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Book Review for A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabric by Emily

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.

~Emily

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