Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along Photo Badge

jalie hoodie sew-along post 3: Step 3 assembly

Edit November 2015: the sew-along is finished! Below you can reach the different parts of the sew-along by clicking on an image. The tagset “jalie hoodie sew-along” contains any and all posts relating to the sew-along. Enjoy!

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Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along Photo Badge
Thank you to all who’ve been emailing and commenting here, and on the Facebook group. We are already about halfway through our hoodie!

Let’s get started!

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along Photo Badge

jalie hoodie sew-along post 2: Step 2 assembly

Edit November 2015: the sew-along is finished! Below you can reach the different parts of the sew-along by clicking on an image. The tagset “jalie hoodie sew-along” contains any and all posts relating to the sew-along. Enjoy!

sal-m-1 sal-m-2
sal-m-3 sal-m-4 sal-m-5 sal-m-6
sal-m-7 sal-m-8
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Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along Photo Badge
Hey there stitchers! Well, I thought I’d get crackin’ on Step 2 – getting to our sleeve and outer collar! This is by far the easiest Step of the process.

Before we get started, I want to remind you there is a Facebook group devoted to sew-alongs and contests, moderated by my friend Judy. This is a closed group; you have to ask to join. Here’s the skinny, though: if you join, and finish this hoodie by October 31st, you are entered in a random drawing for an amazing price pack: a Sew Chic pdf pattern, a Thread Theory pdf pattern, a Megan Nielsen pdf pattern, a $30 gift certificate to Nature’s Fabrics – and a shrinky-DON’T, made by moi!

Please note: this post is short and sweet, and I decided we didn’t need any companion audio. If you are catching up, and/or are new to sewing with knits or have fabric questions, please listen to my companion audio from Step one.

Let’s get started!

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along Photo Badge

jalie hoodie sew-along post 1: fabric prep and Step 1 assembly

Edit November 2015: the sew-along is finished! Below you can reach the different parts of the sew-along by clicking on an image. The tagset “jalie hoodie sew-along” contains any and all posts relating to the sew-along. Enjoy!

sal-m-1 sal-m-2
sal-m-3 sal-m-4 sal-m-5 sal-m-6
sal-m-7 sal-m-8
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Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along Photo Badge
Hey there stitchers! Wow! Have I had a spike in interest for this sew-along. I want to thank every person who has written, messaged, or emailed me with questions.

You can share pictures of your progress here – or at the Facebook group (a closed group; you have to ask to join) moderated by my friend and sew-along compatriot, Judy! If you finish this hoodie by October 31st and enter it into the group, you are entered in a random drawing for an amazing prize pack: a Sew Chic pdf pattern, a Thread Theory pdf pattern, a Megan Nielsen pdf pattern, a $30 gift certificate to Nature’s Fabrics – and a shrinky-DON’T, made by moi! There really is no catch – it’s just for fun!

Do the the number of questions I’ve received I have put together some companion audio to go with each sew-along post. You can listen here to my first installment, which covers a little about supplies, making a muslin, and a few common questions before we get started. This recording also walks us through this very post!  

Please note: if you are still feeling nervous about fabric selection, or if you are not proficient in layout and cutting, you will probably benefit from listening to the companion audio

OK? OK!

So – let’s get started!

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along Photo Badge

jalie hoodie sew-along: update!

Edit November 2015: the sew-along is finished! Below you can reach the different parts of the sew-along by clicking on an image. The tagset “jalie hoodie sew-along” contains any and all posts relating to the sew-along. Enjoy!

sal-m-1 sal-m-2
sal-m-3 sal-m-4 sal-m-5 sal-m-6
sal-m-7 sal-m-8
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Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along Photo Badge
Hey there stitchers! You still have time to grab up your supplies to make up a hoodie in time for fall. This hoodie is easy, elegant, and oh-so-customizable. Please be sure to double-check my supply post and the comments therein, to make sure you’re set up to succeed.

Here are a few sneak peaks of the first finished version I made my daughter:

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Starting Soon!
This hoodie allows for a lot of opportunity to colorblock. The sleeves alone have four separate pieces, not including the cuff (shown above, in a pea-green and charcoal stripe).  For a firmer cuff, find a quality knit interfacing (as per my supplies post). And due to popular demand I will be demonstrating how to construct a thumbhole in the cuff, as well!

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Starting Soon!

I used a sage green cotton velour from Nature’s Fabrics. Most non-stitchers ask – “what’s velour?” I usually bring up the LOVE PINK line, and they light up (or power down!) and say, “Oh!” However unlike most retail activewear, the Nature’s Fabrics velours are thicker, have a larger percentage of natural fiber, and feel and perform better.

As a tailor – and one stitcher to another – velour is the most ridiculous choice of fabric to create something with several stitching lines. This has to do with the makeup of the fabric and its finish. Velour has a pile, like a very subtle corduroy, which means every fold and stitching line will show up. But unlike a high-pile fabric such as faux fur, the pile isn’t long enough to obscure mistakes or slight off-grain variations. I am skilled at being on-grain (as my extreme close-ups show!) – but pick velour at your peril!

So for my construction, I kept topstitching to a minimum. And where I did topstitch (as shown above) I used a narrow zig zag. You however, can do what you please! Just make sure to test your fabric to see what you like.

Speaking of finishes: 

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Starting Soon!
Here you can see the construction techique I use, in a shoulder seam and collar, on the inside of the garment. I use a narrow zig zag for seams, serge-finish the seams (entirely unnecessary, but always an option), and hand-stitched the inside collar lower seam. This is the only bit of handstitching in the whole garment. It is a good way to practice – but if you want to stitch this finishing bit by machine, you can as well (more on that, when we get there!).

So! I am beyond excited to work with you on this!

Let’s do it!

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Starting Soon!
Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Starting Soon!

Our sew-along starts October 1st. In the meantime, if you have any questions you can email, @kellyhogaboom on Twitter, or comment here. If you like, add a badge to your blog, or subscribe to the sew-a-long updates via RSS!

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Save The Date: Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along

supply list: jalie sew-along

Edit November 2015: the sew-along is finished! Below you can reach the different parts of the sew-along by clicking on an image. The tagset “jalie hoodie sew-along” contains any and all posts relating to the sew-along. Enjoy!

sal-m-1 sal-m-2
sal-m-3 sal-m-4 sal-m-5 sal-m-6
sal-m-7 sal-m-8
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Save The Date: Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along
Are you ready?

BONESAW IS READYAWWWW YEAH!

Four our Jalie hoodie, the supply list is short and sweet. We need the following: your Jalie pattern, hoodie fabric, separating zipper, thread, and appropriate needle. Read on:

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Supply List
From top to bottom: Jalie pattern, hoodie fabrics of sage velour and two cotton knits, separating zipper, thread, label, and jersey needles.

Pattern:
As I’ve previously mentioned, Jalie is moving their catalog to .pdf option, which is fabulous. More and more pattern companies are offering .pdf versions in large-scale – for printing on a plotter. Jalie isn’t yet doing this size, so my partner takes the pdf pages and “pastes” them, then we send it to the copy shop. This can be done for most electronic patterns, although some are easier than others – and some sites, like sewingpatterns.com, have such stringent copyright protection it is too troublesome to try.

Fabric:
First, if you aren’t familiar with sewing with knits, or if you have had bad experiences, I recommend taking a deep breath, getting a cup of tea, and taking a couple minutes to read through my new-to-knits post, as well as – if you like – my other knit tutorials. Sewing with knit fabrics is not rocket science. But there are a few things to keep in mind – and trust me, the more experienced you get, the more you’ll love these fabrics!

The pattern recommends fabrics with 25% four-way stretch. This means the knit has to stretch at least 25% in both the lengthwise and crosswise grain. This is simple to determine: grip two points on the crossgrain of the fabric four inches apart, and stretch. The fabric will need to stretch to at least five inches comfortably.

The pattern also recommends lengthwise stretch at 25%. In my case, my fabric barely qualifies. But since the lengthwise stretch is far less important to comfort than crosswise for this garment (fitted tights and swimsuits, for instance, really do need to take lengthwise grain into consideration), I figure I’m good to go.

For fabric yardage, I highly recommend looking at the pattern back. Measure your intended client at the bust, waist, and hip. Determine their size. If they are between sizes, use the largest size measurement for yardage. For instance, my daughter is a size S at bust and waist and T at hip, so I elected to make a size T, and grade up to a size U at hip.

On the back of the pattern,  you will find the yardage of 59″ wide knit fabric you need to purchase for your size.

Zipper:
The back of the pattern also lists the size of separating zipper you need at the lower right in a table. You can buy a separating zipper at your craft or fabric shop, but keep in mind separating zipper selection is usually pretty small. I purchased mine from zipperstop (more in a moment about that).

Thread:
I use a cotton-wrapped poly for most my apparel. I tend to favor Mettler, but I also buy whatever is available to me when I’m in a pinch. Bargain-basement or old thread is a no-no, but Coats & Clark is fine. I will be serge-finishing my seams (so I need thread for my serger); but zig-zag finishing or leaving them unfinished is probably fine, too. Test samples on your fabric and see what you think!

Needles:
The correct needle depends on the fabric you are using. In general, a jersey or ballpoint needle is best for natural-based stretch fabrics (wool, cotton, linen, etc), while a stretch needle will work well for synthetic stretch fabrics.

Notions:
You will need a few other supplies: a tracing medium, interfacing and stabilizer.

You can trace with almost anything, and we could debate the merits for quite some time. You can use Swedish Tracing Medium, tissue paper, project paper from the copy supply store, newsprint, or – my personal favorite – sew-in interfacing.

I will be interfacing the pocket welts (piece H) as well as 1″ along all pattern piece edges we install the zipper to (so: the collar [L], front [A], and waistband [N] pieces). This is a small amount of interfacing – purchase 1/4″ in case you mess up. As for types of interfacing, select either knit or lightweight weft varieties (for all my interfacings, I use Pat Erny’s fabulous products at Fashion Sewing Supply). You don’t need a stretch knit for these interfacings because the bits we are interfacing, don’t need to stretch.

I never sew knits without several kinds of washaway stabilizer. Washaway stabilizers are simply non-woven, non-knit products that stabilize either under or on top of the work, while we stitch, then are washed out with water and gentle agitation (or laundering). They make for better results on knits, and even the oldest, most antiquated zig zag sewing machine can sew knits easily using these methods. When it comes to washaway stabilizers, I always have a sticky and non-stick version on hand. I use Solvy’s Fabri Sticky Solvy (in a roll as well as printable sheets), and (for non-stick) Vilene plus. Bonus: the non-stick version can even be dissolved and painted on knit seam allowances to make for stable sewing – far cheaper than buying a stabilizing spray.

And now – OH MY GOSH. Let me tell you about a little sumthin’-sumthin’ I treated myself to: the YKK sample book, containing ALL the zipper fabric shades they make. It can be hard to perfectly-match a zipper, but it’s something I need to do! And now, I have that power IN MY VERY HANDS! muah-ha-ha-HA!

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Supply List
Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Supply List
Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Supply List
So – yeah. Pretty cool, huh?

Our sew-along starts October 1st. In the meantime, if you have any questions you can email, @kellyhogaboom on Twitter, or comment here. If you like, add a badge to your blog, or subscribe to the sew-a-long updates via RSS!

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Save The Date: Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along

save the date: Jalie hoodie sew-along, October 1, 2015

Edit November 2015: the sew-along is finished! Below you can reach the different parts of the sew-along by clicking on an image. The tagset “jalie hoodie sew-along” contains any and all posts relating to the sew-along. Enjoy!

sal-m-1 sal-m-2
sal-m-3 sal-m-4 sal-m-5 sal-m-6
sal-m-7 sal-m-8
***

Save The Date: Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along
It’s time for another sew-along! Save the date for October 1st, and plan to finish your new hoodie by Halloween. My next posts will over the next week – supplies posts. If you’d like to join the sew-along and receive a fabric coupon (see below), please comment here!

October is a wild month, both in terms of weather here in the Pacific Northwest, and lovely Halloweeny fun! So to that end:

Save The Date: Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along

Cotton velours in Halloween colorways!

Those of you who join the sew-along, I have a 10% coupon for you to use from Nature’s Fabrics (with their blessing), should you want to buy one of their amazing fabrics. They have a wonderful selection and are very accommodating.

As to the pattern: after some queries to the sewing public at large, I selected Jalie 2795: a zip-up, raglan-sleeve, offering with gender-neutral detailing. Jalie’s drafting is perfect, and their size range is huge: 27 sizes (a size 2T to a 50″ bust). If you are new to sewing, you can get your feet wet by making a small-size hoodie for a child or a friend’s child (consider a freezer-paper motif!). The larger size range also means you can buy one pattern and sew for the family!

Best of all, perhaps: Jalie is converting more and more of their catalog to a PDF form: which means you can buy the pattern from where you sit, and print it from home.

Early September I’ll post a supply list, so we all have plenty of time to get what we need before adventuring forth. In the meantime, if you have any questions you can email, @kellyhogaboom on Twitter, or comment here.

Jalie 2795: Pattern Front
Jalie 2795: Pattern Back

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halloween motifs! – freezer paper stenciling (tutorial)

Eventually I would like to do my own screenprinting. Ain’t happening any time soon. In the meantime, I got something that works okay – freezer paper stenciling!

This tutorial is quite specific: when you want to print a simple motif, and are willing to cut a new stencil per motif. This is an easy, low-cost method that usually looks pretty sharp – especially when you add some topstitching. Examples:

Stencil-Happy

Minions!

Ripslinger, Size 3

OK, so let’s get started. You will need:

1. The fabric you will be stenciling on

2. Fabric paint (regular acrylic paint dries stiff as heck)

3. Wash-away stabilizer (I like Sulky’s Fabri Sticky-Solvy and it’s very useful for lots of different things! NAYY)

4. Thread for topstitching

5. A topstitching needle or large-eye sewing machine needle

A few notes on supplies. For paint, I used the inexpensive Tulip brand for the examples here. I’m quite sure a higher-quality fabric paint would lend a higher-quality result. Please notice; fabric paints often come in different “finishes” (velveteen, matte, pearlescent, etc), so pay attention when you’re shopping.

For topstitching, I generally use two spools and double-thread the needle, instead of topstitching thread which is often annoying. If you only have one spool of the thread, wind two bobbins before starting and use one bobbin up top.

Now as with any new technique, I advise you do a quick practice run. Specifically, you will want to treat the fabric sample exactly as you plan to treat your final garment. If the garment is going to be washed and dried in the machine, then wash and dry the sample in the machine. If the garment is going to be ironed, then iron the sample. My first attempt at the flames shown in the bottom picture (above), I steam-pressed the end result and the paint “puffed” up – not a desirable result. It wasn’t a “puff” paint either – that’s just what it did. Always practice as it will save you time, and give you valuable expertise, to boot.

OK. so first – trace your motif, ideally on to a pattern piece specific to the garment. Shown below: the sleeve hem of a hoodie:

Freezer Paper Stenciling, A Tutorial

 

Using freezer paper (found in most supermarkets), place the paper wax-side down on the motif, and trace. Be as accurate as possible. If you are making this motif in corresponding left-right parts of the garment, make sure to flip the motif, tracing a mirror-image. Taping up the pattern piece and the freezer paper to a window (in the daytime!) makes tracing simple and accurate:

Freezer Paper Stenciling, A Tutorial

 

Now: listen to the sound of my voice, as I did not take pictures for these next crucial steps. Because I am doing this tutorial for free, Ass, so take what you can get. Anyway:

Cut out the freezer paper motif using scissors. Take your time and be accurate.

Using a steam iron, press the freezer paper to the fabric. Wax-side down. The wax will “adhere” to the fabric, making a very nice, accurate stencil.

Paint. This is where practice is helpful. I use a paintbrush and I make sure not to spread the paint too thin while I paint on the fabric. There is no point in me describing this process as practice is the only way to get good at it. The results will also depend on your fabric and paint quailty, as well as the fiber and weave of the fabric.

Let dry – preferably a day. Then, gently, peel away the paper. DAY-UM that shit looks good!

Freezer Paper Stenciling, A Tutorial

 

Now – topstitching. This is easy and yields a great result.

First, on the wrong-side of the work, peel and stick some of that Sulky stabilizer. Yes, you can use non-stick washaway stabilizer or even paper (and tear it away later). Paper is a mess and annoying. But having something under the fabric to stabilize, especially when topstitching a knit, will make the whole business easier:

Freezer Paper Stenciling, A Tutorial

 

Shown below: the motif, wrong-side (left), and right-side (right):

Freezer Paper Stenciling, A Tutorial

 

Ready to stitch! Get your thread and needle. Remember, double-threading the needle is an option if you don’t have or don’t want to use topstitching thread.Freezer Paper Stenciling, A Tutorial

Set stitch length to 4.0 mm. You want a long stitch length to look gooooooood. Go slow. Keep your thread ends aside and, when finished, pull them to the back of the work and tie a knot. Use a little fabric glue to secure the knot.

Freezer Paper Stenciling, A Tutorial

Finished – sadly, after the “puffy” ironing betrayal. As a result, I scrapped this entire project (and made a new hoodie). So make sure to test, first!

Ripslinger, Size 3

Any questions?

DIY: Sewing An Awesome Fucking Blazer

Phee

As promised: some detailed notes on sewing up a lined, underlined blazer with patch pockets. This garment is one of my favorite things to sew (obviously!). Check out those crisp lapels!

Collar/Lapel

& the wee, tiny lined breast pocket! I AM DYING HERE!!1!

Best Breast Pocket, Ever!

OH SHIT lambswool elbow patches with yellow topstitching LIKE A SIR

Elbow Patches: Upcycled Sweater

My kids wear these blazers until they are far too small and quite shabby from all the extensive use. Last summer when I tried to get rid of a jacket – originally fashioned for my daughter, worn a billion times by both children – my son howled and attempted to climb in the clothing donation bin after it. I had to promise to make him another coat just like it. Which I’ll be doing here pretty soon, for the summer.

At any rate, here are a few notes and pictures about constructing such a garment. I’d love to teach this as a course somewhere but, barring something like being picked up by Craftsy, the clientele is just not where I live so this ain’t gonna happen.

Choosing a pattern design, pattern, fabrics, supplies, & notions

Sometimes the pattern dictates fabric choices; sometimes it’s the other way around. Each choice influences the other, so in that respect we learn best by experience – ours, or that of experienced stitchers.

In this case, I chose my pattern first. I drafted a three-button blazer pattern, sort of a Frankenpattern based on design elements I enjoy. This garment features a two piece sleeve and a center back seam and front waist darts, which gives a slightly more fitted, less boxy shape. It also features three lined patch pockets and a full lining. Here is the front piece of the jacket, which includes markings for facings, buttonholes, darts, and pockets:

Front Piece Markings

It might look a little tricky, but honestly this front piece is the only garment piece that has anything tricky about it.

Fabrics

Fabrics & Supplies

(clockwise from upper left: shell fabric, underlining and lining, oval lambswool elbow patches, three buttons, interfacing, silk organza for bound buttonholes)

Shell: I used a wool blend for the shell. It has a lovely tweedy houndstooth weave, making for a great texture. However, the weave is quite loose and this needs to be considered throughout all steps of construction. To wit: 1. straighten the grain before each cut, 2. twice-finish seams, and 3. handle each garment piece carefully while you sew!

Underlining: I used a firm-weave quilter’s cotton for underlining, and underlined only the front and back pieces (not the sleeves). Underlining is one of the single best things you can do for a garment – especially a jacket. The fabric used needs to be lighter weight than the shell fabric, and with a firm hand and solid grain. If you have any questions about underlining, please put them in the comments!

Lining: children’s garments need linings that are slick (for ease of wear) but also quite sturdy, as my kids will immediately climb eighteen trees in their new coat. I used a polyester fashion fabric from Jo-Anns with a nice floral pattern –  shown here at lower-right.

Fabrics

Interfacing (for collar, front facings, jacket and sleeve hems): Inerfacing can be thought of as a way to add some firmness and structure to parts of the coat. It keeps collars and cuffs looking crisp; I also enjoy using it along the jacket and sleeve hems, on the shell fabric, as shown:

Interfacing At Hem

This adds a wonderful, crisp, rugged nature to the hems.

I use Pam Erny’s interfacings. They are worth the little bit of trouble to order them, and Pam provides excellent support in purchasing and using them. If you don’t prepare interfacings properly, you can ruin a garment. Ask me how I know this!

Extras: wool for elbow patches, silk organza for bound buttonholes. The wool came from a thrifted-and-felted 100% lambswool sweater. These kinds of things make great elbow patches and are worth keeping around.

Needle, thread, other notions
I use a Sharp needle for the shell and the lining, at appropriate needle size (16 and 10 resp., in this case). I use Mettler 100% polyester thread. For working with the knit elbow patches: a stabilizer. I use Sulky’s Fabri Sticky-Solvy which comes in very handy for all sorts of projects involving knits.

Sewing machine
A straight-stitch machine is all that is needed; in addition, a serger or zig-zag machine helps for seam finishes but is not necessary.

Cutting, marking, underlining, & interfacing

I cut and mark as I go piece by piece, using tailors thread tacks, especially if, as in this case, the fabrics are prone to raveling and will not tolerate notch-snipping.

In this case, I underlined the body of the garment, minus the sleeves. I marked the shell, underlining, and lining darts on all pieces (six total) using thread. I marked the RS of the shell for the three patch pockets and buttonhole locations. I interfaced the jacket and sleeve hems and then carefully pressed at the hem (as shown above).

Finally, I interfaced the WS of the shell for pocket positioning on the three patch pocket locations.

Sewing darts, staystitching, bound buttonholes, & elbow patches

I sewed darts in shell, underlining, and lining; then I basted underlining to shell and treated the two pieces as one piece:

Basting Underlining

I staystitched the back neckline facing and back lining neckline, as these are two curves that need to be joined and can be a little tricky (Normally, I would trim & notch this seam after I sewed it, but given the loose-weave of the shell fabric, I decided not to risk this.)

As for bound buttonholes: there are many methods to create these; I won’t detail those here. They are best done early in the process of the jacket, before proceeding with shell construction.

Elbow patches: a pattern that includes this feature will also include where to place these patches. However, my children are almost always getting a major length adjustment in their sleeves, so I find my own placement. This is easiest to do by sewing the uppersleeve and the undersleeve together, then pinning the final sleeve seam and placing it, carefully, on the recipient.

Elbow Patch Placement

Elbow Patch Placement

I marked the elbow patch location, unpinned and removed the sleeve then placed it flat on the table. I pinned the patch in four places for stitching. In general, the center midline, lengthwise, of the patch should be parallel to the grainline of the garment.

Elbow Patch Placement

Now: stitchinz! I used a goldenrod thread and two rows of stitching, in a narrow zigzag.

Stabilizer, For Lambswool Elbow Patches

You will note the elbow patches have a wash-away stabilizer attached to them. This is to keep the soft 100% lambswool knit from stretching while I applied the patches to the sleeve. It worked perfectly; it also helps my Pfaff has an IDT system (*yawn, casual brag-stretch*).

Lining & shell construction

I like to make the lining before the shell for a number of reasons. For one thing, linings are oddly tedious to construct, and it gets it out of the way. For another, this is a great way to do a fit check on the client (note: my front facings are overly long; I usually design a little extra there as I finish my jacket hem and lining by hand).

Checking Fit, Using Lining

Checking Fit, Using Lining

The shoulder-width is one of the more important fit considerations on my tall, slim children. Remember, the neckline will be 5/8″ shorter (or whatever the seam allowance is) against the neck.

While seam-finishing isn’t necessary on most linings, I like to do so for extra sturdiness. I used a serger for all seam finishes.

Finishing Seams

Here you can see the aforementioned staystitching at the back neckline facing, as well as the pressed and finished seams:

Seam Finishes: Serged & Pressed

Finishing

I then created the patch pockets and applied them to the shell. I like to make lined pockets, and then attach by a fell stitch. One can always go along and topstitch the pocket, but the fell-stitch allows for perfect placement and will keep the lining from peeping and showing.

I cut my pockets on the bias because I think bias pockets look great. Warning: this can make for pissy pocket construction. If you aren’t pretty familiar with working with bias pieces, first attach a very lightweight interfacing to the WS of the piece you’ll use for bias-cutting, then proceed.

Here are the three pockets, shown at various stages of construction, before being trimmed, turned, and stitched closed:

Lined Pockets

I used a sturdy whip stitch to close the pocket:

Lined Pockets

Finally – topstitching along the garment hems, opening, and sleeve hems adds sturdiness to the garment. I used a triple-stitch to give the right bold topstitch look; you can also use a heavyweight thread if you like. If you don’t use a heavier stitch or thread, the garment fabric may swallow up the effect. Topstitching is an art in and of itself!

Topstitching With Triple-Stitch At Cuff

Collar/Lapel

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All done! I suspect I will make many more blazers in my time. They are so versatile, can be dressed up or down, and can be made in all types of materials and different weights, depending on the needs of the garment!

And for now, my daughter is all ready to sit in bookstores reading Raymond Chandler graphic novels & looking awesome!

Bookstore Hipster

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:

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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).

Supplies

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

Directions

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