Learning with Knits

I’ve sewn with knit fabrics before. I know I have! But either they were less stretchy, or I didn’t care about the finished project as much. But this project I care about, and it’s been a (kind of frustrating) learning experience.

I should back up. I am participating in the Fabric Mart Fabricistas’ Reader’s Pick Sew Along. Julie, who authors that blog, is providing great step-by-step tips that have really helped me with this project.

6097

We’re all sewing New Look 6097. I’m doing pattern A, with the collar and sleeves.

Here’s my knit fabric, purchased from fabricmartfabrics.com.

my_fabric

I’m normally really slow at sewing b/c I get all perfectionist. It took me much longer to cut out the fabric pieces for this pattern b/c the knit is so stretchy. Also, I do not own a cutting grid, which I should. But that is not something I bought for this project. Beast isn’t helping, either.

beast_fabric

I didn’t think to take photos of the two bodice pieces and their pleats. Those were the first two steps, though. Then, the instructions suggested I add seam binding to the shoulders. Julie recommended Seams Great by Dritz. If you look at her photo, she didn’t put the binding along the raw edge. I did, though, because the directions on the back of Seams Great said to. I honestly don’t know if it matters or not.

seam_binding

So far so good, right? Well, that’s about 3-4 steps into the instructions, and I’ve been working on this for almost 2 weeks! In fact, that seam binding shot above, I sewed that on 3 times (ripping it out twice).

You know what I’ve ripped out 3 times, though? The collar and facing. As I said earlier, Julie has been providing some great tips. It’s because of her blog that I knew to use the zig zag stitch. But she had also recommended using a needle for knits. I didn’t do that at first. I figured, meh, I’ve sewn with knits before, my regular sewing needle is fine. But while sewing the collar and facing right sides together, I learned the truth about knits. You need the proper tools!

puckering

See how the fabric is puckering? As I sewed, the top fabric was getting out of sync with the bottom fabric (facing). I ripped out my stitches and went to Jo-Ann’s to buy needles for knits.

Back home with a new needle, the fabric still puckered, and I ripped it out a second time. I did a search for “sewing with knits” videos. At about 01:20, Ann Steeves suggests it might help if I slightly pull on both ends of the fabric as it went through the machine.

Third time on this step, and I discovered a new problem. I had purchased the correct kind of fusible interfacing for knits. But the pattern said I needed at least 22-26 inches wide. The stuff I bought was 20″ wide. I didn’t think it mattered. But as I sewed the two parts of the collar together last night, I finally realized: the facing wasn’t stretching! I ripped out the stitches again. I had cut out the interfacing in the wrong direction. I can’t even reuse what I bought, because I DO need that interfacing to be at least 22″ wide so that I cut out the piece so it stretches the right way. Sigh. It’s back to Jo-Ann’s tonight.

7 Months

That’s how long it’s been since I’ve sewed anything. That’s how long it’s been since my best friend ever, Carolyn Kaufman, died of a brain aneurysm.

I think we started sewing together in 2011. I went to her house almost every Saturday, bringing my sewing machine and project-related items. Sometimes I’d stay for a couple hours. A few times, I stayed for 5+ hours!

I already kinda knew how to sew before meeting Carolyn. I even had a machine that my mom bought me in 2005. But the couple projects I’d completed were mostly done by my mom. I’d get bored or frustrated, and I’d hand the project to her and say, “You do it!”

Carolyn had been sewing for several years already. I honestly don’t know how many. She made mostly dresses and skirts, but she’d make other things, too. She made the most fabulous steampunk Halloween costume one year.

When I started sewing with Carolyn, she was teaching her sister-in-law Elisa how to sew, too. We went to Jo-Ann’s and looked at patterns and fabrics. Elisa and I both picked the same pattern, Simplicity 2305, but she chose a black-and-white brocade, and I chose a gray silk dupioni.

gray fabric

That is silk dupioni, right? Or is it shantung?

It was a pretty difficult pattern, and it stumped Carolyn, too. My mom even came to visit at one point during construction to help me out.

I didn’t finish it, and I don’t remember if Elisa finished hers. With mine, the embellishment on the front gave the skirt a really funky shape. I shelved it.

I actually tried remaking it in early 2013. But, because of seam allowances after taking it apart, it was waaaay too small. It was kind of funny, actually, that I’d tried to sew this skirt twice, but it was never meant to be.

Actually, I’ll probably do it for real, some day. Maybe.

Anyway, that was my first of many sewing projects with Carolyn. The best part about sewing on Saturday was that I worked on projects almost every week, and I naturally completed them! I am not the best at finishing things, and I am terrible about deadlines. My mom even commented several times, after seeing finished garments, that it must be nice to sew at one’s own pace. She often started projects with actual due dates (like my 8th grade graduation dress, or my sister’s maid of honor dress for my wedding) a night or two before. I think I’d hate sewing if I put myself through that.

But I haven’t sewn anything since August 31, 2013, which was a week before Carolyn died and the last time I saw or talked to her. I’ve certainly been thinking about sewing, during these months, and buying fabric and patterns. But actual sewing hasn’t occurred. With Carolyn, it was fun just sharing new fabrics we’d bought or watching the progress of each other’s projects. After she died, I felt like, “What’s the point, if I can’t share this with Carolyn?”

That’s going to change starting tomorrow, though, because I’m participating in the Fabricistas Sew Along. I’m very excited to get started, and I’m super glad to have found a community to sew with. Of course I’d rather be doing the Sew-Along with Carolyn, or at least telling her about it, but that’s not possible.

So, this was my kinda long first post. Thanks for reading, if you did. : )

A note about the header image: That’s Haylie! She was one of Carolyn’s cats that I adopted after she died. Haylie always helped us sew. As you can see, she’s still into it.