Sunday, April 7, 2013

The joys of sewing knits

I've made so many things over the past nine months or so that I haven't blogged about (including two tailored jackets!) that it's a bit ironic that this little project is the one that would bring me out of my blogging hiatus. I'm going to attribute it to the fact that by the time I finish a big project I'm usually a bit sick of it and I just want to wear it, not spend more time photographing it and chronicling its tortured process of coming into being. But in this case, the project was done so quickly that I still have enthusiasm left over to talk about it!

Anyways, my beloved local sewing workshop Emeline and Annabelle closed down about six months ago, and with it went my access to a serger (as well as my wonderful sewing sunday afternoons with my local sewists). So around Christmas, I decided to splurge and get myself a serger. had this well-reviewed and inexpensive serger on sale for around $200 over the holidays, so I pulled the trigger.

Now I know that you can sew knits with a normal sewing machine, and I certainly have over the years, but sewing knits with the serger is a joy. After all, it's a machine custom built for the job, so there's no annoyance of taking ten minutes to sew a seam with your horribly slow faux overlock stitch (while running out of bobbin thread every other seam). It's super fast! My SO, who is accustomed to my overly complicated multi-week projects, was floored at how quickly I emerged from the sewing room with my first serger constructed dress.

Here's my latest serger project: 

A self drafted knit top based on Vogue 1141 (out of print). I first saw this pattern on Sigrid's blog, and I thought the pattern idea was genius: dead simple to make, but the shoulder pleat detail adds some interest to it and also makes it look a bit more like a cap sleeve than a tank top, making it a bit more work appropriate. The gathers at the bust practically disappear when sewn up in a knit, and allow for a bit of extra bust room that I wouldn't normally have in a t-shirt. I drafted the pattern off of a Burda knit shirt pattern, made a few adjustments after the first draft (mainly lowering the pleat detail a bit, it was too high up on the shoulder in my first version), and voila! This is certainly a pattern I'll sew again. I also used Sigrid's technique of using a serged binding strip to finish the neckline, with the slight modification that I omitted the interfacing and instead made the binding strip smaller than the neck/armhole openings to keep them from stretching out too much (I used strips that were 87% of the original seam length and eased the neckline into the binding). Evenly easing the openings into the binding strips was a bit time consuming, but the finished result is really nice.

The best part of this project is that the amount of fabric that I had was pretty much *exactly* enough for the shirt:

That's all that was left over, including the serger scraps. I have a terrible problem with not being able to get rid of leftover bits of fabric, even when I know they're not really big enough to actually make anything... the problems of being a fabric lover. This piece of fabric was a remnant that I bought at Britex fabrics while on a work trip late last year, and with some creative cutting layouts it was just enough for this pattern. If I were in one of those Project Runway "use all the fabric you bought" challenges, I'd be killing it right now!


  1. Super cute top! I may have to try this one!

  2. Thanks! I don't know if the pattern is still easy to find or not, but I can definitely help you draft one!