Saturday, 24 March 2012

An impulse purchase

Well the weather continues to be unseasonably warm this week, I've had to break out the Summer shoes and have hopefully consigned my hideous-but-practical boots* to the under-the-stairs cupboard till next Autumn. Realising that a lot of my knit tops have those annoying tiny holes in them (not moths, just general wear on flimsy fabric) I have decided that this year is the year I will finally learn to sew with knits. I bought a handful of patterns when pregnant with my littlest, thinking of sewing some looser tops that would see me through pregnancy but also be wearable the other side without being maternity wear. Of course, I didn't actually sew any of them, but it was a comfort to know they were there in case I felt the urge.

I was pottering around on the internet, as you do, the other day when I stumbled upon Ottobre designs' etsy store, jam-packed with cute stretch prints for children and a really good choice of stripey ribbing which is what initially drew my attention. But then I saw this lovely viscose jersey which was too hard to resist on such a beautiful sunny day (although they sell by the metre, you can contact them to request a customised listing for the length you need, in my case 1.2 metres) and couldn't help myself. Now that I've got it, i can't quite decide whether I like it or not, but the weight really is perfect, and it has a lovely slinky soft feel which looks like it's going to be nice and forgiving but which will probably be awful to sew.

Spring top plans!

The pattern is New Look 6731 (out of print as far as I can see, though ebay has one on sale), which looks like the perfect basic knit top-shape, with a bound scoop neck and capped sleeves, but also with options for an elasticized hem, tunic length, long sleeves and a higher neckline. It scores pretty highly in reviews on, which is a good recommendation as all those reviewers must know 100 times more than I do about dressmaking! And rather fortuitously, it just happens to be Spring Top Sewalong 2012 over at Made by Rae, which is a great incentive to get stitching.


Having abandoned my blog post in favour of cutting out the pattern and starting to sew (I get such itchy fingers sometimes!) I seem to have the makings of an actual real wearable top!! That's as long as I don't botch the sleeves. Can anyone give me some tips on machine hemming knits too? I am thinking of buying a new spool pin and twin needle for my toyota, though I do have an overlocker. What's the best way to do it? Any tips/links will be gratefully received!


*Have you ever put a leather boot through the washing machine on a nice long cottons cycle? Well I have, accidentally gathered up in a pile of sheets (which tells you all you need to know about my housekeeping skills). Just the one boot, mind you. The boot, however, survived to tell the tale and lives on in all its hideousness, stopping me from being able to justify a new pair.


  1. Hi Helen, I am really liking that fabric and saw your picture on Twitter earlier which looked great.

    I have an as yet un-made Miz Mozelle pattern, which is ideally made using a knit fabric. In the instructions they give these tips for sewing with knits:

    1) Use a ballpoint needle such as a jersey or stretch needle.

    2) A walking foot is helpful to feed the fabric evenly.

    3) Use a small zigzag stitch (2.0 length, 1.5 width) or a stretch stitch if your machine has this option.

    Hope this helps. Failing that I'd send it to Florence!

  2. Thank you, Beth! I fancy making a Miz Mozelle too, such a lovely pattern.

    Thanks for passing on the tips too. The walking foot definitely helps to keep the layers from stretching apart! I've just dusted off my overlocker and will have to see if I can still operate it later on to finish the seams!

  3. Hi Helen! That fabric looks great - I will have to check out that Etsy store. Got an overlocker myself for christmas and have just sewn my first dress with it - from this experience I can give you the following tips:

    - don't do what I did and get distracted and sew the bodice front on inside out
    - don't then fail to learn from your mistake and having sworn, unpicked and re-sewed the bodice then sew the sleve on inside out (I was having a bad day)
    - if you don't already have it I can really recommend Sew - U Home Stretch as a great reference for sewing with knit/stretch fabrics. It has some really clear general instructions and some great patterns with lots of variations.
    - if you do get above book don't do what I first did and trace out the pattern forgetting that I need to add the seam allowance (as she doesn't include them on the pattern).
    - for hemming I used my normal sewing machine and used a zig zag stitch to allow for stretching (if you do a straight stitch when the fabric stretches the thread will snap)
    - don't worry about the fabric being slinky - mine was fairly slinky and it wasn't too bad to handle (once I'd actually got it the right way round)
    - keep a container handy (I use an old icecream tub) to tidy up all the bits of fabric the overlocker cuts off and any threads and bits to save you having to pop over to the bin all the time
    - at the beginning and end of each seam keep the machine stitching on nothing for a bit to create a chain then use a tapestry needle to thread the chain into the seam you've sewed and this will tidy it up and stop it from coming loose.

    Look forward to seeing your finished article!

  4. Thanks, that's all really helpful! I think I just found your dress over on flickr, it looks great!


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