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| Sewing with knits |

| SEWING JERSEY TIPS |

Sewing a knit garment can sometimes seem a bit daunting. Many makers think you need specialised machinery, but really good results can be achieved on an ordinary domestic machine. The trick is to test your machine stitch and tension settings before you start and make sure you use the correct needle to avoid skipped stitches.

UNDERPRESSING |

My one major piece of advice I would like to offer, and this applies to ALL of your makes, is to take your time and underpress at each stage of construction. Underpressing just means that you will press as you go and press each seam after sewing it. I tend to sew everything I can in one hit and then move on to press everything I can while I’m at the ironing board. I apply the same principle to neatening my seams at the overlocker. I was taught by the sample machinists I worked with to first press the seam flat so the stitches are set into the fabric, and then either press the seam allowance open or to one side. This does give a more professional finish and even though you are effectively pressing each seam twice, pressing the seam allowance flat and together first makes it much easier and quicker to press open or to one side. And do remember that pressing is just that, lift your iron and use it in an up and down motion, not a dragging side to side motion. And be gentle!

  • Always use a ballpoint, jersey or stretch (usually recommended for Lycra) needle so you don’t get skipped stitches.
  • Use a stretch or ballpoint twin needle to create a faux coverstitch for the hem.
  • Use ordinary polyester thread as it has more ‘give’ than cotton thread so will stretch with the garment and is less likely to snap.
  • Don’t pull and stretch your fabric as you sew, though I find holding it firmly to create a bit of tension as it is stitched can be helpful.
  • If your seam goes a bit wavy after stitching, very gently steam and press flat.
  • I have used a walking foot in the past, which helped but I don’t think it was essential. It would be worth trying if you have one, but they can be expensive to buy.
  • My machine tried to swallow the garment into the footplate at the beginning of a seam, so I placed a piece of paper under the garment before stitching. I had some heavy tissue paper handy but the off-cuts from printed Indie sewing patterns would be perfect!
  • Not sure which needle to use – here’s a link to a handy chart.

| STITCHES |

The Somerset T-shirt Stitch Chart | Maven Patterns
| The Stitch Chart |

 

Create a Stitch Library | Test your stitches on a scrap bit of fabric first. Stitch in both directions, along the selvedge and across the width of the knit, to make sure your stitches don’t crack when you pull them. Record your machine settings on the Stitch Chart included in the Somerset T-shirt pattern, or in a notebook, to create your own Stitch Library so you can refer back to them easily during the construction of this (and future!) garments.

Tension and stitch settings will vary and be dependant on your machine and your fabric. The best method, tension and stitch length settings will vary depending on your sewing machine, the fabric you are using and the finish you prefer.

There are a couple of different options (listed below) for stitching your seams. You really need to get friendly with your sewing machine manual and you may find further guidance there on selecting a suitable stretch stitch as your machine may have different stitch options available than those we have listed.

Zig-zag stitch | lightning stitch | straight stitch | 4 thread overlocker

 

  • zig zag on a narrow width and 2.5-3mm length (I used this as was quicker than the lightning stitch, and set my stitch width to 0.5 and stitch length to 2).
  • Stretch stitch (sometimes called lightning stitch)
  • This one may be controversial but I actually stitched mine with a straight stitch, and just pulled the fabric very slightly in front of the needle so it was under tension as it was stitched but I was very careful not to stretch my seams. My t-shirt has been heavily worn and washed and the seams haven’t cracked to date. Keep in mind what type of garment you are making and what type of knit you are using. Do not use this if you are sewing a very stretchy jersey or making activewear or swimwear though, I haven’t tried it but I’m pretty sure your seams will crack under those circumstances.
  • Overlocker – you can cut, sew and neaten your seams all in one go. 3 threads are usually just used for neatening seams, 4 (or 5) threads are used for all in one seam stitching as it makes for a stronger seam. The stitches have a built-in stretch to them.
  • To neaten your seams either use a zig-zag or overlock together. You could in theory just stitch and leave the edges raw and unfinished or trim them with pinking shears as knit fabric don’t really fray.

| CUTTING |

  • Prewash and press
  • Lay the fabric flat on the table, do not stretch it but let it relax.
  • It’s preferable to cut knit fabrics in a single layer for accuracy.
  • If folded make sure the underneath layer is flat too as it has a tendency to ‘ripple’ as it grabs the top layer.
  • Do not let it hang off the edge of the table as it will stretch the cloth out of shape or pull it off-grain.
  • Pin in the seam allowances to prevent marking the body of your garment.
  • Or use weights and cut with a rotary cutter.
  • INDUSTRY TIP | mark the wrong side of the fabric with a chalk cross it if isn’t easy to spot the right and wrong side. Black jersey – I’m looking at you!

Other Somerset T-shirt tutorials | How to Twin Needle | The Somerset t-shirt

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A Most Delightful Pattern Hack

The French Dart Shift | Button Back Tutorial

The French Dart Shift is possibly the most versatile pattern you will ever sew with and I have another little pattern hack to share with you today!

 

I originally made the Indigo Moon spot sample for The Festival of Quilts as I wanted to showcase the Corozo buttons that Mr.M had sourced. Corozo is a natural, sustainable product that works in harmony with the rainforests of Equador, and as it is an excellent alternative to plastic buttons so we felt it was an important message to share.

The sample and the buttons proved to be very popular and there were lots of requests for a tutorial on adding a button placket. The buttons and buttonholes are functional, but you don’t need to undo them to get the top on and off. I’ve added the buttons down the back of the garment, you could just as easily use these instructions and have them down the front instead. I’ve made this French Dart as a top but you could make a button through dress version, just be aware of how much ease you have in the hips and bum area – too little and your buttons and buttonholes may strain or pop open when you sit down! I made the top sleeveless – it was the height of summer here in England – you know that 3-day window where the sun shines consistently before normal British weather resumes when dressing involves sunglasses, factor 50, a cardigan and canoe, because who knows, but best be prepared?!  I made no alterations to the pattern to make it sleeveless, just left the sleeves off and bound the armholes.

| HABERDASHERY for a top|

For all sizes | 1.5m of 150cm wide fabric (you will have enough fabric to cut out short sleeves if you don’t want a sleeveless top).

Indigo sample | Indigo Moon Fabric, 7 Corozo buttons – 24 ligne (15mm) || white linen sample | the linen was found in Ikea bargain corner, 7 Agoya shell buttons in natural – 24 ligne (15mm)

TOOLS | French Dart pattern, paper, scissors, tape, buttons, lightweight interfacing, buttonhole foot, and the usual sewing stuff!

ABBREVIATIONS | CB: centre back | CF: centre front | WS: wrong side | WST: wrong side together | RST: right side together | RS: right side | SA: seam allowance

| THE PATTERN |

First, you’ll need to alter the pattern. As always when altering a pattern trace off a copy so your original stays intact (if you have the PDF version you can always print another). Copy the collar, back and front but don’t cut them out yet.

I left out the back darts to make it a slightly boxier shape.

Decide on your length. I made the CB finished length (the length when it’s all sewn up and not including any seam or hem allowance) 60 cm and added a hem allowance of 4cm (pattern length including hem and neck SA – 64.6cm). No need to overcomplicate this bit, I just measure up from the hem in several places and draw a new line before chopping off the length. The only things to be aware of are;

  1. make sure the new line intersects the CF and CB lines at right angles to stop weird pointy angles.
  2. make sure your side seams are the same length and run smoothly around the body, again to avoid weird pointy angles.

| ADDING THE BUTTON PLACKET |

 

Working on the BACK BODY of your copy pattern, mark the CB line in a red to make it clear (the original ‘cut to the fold line’ is the CB).

Draw a line 1.5cm away and parallel to the CB line, creating a button placket. This will be the folded edge.

Draw another line 4.5cm away and parallel to the fold line, this makes the back facing.

*I used 15mm buttons. If you are using bigger/smaller buttons you can adjust the width of the placket and facing to accommodate your buttons and buttonholes.

When the facing folds back into place it should be the same shape at the neck and the hem as the main body. Fold the facing along the fold line so it sits in place, pin to hold and cut through both layers of paper. Make sure the neck and hem intersect the fold and CB at right angles. When you unfold the facing it will be exactly the same shape as the body. Make a notch in your pattern on the fold line at the neck and hem.

Fold up the hem in the same way before cutting out to make sure it is the same shape as the body when folded into place.

| COLLAR | 

As we have extended the CB by adding 1.5cm for the placket, we need to add the same amount to EACH end of the collar so it still fits. (Don’t worry about the seam allowances as they are already on the pattern, just add the 1.5cm.) Remark your notches.

| INTERFACING | 

Cut a strip 5cm wide and the length of your CB pattern and press onto the WS of the facing. By making the interfacing slightly wider than the facing and you’ll be able to press a nice sharp fold in your fabric.

| CUT AND MAKE |

Make your French dart according to the instructions.

  • Stay tape the neck – for the back neck use half the given measurement and add 1.5cm, or finish the tape at CB if you forget as I did 😉
  • Close and neaten French darts, shoulder and side seams. Leave out the back darts for a boxier shape top.

| COLLAR |

Press 1cm SA on the long edge to WS (STEP 14 in the instruction booklet) and pin in place.

Mark the midpoint between the SA notches.

Keep the 1cm SA pinned in place and fold collar RST in half at the midpoint, align the SA notches.

Close CB collar seam with 1cm SA, keeping 1cm SA folded in place and 6mm SA hanging free below.

Trim top corner to reduce bulk.

Turn through to RS and press seam so as not to roll to either front or back but to sit right on the edge.

| FACING |

If you haven’t already, apply your interfacing to the facing.

Neaten (overlock or zigzag) the edge of the facing. Press facing to WS and pin to hold at the neck edge.

| ATTACH COLLAR |

Place collar RST with body aligning the 6mm SA edge with neck edge. We are just attaching a single layer so keep the other side of collar free. Align notches and place the back seam of collar flush with the folded edge of the facing (you don’t want a step!). Stitch collar to the neckline with 6mm SA.

Trim corner of SA to prevent bulk.

On the WS of garment bring the free edge of the collar to the neckline to cover the stitching by 3mm and enclosing all the SA. Tack and then stitch in the ditch from the RS to finish. This is the same as our usual method of attaching the collar – we are just enclosing an end.

| HEM |

I allowed a 4cm hem allowance. I pressed it to WS by 4cm and then pressed the top raw edge under by 1cm and topstitching it at just under 3cm making it a clean-finished hem.

TOP TIP – Make sure your backs are EXACTLY the same length now before you start buttonholing.

| BUTTONS & BUTTONHOLES | 

I’ll only briefly explain how I mark my buttons and buttonholes because that could be a whole post by itself!

I always mark my button positions first (on the side of the garment to be buttonholed) and then mark my buttonholes around them to get the correct spacing. My first button was 1cm below the neck seam (my buttonhole foot wouldn’t sit any closer to the seam) and I had an 8cm spacing between each button.

I did my top buttonhole horizontally and started it 3mm to the right of the CB seam to allow the button enough space to sit on the CB.

The other buttons were all vertical and positioned centrally to the button positions on the CB line.

Once the buttonholes are made and cut, I pin the back bodies WST and push a pin through each buttonhole…

… and mark a dot on the other side to show where to sew each button.

And there you have it…yet another garment from the French Dart Pattern!

 

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A tip from Mrs M!

I posted this on Instagram the other day and was genuinely surprised how popular it was.

So here is another of my random little tips. I do hope you find it helpful!

Ever get confused which line to follow when chopping out a pattern in your size? You do too?

There is a simple solution – mark it with a highlighter first. No cutting the wrong line here!

And while you’re at it – circle those dots so you mark the right one for your size and don’t forget any of them!

Then use your screw punch hole and notchers to finish the job. Ta-Dah!

✂️✂️✂️

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The Good Times Skirt | Hong Kong Finish Binding Tutorial

The Good Times Skirt | Hong Kong Finish Binding Tutorial

We have a few different methods of finishing the Centre Front and Centre Back seams for the Good Times Skirt. One of the seam options to use Hong Kong binding. You could also use this method to neaten the bottom of the waistband which gives a very professional look to the inside of your skirt (or any skirt!). This method is often used to finish the inside of jackets and dresses when you want the inside to be as pretty as the outside

Hong Kong binding is a very versatile design detail. You can make it pretty by using a small print…a bit of Liberty print anyone? Make a graphic statement with a contrasting colour or use a tonal fabric for a subtle stripe. You could use up your scraps of loved fabrics, just keep them of similar weight and fibre content for a cohesive look.

BUT WHAT IS IT? | What’s the difference between regular bias binding and Hong Kong Finish binding? With the usual bias binding method, all the edges are enclosed but with Hong Kong Finish the underneath edge of the binding is left raw and unfinished to reduce bulk.

FABRIC CHOICES | Hong Kong binding works best with a stable lightweight fabric, cotton lawn or a similar weight is perfect, but nothing too thick as you don’t want to add bulk to the seam. You can use pre-made bias just press it flat first.

CUTTING | the Good Times Skirt has optional Hong Kong Finish binding pattern pieces included in the ‘print at home’ pattern ready to cut and use to finish the waistband, Centre Front (CF) & Centre Back (CB) seams. If you are using this tutorial to bind a different garment (hello & welcome!) binding strips should be cut 3cm wide x the length needed plus a little extra for good measure. You can of course use ready made bias binding that has been pressed flat.

TOOLS | binding, standard machine presser foot, zipper foot (optional – see the tip below) iron and the usual sewing stuff!

ABBREVIATIONS | WS: wrong side | RST: right side together | RSU: right side up | RS: right side | SA: seam allowance

A TIP BEFORE YOU START SEWING|

I prefer to do the binding after closing the seam for accuracy and I’ve found using a zipper foot makes it a smidge easier (and that is is how I’ve written the instructions).

But, the binding can be attached BEFORE you close the centre front or centre back seam. It’s really a personal preference and in fact, it is slightly easier to stitch it first BUT you need to make sure you stitch it the right way for when the seam is reversed. Because the seam is reversed it’s very easy to stitch it the wrong way up – go on, ask me how I know….!!!

If you decide to attach it before you close the seam, be very accurate attaching it and very accurate again when you go back and stitch the CF/CB seams closed with the correct seam allowance. Potentially the extra thickness or width of the binding could mislead you and you could lose or gain a few millimetres per seam. That doesn’t sound a lot but they all add up if you lose a bit here and a bit there, and then your skirt is a bit tight!

SEW |

Close the seam and press with the SA open. I’ve already bound one side in these photos…

Take one side of the SA and push all other layers out of the way and with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER (RST) align the edge of the binding with the raw edge of the SA.

TIP | At the bottom edge, if you want a neat finish with all the raw edges enclosed, fold over the binding over to the back of the seam. You may not need to bother with this step if the end of your binding/seam will later be hemmed, finished or caught into a facing.

Attach binding with 6mm SA – this will be finished binding width.

TIP | When binding the Centre Front & Centre Back seams you may find this step easier if you use a zipper foot.

Press the binding away from the seam. Note the (optional) neat finish at the bottom edge.

Fold the binding over to the WS of the SA, enclosing the raw edge of the seam. Make sure the binding is snug against the edge of the SA.

Press binding flat, take care not to stretch the seam.

With RSU stitch in the ditch through the binding and the SA only (use the zipper foot again if that works for you). Press again.

The binding will be raw to the underside of the SA and can be trimmed down closer to your stitchline if too wide for your SA.

You can ignore this step if you are just binding a seam but for The Good Times Skirt CF and CB seams, stitch in the ditch a second time, this time through ALL the layers to hold seam allowance flat against skirt. And you’re finished!