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A Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics Book Review by Nicky

Although I’ve been sewing for many years it’s only recently that I haven’t been totally scared off by Knit Fabrics. For what I have attempted it’s basically been learning by trial and error along the way so it’s been great to have been given the chance to review Wendy Wards New Book, A beginners guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics.

The book starts off explaining what equipment you will need. These are mainly basic dressmaking tools but it’s a very useful list for someone just starting out, with some great hints and tips too.

A complex description of sizing and taking measurements, explains how to get a good fit by choosing the correct size, and understanding ease so your finished garment fits the way it should for that style.

Most of my previous experience with knitted fabric has been a bit hit & miss because I’ve tended to buy what I’ve liked the look of and then thought what to make with it. This has meant successes and failures! After reading the section of this book, entitled Know your knits, I feel much more confident to choose correctly. No more will I have T-shirts that don’t sit correctly as the fabric hasn’t enough stretch or baggy sleeves at the elbow as I haven’t thought about the recovery of the fabric. This chapter explains exactly what to check and look for in your fabric selection as well as talking about the structure of the knit, the grain and how different knit fabrics behave. It provides the formula for working out the percentage of stretch as well as a great summary of which fabrics to look for when shopping for a project, as well as the pros and cons of the fibre content.

I particularly like the shopping checklist that you can copy and carry with you or store with your fabric samples for future reference.

Having discussed the selection of fabric fibres, the book then moves on to explain the importance of preparation, firstly of the fabric, followed by the setting up of your machine with a quick reference for needle choice and tips to solve problems. This section finishes off with the preparation of the pattern.

There are three pull out pattern sheets provide in this book, that is all the pieces for the six project in the book and the various versions you can make with them. These are full size pattern pieces that need to be traced and cut as required. Details are given explaining the markings and how to transfer them to your fabric, also how to modify the pattern length for some projects.

Finally before moving on to the projects themselves the book moves onto techniques. Covering sewing seams, pattern matching and the methods used for hems and edges. Each technique is broken down into steps with drawings and photographs so you can see exactly what the finished  result should look like. Again there is a useful summery to give a quick guide to help choose the correct seam for the fabric and the project.

The book has six projects with twenty variations in total. There are recommendations as to which projects to start with if you are an absolute beginner and the fabrics best to use to build confidence.

Each project is broken down with the garment description, techniques you will use, measurements, fabric suggestions, fabric amounts, cutting plan and construction steps. As you work through the stages of construction the book gives the reference page that you can turn back to for the information and guidance of that technique.

The instructions are clearly written with diagrams alongside, making the steps really clear to follow. There are lots of little hints and tips along the way and different variations you can try.

After reading through the book I decided to make the Tank Dress version of the Longshaw skirt. A dress with pockets is always a plus and I love the sculptural drape of the skirt. I used a Ponte Roma to show off the bold design.

Using the book enabled me to work out that this Ponte Roma Fabric had 50% stretch with good recovery so was a perfect choice for the top and skirt section.

The pattern sheets are clear with a only a few pieces on each page so there are not to many overlapping lines making it easy to follow the lines you are tracing. Each project is colour coded too so are instantly recognisable on each sheet. I used dressmakers pattern paper and could follow the lines easily without the need to highlight the pattern sheet underneath.

The book explains any pattern adjustments that may need to be carried out, for example lengthening of the skirt panel and states which cutting plan to follow with a clearly drawn diagram of the plan. For the dress I choose to make there were a total of six pattern pieces.

The book works with a seam allowance of 1cm and setting my machine up as instructed gave me the perfect stitch without much adjustment.

The clear step by step meant my dress came together with relative ease. Using the instructions for attaching the folded band edging gave me the best result I’ve have achieved for this finishing technique.

Having now made a dress from this book I would definitely recommended it for someone like me who needs to build confidence with knitted fabrics but I would also recommend it to someone who is looking for patterns to make a capsule wardrobe. With trousers, t-shirts, a skirt and a cardigan plus all the variations I can see myself making all the patterns to pack in my suitcase for a trip away!

I felt I learnt a lot of background information that will improve my future makes and enjoyed how the book was set out with some great photos in the reference sections and the projects. I particularly liked how as you you worked through the step by step it gave tips and stated the page number for more informative details of the technique needed. This kept the instructions clear and short but gave you quick access to the required details.

Well done Wendy Ward on such a great book. I’ve already had lots of positive comments on the first outing of my dress and it’s so comfortable to wear :) :) :)

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Jo said:

i made this dress in a navy spot just like yours and it is a great shape even in a larger size. Your arm bindings are very fine. Jo xx · 20th May 2018 08:04pm