Slowly, surely, I am getting the hang of this whole sewing thing. Because I am stubborn and want to figure things out for myself, there is a lot of trial and error - t-shirts with popping seams, too-tight necklines, and wavy hems (still working on that last thing). Frustration, muttered curses, a deep breath, another try, a better result. I am learning.
I also tend to forget that there are things like online classes one can take to improve one's skills without so much frustration. Whitney recommended a Craftsy class on sewing with knits that I'm mighty tempted to take. Eventually. Soon?
I rarely knit the same pattern more than once, occasionally twice, but I'm much less adventurous with sewing patterns. I find something that I can make successfully without royally screwing up, and I will stick with it forever. As a result, today's endeavors resulted in two acceptable shirts for Anya, all the same pattern as before: Flashback Skinny Tee from Made By Rae.
The first is in a zebra print. The fabric is a cotton (maybe with a bit of spandex? it's stretchy) interlock I picked up on sale at Hancocks at least three or four years ago because at the time Daniel wanted zebra PJs or something. I obviously didn't get around to making the PJs but I kept the fabric, so now Anya gets a zebra shirt! There's enough left she could probably have shorts or leggings to match if she wanted, but I bet she doesn't.
You can't tell from the picture above, but the hem is a little wavy. I used a twin needle because I like the look of double stitching, but it kind of stretched out the bottom in a way that it won't bounce back. I don't know if this has to do with some property of the fabric, or the fact that it's not top quality (it's not bad, but I'd say middling at best), or just that that type of stitching just doesn't lend itself to hemming stretchy fabric. Otherwise, the shirt turned out pretty nice and it fits Anya quite well, with a bit of extra length in the sleeves.
Buoyed by my success with the zebra print, I finally mustered up the courage to cut into some nice fabric. About two years ago I bought a couple pieces of Robert Kaufman Laguna Jersey. I had to order it online! I believe that was the first and thus far only time I ordered fabric online, despite being tempted many, many times before and since. You just can't find knit fabric locally outside of chain stores around here, except for Gayfeather Fabric on the east side, and while that shop is lovely and the owner is nice as can be, there isn't a wide selection of knits.
But I digress. The Laguna jersey is so nice. It's soft and light and stretchy without losing its shape. I had a yard each of turquoise and tangerine (colors Anya picked out two years ago when I bought it, and thankfully still likes) and I was afraid to cut into either piece and ruin them with my piss poor sewing-with-knits skills. Not that this fabric is extravagant luxury silk or something, but I still wanted to do it justice and try not to waste.
As you can see, it worked out.
Anya is pleased.
She even put up with modeling not one, but two long-sleeved shirts today, even though it was absolutely vile outside: upwards of 90 degrees and very humid.
Interested in more details? Here is a useful tip: using good materials will affect not only the outcome of your project, but your level of frustration during the making. Sewing with fabric that is good quality and easy to work with will be much more enjoyable than sewing with fabric that is mediocre. Or crappy. I absolutely know this already with yarn and knitting supplies, and it was good to have this reminder today.
|I left the bottom edge raw because I don't have the huevos to risk another wavy hem. Still learning. ..|
I didn't finish the edges or seams with a serger. I have one, but I'm not entirely comfortable using it on knits. When I do, the edges stretch and it doesn't look as neat and finished as it should. I don't know if it's user error (probably) or if I would benefit from a better machine (probably that, too, but that's money I can't spend) but since knits don't fray I'm not worrying about it.
Because hemming knits still kind of makes me twitch, I opted for cuffs to finish the sleeves. I've done this with all the t-shirts so far. I don't have 1x1 ribbed fabric for it (I'd have to order that online, too, and I don't want to bother for such a small quantity, plus how do you match colors anyway?) so I used the same fabric for cuffs and neck as I did for the main pieces of the shirts. The zebra print and blue are stretchy enough it was fine, but for less stretchy knits I would just cut those pieces on the bias; I did that yesterday for the striped tee and it's fine.
Last, I had a revelation this morning. I was messing around with the zigzag trying to figure out the best stitch length and width to avoid popping seams and I stumbled across a stretch stitch on my machine. MY MACHINE HAS A STRETCH STITCH SETTING. HOW DID I MISS THIS BEFORE?? The stretch stitch is wonderful and may have changed my life. It's #16 on the stitch menu of my Pfaff, it's called the "stretch tricot stitch" and it's a total thread-eater, but it's indestructible. I defy you to try and pop one of these seams!
Now, I've got one more tee to make for Anya - color: tangerine! - before I run out of knit fabric. The question is, now that I'm on a roll, do I order more and keep cranking them out? Or move on? I can't decide. What do you think?