Paisley Park

 

Handmade knit tank top and dirndl skirt / Wanna Be Sewing Something Blog

One afro, two elbows, and a UFO walk into a park…

The start of a curious joke? Or the list of accessories for the paisley knit tank top I made?

It’s the latter, of course. Though a suitable punchline for my setup is still a goal.

With help from a quirky, patchwork paisley printed stretch knit, I executed the binding technique I wrote about in July to sew a companion for a chambray dirndl skirt that waited a year to be hemmed.

Handmade knit tank top

Even though I still have to draft new sleeves for it, my beloved fitted t-shirt pattern (debuted here last winter) is officially operating as a block now that I’ve got the shoulders and armholes fitting just right. I traced it to create a tank top pattern with a lower neckline.

Unfamiliar with drafting for knits, I referenced my Helen Joseph Armstrong book. The section on patterning kids clothes made with knit fabric covers how to measure and plot a lowered neckline.

Had I attempted it on my own, I wouldn’t have accounted for the bit of contouring that seems to build in just the right amount of negative ease at the chest.

Handmade knit tank top and denim dirndl skirt separates

The position of the neckline on this tank top is EXACTLY where I want it. Plenty of skin showing to give the eyes a place — other than the obvious one — to land. With a shape that isn’t too scooped…but soft and rounded. Like my hair. Which I styled carefully for a look in the middle of the spectrum between Angela Davis and Pam Grier.

Examining the symbiotic link between neckline and hair shape… is for another blog post.

Let’s enjoy a photo collage tribute to binding construction instead.

Knit binding with mitered seams

From left to right: (a) When I sew wovens, I cut patterns from a single layer of fabric. For this pattern, I folded in the selvedges to the middle and used my rotary cutter. (b) The 45 degree line on the grid of my cutting mat and chalk-marked stitchlines kept the mitered seams of my binding looking sharp. (c) I know it’s overkill, but a steamy iron and my tailor board got in on the action. (d) I always get a little nervous before attaching freshly cut bindings. Did I get the ratios right? I can usually tell if I’m off by laying the seams next to each other.

knit tank top, chambray dirndl skirt

About the skirt. My usual dirndl. It’s origin story is ancient.

95% of it was sewn over a year ago!

I even lined the skirt and the pocket and Instagrammed my results to the world before noticing there wasn’t enough fabric for the waistband.

A small tear was shed before I hung it up in a corner to display it as an unfinished object (UFO) in distress.

View this post on Instagram

Lined denim pocket or smiling muppet mouth.

A post shared by Najah (@wannabesewingsomething) on

 

I picked it up a few months later after I learned a machine sewn technique for interfacing a waistband with petersham in my Skirt Skills class.

I tried it out on a straight waistband cut from bottom weight denim that happened to match my chambray.

 

Handmade knit tank top and denim dirndl skirt separates

After admiring the results, I abandoned the dirndl AGAIN so I could use the denim to sew that game-changing pencil skirt.

By the time I returned to finally hem and fasten the chambray dirndl (last week), it was three seasons later and I was ten pounds lighter.

If its muppet mouth could speak, it would’ve cursed me out.

Handmade denim dirndl skirt: waistband, lining

Even though the waistband was a bit thicker than I’m used to, and the hook placement had to be sewn an inch deeper, the peterhsam interfacing performed like a champ.

My waistline did not grow like it did in the un-stabilized, chocolate linen maxi version of this skirt.

After a day of wearing and eating, and through the weight of keys and phones in pockets, my waistband was a solider.

Handmade knit tank top and denim dirndl skirt separates

These separates are a uniform silhouette for me that leave me feeling comfortable and confident. I may not be able to craft a swift punchline for a joke, but I can certainly craft a slow, wonderfully wearable outfit for my body.

YARDAGE of the WEaK

YOW Floral Sweater Knit

My fabric stash is filled with unsewn yards of goodness that I haven’t properly appreciated. True appreciation is a sewn garment or at least a swatch card for inventorying, but in the past couple of years, my poor neglected stash as had little of either. And it’s STILL growing!

I admit my addiction to fabric acquisition (hence the play on words in the title), but the only thing I plan to do about my weakness is blog about it. A self-intervention of sorts that will hopefully inspire me to sew up some of it — at least to make room for the new stuff I can’t quite stop myself from buying.

Fabric Stash

My fabric stash lives in the linen closet. Never mind where the linens are.

I figure a weekly post to feature some of the fabulous but forgotten fabrics I’ve acquired is just what I need to cringebust my sewing of them. Hey, and since I have an audience for this project, I’ll be gladly accepting ideas for what to make.

Let’s take a look at this week’s YARDAGE OF THE WEaK (YOW). A floral sweater knit I was surprised to find on a bolt at Joann’s. Their discounts are just ridiculous. Everything is always on sale. And, if it isn’t, there’s coupons for days. Lately, I’ve been noticing they’ve stepped up their game, too. The last few times I stopped in for a pattern sale, I got ADD in the fabric aisles. This gorgeous sweater knit was a recent distraction.

YOW - Floral Sweater Knit

I bought it thinking I’d be bold and make a sweater dress (another Moneta perhaps), but chickened out on the idea when I got worried about the minimal stretch of the knit. It’s relatively stable, so a negative ease pattern might be tough to pull off. Then again, that’s probably me being chicken. I’ve never sewn a sweater knit before and for some reason the bravery I had when I bought it has evaporated. But at the same time, I REALLY want to make something with it before spring shows up for real and sundresses start to haunt me like a Poltergeist.

Swatch Card for Floral Sweater Knit

Swatch card inventorying in the works.

The new Oslo cardigan from my subscription to Seamwork Magazine is another promising make. Or, even a simple, pull-on pencil skirt. So many options for 3 yards of loveliness.

One of the challenges of this fabric will be coordinating it with other things. It looks like a black and white floral, but the black is closer to gray, so when pairing it with something else that’s a true black, it looks a bit off or laundry-faded. I may have to treat it like it’s a dark gray and style it accordingly. Oooh…a pairing with yellow could be nice.

Floral Sweater Knit Comparison

Comparison to a black ponte and gray ponte knit.

My weakness for pretty got this sweater knit into my stash, but I’d love to get it on my body one day. What would you make with it?

Winter Blooms (on Me!)

Floral T-Shirt Collage

My sewing time has been sporadic and unfocused lately, so those grandiose plans I had to fill the gaps in my freshly purged closet kind of froze up with the ridiculous layers of snow on the ground. In these last weeks of winter, my impatience for spring has my mind trapped in fantasies of picnics, twirly frocks, and other reasons for shaved legs.

Much of that daydreaming happened in my Polyvore app (which posted a few inspiration sets here inadvertently last week, doh!), but by the 5th winter weather advisory, my creativity was on the couch watching Netflix.

My mojo has recently been rejuvenated, however, by one simple little sewing pattern: Butterick 5215. A basic, knit t-shirt that fit me straight out of the pattern thanks to its Jedi designer, Connie Crawford. She claims its made “especially to fit the needs of today’s woman.”B5125 in Black Floral

Indeed, I am a woman on this earth today with needs. Among them is the need for a well-fitting t-shirt. A near impossibility for the short and curvy woman who buys off the earthly rack. Armholes are too long, there’s either too much or not enough room for the girls, sleeves never sit at my shoulder point, and the length between the waist and the hem is never right for my proportions. I have NEVER owned a knit t-shirt I loved.

That is until Ms. Crawford’s envelope of wrinkled tissue came into my life.

The pattern comes already adjusted for a narrow shoulder and fuller bust. There’s a petite adjustment line below the bust. I used it and made no other changes to the fit. I did lengthen the sleeves though. I made view A, the fitted tee with cap sleeves. The other two styles were semi-fitted and relaxed with short sleeves, so I borrowed the long sleeve of another pattern for the shaping and used my shoulder to wrist measurement to draft the right length.

B5215 in Black Floral

I don’t have any experience with success out of the pattern envelope (my peacock print woven tee was close, but even that required clever size blending). So, I stood in the mirror for several minutes trying to fathom the awesome fit I was witnessing on my original test garment. This rayon floral stretch jersey had been begging me to be a t-shirt, but allowing my torso to be engulfed in a vortex of bright floral meant the fit had to be spot on. And, dear, dear Connie hooked a seamstress up!

B5215 in Black Floral

My favorite thing about this pattern is how the side seams curve at the bustline. It’s the best drafting I’ve ever seen on a knit pattern. It’s like a built-in FBA. And, the way it curves at the waist is just art. With the petite adjustment, the waistline and hip curve ends up sitting in just the right spot for me. I’ve already started using it as a fit sloper to improve the fit of other knit patterns.

Cutting out B5215

The speed with which I can make this t-shirt is somewhere between quick as hell and lightning fast. This one took a week because I was fooling around, but with focus, I think I could cut, coverstitch, and serge another one in a few hours – maybe less if I’m making it while my daughter’s napping and get that added boost of beat-the-clock adrenaline.

Speaking of construction, I need to mention that I did all of my hemming with the garment flat vs. after sewing the side or sleeve seams. This is mostly because I have a convertible serger/coverstitch machine and try to streamline things to avoid more than one conversion. It’s also because I’m too lazy to perfect my coverstitching in the round (the overlap stitching hardly ever matches and I don’t quite have that pull-the-threads-to-the back trick down yet.)

I also used this genius method for neckline binding on YouTube that doesn’t require any measuring. Because, really…who has time for that?

B5215 in Black Floral

So, let’s see. We have the best fitting t-shirt pattern EVER, construction shortcuts, and my torso dipped in flowers. I think that’s everything I need to warm up my mojo for spring sewing. Now if some of that warmth would just reach the Eastern United States.

Does the weather ever affect your creativity?

Meet Moneta

I want you to meet a friend of mine.

We’ve been through a lot together recently. With all of our disagreements, I almost gave up on our relationship. Until, finally…I got her to see things my way.

Moneta and me. A friendship made in jersey.

Moneta in Denim Jersey
It only took SIX trial fittings of the bodice to sort out this pattern. I’m no stranger to multiple muslins, but fitting Colette Pattern’s Moneta dress turned out to be a crash course in knits and negative ease.

Moneta in Denim Jersey

Flat-pattern measuring doesn’t really work on garments designed for knits. So, nearly every alteration had to be verified, one by one.

Luckily, a knit bodice can be cut and basted together in about 20 minutes. They key is to have plenty of discount jersey around. Before I knew what I liked, before I could distinguish cheap from quality, before I really knew how to sew it, I bought and stashed yards and yards of knit fabric (40% off coupons will have that effect).

Moneta in Denim Jersey

All of that hoarding came in handy when discovering that Moneta basically required open heart surgery to fit me. Here are the changes I made:

  1. Removed 1/2″ of length from the chest and sleeve cap.
  2. Removed ease from sleeve cap by flattening the back and scooping out the front.
  3. Shortened sleeve by 2″ at the bicep.
  4. Reduced front neckline width with a 1″ narrow chest/shoulder alteration.
  5. Added length at the bust with a dartless FBA.
  6. Raised back bodice at waistline with a 1/2″ swayback alteration.
  7. Re-drafted the pocket so the top reached the waistline.

Whew! I’m still out of breath.

I should have raised the waist by an inch so the skirt sits a bit above my waistline (a more flattering spot on me), but I only noticed this after assembling the final dress. OK, so it’s 98% right after all those mods. Perfection is overrated. I’m wearing it.

IMG_8269

If this wasn’t my first knit dress, if I wasn’t such a knit-sewing moron, Moneta would’ve only take a muslin or two to make. Instead, I used my 5 trial bodices and 1 full dress trial to practice coverstitching. A most wonderful thing I’ve had the power to do for years (three cheers for convertible overlockers!), but only just acquired the bravery.

The wearable jersey I chose to make out of my blood, sweat, and fitted Moneta pattern is a denim-look fabric with a faux twill weave. I bought it at Joann’s a while back. I think it’s a rayon/cotton/lycra blend, medium-weight or double knit jersey (kinda like this one from Mood) that was probably meant for sewing jeggings. Since I’m not ready for negative ease fitting on my bottom half just yet, a dress is where my knitventures began.

Moneta in Denim Jersey

All of the fitting work was absolutely worth it. The bodice alone has hundreds of possibilities. I’ll probably start with Colette’s free collar variations. Then, there’s all of the different kinds of skirt options beyond the original gathered one – circle, pleated, pencil, maxi – a girl could wear nothing but Monetas. A wardrobe of dress jammies in all the colors of the rainbow.

Moneta in Denim Jersey
No longer a knit sewing newbie, I am grateful for the time I spent getting to know Moneta. Now that we understand each other, she gives the best hugs (in all the right places).