Stretch Lace and Elastic with Sew Fearless and Very Purple Person // Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years,  Babylock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.

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I was pretty floored when I saw both of our guest posters projects today. They both took mediums (stretch lace and elastic) that I think many people wouldn’t know where to start with, and made amazing things. I can’t wait to see more details about Jodi’s lovely stretch lace cardigan at Sew Fearless (so pretty!)

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and come learn (with me!) how to make underwear over at Very Purple Person (so cool, right?!) mad mim_stretch yourself_guest posters09

 

Stretch Yourself Week 1:

Knit Fabrics and Selection at OLM // Cutting Knit Fabric at MM

Making a Pattern from a Tee Shirt at OLM // Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements at MM

Basic Tee Shirt Construction at OLM // Finishing Details for Knit Fabric at MM

Tee Shirt Dress Variation at OLM // Peplum Tee Variation at MM

Drafting and Sewing Leggings at OLM // Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt at MM

Serger and Coverstitch Techniques at OLM // Baby Lock Diana Threading and Converting to Coverstitch at MM

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Victory’s Lola Tunic Review and Giveaway // Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years,  Babylock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.

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Way back when Miranda and I were just brainstorming this whole series and thinking of patterns that we’d love to review, the Lola by Victory Patterns was on the top of my list. It is such has interesting lines and tailoring, especially considering it’s a knit pattern–I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it!

sewing with knits_victory Lola pattern

The Lola knit sweater dress (or just sweater like mine!) is a digital pattern, so you print, tile, tape, trace, and then cut. (You don’t have to trace it, I just like to so I can make it again in another size if I want, and it’s so much easier to fold and store thin patterns).  This was the longest part (by far!) of the whole process, but when you’re dealing with digital patterns, it’s just the nature of the beast.

The dress (or sweater) assembly was very clear, and it came together pretty fast. The pdf includes detailed photo diagrams that make it so easy to follow and read more like an online tutorial.  It’s labeled intermediate which I agree with, but I also think many of you beginners with a little experience would do fine.  I did make a mistake that resulted in some tricky altering, but it didn’t have anything to do with the pattern or instructions. I chose a size based on my bust, but really should have gone with the one that corresponded with my big fat bum. The result was a nicely looser-fitting bodice and a slightly too snug skirt, which wasn’t super flattering.  I think this is an important note for girl’s with pear shaped figures like me.  I wish I would have gone one size up, but I gotta say, I felt it was a fortunate mistake because I really do like how it ended up.  I decided to move the pockets up, and made it into a long sweater rather than a dress.  It was actually an alteration I considered doing from the beginning, so I wasn’t too disappointed.  I ended up taking it in all over just a bit and it ended up more fitted; I love those princess seams!

Victory Patterns has such a defined branding and aesthetic, which I think is fabulous. Their whole look is so smart and feminine (I also love the art-deco-looking type face they use!)  The Lola is a fantastic design, and I think it will really be a great addition to my wardrobe–my husband loves this sweater on me! He has actually requested that I put it on, which rarely happens (ever…?!)

sewing with knits_victory Lola pattern
sewing with knits_victory Lola pattern

sewing with knits_victory Lola pattern

sewing with knits_victory Lola pattern Details:

Pattern: The Lola by Victory Patterns in size 8.

Fabric: a dusty lilac french terry from my local Cotton Shop that I got in their clearance bin for $3/yd.

Hop on over to Miranda‘s to check out her version,–I love  that chartreuse color on her, and her styling is great. And I really love the pockets on hers!

For your own copy of Victory Pattern’s Lola Pattern, simply enter a comment below by January 22, 6 pm MST  for a chance to win!**closed**

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Loungewear and PJ’s with Elle Apparel and Skirt As Top // Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years,  Babylock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.

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Knits are so soft and stretchy that they beg to be slept in and lounged about in. That’s really the reason why I grab my knits before most anything else–they can’t be beat when it comes to comfort. Our wonderful guest posters today are covering loungewear and PJ’s,

Head over to Elle Apparel to see Leanne’s striking tribal slouch cardigan (that print!! Only “loungewear” in the sense that it’s super comfy;)

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and over to Skirt As Top to see Kristin’s adorable two t-shirt nightgown DIY!

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Stretch Yourself Week 1:

Knit Fabrics and Selection at OLM // Cutting Knit Fabric at MM

Making a Pattern from a Tee Shirt at OLM // Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements at MM

Basic Tee Shirt Construction at OLM // Finishing Details for Knit Fabric at MM

Tee Shirt Dress Variation at OLM // Peplum Tee Variation at MM

Drafting and Sewing Leggings at OLM // Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt at MM

Serger and Coverstitch Techniques at OLM // Baby Lock Diana Threading and Converting to Coverstitch at MM

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Oliver + S’s Raglan Tee Shirt Review and Giveaway // Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years,  Babylock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.

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sewing with knits_kid's baseball tee pattern

For kids there is nothing more classic and functional than a basic raglan tee. They’re are gender neutral, comfortable, and super versatile. I love simple raglan tee pattern from Oliver + S!  It is the perfect cooler weather tee, and it was so fast and easy to whip one up for each of my kids!

This is one of the few Oliver + S patterns that comes in both paper and digital formats, which makes it convenient if you get a hankering to sew NOW, which frequently I am.  I was a little intimidated when I first printed the pattern out because of the 42 pages, but if you’re more observant than me you’ll notice that only half  the pages are for the tee; save yourself some paper and only print out the the pages you need! It took me a few minutes to figure out the method for tiling the pages, which is to cut off the borders of each page so that you can then align each page using a grid as your guide. I think it was more time consuming to have to cut the border off each page, however I do think that the grid made it much easier to assemble the patterns more accurately and with less distortion.  FYI, the tiling map (that tells you how all the patterns fit together) is the very LAST page (for a while I thought there just wasn’t one).

The construction for this raglan tee is a breeze. The instructions were super clear and easy (great diagrams) and the techniques were simple–I loved this little trick of basting around the pocket before folding under along the stitching, so easy! I also was impressed with the neckband proportions; so often you have trouble shoot to get just the right amount of stretch for it to lie flat. The proportions were perfect on all three tees that I made! The one thing I did differently was to stabilize  the raw edges of the sleeves and hem with a serged-edge before turning under to top stitch, as it can be so hard to turn under a raw edge without doing so because the fabric tends to roll!

The fit was great, and you really get a lot of bang for you buck with this pattern due to it’s wide range of sizes included in one pattern! I got the 6M-4T, and was able to make shirts for my 1, 3 and 5 year old children.  For the 5 T I just used 1/4″ seam allowances rather than 1/2″, and then extended the length a few inches (I didn’t extend the sleeves because I wanted them to be 3/4’s), and it turned out perfectly.

As a little bonus, my kids and I both found the retro Dick and Jane style pattern artwork  irresistible, and the whole presentation gets an A+.  Overall this pattern is a gem. It’s just one of those go-to patterns that never goes out of style, and I know I’ll turn to it again and again.

sewing with knits_raglan tee pattern

*note that this version has 3/4 length sleeves, but that the pattern will make a long sleeve–see other photos for reference.

sewing with knits_kid's baseball tee pattern

sewing with knits_kid's baseball tee patternDetails: Pattern: Oliver + S Raglan T-shirt sizes 12-18M and 4T (for my 5 year old I used smaller seam allowances and extended the length).

Fabrics: For Twinkle and Tiny I used this happy delicate floral cotton lycra knit from the Fabric Fairy (who has TONS of beautiful floral knits!) and a contrasting solid purple knit I had on hand. For Tito’s boy version I took two solid blue knits and hand printed a tribal-dinasaurish print onto the sleeves and neckband. Designs like this raglan tee are so perfect for hand printing because you can do a relatively small amount of printing (just the sleeves) and still get the overall hand printed look.

I love both of Miranda’s Field Trip Tees! Head on over there to see her versions!

For your own copy of O + S’s Field Trip Tee, simply leave a comment below by January 21, 6 pm MST for a chance to win! **closed**

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Color Blocking with Feather’s Flights and I Still Love You // Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years,  Babylock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.stretch-yourself-logoHey Hey everyone, welcome to week two of Stretch Yourself! This week we’ll feature some killer projects from our awesome guest bloggers who will be posting for our series on their own blogs. Everyday we’ll preview their projects here, and then direct you over to their places for the full DIY’s.  We’ll also be reviewing  and giving away knit patterns we love, which I can’t wait for!

Today are rad guest posters tackled color-blocking,  and I’m so excited about  what our guest posters came up with!  Head over to Feather’s Flights to see and get the DIY for Heather’s pink and navy color-blocked cardigan, and  I Still Love You to check Melissa’s gold-tipped wiggle skirt!

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Stretch Yourself Week 1:

Knit Fabrics and Selection at OLM // Cutting Knit Fabric at MM

Making a Pattern from a Tee Shirt at OLM // Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements at MM

Basic Tee Shirt Construction at OLM // Finishing Details for Knit Fabric at MM

Tee Shirt Dress Variation at OLM // Peplum Tee Variation at MM

Drafting and Sewing Leggings at OLM // Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt at MM

Serger and Coverstitch Techniques at OLM // Baby Lock Diana Threading and Converting to Coverstitch at MM

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Sewaholic’s Renfrew Tee Review and Giveaway // Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years,  Babylock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.stretch-yourself-logo

I’m not the first person, and I won’t be the last to fall in love with the Renfrew Tee. It’s everything a t-shirt pattern should be—flattering, functional , and fast.  This will definitely become a staple, and more than that—a fantastic base pattern. It’s got a beautiful fit so it’s a perfect jumping off point to alter or draft any number of different styles and looks.mad mim_stretch yourself_Renfrew pattern review_01

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The very first thing you notice when beginning this project is how commercial the pattern is—sort of. It has the tissue paper patterns, which I love, and also the traditional flow and fold-out format.  What’s very UNcommercial, is how fresh and very clear it is, with awesome step-by-step diagrams.  The instructions are detailed and thorough, and perfectly illustrated.

It comes together smoothly and pretty quickly. One thing that I really loved was the neckband to neck opening ratio, as well as the markings for matching them up. She’ll nailed it! Usually—like always—you have to work with that distribution to get it to lie perfectly flat, but this pattern really took the guess work out of it and resulted in a lovely-looking neck band.   This one was a picture the very first time, so that was great.  Instead of turning the hems under, this pattern finishes both sleeve and hem with bands. I lengthened the sleeve a tad and did the sleeve bands, but opted to hem mine normally because I (foolishly) only bought a yard to work with and didn’t have enough fabric.  It’s an easy alteration though; just add 5 or 6 inches to the bottom and turn it under. Next time I’ll make it even a bit longer.

The last thing I want to mention about this pattern is it’s versatility, and flattering fit. It has lots of variations (round neck/v-neck, sleeve length), and I really love that it has a cowl option.  I think that variation would look killer with some sweatshirt fleece—very much like the cowl hoodie that I’ve seen popping up on Pinterest.  The fit is so nice! It’s fitted, but not tight, and the sizing seemed spot on.

The Renfrew makes an ideal entry level project , but really, it would be a great addition to any pattern collection.  A good solid tee pattern is worth it’s weight in needles, and in my opinion, this is the one to get.

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Details. Pattern: Sewaholic‘s Renfree Tee, Fabric: Fabric Fairy‘s Meridian Garden Cotton Knit (I LOVE IT!!

Head over to Miranda‘s to see her Renfrew version! Love the pink floral!

To win your own copy of the lovely Renfrew Pattern, simply leave a comment below by January 20th, 6 pm MST! **closed**

And congratulations Tabitha, it’s your lucky day! You are the winner of our Fiskars giveaway! “What a great series. Thanks for all the tutorials and I’d LOVE to win the fiskars set!”  We’ll be in touch to get you your new cutting stuff!

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Threading and Converting to Coverstitch a Baby Lock Diana // Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years,  Babylock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.
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Some of you know that I learned to sew when I was 12 years old in my local 4-H club. I had a wonderful teacher who was dedicated to precision sewing, and over the next year or so I learned many techniques I still use today.  Then I entered high school and found all my fashion needs met by the DI and the Gap, and during college I mostly pulled from my roomate’s closets (sorry Martha, Renae and Robin!) It wasn’t until I had my first daughter almost 6 years ago that I started to really get back into sewing, and since then knits have been on my cutting table more often than not. Although a normal serger is fantastic for construction, I found myself constantly frustrated over the last few years when trying to produce a really professional finish for hemming etc.  I used a every finishing technique available to me, and still found myself dealing with the same problems over and over: snapped threads and skipped stitches.  I would always ogle the hems of my ready-to-wear clothing and wish upon a star that I could reproduce those beautifully even straight stitches on the right side, with the beautiful serged backing on the wrong side. It was like the magical mystery of RTW, and I had no idea that it was possible to do at home! Once I did discover this incredible truth I later learned was called a coverstitch (straight stitch on top, serged finish on bottom), I knew I could never be happy in this life without one (not at all inclined to exaggeration here!)

mad mim_stretch yourself_threading and converting a babylock Diana_1When Miranda and I first began discussing a collaboration, there was never any question what it would be about. We are both crazy about sewing with knits, and it was only natural to want to talk about our mutual passion.  As we worked and developed the series, we were so thrilled to partner with Baby Lock, whose serger and coverstitch machine would shine as the star of our series. Baby Lock provided both Miranda and me with a Diana serger as part of our collaboration for the series, and we have both wondered how in the world we ever got along without them. Not only is the Diana an amazing serger, but it quickly converts into a coverstitch machine–finally giving me the opportunity to (efficiently! It’s so much faster!) construct and finish my clothing professionally and functionally. No snapped threads, no skipped stitches, SO much stretch and all with the powerful and efficient precision of a serger.  My world is now complete! I think I may have danced a little jig the first time I sewed with the coverstitch function, and I still get a little buzz with every subsequent project. I love this machine!

Today I’m going to show you how to thread the Diana, as well as how to convert it from serging mode to the coverstitch function, and you’ll be surprised at how quick and easy it is. Or maybe you won’t, this IS Baby Lock after all!

First up, how to thread the 4 thread mock safety stitch. This is what I most often use for construction, as it has the extra line of straight stitches that makes a nice tight and sturdy seam.  This uses all four threads, so I will show you how to thread both the upper and lower loopers, as well as both the left and right needle.

Now let me demonstrate how to switch from serging to cover stitching. You can easily plan your construction so that do all your serging at once and then switch to finish off everything with your coverstitch, but just FYI, I don’t mind switching several times during the construction process, as it’s really no big deal.

And lastly, I’ll show you how to thread the Diana for coverstitching. One of the things that makes the Diana special threading-wise, is that it has a few shortcuts while threading the lower loopers (for both serging and coverstitching) that make it a painless and heartache-free process (those of you who have sergers already know that the lower loopers are the most difficult to get-at, and consequently the most frustrating to thread).

I hope these videos were helpful! I am giddy over the Diana, (who I lovingly refer to as the Princess), and am so happy to collaborate with Baby Lock to have her as the leading lady throughout our Stretch Yourself series!

Don’t miss Miranda’s Baby Lock Diana post, she has so much great information on what the Diana has to offer, and where and how to use it! (LOVE LOVE LOVE that dress!)

More Stretch Yourself:

Knit Fabrics and Selection at OLM // Cutting Knit Fabric at MM

Making a Pattern from a Tee Shirt at OLM // Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements at MM

Basic Tee Shirt Construction at OLM // Finishing Details for Knit Fabric at MM

Tee Shirt Dress Variation at OLM // Peplum Tee Variation at MM

Drafting and Sewing Leggings at OLM // Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt at MM

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Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt // Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years,  Babylock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.stretch-yourself-logo

It’s not hard to see why maxi skirts and dresses have infiltrated fashion over the last couple of years, and are still a staple and going strong–they are comfortable, functional, and versatile. And if you ask me, the knit fabric variety are all of those things to the MAX (ee).  They shine in all seasons, and are a dream to whip up. They are so simple and basic, and a great first knit sewing project.  Today I’ll show you how to draft your own pattern (it’s easy!) and construct an a-line and gathered maxi (the most common styles).  Hop on over to Miranda‘s to learn how to draft and construct leggings, another wardrobe staple!

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Let’s start with the a-line maxi, and you’ll need to take a few quick measurements. Before you do, let’s talk a bit about ease. Ease is the space between the garment and your body; without added ease, this pattern will be fitted at the waist and hips because the measurements of the skirt will equal your body measurements. The skirt I made has no ease added, but if you want a little more room, then you’ll need to add some ease—I suggest 1-2 inches.  For this skirt you would only add it to the waist and the hip measurements, and I strongly suggest just the hip IF you decide to add ease.  Always add it in before you divide (i.e. hip measurement plus 2” ease divided by 4). 

  1. Waist to desired length:distance between the waist and desired length.
  2. Waist to hip: distance between the waist and hip.
  3. Quarter waist: true waist plus optional ease, divided by 4.
  4. Quarter hip: fullest part of your bum plus optional ease, divided by 4.
  5. Quarter hip measurement plus 8-10″, depending on how flared you want you skirt. TIP: Slight fullness would be hip measurement X 1.5, medium fullness would be hip measurement X 2, and considerable fullness would be hip measurement X 3. Considering that guide, my quarter hip measurement plus 8 equals medium fullness. Another way to determine this is to lay out a tape measure and then to step into the center of it in order to visualize  what the fullness looks like. 
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Draft the Pattern:

Cut a piece of paper that is plenty longer than your waist to desired length measurement (give yourself at least 6”). One edge needs to be completely straight, as it will become your center front and fold line.

  1. Starting a couple of inches from the top, measure down the length of number 1 and mark. This is your Center Front as well as as the length of your maxi skirt.
  2. Starting back at the top again and measure down the length of number 2 and mark. This will be your hip point.
  3. Once again from the top, measure out perpendicularly your quarter waist (number 3).
  4. At your previously marked hip point, measure out perpendicularly your quarter hip (number 4).
  5. To finish plotting, start at the bottom of the CF line and measure out perpendicularly the quarter width of your bottom hem (number 5).
  6. Now to connect the dots by starting a 1/2 down from your CF line, and drawing a gentle curve that ends at the point of line 3.
  7. From there you’ll continue down with another gentle curve to the end point of line 4.
  8. Complete your side seam by continuing with an almost straight line (very slightly curved towards the top) until your reach about 3/4’s of an inch above line 5.
  9. Finish the pattern by drawing another very gentle curve to meet with the CF point.

Add a 1/4″ seam allowance everywhere except the bottom hem where you’ll add 5/8″ for turning (more or less depending on your planned hemming).

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Cut and construct:

  1. Cut 2 (front and back skirt pieces) from fabric, making sure that your width has the greatest degree of stretch.
  2. Serge/sew the side seams together.  Check out Miranda’s construction a knit tee post for tips on construction stitches for both a sewing machine and serger.
  3. Cut a rectangle of fabric for the waistband that has a width that is your waist measurement minus 2″ (negative ease for a snug fit), and a length that is your desired waistband thickness times 2 and plus 1/4″  seam allowance. Fold in half widthwise, right sides together, and serge/sew side seam. Just a note, I made both of my bands smaller because I planned on belting my skirts. For a true yoga waistband you’ll want a length of about 10 inches, which folded over will be about a 5 inch band that hug your hips.
  4. Fold in half lengthwise now WST, encasing the seam allowance within the band. Be sure to try your band on at this point to ensure a nice snug fit (take note that it will likely stretch out a bit during sewing).

5. Fit the waistband over the right side of your skirt, pin–matching side seams, and serge/sew. Now flip up the band, finish the bottom hem, and you’re ready to rock.

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Cut and construct:

  1. Cut a large rectangle that has the width of your waist measurement times 1.5, and is your desired length long plus a 5/8″ for turning. Fold it in half widthwise, and serge/sew the side seam. mad mim_stretch yourself_gathered maxi skirt DIY_01
  2. Gather the top edge using your preferred gathering method. I like to zig zag over  cording or string, and then cinch/gather by pulling the string tight. This is SO much easier than two rows of basting threads, and it produces nice, even gathers. I also love to gather using the serger, it’s also much faster and accurate then the double row basting method. Gather it to your waist circumference (doesn’t have to be exact yet).
  3. Cut another rectangle that is the width of your waist circumference minus 2″, and the length of your desired waistband thickness times 2 plus a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Fold in half widthwise and RST, and  sew/serge. Then fold again lengthwise, encasing the side seam within the waistband. Try out and check fit; remember that it will likely stretch a small amount during sewing, so you want it fairly snug. mad mim_stretch yourself_gathered maxi skirt DIY_02
  4. Gather your skirt top to match the circumference of your waistband and pin matching side seams, raw edges and make sure it’s RST.
  5. Serge/sew. If you used the cord gathering method I suggest first basting, then removing the cord before you serge/sew.  Flip waistband up, hem bottom edge and wear!
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(Fabric for this skirt came from the Fabric Fairy–isn’t it fantastic??. )

Remember to check out Miranda‘s post about drafting and sewing leggings!

More Stretch Yourself:

Knit Fabrics and Selection at OLM // Cutting Knit Fabric at MM

Making a Pattern from a Tee Shirt at OLM // Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements at MM

Basic Tee Shirt Construction at OLM // Finishing Details for Knit Fabric at MM

Tee Shirt Dress Variation at OLM // Peplum Tee Variation at MM

Drafting and Sewing Leggings at OLM // Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt at MM

Serger and Coverstitch Techniques at OLM // Baby Lock Diana Threading and Coverstitch at MM

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Peplum Tee Variation + Fabric Fairy Giveaway// Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years, Baby Lock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.

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The fun thing about a having a solid and basic tee pattern (either drafted by measurements, based off a favorite you own, or from a commercial pattern) is to be able to play with and vary it.  There are so many ways to change it up, and today we’re going to scratch the surface by demonstrating a couple of our favorites. I’m going to walk you through how to make the very trendy and feminine Peplum tops, and Miranda is sharing  how to make a couple different dress variations based off just a basic tee.

Peplums are pretty basic–just a tee with a skirt attached, right? They’re  flouncy and fun, and surprisingly I like them just as much on me as I do on my little gal.

Circle skirt variation:

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First step is to make a tee; use either a commercial pattern, draft one from measurements, or make one from a favorite your already own. For this girl’s tee I used an old favorite Ottobre 2/2012 #35 (I’ve made this tee maybe 5-6 times, and love it.)  Cut the pattern short where you want the peplum to begin (somewhere near the navel), and then construct and finish! Measure the unfinished bottom edge of the the shirt to get it’s circumference.  Whatever that number is, subtract about 2 inches, and then divide by 4 (because this will all be cut on the bias, it stretches and it’s better to shoot small and need to adjust later than to cut too big!) Now that you know the quarter waist measurement, you’ll want to cut a square of fabric that when folded into quarters will be long enough for the peplum;  you’ll be measuring from the center folded corner out, but remember you’ll be subtracting several inches to cut the waist out.  Pinch a measuring tape the distance of your quarter waist, and then arrange in at the corner and cut that amount out. It doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t stress too much.  From the cut-out waist, measure out however long you want the peplum to be and mark. Repeat, rotating the tape so that you’ve marked an arc across the square corner.
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Cut along your marks.  mad mim_stretch yourself_peplum top tutorial_03

Open circle and check the waist opening to the bottom edge; they don’t have to be exact, you can ease the skirt to the top, but hopefully you’re pretty close.

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Before adding the skirt, take a second to iron some  magical knit stay tape to the bottom edge of your shirt so that the seam doesn’t stretch out at all while attaching the skirt.

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Right sides together, pin the skirt to the bottom edge of the skirt, easing any differences. Serge, or zig zag. 
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Finish bottom edge however you choose, I opted for the super fast rolled hem stretched to create a lettuce edge. 
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(fabric: fabulous striped knit via the Fabric Fairy)

Asymmetrical Circle Skirt variation:

This variation is so whimsical and plays into the hi-low trend. You do everything the same as for the normal circle peplum, except that you DO NOT cut out the waist opening to start with.

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So make your shirt, cut out a square of fabric, measure out from folded corner to make the circle, and cut circle.
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Now unfold your quarterd circle once so that you have a folded half circle. Refold, but instead of  matching the edges, have one edge be several inches short of the other. This picture is kind of hard to see, but the top fold is about three inches short of the bottom.  This will make your waist circle off-center within the circle skirt, and the more offset that fold is, the more off center your waist circle will, and the more dramatic your hi-low.  As you can see I went for a subtle offset. mad mim_stretch yourself_peplum top tee variation07

Attach as directed above, and finish the hem as you choose. mad mim_stretch yourself_peplum top tee variation08

I attached the hi and low points at the side seams, but for a front to back hi/low skirt just attach the high and low points to the center front and back.
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fabric from the Fabric Fairy

Gathered Skirt Variation:

This last variation I decided to try for myself. I’ve never sported the peplum look, and was a little nervous to just because I feel like it can look pretty youthful, and I am, afterall, 30 now. Can I sport such a young, flirty look?  Well I decided to give a whirl, and I was really genuinely surprised to love it as much as I do!

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Make your tee, but during cutting fold your pattern up where you want your peplum to begin (I used Sewaholic‘s Renfrew Tee). I was a little cautious and made my tee a little longer than I had intended ( I didn’t want to end up Babydolled!). .   Now cut a rectangle of fabric that is as long as you want your peplum to be (plus seam allowances) and is about 1.5 times your shirt’s unfinished bottom edge circumference.  My fabric was thin so I really could have 2X’d it, but I’d rather have it be a little flat than froofy #amiright? (I love hashtagging incorrectly).   mad mim_stretch yourself_peplum top tee variation02

Gather the skirt top edge (my favorite method is to zig zag over a string), and then add knit stay tape to the unfinished bottom edge of your tee.

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First pin the half points of the skirt to the side seams, and then pull your string to gather the skirt to the same circumference as your top.  Distribute your gathers evenly, and then pin well.  Serge/zig zag. Finish hems as desired. mad mim_stretch yourself_peplum top tee variation04

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Don’t miss Miranda‘s fabulous tee shirt dress variations and also enter to win our $50 Fabric Fairy giveaway! Fabric Fairy has a fantastic selection and exceptional costumer service, and we’re so happy to partner with them to give some of that knit-awesomeness to you!

Knit Fabrics and Selection at OLM // Cutting Knit Fabric at MM

Making a Pattern from a Tee Shirt at OLM // Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements at MM

Basic Tee Shirt Construction at OLM // Finishing Details for Knit Fabric at MM

Tee Shirt Dress Variation at OLM // Peplum Tee Variation at MM

Drafting and Sewing Leggings at OLM // Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt at MM

Serger and Coverstitch Techniques at OLM // Baby Lock Diana Threading and Coverstitch at MM

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Finishing Techniques for Knit Fabric // Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years, Baby Lock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.

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It doesn’t take long to realize that sewing with knits is easy and very forgiving.  Once you get a hang of the construction (Miranda‘s covering how to construct a knit tee today) it all comes down to the finishing details. The small touches like hemming and top stitching are hands down the most important thing when it comes to making your garment look professional. Just learning a few simple tips can totally make the difference between a homemade looking garment and completely professional looking one.  I sewed knits for years on just my sewing machine, and now do almost all my knit sewing on a serger, so I’ll talk about all the many finishing techniques for whatever machine you happen to be using. I’ll also talk about and introduce  my new Diana serger, and show a few of its magical powers like coverstitching and flatlocking.i

A word on needles and feet. It’s really important with knit to use the right needles. If you don’t (and trust me I have), then you end up with these lovely little holes along the the seam line .  Use stretch or ball point needles! Also, a walking foot can be so helpful when sewing knits, especially if you’re using a sewing machine.  A walking foot helps the fabric feed evenly, so it helps eliminate lots of unwanted stretching and wonkiness. If you’re having drama with a particular fabric or finish, try changing your needle or using a walking foot! It might solve your problem!

Finishing Neck Openings:

mad mim_stretch yourself_finishing techniques01A neckband is definitely the most common neckline finish, and certainly the method I use the most. It’s simple–you fold your band together lengthwise and pin it and your neck opening in quarters. You then match the quartered band to the quartered neck opening and stick a few pins in between. Serge or zig zag along the raw edges and then turn up and press well. Top stitching is optional, although I highly recommend it.

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Although I don’t personally use this technique very much, many people just simple turn the neck under and usually zig zag  it down. In this picture I actually serged the edge for stability, and then used a straight stitch  because the neck opening was plenty big and wasn’t going to be stretched. I recommend stabilizing with soft knit tape along the inside before turning when using this method, as it helps to keep it evenly folded and makes a much neater stitch.

mad mim_stretch yourself_finishing techniques03 mad mim_stretch yourself_finishing techniques11Binding the neckline is another option, and this is often used on children’s wear for a slightly more sporty look. I like to use this method on lightweight knits, as thicker more stable knits can get pretty bulky with a bound edge.  To bind a hem you’ll cut a length of fabric (on the bias optionally, it lies flatter but isn’t necessary) that is twice the height of your desired binding plus a generous 1/4″ for turning, and about 7/8’s the length of your neck opening. You sew the short ends of your binding together RST and then fold lengthwise WST. Pin to the WRONG side of your neck opening, raw edges aligned, and then serge or zig zag.  Flip the binding over to the right side of the fabric (enclosing the seam allowance), pin well and then topstitch down. (see the flatlock example at the bottom as well for a bound neckline).mad mim_stretch yourself_finishing techniques37

Finishing sleeves and hems:

The first and obvious option is to leave them unhemmed. Knits are wonderful that way. They curl up quite a bit, and sometimes that can be just the look you want.

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The above are examples of sewing machine finishes (again, REMEMBER to use a stretch or ball point needle!)  From top to bottom: stretch stitch, zig zag, overlock stitch and a double needle.  Like I said before, I sewed with  knits for years without a serger, and so I can tell you that not having one is no excuse for avoiding knits!  The stretch stitch I’m not a huge fan of because it’s very slow and also not very neat looking to me, but all the rest are good options that produce nice results (I used the overlock stitch frequently!)

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One of the most important things I can tell you concerning hemming knit fabric, is that although I hardly ever (never?) pin while hemming, I ALWAYS press the hems up before sewing. This is so important if you want a professional looking hem! If you don’t, the fabric will likely slip and shift and your hem will be wonky and inconsistent. Another thing I want to mention is how useful  knit stay tape is when working with lightweight tissue jerseys (or any knit!), no matter what your hemming method is. Some knits are just so light and stretchy that any hemming method stretches and destorts them. Knit stay tape will save your life! It gives just enough stability to provide for a nice and neat stitch, but it’s still stretchy! Before I found the above knit stay tape I used bias cut strips of fusible knit interfacing, which also works well and you can find it at Joann’s.

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The truth about double needles, is that they’re awesome. IF they work. Double needles can be really finicky depending on your fabric, and often one side or both skips stitches–especially if you sew just a little beyond the fold. Above you can see that for the sleeve hem I had to go over it at leasty twice because it had skipped so many stitches. Sometimes they are a dream, and sometimes, for no apparent reason, they don’t work at all. That’s when I would resort to double lines of straight stitching, which I’ll address later. My best advice for trouble shooting a double needle, is to make sure they are good and sharp (change them out frequently), and then bust out that knit stay tape and stabilize stabilize stabilize!

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Let’s move onto serger finishes. Of course you can always just simply serge the edge (see the bottom ruffle for the no-hemming example), or above are two examples of the very common rolled hem–the top one being stretched while serging to produce what’s called a “lettuce” or ruffled edge.  The rolled hem looks great on light weight knits and long maxi skirts or dresses, and I think the lettuce edge is very sweet and feminine on little girl’s clothes.

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And then there’s the coverstitch! My Babylock Diana serger is both a serger and coverstitch machine in one, and the coverstitch function is so cool in makes me completely weak in the knees. The Diana can do a single chain stitch and then double (in two different widths) and triple coverstitches. What’s so cool about these stitches are that they are a straight, neat and even on top, but serged on the bottom creating the ultimately professional and functional garment! I can tell you that my heart skipped a beat the first time I tried it out, what a thrill! Coverstitching is what you will find on all ready-to-wear clothing, and it’s a great option for all types of knits and all types of projects.

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So awesome!

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And lastly, although I shouldn’t even mention this as a viable option because it really isn’t a great choice, is the normal straight stitch.  I once had a sewing mentor show me how to ever-so-slightly add a little tension while you sew, and she said that would be enough from keeping the stitches from snapping. She was sometimes right. Like I mentioned before, any time my double needles were giving me grief  (which was all too often) I would in desperation turn to straight stitching with added ease. The result MOST of the time would be a sadly snapped hem that I would eventually have to re-do.

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But sometimes it would work: when the garment is over-sized and not likely to be stretched very much  you can get away with it, and then sometimes if you add enough ease you’ll get lucky with an intact hem. The trick is to very gently tug on the fabric as it feeds under the presser foot. This takes some time to get a feel for, and really I only recommend if you are out of other options.

Hem and Arm bands (and faux bands!):
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Adding bands to sleeves and hems is another great way to finish your garment, and often it’s the easiest of the options.  To add an arm or hem band, cut a rectangle of fabric that is twice the height of your desired band plus 1/4″ seam allowance, and the same width of the opening you are sewing it too. I just lay down my shirt inside-out, and then trim my rectangle to the same size as the sleeve or hem.  Then pin it to the opening aligning your raw edges, sew and flip to the right side and press. (Sometimes I topstitch as well!)

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And now to share what I call the “faux band”, which I happily discovered by accident while getting to know the Princess.  You fold the fabric under the wrong side, and then back to the front like an accordian, leaving a small scant 1/4″ overhang (as if you were doing a blind hem).  You sew on the wrong side of the fabric, catching the fold, and then unfold it and BAM. What looks like a band.

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It is SO FAST, and I’m pretty excited by it.  The only thing to remember is that when cutting you’ll want to add enough to allow for the process on the ends of your sleeves or hem. Isn’t that cool??

Topstitching:

Topstitching is to sewing what guacamole is to my taco. It makes everything else sing.

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From top to bottom: a normal straight stitch (for neckbands), a double needle, a double coverstitch, and a zig zag stitch.

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For neck bands, I often do just a simple straight stitch (with ease!) close to the seam and in the seam allowance. This is one of the few times that I’ve never had a straight stitch break with knits–even my kid’s clothes that get stretch over heads frequently have held up well. I think it has to do with the fact that you’re sewing in the seam allowance which adds stability.

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A double needle or coverstitch also looks great, and you can either sew just under the seam in the seam allowance, or straddle the seam–anything goes,and I’ve seen it all when it comes to topstitching.  Another nice little touch is to topstitch the shoulder seams as well as the neckline.

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And lastly, let’s take a looksy at the flatlock stitch which is both a construction stitch as well as a decorative one.  I have seen this used on both the serged looking side (very sporty), as well as the ladder stitched side, and I think both look great. Something important to note with a flatlock stitch–it must always be used on the edge of the fabric, so if you’re trying to sew a hem or patch pocket etc, you must fold the fabric up so that you’re on the edge. Miranda has a great tutorial illustrating the flatlock technique.

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 I whipped up this little tee for my Bub just last night to demonstrate. (For the “cuff” I used my faux band technique combined with the flatlock stitch).

Wowza, weren’t ready for all that? Well don’t you worry, it’ll be here waiting for you when you are. I want this, like Miranda’s knit fabric guide, to be a thorough reference for you next time your sewing with knits!  You definitely won’t want to miss Miranda‘s companion post about tee shirt construction techniques today, and tomorrow we’ll talk about some really fun variations on the basic tee (maxi skirt and dresses!)

More Stretch Yourself:

Knit Fabrics and Selection at OLM // Cutting Knit Fabric at MM

Making a Pattern from a Tee Shirt at OLM // Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements at MM

Tee Shirt Dress Variation at OLM // Peplum Tee Variation at MM

Drafting and Sewing Leggings at OLM // Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt at MM

Serger and Coverstitch Techniques at OLM // Baby Lock Diana Threading and Coverstitch at MM

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Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements // Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years,  Babylock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.

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Isn’t it fun how we’re all different? Straight, curvy, plump or lean—we’re all  trying to rock what Mother Nature gave us, and often it’s hard to find clothes that fit just right.  You know what I’m talking about—too short, too long, too wide, ill-fitting, unflattering, and on and on.  That’s why pattern drafting can be so worth it; you’re designing for yourself based on your own unique measurements.  It’s an amazing fit, and really pretty simple.  Don’t get intimidated by the word “drafting,” it’s really just measuring, straight lines, and then connecting the dots.  One of my very first posts on this blog was a tutorial on drafting a tee pattern from measurements, and although it’s a great method, I’ve simplified, tweaked and improved the process here. If you’re still overwhelmed at the thought of making your own pattern, then  head on over to Miranda’s to learn how to draft a pattern by rubbing off your favorite tee, and next week we’ll review a couple of women’s tee patterns which are easy enough for anyone!

Drafting a tee from measurements.

Before you begin you’ll need to add ease.  Ease is the space between the garment and your body; without added ease, this pattern will produce a skin tight shirt because the measurements of the shirt will equal your body measurements. So if you want a little more room, then you’ll need to add some ease—I suggest 1-2 inches (mine has 2).  Add it to each of these calculations, and always add it in before you divide (i.e. neck measurement plus 2” ease divided by 2). You will add the ease to the measurements that are marked with an asterisk (*)

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You’ll need: a tape measurer, tracing paper (exam table paper works famously!), acrylic ruler, seam gauge, and tailor’s chalk. It also helps for you to wear a fitted solid colored tee while measuring yourself.

Measure and calculate: (click on the measurement chart for a printable pdf).

Tip: I find it’s easier if before I start, I mark my high shoulder point, shoulder point, upper chest, bustline, true waist and hip with a sliver of soap or tailors chalk. This makes it easier for me to find the right spot and be consistent. 

mad mim_stretch yourself_taking measurements01 Drafting-a-Tee-Measurement-Chart2mad mim_stretch yourself_taking measurements02

1. *Half neck: Neck divided by 2. (To find neck width, hang a string around your neck and allow it to hang down on either side.  Measure from one side of the string to the other –4-5” for women).

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2. *Half shoulder: Shoulder divided by 2. Your shoulder points are easily located as the points that depress or crease when you lift your arms straight out.

3. *Quarter bust: bust divided by 4.

4. *Quarter Waist: True Waist (smallest part of your waist) divided by 4.

5. *Quarter hip: Hip divided by 4. Take this measurement at the point you want your shirt to hit. This is can be the high hip (hip bones) or low hip (most ample part of bum) depending on how long your want your tee. I prefer a length right in between the two. 

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6. *HSP to upper chest: To locate the High Shoulder Point hang that string around your neck again; the HSP is the point on the string between the neck and shoulder. Measure from the HSP  to upper chest (tape measurer should go right under your armpits).

7. HSP to True Waist

8. HSP to hip (or where you want shirt to hit).

9. *Bicep half (with arm down, the fullest part of bicep (without flexing, you bad A!) divided by 2.

10. Sleeve length: from shoulder point to where you want sleeve to hit, OR for a long sleeve, from shoulder point to wrist.

11. Underarm seam length: measure from you under arm (the pit) to where you want your sleeve to hit, and MINUS 1” from that measurement for ease.

12. Wrist half: (for long sleeve) wrist divided by 2.

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Plot shirt front:

Cut a piece of paper that is plenty longer than your HSP to Hip and quarter hip measurements (give yourself at least 6” more on both). One edge needs to be completely straight, as it will become your center front and fold line.

  1. Starting a couple inches down from the top, draw a perpendicular line out from the Center Fold edge that equals the distance or your half neck. Mark; this is your High Shoulder Point or HSP.
  2. A half inch below that line, make another perpendicular line from CF that equals the distance of your half shoulder. Mark.
  3. From your HSP, measure straight down the distance of your HSP to High bust and mark. Directly over this mark, draw a perpendicular line from CF that equals your quarter bust measurement.
  4. From your HSP again, measure down the distance of your HSP to waist and mark.  Directly over this mark, draw a perpendicular line from CF that equals your quarter waist.
  5. Once more from your HSP, measure down the distance of your HSP to hip and mark. Directly over this mark, draw a perpendicular line from CF that equals your quarter hip.

 Connect the dots:

6.  Starting from your HSP, draw a gentle concave curve to the CF that will be your front neck drop.  Make it as deep or shallow as you please, but take care that it hits the CF and HSP perpendicularly for at least a ¼”.

7.  Connect the HSP to shoulder point with a very slight convex curve.

8.  The concave curve between the shoulder point and quarter bust line is your armscye (or armscyth), which is a fancy word for armhole.  Draw it more straight coming down from the shoulder point, with a sharper curve going into the side perpendicularly.  Check out your fave fitted tee (off your body) to get a good idea.

9.  Now unless you dig the boxy look, draw a curved line from the bustline to waistline to hip.  This is a gentle curve that happens gradually about 1” from the top and bottom of the side seam.  Because I didn’t want my shirt super fitted through the waist, I drew my waist curve about ¾’s of an inch away from the quarter waist point.

10.  The bottom hemline is the final convex curve; like all your other corners, it must intersect with side seams and CF at perpendicular right angles.  Begin this curve just above you hip line, and then descend down about 3/4” below the hip line, where it hits the CF.

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True  up.  Make sure your angles are squared, and you’ve added ease where needed. Double check your measurements, and it might be useful to compare your drafted pattern to a favorite tee.

stretch-yourself_basic-fitted-tee_plotting-backPlot shirt back:

The shirt back is a whiz. It’s basically the same as the front, but with a small tweak.  I suggest tracing the front, and then drawing in the alterations.  The back neck drop is much higher than the front, and usually only dips down about a ½”-1”.  Everything else is the same. Cut out, and make sure to mark clearly “front” or “back”, “cut 1 on fold”, and maybe your bust, waist and hip measurements so you have a size reference for the future. Your CF is the fold line as well as the grain line.

basic-fitted-tee_plotting-sleeve Plot sleeve:

Fold in half height-wise a cut of tracing paper that is several inches larger than your bicep half and sleeve length.

A)  Plot sleeve length along folded edge (CF)  starting at least an inch from the top.

B)  From the bottom edge of the length line, measure up the distance of your underarm seam length, and mark.

C)  Directly over this point, measure out perpendicularly the length of your bicep half.

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D)  Now you’re ready to plot the upper curved edge of your sleeve. You’ll need to first measure carefully the distance of your front armscye.  On a measuring tape, measure out this distance and pinch.  Starting on the folded edge, arrange your measuring tape to help visualize the upper curved edge and get the proper distance. It will meet perpendicularly into the bicep line for about 1” before it curves upward and intersects the CF at a right angle.  Play around with it until you get a nice even curve and then trace that line.

E)  To finish, you’ll draw another line perpendicularly out from the CF bottom edge the distance of your bicep half minus 1” or so, and then

F)  Draw a straight line connecting line C and E to close sleeve side.

Now fold paper down CF again, and trace the your plotted half sleeve onto the other side.

Cut pattern:

Before you cut, you’ll need to add ¼” seam allowances to shirt front, back and sleeve  (the width of a serger  finish or overlock stitch on a sewing machine) everywhere but the hems, where you’ll add a generous 1”.  Keep  a seam gauge and ruler handy, or just eyeball it if you feel confident.  Optionally, you can choose to not add the SA to the paper pattern, but add them to the fabric as you cut out. If you choose this method, you should mark clearly what seam allowance should be added during cutting on the pattern, so you don’t forget.

*It’s best to cut the neckband after cutting other pieces so you can hold the front piece up to yourself to check the depth of the front drop.  If you’re not quite happy with it you can alter the depth and width at this point before calculating neckband width.

Neckband:

Measure carefully the front and back neck curves on seam line (not cutting), and then times those numbers by 2 and add to each other for the full neck opening circumference.  The neckband should be smaller than opening—anywhere from ¾’s to 7/8’s of that measurement. It’s difficult  to make a hard and fast rule because the stretch for different knits vary so much.  Start with 7/8’s of your neck opening (neck opening times .875 for all you math phobes like me!), and know that you may have to shorten that length in order to get the band to lie flat.

The width of the band will be however wide you want plus the seam allowance. I find a 1 ¾” width makes a great band.

Cut a rectangle using this length and width on the crossgrain so that the length has the greatest degree of stretch. Alternatively you may cut this rectangle on the bias, which helps the band lie flat against your chest. This isn’t necessary, but  look nice if you have the fabric to spare.

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Don’t miss Miranda‘s post on making a pattern from a favorite tee, and come back tomorrow and we’ll teach you the ins and outs of knit t-shirt construction as well as knit sewing and finishing finishing techniques!

More Stretch Yourself:

Knit Fabrics and Selection at OLM // Cutting Knit Fabric at MM

Making a Pattern from a Tee Shirt at OLM // Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements at MM

Basic Tee Shirt Construction at OLM // Finishing Details for Knit Fabric at MM

Tee Shirt Dress Variation at OLM // Peplum Tee Variation at MM

Drafting and Sewing Leggings at OLM // Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt at MM

Serger and Coverstitch Techniques at OLM // Baby Lock Diana Threading and Coverstitch at MM

BabyLock_HortLogo_K_Tag

Cutting Knit Fabric and Fiskar Giveaway // Stretch Yourself

This series is sponsored by Baby Lock. For over 40 years,  Babylock has been dedicated to the love of sewing by creating machines for sewing, embroidery, quilting and serging – all with ease-of-use, high quality and a touch of elegance.

stretch-yourself-logoTo begin our week of knit sewing tutorials, Miranda is gonna tell you everything you ever wanted to know about knit fabric and selection, and round here I’m going to show you how to cut knit fabric properly. Of all the steps involved in garment making, I’ll admit that cutting is my least favorite. It just isn’t as fun as fabric selection and design, nor is it as rewarding as the actual sewing.  Here are some key steps to cutting knits that are quick, easy and accurate, so you can move on to the fun part!

Prep the fabric:

  • Pre-wash it! It saves you from heartache and misery later! Just do it!
  • Find the grainline. Square up your fabric by folding it in half lengthwise (or perpendicularly  to the greatest degree of stretch), and then holding each all four corners separately i.e. your palm, pinky and ring finger hold one side, and your thumb, index and pointer hold the other. Gently shift the front and back from side to side until you have no diagonal pulling or distortion. It should be smooth and straight.  The fabric is now ON grain.
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Another way to accomplish this—especially if you don’t want to fold the fabric in half down the middle (to minimize waste), is to eyeball about where you’ll need to fold, and then carefully place a long ruler down (Fiskar’s 3X16 is perfect) so that it’s exactly parallel to the rows created by the knits. While holding you’re ruler in place, fold the fabric over it, and then carefully slide it out.

Prep  the pattern:

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  • Determine size based on your measurements, and cut pattern out  (you may want to trace the pattern onto tracing paper first, so that you may use again in a different size–I’m a tracer! Sunni has a great post about tracing patterns, fyi.) If you do trace, be sure to clearly mark the pattern name, size, pattern piece and cutting instructions.
  • Iron on a low, dry heat if needed.
  • Determine whether or not you need to add a seam allowance (usually not necessary, but for instance, Ottobre patterns require you to add your own SA.  It will probably be indicated in the cutting instructions).
  • Reference the cutting layout to maximize your yardage.

Prep  the surface/tools, you’ll need:

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  • A good hard surface like a dining room table, and make sure that none of your fabric hangs off the table as it will distort the fabric and prevent accurate cutting.
  • A good self-healing mat and sharp rotary blade cutters (my preferred method by FAR, it’s so fast!)
  • OR a sharp pair of dressmaker’s shears and pins.
  • Pattern weights or equivalent . I use large (1 ¾”) metal washers, but you can also use cans of tuna, butter knives, or baby food jars. Use what you have!
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  • Marking tools i.e. water soluble pen, tailor’s chalk, your kid’s washable markers (never actually tried that one), or my favorite—a sliver of soap.

 Cut:

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  • Arrange your pattern carefully on your fabric according to instructions, and then either set pattern weights, or pin securely.
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  •  Regardless of whether you are using a rotary blade or shears, you need to position yourself correctly.  You want your left hand stabilizing the fabric, and your right hand positioned upright  with your cutting tool (no angles). Reverse if left-handed.   If you are using scissors then use long even snips, and if you’re using a rotary blade then go slowly, and use scissors for corners.  ALWAYS close your blade when not in use, and ALWAYS keep your cutting tools far away from children.
  • Move yourself around your cutting, (or if using a cutting mat, you can rotate it) but never move the fabric once you start cutting.
  • Transfer all notches and markings onto wrong side of fabric. For notches, making a small snip is sufficient.
  • Finally, I like to fold my pieces together with their patterns, just in case I need to check or re-mark anything before sewing.

Now you’re ready to construct!

**We are so excited today to offer a giveaway from Fiskars–the world’s #1 scissors brand! They are generously offering one lucky sewist a rotary cutter starter’s set, which includes an 18″ X 24″ cutting mat, a 45 mm rotary cutter, and a 6″ X 24″ acrylic ruler, three sewing tools I couldn’t live one day without! Like I mentioned above, cutting knit fabric is so much easier and faster with a rotary cutter and mat, and if you don’t have or have never tried these tools yet, they have the power to change your sewing life completely. To enter, simply leave a comment in this post! You can enter until next Sunday (1/13/2013) at 6:00 pm MST, when we’ll draw a winner to announce on Monday. NOW CLOSED**

Be sure to check out the counter-part tutorial for today knit fabric and selection over at Miranda’s blog, it’s an amazingly informative and comprehensive post, and one that I will definitely be referencing in the future! 

More Stretch Yourself:

Making a Pattern from a Tee Shirt at OLM // Drafting a Tee Pattern from Measurements at MM

Basic Tee Shirt Construction at OLM // Finishing Details for Knit Fabric at MM

Tee Shirt Dress Variation at OLM // Peplum Tee Variation at MM

Drafting and Sewing Leggings at OLM // Drafting and Sewing a Maxi Skirt at MM

Serger and Coverstitch Techniques at OLM // Baby Lock Diana Threading and Coverstitch at MM

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