This past year we brought in a great selection of jersey knits to Pink Castle Fabrics, and we've been having fun learning to make garments. Sewing with knits is fun and easy. And it's even better when you find a free dress pattern for kids!
When I (Kara) came across this super cute cute (and FREE) pattern from Mix it Make it, I knew I had to try it out. You can find all the pattern pieces and steps on her website, but I thought it would be fun to show you how I made mine.
I would say this pattern is great for a beginner. It's simple, but that ruffle adds some fun!
First things first: this pattern is listed in metric measurements, so you're going to want to use a conversion calculator (like this one) if you're used to imperial measurements. And now to choose an awesome Jersey knit fabric.
I choose to use Wire Flowers Foil in knit from Art Gallery Fabrics. I love that the neutral color palette makes it wearable in any season. Art Gallery knit fabric is 95% cotton and 5% Spandex. This pattern only required 1 yard, too.
First, print out your three pattern pieces and lay them on the fabric to cut out. I like using pattern weights so that I don't have to pin into the fabric.
You'll also be cutting out a skirt piece and the 2 ruffles. Here are my pieces all cut out.
Next, you'll take the dress top pattern and fold it along the vertical line. Place the pattern piece on the fabric and draw a line to mark the ruffle placement.
Now you're going to sew the shoulder seams right sides together. I used a serger, but you can also use the overlock stitch on a regular sewing machine.
Make a sandwich with the far side, ruffle, and middle top piece as shown. Sew through the three layers making sure the ruffles are evenly distributed.
Next, you'll attach both sleeves at the shoulder seams
Turn the shirt inside out and sew along the side seam and sleeve seam.
Let us know if you try it out! Tag your projects with #PinkCastleFabrics on Instagram or share them to our Facebook page.
I went to Camp Stitchalot this last weekend, and I had a blast. My sister, who is more of a garment sewist went with me, and when I brought out my patterns and ideas to decide what to work on, she grabbed a knit nightgown pattern out of the pile and said that if I wanted to make it, she would be happy to help. And since we don't often find ourselves together, I jumped at the chance.
Though I didn't have any appropriate knit fabric on hand! But never mind that, we went to Pink Castle Fabrics and perused their knit selection before heading off to camp. You might not be lucky enough to live near Ann Arbor, Michigan but you can see all the knit fabric online!
I chose Desert Blanket by April Rhodes for Art Gallery which had just arrived a day or two earlier. The new Art Gallery knit fabric are super soft and somehow hit that perfect balance of being thin without being translucent.
|Modeled by me at Camp, before hemming.|
I put it together in a day, basically, from cutting out the pieces to finally hemming it. And I did need her expertise putting that neckline together. Admittedly, I sewed the neckline facing in after we left camp, but I had decided that it would drive me less crazy to do that by hand.
What I want to show you all about this is not so much this pattern, but the seam finishing:
Because there isn't any. I hemmed the sleeves and the bottom with a double needle (as we discussed in my previous post about knits), but I only folded them over once, rather than twice like you would with a woven fabric. And for the sleeve and side seams, I didn't do anything at all to them. Knits don't fray! My rule of thumb for knits is that as long as it doesn't look weird on the outside, you don't need to worry about the seams. You can also read this post about using a Janome coverpro machine to hem!
And it's so soft! Did I mention the softness?I
Of course when my daughter saw this nightgown, she's decided she needs one, too. For her I've been looking at the knits from Bari J's new line, Emmy Grace for Art Gallery Fabrics. She's sure to love this one:
|Ripples in Rose Jersey Knit by Bari J for Art Gallery|
If you are just starting out with knits, probably you don't want to start with a nightgown. I picked a few of the best patterns for knit. Skirts are always a good starting point. There are fewer seams and you don't have to deal with the potential heartbreak of setting sleeves into the garment. Let's look a few best patterns for learning to sew with knit.
Or maybe a child's tank top! The Blank Tank from Blank Slate pattern is a quick and easy boys tank top pattern! And the PDF pattern is available for immediate download!
|The Blank Tank|
Or maybe the Jorna (which can be either a tank or a dress, and is available for girls and women) by Jenna Brand, which is fully lined so you don't have to deal with finishing the neckline or the armholes:
My recent discovery on the web is Peek-A-Boo patterns which has a great many patterns for kids using knits, including some for shorts and swimwear, and lots for boys, which can sometimes be a challenge to locate.
I hope you're inspired to try something new with our new knits!
When we start sewing, we normally start with woven fabrics or fabric without any stretch. But when we buy clothing, for ourselves, for our children, we are generally buying knits. Knits have some stretch, are forgiving to wear, and so comfortable!
But after we have sewn for a while, we of course begin to wonder if we can't just sew our own t-shirts and knit dresses. At first I had no idea how to sew with knit fabric. But after some practice I was able to make some lovely garments that I love to wear.
Let me assure you, you can learn how to sew knit fabric without a serger (overlocker).
The difference between knit fabrics and woven ones is the stretch. Knits have it, woven fabrics don't. The stretch is mostly in the horizontal direction (between the selvages, though some knits don't have selvages). The issue with sewing knits is that you have to build some flexibility into the seam, or when you pull on it, you will snap the thread. This is not such a problem for seams perpendicular to the direction of stretch (side seams), but really important to those parallel to it (hems).
You probably already know that you can use the zig zag stitch on your sewing machine to mimic the overlock stitch you would get with a serger for side seams. But how do you achieve a stretchy hem without a coverstitch sewing machine? Just using your own home sewing machine?
The answer, my friends, is that mysterious twin needle! Allow me to show you how:
|My home sewing machine set up with a twin needle.|
Using a zig zag foot, and threading two spools of thread on the top, run them through the machine as if they were one thread, then thread one through the left needle and one through the right. (Ideally, you want them to be the same color, but I didn't think far enough ahead to arrange that!)
When you sew it, the top of your twin needle sewing will look like this:
The bottom will look like this:
Because the bobbin thread is looping between the two top threads this means of hemming provides that all important flexibility, and when you stretch the fabric, the hem stretches too.
Isn't that a neat trick? My sister taught me that.
Other knit resources, since we all don't have a sister who is into garment sewing.... I have Sew U Home Stretch: the Built by Wendy Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics which seems pretty useful (though she wants you to buy both the serger and the cover stitch machine, though she mentions workarounds, and I'll have to admit to not having done any of the projects yet). Another book I thought had a good explanation about the differences between knits and woven fabric and why patterns that work with one won't necessarily work with the other is Cal Patch's Design it Yourself Clothes, which is definitely worth a read even if you're not planning on designing clothes and just need to alter patterns to fit you. As most of us do.
Now, all we have to do is decide on what pattern to start with! How about some t-shirts?
This class will be taught on Saturday, September 28, 2013. This is one of the best patterns for learning to sew with knit fabric!
|The Jorna dress|
Join pattern designer and modern quilter Jenna Brand as she teaches her pattern Jorna. In this class you will be given the complete pattern for the Jorna dress, the Jorna junior, and the maternity-style Jorna. Throughout the class you'll learn tips and techniques for working with jersey knit, how to do an all-in-one bodice lining, and you'll leave with a finished garment!
The Jorna dress comes in sizes XS-XL for women, 2T-5T for toddler aged girls. The "Knocked-Up Jorna" is for pregnant women sizes XS-XL (pre-pregnancy sizes). The patterns come with length options, and can be made either as a top or a dress, making this a garment you can make again and again, achieving different results that are always flattering.
|The Jorna top.|
This class will benefit beginning seamstresses as well as those looking to polish skills, or tackle knits for the first time. No special equipment required! Bring your sewing machine, prewashed fabric, and other supplies for a fun late morning/ early afternoon of garment making!