It is amazing to me I am coming up on the final entry in my year’s project: one sew-along a month. It has been an incredible amount of work, and I still have little housekeeping bits and bobs to finish (I am also in the middle of an update on my Vegan Tailor site). But it has been a glorious journey and I have met and been inspired by many lovely stitchers!
Our sew-along itinerary is as follows:
March 15th: cutting and marking
March 17th: triangle patch & elbow patches
March 19th: seams and neckline
March 21st: cuffs, waistband, and curved hem
Joining us for March’s sew-along is my ladyfriend Rachelle Weiler, located in Abbotsford, Canada. Rachelle and I met via Twitter and worked on costuming together last fall. We quickly discovered much in common – including a love for Patterns for Pirates knitwear. I think of her as P4P’s NUMBER ONE FAN (nothing weird)! While I demonstrate the basic Slim-fit raglan pattern, she will be touching on features from the add-on pack and – knowing her! – likely a few other great pattern hacks. She is also hosting a P4P giveaway on her blog – so please go check it out.
And let’s talk about Patterns for Pirates for a bit. If you aren’t familiar with P4P, they are a lovely independent pattern company helmed by Judy Hale, featuring a very robust Facebook community. I first got involved with P4P as a tester, back in 2014. At this point in time, P4P is well-known by home-sewists for their series of knit-tops with several great fits – you can read more about those fits on their “P4P Shirt Fits Explained:” post.
I chose the slim-fit raglan pattern because after the intensity of this winter – my workload, my sewing projects, and my home life – I wanted something easy, lovely, and ready for spring!
So let’s talk supplies!
The pattern requires any fabric with at least 30% stretch; for cuffs and bands, 70% stretch is recommended. I typically bind with self-fabric, so if that’s something you might want to do I’ll be indicating how to make sure you get a good result there. In short, you will be cutting a slightly longer cuff, waistband, or neckline; if you use the pattern’s recommended band lengths without that 70% stretch, you might end up with poor results.
Your yardage depends on what version of the top you are making, the colorblocking you seek to employ, and any add-ons you are working with. If you have questions, please ask!
Showcased below: several rayon knits. All – with the exception of the red at right, are amended with spandex, in the single-digit percentile. I have found that having a tiny bit of spandex helps the garment spring back and recover. You can certainly use a fabric without spandex (which is also called elastane or lycra) – the shirt will over time bag out a bit. This may or may not be desirable.
What can you expect with rayon knits? Well, first you need to know rayon is a process, not a fiber or a weave, wherin regenerated cellulose is re-spun into fibers. This changes the structure of the fiber. This fiber is then knit or woven; thus the rayon process blurs the distinction between a “natural” fiber versus a synthetic.
In general rayon knits are a bit slinkier – they skim the body instead of standing free from the body or wrinkling. A cotton knit will have a coarser feel and drape. This slinky factor is especially true of modal, tencel, and bamboo. In fact, if you see the words modal, tencel (also called lyocell, although this is rare terminology), and bamboo you are going to find this kind of finish. Some people find rayons tricky to work with, although in general knits are easier to handle than wovens. Rayons knits can also pill – even expensive rayon fabrics, although the more you spend (in general) the better fabric you’ll receive. I am an unabashed fan of Nature’s Fabrics knits (and they are responsive to email queries about their products) but of course you can use custom knits, yardage from big-box stores – whatever meets the required stretch factor.
Below, you can see my fabrics (a lovely 200 gsm bamboo spandex jersey in dark coffee, and fungi, the latter of which is a current favorite colorway) as well as my little pattern sheet. I adore using the copy shop file and in fact, I now have a plotter in my house so I can print from home. Please note that the layers function is not accessible in the copy shop pattern, but it is in the print-and-tape pattern options.
I store my master patterns rolled, and use a reinforced eyelet to pin a mater pattern note. In this case, you can see for this pattern I include the pattern line drawing, the size measurements, and the pattern’s yardage. For a tried-and-true pattern or one I will know.
So – that’s it! You will want to use a ballpoint or jersey needle (or a stretch needle if you’re making a rash guard or highly synthetic fabric), and polyester or poly-wrapped thread. You can also use stretch or wool nylon thread, and you can construct the garment on your zig zag home machine – or a serger.
Finally: if you have zero experience sewing with knits, I advise you give yourself a little time to test on scraps. I’ve written several tutorials on the topic; you can start here. Be sure to PM or comment if you have any questions!
I’ll see you on the 15th!