I may have mentioned I like to get some mileage out of my patterns and when I was asked about sewing The French Dart Shift in jersey, a Ponte Roma knit to be specific, I thought let’s see! (And Elfi did make a rather splendid jersey one.)
A few things to remember…
Firstly, this pattern is not designed for jersey. So the darts are staying and the knit fabric is more for cosiness and comfort, rather then body con type fit!
Second point..I bought this Ponte online and I’m not a huge fan of it. It feels very acrylic-y but for a toile type garment it does the job. This particular Ponte reminds me of my girls school uniform sweatshirt fabric, although it actually sewed up quite nicely.
I chopped my dress pattern shorter (by 12″) so it would be a hip length top without pockets and made with a 3/4 length sleeve (tutorial here). I had ideas of looking Audrey Hepburn-esque. I stitched the hem in red so it would show up, but school uniform Ponte combined with red stitching actually makes this top look less Audrey in Paris and a little more like British Airways crew outfit. Enough of the styling tips and on with the tutorial….
SEWING JERSEY TIPS:
- Aways use a ballpoint needle so you don’t get skipped stitches..
- I used a walking foot, which helped but I don’t think it was essential.
- Use a stretch or ballpoint twin needle to create a faux coverstitch for the hem.
- Use a stretch stitch.
- Test your stitching 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. Tension and stitch settings will vary dependant on your machine and your fabric. Sorry, but you need to get friendly with your manual!
- Don’t pull and stretch your fabric as you sew.
- If your seam goes a bit wavy after stitching, very gently steam and press flat.
- My machine tried to swallow the garment into the foot plate 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!
There are a couple of options for stitching your seams.
- stretch stitch (sometimes called lightening stitch)
- zig zag on a narrow width and 2.5-3mm length (I used this as was quicker than the lightening stitch, and set my stitch width to 0.5 and stitch length to 2).
- I also tested just using a straight stitch, and it was OK on this fabric, but probably not very reliable on a stretchier jersey.
- 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 for all in one seam stitching as it makes for a stronger seam. The pattern has 1cm allowances for the body and 6mm at the neckline so be sure not to cut off more than you should!
- To neaten your seams either use a zig zag or overlock together. You could in theory just stitch and leave them raw as the fabric doesn’t really fray, but it seemed a bit lazy.
Sewing The French Dart shift In Jersey
RST: right sides together CB: centre back S/A: seam allowance
FDS: French Dart Shift WS: wrong side
(Refer to your Maker Instructions for detailed descriptions of general methods.)
Pre wash and press your fabric, lay up and cut out carefully.
The collar would normally be cut on the bias for a woven cloth. For a knit fabric cut instead on the straight of grain with the shortest edge of the pattern parallel to the selvedge.
Tape the neck as described in your FDS Maker Instructions. (This style has a wide neck and we don’t need (or want) it to stretch. If you are ever making a t-shirt style that stretches to pull over the head DO NOT TAPE the neck!)
Make all the darts.
TAPE THE SHOULDERS:
Measure a piece of stay tape against your pattern by laying on the shoulder line, include the seam allowances. Pin the shoulders with RST and place the tape in place on the stitch line and stitch the shoulders together through the stay tape. Press the shoulder seam open.
Close the side seams and under arm sleeve seams. Neaten together.
Set in the sleeves.
ATTACH THE COLLAR:
Stitch CB collar seam, do not neaten. Press seam open.
Fold collar in half with WS together, so raw neck edges are aligned and seam allowance is enclosed inside the collar.
With RST pin collar onto body, align collar and body notches and CB collar seam with CB neck.
Stitch together with a 6mm S/A, neaten and press S/A towards body.
Ready to wear t-shirts and sweatshirts often have a row of stitching at the neckline to hold the seam allowance flat. You can twin needle or edgestitch the neckline to mimic this if you wish. Confession: Proceed with caution, I broke my only twin needle when I hit the CB seam, so I continued with an edgestitch. Both look good!
The pattern has a 3cm hem allowance, press to the WS.
Twin needle the hem (I overlocked the raw edge first), again follow your machine guideline and test. My machine and a twin needle meant not using the walking foot and sewing at a slower speed.
As I made a top it was too short for pockets. Side pockets in jersey generally ring alarm bells for me. It’s perfectly possible to do the pockets but also possible the weight of the jersey bag will be lumpy or droopy under the dress or the pocket mouth will stretch and not sit flat. The final result is really going to depend on your fabric and your sewing skills.
If you made a dress version and want to add pockets, I did a test sample. I’ve followed the basic instructions for the FDS pocket but overlocked the side seam together rather than open. I also didn’t fuse the pocket mouth, unlike the woven version, just to see what would happen really. It was OK but this Ponte is very stable, although next time I would put a small spot of interfacing at each pivot point for extra reinforcement. Again test your fabric to see what works for your jersey, and remember to use the knitted kind of interfacing.
- Attach the pocket bags to the body, but don’t overlock.
- Understitch the front pocket bag
- Pin front and back with RST and stitch side seam and around the pocket bag. Reinforce at pivot points.
- Neaten the side seam and around the pocket bag together.
Overall I’m rather pleased with sewing The French Dart Shift in jersey. The collar is lovely in knitted fabric and it makes a very cosy and comfortable little top now that Autumn is upon us!