out and didn’t curl up at the edges or slip around. I’m a pin and scissors girl though you might find pattern weights and a rotary cutter are more your style.
Now I’m lucky enough to have an overlocker, my husband would substitute the word spoilt in here, but if you don’t have one you can still make this garment. Your sewing machine might have a stretch stitch that you can use but if not you can substitute a zig zag stitch adjusted to make it small and neat. In actual fact none of the seams need to stretch and the jacket is loose fitting so you can even go rogue and opt for a straight stitch, just use a slightly longer one than you would normally. If you are using your regular sewing machine and you have a walking foot it’s a good idea to use it with jersey fabric to help stop your seams from stretching out of shape.
I’m going to hold my hands up and admit that when I’m sewing with jersey I will do my best to whip up the whole thing on my overlocker, mostly because I like to maximise my sewing time, but in this case when I had sewn the shoulders and side seams and I tried on the basic shape of the robe the fabric had such a lovely drape that I have just used a simple hem round the majority of the edging and only overlocked bands on to the sleeves. It really would have been a shame to overlock a band to the collar and hem and ruin the flow of the garment. At this point if you have a twin needle for your regular sewing machine or even a coverstitch then the double row of stitching would finish the edging off in a very professional looking way. I have used a single line of stitching in keeping with a beginner’s project.
The edge hem runs all the way around the neck down the front of the jacket and along the bottom and so to stop it from stretching out I’ve used iron on hem tape which I cut down in to two strips half an inch wide. As an added bonus this makes folding over the hem less of a chore as the measurements have been done for you. I decided to fold a double hem to enclose the raw edge which is actually unnecessary as the jersey would not have frayed but because of the style of the robe it lies in such a way that the front can flop open and reveal your internal finishing. This is really personal preference but it’s such a quick make that the minimal extra time it takes is worth it.
In the end the hardest part of this project was taking photos of the finished robe as we’ve had almost constant rain but then at least that’s progress from the snow.
Even without an overlocker this is a quick project. If you really don’t like PDF patterns, or you are more experienced, there are You Tube tutorials for pattern free robe jackets that you could make just as quickly.
It's well worth checking out Minerva Crafts for their drapey Jersey Fabrics, their summer range looks stunning, and if you haven’t tried jersey fabric before why not have a go at making yourself a quick robe?
Thanks for reading,
When I saw this Jersey Fabric, I knew I wanted to make something from the recently released book by Tilly and the Buttons new book “Stretch”.
The fabric I chose is the Floral Print Jersey which Minerva describe as polyester, viscose and elastane. I am not a floral type of person and usually stay from anything with flowers or novelty prints, but I thought I would get out of my comfort zone and try using something “bold” and new for me. It is light weight and super soft to the touch and has a two way stretch. The flowers on there are large, I think are some sort of lilies and there are small blue flowers as well as leaves.
With it being spring, although you would never have guessed with having snow in the middle of March and now still wearing a coat in April, I chose to make the Freya Sweater Dress with long sleeves and the cowl neck.
Although the pattern suggests using sweater knit fabric, I thought I would give this floral knit jersey a go.
I always prewash my fabrics as I am always worried about shrinkage. Minerva recommend washing this Jersey fabric at 40 degrees, but my washing machine is set at a 30 degrees for a 15 minutes cycle.
If you are not too sure about what temperature to use, either go for a cool temperature or try putting a swatch on your normal cycle and see how that turns out.
I also test a small piece of my fabric with my iron, as I have a very old and temperamental iron, so make sure that is just right before I start working on it.
This fabric has a lovely drape and fluidity, this makes it ideal for any dress or skirt. The quality of this floral jersey knit is fantastic and I have found it a joy work with and really recommend it.
As the flowers were all over the place, I did not worry about pattern matching, so laying the pattern out and cutting was quite simple. I just pinned and used my scissors.
For the sewing bit, well let’s just say I only used my sewing machine to hem. I used my overlocker for most of the dress, including the cowl neck and the sleeves. Using the overlocker was a breeze and just glided through the whole garment.
Like I said earlier, this fabric is really beautiful, great to work with and all in all this dress went together like a dream.
Thanks for reading, until next time, Happy sewing.
Posted in Product Reviews on Tuesday the 26th June 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
So here’s’ the thing, knits are not my sewing thing, well that’s what I’ve thought. For the last two decades, I’ve been a woven girl; tailoring and creating vintage style dresses. This started to change for me six years ago when I became a Mother. I started buying more and more knitted fabric garments to fit into my lifestyle, I thought, this is crazy I should learn how to sew these for myself! Yes, they look easy to sew but I don’t want puckered seams, lettuce hems and uneven seams. When I was approached to review Wendy Ward’s New Sewing Book I jumped at the chance as I’d only heard good things about Wendy online. I wanted to gain the confidence in sewing gorgeous everyday garments with a high quality professional finish. Now I have a little more time in my week, this had to be the perfect new year’s resolution for 2018.
The first thing I did when I received the book was to flick through all the projects to find one which I knew I would wear as an everyday essential. I choose the Derwent trousers as I loved the wide legged fit and the style looked so classic, it could be dressed up or down. The book also included projects for a t-shirt, lounge pants, cardigan and skirt, so you could make your wardrobe staples just from this one book.
I loved the pattern sizes are from 8 to 26 and Wendy talks about measurements (like men’s clothing) not size 10/12/16. I read this book cover to cover before I started my project to make sure I had the correct tools and fabric to create my make.
The first quarter of the book is dedicated to techniques. This gave me the confidence in my make. Wendy went through everything I needed to create my trousers. I understood what type of fabric to use, type of needle and type of stitch on my sewing machine.
I chose this so soft and beautiful to wear french navy Ponte Roma Fabric and I needed 2 meters. I also needed a stretch 75 needle to sew the seams and to avoid snagging. For me, this detail was really important to give me and the step by step instructions.
To make my paper pattern, I took down my measurements and traced off the pattern and markings onto pattern paper. It is worth noting that the pattern from the book is for the ¾ length trousers and you will need to take your inside leg measurement and length as needed.
Before adding the elastic band to the waist seam, I tried them on and they fitted perfectly. And the fabric was so drapey and also perfect for a Spring day.
The waistband fitted so easily and gave a really professional finish. I was really happy with the result and couldn’t believe I had shunned knits now for all these years.
Wendy showed you have you can use your standard twin needle for the hems of your Derwent trousers. I followed her instructions and my hem had not pulls or puckers in sight. They looked shop bought, which is what my knit aim is, to look like it is straight off a peg.
These trousers have taught me a lot of about knitted fabrics and also how easy they are to sew, if you have the right know how. Wendy’s book certainly has given me more confidence to sew my own knitted fabric projects. I didn’t know before I picked up this book, what needle to use with what knit fabric and all the stitches and sewing machine settings to create that shop bought look. This will now sit very happily on my sewing bookshelf.
The other patterns in the book look as equally stylish and timeless and I highly recommend this book whatever your sewing journey point it. I finished my trousers and rushed to show my husband, ‘look they look like they are from a shop!’ I hope you have that proud moment too.
The photos below are me at 20 weeks pregnant (with a small bump!). They are the perfect pregnancy comfy trousers /lounge pants. Now I fully appreciate the magic of stretch fabrics!!
As with all the best laid plans… things don’t always go smoothly. When I made the decision to make Ally (my photographer extraordinaire) a dress for a wedding she was due to attend in May we could never have anticipated the event being cancelled, lockdown or social distancing… however, never one to give up we decided we were just going to need to get creative.
McCalls 7745 is a wrap dress pattern with ribbon ties. It contains 2 different length and front opening options, 2 sleeve options, and an optional flounce. The pattern also includes cup options on top of the standard sizing.
The fabric suggestions for this dress are; Crepes, Challis, Crepe de Chine, Stable Knits. I always think they should provide a translation for this information on patterns… it should read fabric with some stability but a good drape. This viscose was absolutely perfect for the job, it drapes absolutely stunningly but isn’t slippery and holds its form really well. Spots are utterly timeless, which for occasion-wear is often so important to enable it to not just be a one-wear-wonder. As it was planned to be worn to a wedding black was a no-no, so navy was the perfect choice.
Viscose is one of those fabrics that can take several forms, sometimes silky and other times with an almost cotton like feel… this one is the later. It feels like a cotton but with a greater lightness and more open weave and absolutely no shiny quality at all.
The first challenge of this make was how to make sure it fit someone I couldn’t come within 2 meters of… a toile was the only answer. So, using an old duvet cover (my go to for toiles and test runs) I whipped up a simple version in her size. Ally then tried it on in my garden, popped a few pins in under the arms where it was a little loose across the bust and voila a socially distanced fitting had been completed. This is not something I hope to have to do many of, it’s all very strange and challenging. (Fortunately, with this style of dress the fit across the bust and length of strap was all that I needed to check)
The maxi version of the skirt has very large pattern pieces that will not fit on your standard table. With drapey fabrics you want to avoid cutting with any part of the fabric hanging off the table and moving it to pin the other half will be challenging… I used the floor of my studio. There aren’t a huge number of pieces to cut, its only managing the cumbersome skirt pieces that is tricky here.
The bodice is constructed first, and this section of the dress is lined. The lining is how the neckline and underarm edges are finished so is needed and it creates a really beautiful finish. I have a used a navy lining fabric, but you could if you wanted to use the same fabric as the outer if you prefer. When stitching the panels together 2 of the ribbon ties get enclosed in the side seams (1 in the outer and 1 in the lining). The instructions make this really clear as to which one to do, I just laid the pieces out as per the drawing to avoid getting my lefts and rights confused. The ties on a wrap dress take a lot of strain (I mean they literally are the fastening) and you want to make sure they’re secure, I like to do a 2nd line of stitching in the seam allowance to do this.
When constructing the bodice lining the instructions ask you to press up the bottom edge by 1.5cm and then trim it back. This is to make the finishing where this is handstitched to the outer at the waist seam much easier to do and is well worth taking time over. My favourite tool for this type of job is my sewing gauge… the red arrow can be set at whatever measurement you’re working with so that you’re not searching on the tape measure for the allowance you’re using. , Then for pressing I find it helps hold the turn back in place whilst I iron along next to it. It is an absolute game changer of a tool and makes these sorts of instructions a breeze to complete.
Now in the interest of honesty, if you’re not a fan of a narrow hem this probably isn’t the project for you… because there is a lot to do! The flounce that runs around the bodice is a long curved narrow hem finish and so is the hem. I will say though, the patterns instructions give some helpful advice for doing these without too much grief.
For the flounce hem they suggest making a line of stitching that you then press along folding the seam allowance to the wrong side. You then trim back before folding the pressed edge in and stitching in place. If it sounds complex its just the way I’ve explained it (although still a lengthy process, as it’s a long length to hem) because I found it worked like a dream.
The hem (for the curved version that I did) is then done in a similar way in that you run a line of stitching around first, although this time it’s an ease stitch you’re doing so that you can pull the stitches to ease the fabric in around the curves. Now, I didn’t actually find that I needed to use the ease stitches as the fabric happily manipulated into the narrow hem around the curves, but this will vary from fabric to fabric and the stitch line really helped me keep the hem the right width throughout.
For me, the hemming wasn’t the problem… the part I found tricky was the spaghetti straps. They were fiddly (they always are) … and took me a while to turn… although the dress would have looked strange with anything else, so I do concede that they were worth the trouble.
Once hemmed, the bodice and the skirt just come together at the waist seam, the lining is then whip-stitched onto this seam to contain all the raw edges of the bodice within it. I only neatened the side seams on the flounce and the skirt because of this, the others aren’t visible at all.
The finished dress has filled me with so much joy… as sad as I feel that the event it was made for isn’t happening right now, the dress itself is so stunning and suits its new occupant to a tee. The wedding will of course be rescheduled too so it will get its day out soon I’m sure. It also fits her fabulously which I am very thrilled with given the hilarious fitting conditions we had to work with.
The fabric on the skirt moves with an effortless fluidity in the most wonderful shape. The flounce that goes across the bodice that turns into the off the shoulder sleeve just looks so beautiful I really couldn’t be more pleased with it.
The rogue choice I made with this dress is the colour of the ribbon ties… of course the natural choice would be a navy, but I decided upon this coral pink. I think it adds a little pop of colour that really lifts it, and I’ve always liked a little quirky detail.
But I want to challenge myself and improve my sewing skills. So when I got the chance to work with this holey Scuba Fabric, why would I say anything other than yes please!
The front of the fabric is smooth, but I love the texture of the reverse.
So I knew that whatever I made I wanted to reverse the fabric.
When it first came I spent a good bit of time scratching my head, trying to decide what to make. I actually started to cut out a dress but I wasn't in love with the pattern, so I set it aside and waited for inspiration to hit.
And when I saw Dr Alice Roberts wearing a t-shirt with some open fabric inserts on TV, inspiration was right there between the eyes.
I already had this 60's Vogue Sewing Pattern in my collection.
So I set about thinking how I could incorporate the scuba. Most of my makes are worn for work, so I knew I couldn't just do something as simple as replace the side panels. That would be a little too risque. But I knew I wanted to make a version of view B. So I decided to make the main body of the top from some plain jersey I had in my stash, with the sleeves made from scuba, and insert a panel of the scuba on the chest.
The top itself is very simple to make and works perfectly in a woven or a knit. It has princess seams in the front and the back to add some shape and a little bit of visual interest.
I don't have a huge amount of experience of princess seams, so I'm pretty happy with how they turned out.
And what about the scuba? It was a dream to work with. It stays put when you have 2 layers on top of each other, making it simple to cut and pin. It has just the right amount of body to hold a shape, and a good amount of stretch which will make it comfortable to wear.
I had expected it to be stiffer, thicker and heavier. Which wouldn't have been much fun at all. But this scuba fabric was great fun to use and definitely makes a potentially boring top a lot more interesting.
I wore the top to work today and can confirm it's very comfortable and feels fresh and modern. One of my colleagues was wearing a very similar RTW top, so I was chuffed to be able to say I had made mine.
Would I make the pattern again? Yes, but above learnt to my expense, it's quite cropped. I guess ladies in the 60s didn't have to reach up to the luggage rack on the train every day. So I would add an inch or 2 to the length.
Would I work with the scuba again? Definitely. I think it would look great layered over a funky print with just hints of colour peeking through. I also think it could be a great little peekaboo insert on a pair of leggings, or for the more daring it would also make a great top on it's own.
Thanks for reading,
Karen @ dorisdoesdressup
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 24th June 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Product Reviews on Saturday the 23rd June 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Having become more and more dependent on the stretchy garments in my wardrobe, I was keen to give Wendy Ward’s new book ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics’ a go. The book contains six basic patterns, which are included at the back of the book, ready for you to trace. Wendy guides you through the sewing of these six patterns, and includes multiple options with each pattern on how to further customise your creation.
The first pattern, the Peak tshirt, is the pattern I used to make the dress shown on the front cover. There are different sleeve options and different length options, and instructions for adding eye-catching details to your tshirt (or dress) such as shirring, patchwork, cuffs and colour blocking. Each option is clearly explained with thorough instructions and clear diagrams, plus beautiful photos of the finished garments.
The second pattern is for the Derwent trousers - a wide-legged pair of comfortable trousers with three length options: long length, standard length or cropped. These look super easy to make - just two pattern pieces. You could probably whip them up in an hour!
Next up is the Winnat’s tank pattern - a scoop-neck vest that can be lengthened into a knee length or maxi length dress (or even a colour-blocked maxi dress). As a vest it looks like the perfect stash-buster as it only uses 1 yard of fabric (assuming your fabric is 60” wide, which most knit fabrics are). I’m pretty sure this will be next on my list to make!
The fourth pattern in the book is for the Monsal lounge pants - another versatile pattern that could be used for lounge pants, pyjama bottoms, workout pants or shorts. My favourite version of these is the full length pants with pockets and cuffs. I particularly like the sample shown in the book where the cuffs, waist band and pocket bands are sewn in a contrast fabric.
The Kinder cardigan is next - again in a range of lengths with a range of customisation options. Wendy says she had ‘been thinking about making the perfect cardigan loosely inspired by kimonos’, and I must admit that I definitely get a ‘dressing gown’ vibe from this pattern! Included in this section are instructions for how to add a patch pocket, which is obviously a good transferable skill. The peak tshirt/dress and Winnat’s tank/dress would both look good with a patch pocket added, I think.
The final pattern is, I think, quite divisive: you’ll either love it or hate it. The Longshaw skirt is ‘an unusual and bold design that creates a flattering, curvy silhouette’. Personally, I love it! I would definitely like to try it as a dress with the Winnat’s tank vest as the top, possibly in plain black.
As well as all the patterns and variations thereof, the book is packed with information about all the different types of knitted fabrics and how to handle them, plus the tools you will need to sew the garments, information on sizing and measuring, sewing machine tips and explanations on using and adjusting sewing patterns. There really is everything you would need to know before sewing, and a whole lot more!
So, now I’d like to show you the dress I made from the book. As I mentioned earlier, I used the Peak tshirt pattern to make a short sleeved, knee-length dress with an elasticated waist. This basically involved extending the length of the tshirt by 40cm, and sewing some elastic at the waistline. I did make it a little more complicated than it needed to be, however, as when choosing my fabric I decided I wanted to line it with something smooth so it would slip easily over tights without riding up. So, when I ordered the Jersey Fabric from Minerva, I also ordered the same amount of Stretch Lining Fabric. This meant that in effect I had to make two versions of the dress and then sew them together.
I made the main body of the dress (front, back and sleeves) in both the lining fabric and the main fabric. I then sewed the two together (right sides together) at the neckline before turning out the right way. Technically, I could have just topstitched here and not bothered with the neckband, as the raw edges were hidden away by this point. However, I still added the neck band for durability and because I like the look of it. After this, I hemmed the lining into the sleeves so that they would stay together, and hemmed the lining in with the bottom of the dress. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.
I matched the stripes at the side seams of course, like the dutiful seamstress I am. This was made much easier by the way that I cut the fabric in the first place: I matched up the stripes before cutting and even pinned every other stripe into place to keep it from shifting. It was worth the time it took to do this, because not only was it easy to match up the stripes, but also the stripes are definitely as straight as the spirit level!
Overall I’m pretty happy with the finished garment - it’s bigger on top than I am used to, but that is the style and the way it is meant to be, and I think the skirt transforms it from a just a baggy tshirt to something a little more stylish. It’s certainly something that is easy to throw on and you can dress it up or down, plus because it’s quite a loose fit I don’t feel self conscious in it, which is good!
I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to review Wendy’s book for the book tour, and to Minerva for the lovely fabric!