Monday, March 7, 2016

Really Stepping Out of my Safe Zone

 (forgive the rather long introduction of how I came to evaluate the Craftsy Class on Essential Techniques for Sewing Knits...)

I am a quilter who also loves - thanks to Sara Lawson's various bag patterns and books - to make bags and purses.   Sara unwittingly pointed me into a new direction - wanting to make clothing - when she created a new fabric line, Jungle Avenue.  I saw Dotted Boulevard in a knit and thought it would make a great something.  So I bought three yards.  And this lovely fabric has been sitting in my studio for the past two years, being very very patient.  In full disclosure I must admit that I am no stranger to Craftsy and have bought clothing patterns and kits there during this time, all with the three yards of Dotted Boulevard in mind. See below.

This past winter I bought a knit top, perfect for outdoor walking in the spring and fall.  It was super on-sale - and also several inches too long.   And I still didn't know how to work with knits. When Sara asked if I would take a Craftsy class and evaluate it, it took me just a few minutes to find the Essential Techniques for Sewing Knits knits.

My goals in taking this class were to be able to hem my sports top using my regular sewing machine,
make a t-shirt and/or a dress, and figure out what to do with my Dotted Boulevard knit.  And I definitely reached these first two goals.

This class was divided into five chapters - 1) Different Knits  2) Cutting and Marking Patterns 3) Hemming Knits  4) Garment Details, and 5) Sewing a V-neck Binding.   Look!  Chapter 3 - just what I wanted!  I did watch all five chapters in order, and each one was more than useful.  I am a genius with quilting cottons but knew nothing about knits.  Something basic like cutting out pattern pieces one at a time rather than in multiple layers (like you would do with quilting) was good for me to learn.  So was you should not pin pattern pieces but instead use weights.  After Chapter Three I had to start putting into practice what I was learning. 
marking the folding and pinning lines - using double-sided fusible to stabilize the hem while sewing

I don't have a serger and don't intend to get one. So I was thrilled to learn how to use a double needle, which all of our machines are capable of using. On the fabric top there are two parallel rows of stitches. But on the bottom side there is a zig-zag stitch, perfect for hemming knits.  One of the instructors was very clear to use the appropriate needle, one with a ball point end.  The hem on my purchased top turned out very well.

My machine ready for the twin needle

Just like purse making, it all starts with cutting out the pattern pieces

My sporty athletic top (not the look I was going for) on the bottom, and a striped tunic.  I'm proud of the workmanship on these sleeves and the necks. The top is Rowe's Tunic/Top, and the grey stripe dress is The Bess Top by Imagine Gnats. 
Yoke detail from the back of the shirt
This Craftsy class gave me a context for knits and the skills and tips needed to work with them.   Like anything else, working with knits is a skill;  I'm confident I'll continue to improve this skill, especially since I can go back to any of the lessons at any time.  The first top I did is the one to the left.  That neckline was a traditional v-binding, and it went very well.  However, the grey-stiped dress did not have a pattern piece for the neckline - directions said to bind with bias.  But something said in Lesson 4 came back to me:  the neckline binding is 7/8" of the finished neckline.  And using this little gem, the neckline on the grey dress worked quite well!

So next week, perhaps I will use the shirt pattern with the interesting yoking, using a solid black knit for the sleeves and neck and add pockets and turn Dotted Boulevard into a summer dress with pockets.  Perhaps.  If I can drag myself away from the two Hey, Mercedes bags I've started.  At least I know I can!  This Craftsy class was a huge success! 

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