Tiger-Striped Alicorn

tiger-striped alicorn hoodie! because, Of Course

So Phoenix drew a hoodie the other day. It was so awesome I decided to make it. I particularly liked the “wings” on the hood – she sketched a detail shot and everything:

Tiger-Striped Alicorn

So here’s what I came up with:

Tiger-Striped Alicorn

OH SNAP so soft. Actually the hoodie is very lightweight – almost tissue-tee weight. This of course made tiger-stripe appliques a really fun challenge. By that I mean, lots of angry tears.

Tiger-Striped Alicorn

The floral was a very lightweight cotton recently gifted to me by a local alterationist who I adore. I wanted something feminine and homey to contrast with the bold cosplay elements of the piece. The back:

Tiger-Striped Alicorn

Up close of the “wings” – with Phee’s little dots in there for good measure:

Tiger-Striped Alicorn

The horn – the same European Linen I used for the recent slacks sew-a-long:

Tiger-Striped Alicorn

And my favorite detail – the hidden side-seam pockets at the front side panel. Very cozy, only enough room to warm a hand, very lightweight:

Tiger-Striped Alicorn

A closeup of the stripe applique:

Tiger-Striped Alicorn

And a closeup of a happy hoodie recipient!

Tiger-Striped Alicorn


More construction details in the Flickr tagset, as per usual!

Sea Hunt Hoodie

“Kelp is a beautiful underwater growth. It forms underwater gardens, dense jungles – but sometimes graveyards.”

(ed. – for my in-depth review of the television show “Sea Hunt” – including .gifs and ringtones – please see this thread on B-movie BFFs!)

Sea Hunt Hoodie

That’s right. Like a total nerd I made myself a “Sea Hunt” hoodie. They said I wouldn’t do it ( – or maybe they said, “who cares!”). But I did it. Because “Sea Hunt” is really really awesome and if you don’t see how, I will fight you. Oh also I am going to be watching and reviewing ALL 155 EPISODES OF THE SERIES. And I’ll be posting here. You heard.

Anyway here’s the hoodie. And the first episode of “Sea Hunt” – “Sixty Feet Below” – reviewed in the comments.

Sea Hunt Hoodie

i just can’t get enuf / i just can’t get enuf

Blooper Hoodie!

Soooooooo basically I’d like to make colorblocked hoodies all day long. The only thing that would make the experience more perfect, is to have a home screenprinting lab set up. But I’ll settle for how things are going now – a wonderful jersey fabric with just the right amount of recovery, and the ability to slash lines here or there and make up whatever kind of design I feels like!

Blooper Hoodie!

I also colorblocked the waistband to match the design lines of the garment. BOOM!

A white-lined hood, and a handknit drawstring. Notice the little “blooper” elements on the right arm – a Mama and three babies, all hand-cut and free-motioned darned.

Blooper Hoodie!

Blooper Hoodie!

With summertime approaching, what is more lovely than a super-soft custom-fit hoodie?



a tender shoot

Frost Flower Hoodie

My son *thinks* this is his birthday hoodie; however, it is a decoy hoodie. I was drafting a deep hood and a tall, slender fit. I am waiting on fabric for his actual birthday hoodie. Let’s hope it all works out before the birthday party on Saturday!

A roomy hood:

Frost Flower Hoodie

MacGuffin or no, this hoodie is fabulous in its own right. It is constructed of luxurious 100% cotton fleece – very soft on the inside. I pieced the body using the “mock-serge” on my Pfaff (tutorial here).

Two appliques: the “frost flower” on the right arm – using knit and woven scraps, matching zig-zag topstitching, and paint/thread drawing for the “eyes”:

Frost Flower Hoodie

The left arm – more subtle still. Nels’ name in a “Super Mario U” font – self-appliqued.

Frost Flower Hoodie

Frost Flower Hoodie

For the hood drawstring, I first constructed eyelets free-hand on the Pfaff, made a casing using a 2.0/2.0 zig-zag topstitch, then knit a cotton i-cord for the drawstring itself. Ralph knit about half the i-cord yesterday – after I taught him how. The yarn itself was a gift from my friend Tammy at Main Street Books.

Frost Flower Hoodie

Piecing knitwear as a home sewist is really wonderful. I am able to line up the grain perfectly which is not something you will see in ready-to-wear construction. The result is a garment that feels, fits, and wears better – while looking fabulous for a lot longer.

Cutting knit pieces so carefully would be tedious if not for the fact that knit garments are usually made with far fewer pieces than woven ones. That said, some of y’all remember that I am willing to go balls-deep in fussy-cutting. It really does make a difference even if people looking at the garment can’t tell exactly why it looks so good.

Spring is here, spring is wet, and my Little Guy looks all set!

Frost Flower Hoodie

tutorial: sewing knitwear using (mock-)serge stitch

Here is a self-drafted top I made Phoenix, yesterday afternoon. It took me about a half hour. I particularly love the marriage of fabrics, both very soft cottons:

Phoenix, Self-Drafted Hoodie

The day before, I made this in a different colorway of the same Michael Miller clown stripe line:

Phee, Orange & Raspberry Michael Miller Clown Stripe

Despite their simple construction, knitwear – as in leggings, t-shirts, and undergarments – can be rather difficult for the beginning stitcher. Yet most machines have good knit functionality. If you’ve a sewing machine less than thirty years old or so, chances are it includes stretch stitches. These are scary-looking stitch settings many new and intermediate stitchers don’t mess with:

8 Stretch Stitches

On my Pfaff, you can see them in the 20-range:

Pfaff Stitches

20 through 29 are easily what one would hear called stretch stitches; however, ten through 19 can qualify too. Why? It’s simple. If you think about a stretch stitch, its job is to stretch along with the garment as strain is applied to the seam (think: pulling a hooded sweatshirt over one’s head). A straight lockstitch would pop. But almost anything that has some zigzag can stretch with the fabric, then recover. If it is a version of a straight stitch that meanders, like Program 19, or doubles back on itself, the resultant seam might be sturdy enough to withstand seam strain without stretching much or at all.

But it’s a little more complex than that. Knowing whether the seams will need to stretch or not is key. Some stretch garments are made with so much wearing ease that you don’t need a very elastic seam. Take, for example, the Kwik Sew knit cardigan pattern below. First, imagine you have a pin-sized head and large 80’s-esque shoulders and hair fashion. Then, think of how little strain these garment seams endure – for instance, you could easily make this garment in a drapey woven fabric and not utilize stretch fabrics at all:

Kwik Sew 2482

In contrast, imagine wearing a swimsuit and how much strain the stitches are subjected to while you wear it. And finally: different seams in a garment need different behaviors. The side-seams in a loose-fit crewneck t-shirt won’t likely need to be very elastic, whereas the neckline will definitely need this capability!

Therefore: when it comes to sewing knits, experience is the best teacher. Sewing is after all a three-dimensional, structural, form of engineering!

Recently I’ve enjoyed sewing with stretch stitches, as opposed to my oft-used narrow zigzag, for a few reasons. Here’s my list of considerations to use stretch stitches, or to avoid them:

Possible Benefits

1. These stitches make a sturdy, good-looking seam. You can sew and finish the garment in one step, using one spool of thread and bobbin.

2. If you cut accurately and practice, you won’t have to do any trimming after you sew. You will end up with a lovely finished garment with very good-looking inner seams. If you love sewing, chances are you love good-looking seam finishes.

3. Mastering these stitches means you don’t have to invest the time and space of a serger or even a coverstitch machine. There are lots of good reasons to own these pieces of equipment, but there are also reasons to be able to do without them.

Possible Disadvantages

1. These stitches use more thread than a zigzag (but not more than a serger); this means more thread cost, more wear on your needle and machine, and more lint. However, even an entire shirt won’t eat a whole bobbin’s worth of thread.

2. These stitches take longer to stitch than a zigzag. If you’re used to “whipping through” a garment (a phrase I loathe, by the way), it might take a bit to get used to a slower stitch pace.

3. These stitches can stretch the fabric in unbecoming ways, which is why you will read people complaining online about knitwear ending up “wonky”. Yes, this can happen – UNLESS YOU KNOW MY AWESOMESAUCE TRICKS to avoid this [she said, triumphantly]! Read on:


Let me walk you through sewing up a couple of tops. I used two stitches – Program 20 (which was referred to as the “closed overlockstitch” in my manual) and Program 12, a double-zigzag (more in a bit, on that stitch).


1. A proper needle (stretch, ballpoint, or jersey) and polyester or polyester-core thread
2. Your sewing machine manual. I PITY THE FOOL who sews without one! I don’t even.
3. Water-soluble stabilizer. This stuff is worth its weight in gold for sewing with knits and it is the BASIS OF MY TRICKSY-est TIP in this tutorial. Buy some at your local sewing shop or buy it online. As you sew you will have all these strips married to the garment seams and it will look assy. But when you wash the garment, they will disappear and you are left with coolness. (Tangentially: using stabilizer is also how I add woven or knit appliques to knit fabrics, even thin and stretchy knits).
4. Your garment pieces, cut out with about 1/4″ seam allowance


1. Make sure you have a good needle, inserted properly, and that the machine is threaded and tension-balanced.

2. Cut strips of water-soluble stabilizer into 1″ widths. Over time you will get the hang of how much to cut per garment, although I use these strips so much I have a bunch of them in my supplies. Obviously, for the most part, you are cutting the same length as the seams you’re sewing, so you can do a rough pattern-edge measurement.

3. Start sewing, feeding the water soluble stabilizer under each seam. Take special care starting and finishing the seams. Knits are so fast to sew, so make the time to get a secure sleeve hem, et cetera. Here you see me at the end of the seam, using the overlockstitch (Program 20) and a width of 4.5 mm (a very scant 1/4″):

"Needle Down", "Reverse"

The glowing green lights are buttons I have engaged: the left button is “Needle Down” (meaning when I release the foot pedal, the machine will stop with the needle in the fabric – very handy) and the right is “Reverse”, as I’m about to back up the seam to secure it. Upon the “Reverse” button, my Pfaff performs the stitch pattern in reverse unlike my Juki, which merely stitches a small straight stitch backwards. I like securing the HELL out of my seams at the beginning and end, yes even if I am going to cross this stitchline with another seam later. Please note: using your sewing machine provides you with a better seam-securing backstitch option than most sergers:

Sleeve Hem, Stabilizer

4. I am using Program 20 for these construction seams. I used them to make the whole garment, including fastening the hood to the neckline. However, for the hood’s face edge, I used a double-zigzag. Here you can see it after I finish it on the machine, then from the RS of the garment after the stabilizer has been washed out, then the WS:

Hood Face Edge

P1070675Triple Zig-Zag, RS

Triple Zig-Zag, WS

This stitch (#12 on my Pfaff Program, see above photo of my machine) is identical to a triple-zigzag except it only ‘bites’ two stitches while travelling in the zig or the zag. I like the way this zigzag looks and it is a great, stretchy, sturdy seam. Please note, if you have to apply elastic to a garment, as in the top of the hood or ruching, triple-zigzag is BAWSE.

For this simple black-and-white striped hoodie, the only real complexity is the two-layered sleeves and attaching the hood at the neck.

Let’s talk necklines first. I love using the overlockstitch for necklines. It is super-simple, easy to secure at the beginning and end of the stitching line, and only takes one simple step whether you’re attaching a hood, a band, a turtleneck, whatever. Check it out on the self-bound neckline of the orange-and-raspberry shirt:

Self-Bound Neckline

Neckline Finish

By the way if you’re thinking I OWNED aligning stripes on these shirts, you’re right!

Now: sleeves. Specifically, two layered seams. You can sew the sleeves into tubes and apply them, or apply them simultaneously in the flat, as I did. I simply pinned at the edges of the seams and at the shoulder (three pins per sleeve) and sewed slowly. What’s the rush? You’re almost done with the shirt already!

Sleeves (3 Layers)

Remember your stabilizer! You will be glad you did, when you wash the stuff out and your shirt drapes beautifully. Check out these seam finishes, too:

Finished Seams

Finished Seam

What about hems? What about them? I hardly ever do them for knits. An unhemmed sleeve and garment edge looks great and feels great. If you insist on making them, use a stretch twin needle and more stabilizer, or some form of stretch-stitch and stabilizer. For a slim-fitting garment like this, you’ll want a hem that has a little give.

Now: enjoy your super-soft knit garments LIKE A SIR

Phoenix, Self-Drafted Hoodie

Phee, Orange & Raspberry Michael Miller Clown Stripe