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Knot Your Average Shirt

When the email from Minerva came through with sixty new fabrics up for review I was totally overwhelmed. How could I possibly choose from so much goodness?! In the end, though, my love of sewing jersey knits won out and I sent off a request for the Deluxe Viscose Jersey Fabric in black (also available in French Navy).

I opted to sew up a pattern I’ve made before (and blogged here): the Knot Your Average Shirt and Dress by 5 out of 4 Patterns. The last time I made it I used a cotton lycra, but I always thought the bust gathers looked a little stiff in that fabric. Something more drapey like a viscose was definitely called for, so I hoped I’d found the pattern and fabric marriage made in heaven (spoiler: I totally did!). Last time I made a sleeveless dress, but this time I opted for the long-sleeved top version, as I figured I currently have a gap in my wardrobe for one of those.

This pattern is special because it’s one of very few sewing patterns that feature concealed nursing access—really useful for us breastfeeding mamas. It works by having an under bodice layer with cut-outs for nipple access, which are covered by the upper bodice (the gathered, knotted section). You just pull up the upper bodice to feed (as shown below), and it’s super-subtle. Way more subtle than in my photo, which I’ve exaggerated in a big way. Most people wouldn’t realise what you’re doing, which is something I appreciate when I’m feeding in public places. It’s a really clever design, but fear not if you don’t need this as the pattern has a non-nursing option too.

This jersey is an interesting beast. It’s definitely light-to-medium weight in feel, so would probably be best suited for spring and summer makes. With a whopping 8% spandex it’s also super-stretchy, with about 50% stretch in all directions, so is ideally suited for figure hugging makes. But despite the light, slinky stretchiness of the fabric, it’s actually remarkably stable and easy to handle. More on this in a moment.

Minerva’s website write-up also mentions this is a “very soft” fabric. Oh wow. They are not wrong! This is probably the softest viscose jersey I’ve ever come across and it definitely warrants having “deluxe” in its name. I want to live in it. Seriously. I wonder if I could make bedding out it…

I cut a straight size medium as that’s what I made before, and that dress fits me perfectly at the moment. Now, cutting viscose jersey is normally a bit of a ’mare, so to help myself out I spent a few minutes dutifully tracing out the pattern pieces so I could cut flat rather than on the fold.

Turns out I probably needn’t have bothered. This fabric actually behaves itself on the cutting table! Yep, it might be slinky but somehow it doesn’t slip around and grow like most viscose/spandex jerseys do. I played it carefully by cutting with a rotary cutter and on the flat, but honestly, it was a doddle to cut. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone new to working with this notoriously finicky fabric.

Sewing up was similarly much easier than I expected. I’ve worked lots with viscose jersey and have an arsenal of techniques for coping with it, but I didn’t really need most of them this time around. I used a combination of my overlocker for the seams, and a narrow zig-zag with my walking foot on the regular machine. I still used some Clear Elastic to stabilise the neckline and the nursing cut-outs in the under bodice, but that was because I knew they’d be getting manhandled lots when feeding and didn’t want to risk them getting stretched out. As it is I might actually get rid of the clear elastic around the nursing cut-outs, as with a fabric this lightweight they’re showing through slightly. I think the jersey has good enough recovery to do without the clear elastic’s help.

One thing I will say is it’s quite difficult to tell the right and wrong sides of this jersey, so it would definitely be worth marking them in some way to avoid any annoying mistakes. This is where I’d normally mention my own stupid mistake, but hey, I didn’t make any this time! There are definitely benefits to obsessively checking you have things the right way round before sewing. I’ve learnt that lesson the hard way, believe me!

I usually use a strip of Fusible Stretch Interfacing to stabilise viscose jerseys before hemming, and I did that here, but again, realised that it was overkill with such a well behaved fabric. So I didn’t bother for the sleeve hems and they came out fine. No rippling whatsoever. Yay!

Part of the reason I was glad not to use fusible interfacing on the sleeves was the small amount of damage I caused with my iron when fusing the interfacing for the hem. I used a damp press cloth and had the iron on medium, but it turns out I should have gone with low as I now have a slightly shiny patch. Oops! Good thing it’s on the back so I won’t have to see it. Warning: press this fabric with extreme caution. It’s probably best to give it a blast of steam and then finger press.

A plain black t-shirt might not be the most exciting of makes, but I’m absolutely thrilled with this one. Not only do I have a versatile top with discreet nursing access, but thanks to this wonderful fabric it’s the most comfortable thing in my entire wardrobe! I deliberately left the sleeves a little loose so I can wear it with them pushed up to my elbows, as shown above, which will lengthen its season of wear into the spring. And probably a fair bit of the summer, if we have a typical British one this year.

Despite having already blown my fabric budget I’m seriously considering stocking up on the French navy version before it sells out. At only £6.99 a metre it’s an absolute steal.

I can see this jersey as a lovely summer wrap dress or a maxi skirt. What would you make out of it?

Happy sewing, everyone!

Anna-Jo x

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The fabric for this make was kindly supplied by Minerva in return for an honest blog post. Thank you, Minerva!

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