Slinky Jersey Cami
Posted in Projects on Thursday the 6th December 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello everyone! Today’s project has been a really fun one for me. The inspiration for today’s project was to re-create a ready-to-wear (RTW) camisole. The RTW cami is two years old and is worn out. A unique feature in this cami is that it is reversible, front to back. One side of the cami’s neckline is a scoop neck and the other side is a v-neck. I have loved this feature as I rotate which neckline I wear in the front based on the garment that I’m wearing the cami underneath.
The pattern that I was inspired to pair with this project is the Sew Over It Silk Cami Pattern
. This pattern is technically drafted for use with woven fabrics (so I will share about my mods with the pattern with this detail in mind). I have been wanting to sew a second SOI pattern (after sewing the SOI Ultimate Shift Dress via this post
The fabric that I’m using is a wonderfully drapey, slinky knit Jersey Fabric
from Minerva. I did want to note that when I first received the fabric, the texture felt a bit scratchy. I put the fabric in the washer and dryer (as I usually do before sewing) and it drastically softened afterwards. I share that to note that the texture of the fabric changes after washing (in a lovely way).
I know seeing fabric online doesn’t give justice to seeing it in person. I wanted to share a few photos of the fabric in an attempt to show the drape of the fabric. I used a little mannequin that I had on my sewing desk to show a few views of the drape on the mannequin’s hand.
- 1.5m Slinky Knit Fabric
in Blue Grey (technically I used 27” (0.7m) for the size 8 but 1.5m will cover all sizes)
- Rotary cutter (or fabric shears)
- Fabric weights
- Walking foot for a standard sewing machine
Preparing the pattern:
Typically when you switch a woven pattern to use a knit fabric, it is suggested to go down one size. After studying the body dimensions I decided to start with a straight size 8 (which is one size down from what I would normally pick, referencing the bust dimensions). I knew that the pattern, intended for wovens, has more fitting ease built-in.
I layed the RTW cami on top of the SOI silk cami pattern (size 8) to test the length. I decide to not modify the length of the pattern. My initial concern was to make sure that the length wasn’t too short.
I measured the shoulder strap length from the RTW cami and referenced the strap length in the pattern. To shorten the silk cami strap length, I moved the shoulder seam down by approximately 1”/2.5cm (keeping the 5/8” /1.5cm seam allowance in mind).
I decided to use the silk cami front pattern piece for both the front and back of my versions. Recreating the commercial cami (with V and Scoop necklines) the lower neck line will be beneficial for both sides of the garment.
To summarize, the followings are the mods that I made to the pattern:
- Substitute knit fabric for woven
- Omit the cami back pattern piece
- Shorten the shoulder seams by 1”
- Omit the front and back facing pattern pieces
- Finish the neckline and arm holes with binding
- Add a 1/8” elastic piece for the v-neck detail
Making the muslin:
I have to confess that I might have had a little too much fun with the making of my muslin. I have been in a place with my sewing lately where I want to use my fabric scraps in creative ways. I have tended to save fabric scraps after finishing a project (but I have not necessarily used said scraps at a later date). I had a black rayon knit fabric in my stash. I thought the rayon knit would match the end fabric, drape wise, to test the fit. The scraps were at very odd dimensions. I had an infinity dress that I had previously made that I didn’t love (so I cut it apart). The size of the scraps were very long rectangles. They had been too narrow for me to use as is so they sat in my stash for awhile.For the muslin I serged together two of the rayon knit rectangles together.
I then sewed a flat stretch stitch along the serged seam to flatten the seam.
Aligning the seam in the center helped the seam to look intentional. Sewing the serged seam flat also helped improve the drape. I like to use the “lightening bolt stitch” when sewing with knits (stitch number 8 as shown in the photo).
The following photo shows this seam on the right side of the fabric.
The original pattern has facings in the front and back. With the knit fabric substitute, I decided to skip the facings and instead sew knit bindings along the neckline and arm holes edges.
What was nice about this project is that it uses a small amount of fabric. Knit fabrics typically come at a 58-60” width. The length that I needed for this project was approximately 27”.
Your sizing may slightly vary with these dimensions, of course, but the muslin ended up being a great stash busting project! To cut out the binding I utilized the left over fabric in between the two cami fronts. When sewing a knit binding, I like to cut the fabric with the grainline.
I chose to sew the muslin in a flat construction method. I find that sometimes I really enjoy diverting from pattern instructructions and sew with a flat construction method (especially in times that I coverstitch the hems). In case you’re not familiar with a flat garment construction, I followed the following order to sew the cami (which is different from the suggested construction order in the pattern):
- Sew one shoulder seam (top stitch this seam flat).
- Measure the neckline length with the front and back pieces laying flat.
- Cut out the neckline binding, 1” (2.5cm) wide and at a length that matches the neckline and arm hole lengths, with the grain (you’ll
need 3 separate binding pieces).
- With the right sides together, sew the binding to the neckline at a 1/4” (0.6cm) seam allowance.
- Flip the binding around to the wrong side and clip (or pin) the binding in place.
- Sew along the right side of the neckline (in the ditch of the binding seam), catching the back side of the binding as you sew.
- Sew the second shoulder seam (top stitch this seam flat).
- Repeat steps 2 - 6 for the arm hole bindings.
- Measure and fold the bottom hem.
- Sew the bottom hem (flat).
- Sew the side seams in the cami (I serged the side seams to finish the edges).
To measure the neckline of the cami, I slowly move a flexible measuring tape around the length.
The following photo shows the process of sewing the binding. I kept the back side of the binding flat and sewed the front of the seam in the ditch to catch the fabric and enclose the seam.
I will share more details in the Final Garment section for how I approached the V-neck detail. The following are photos of the finished muslin (with the serged flat seam running down the center of both sides of the cami).
V-neck facing front:
Scoop neck facing front:
Close up of the center front seam, scoop neck side:
I took an early photo of the slinky knit cami to share the short length needed for this project. I was so excited about this detail. Now I want to look through my fabric scraps to look for more cami’s to make.
The following photo shows another reference for measuring the neckline flat (with a flat construction method).
I measured 34.25” (87cm) for the neckline binding length.
The next photo shows the amount of fabric that was remaining (in between the two cami fronts). I was excited to utilize this small amount of fabric for the bindings. This smaller scrap of fabric would usually sit in my stash (being too small for most projects).
I cut multiple 1” (2.5cm) wide strips of fabric.
I sewed these strips of fabric together (right sides together) at a 3/8” (1cm) seam allowance. These pieces became the binding that I cut to length for the neckline and two arm holes.
I found the seams from the binding joins were subtle with this fabric. The following is a photo on the wrong side of the neckline to reference this seam.
The right side of the garment of this same binding seam.
For the hemline, I found that the slinky knit was challenging to mark with the marking pens that I typically use. I decided to mark the hem edge with ball point pins.
This was a helpful and quick reference to then fold up the hem. As you’ll note in the photos, I waited to sew the side seams until the last step (so the hem seams were sewn flat as well).
The v-neck detail in the RTW garment that I referenced had a simple fold in the neckline.
I’ve found that I like a little more exaggeration in a v-detail so I added ruching as well. I’ll share in this next section how I executed the v-neck feature.
Cut a 1/8” (3mm) elastic, 2” (5 cm) in length. Mark with a fabric pin 1” (2.5cm) from the end of the elastic (optional). Set zig zag stitch to 1.5 width and 1.5 length.
Fold the cami top in half and mark the center front with a ball point pin. Open up the cami and place it flat with the wrong side facing. Place the top of the elastic underneath the binding detail.
Using the previously mentioned zigzag stitch, tack the beginning stitches (sewing forward and backward) to hold the elastic in place. Pull the elastic as far as you can and slowly sew along the length of the elastic (the elastic will be stretched and the fabric is relaxed). Stop sewing at approximately the 1” (2.5cm) mark on the elastic. Back tack the end of the elastic to hold the stitches in place. Trim off the 1” (2.5cm) elastic from the edge and discard the piece you trimmed off.To help encourage the v-neck shape I next sew a fold in the neckline. To start, fold the center ruching area area in half (right sides together). Mark 1/4” (0.6cm) from the center front in the binding. Use a straight stitch on the sewing machine. I set the stitch length to a basting stitch or 5.0 length. Using a basting stitch helped me test the look and remove the stitches if I needed to tweak the spacing.
Starting along the top of the ruching, sew a small triangle that tapers against the top edge to this 1/4” (0.6cm) mark. I’ve noted the stitch path of this tapered triangle in the photo (the red line shows the stitch path).
When you are done stitching, if you find that you sewed this triangle too long (if you can see your stitches at the top of the binding) unpick the top stitch so that you can hide the stitches behind the binding. Tie off the top and bottom of this seam and trim the ends. The following picture shows the wrong side of the finished v-neck detail, for reference:
To encourage the ruching detail, I like to steam or iron the ruching to even out the stitching. From previous history I’ve noted that the rayon knit (that I used for the muslin) can show shiny iron marks if the iron and steam settings are too hot. For both the muslin and the finished camis I used a small garment steamer to even out the ruching and finish the final seams. I recommend testing a swatch of your fabric with your iron before placing it on the finished garment (to test the iron settings).
I did want to note one detail in the shoulder seams. When sewing with knits I typically sew in clear elastic along the shoulder seams, to reinforce and stabilize the seams (so they don’t stretch out over time). For this cami I didn’t add clear elastic but I did top stitch the shoulder seam allowances to add reinforcement. The following photo shows the wrong sides of the shoulder seam.
The next photo shows the right side of the shoulder seam.
You now have a versatile cami that offers both a scoop neck or v-neck (to wear under multiple garments).
I am looking forward to wearing both of these camis in my wardrobe (and moving the RTW version out of my wardrobe). I love wearing cami’s under tunics and sweaters (so they have quickly moved to my closet for fall wear).
The following two photos show the v-neck detail facing front:
The next two photos show the scoop neck feature facing front.
I wish you all a very happy time with your own sewing adventures! Let me know if you sew a knit cami for yourself as well.