Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Life Lived in Knits

Last summer, at the encouragement of my sister, I tackled the scary task of learning to sew knit fabrics.  Many people who sew admit that knits seem like the scariest fabric out there because they shift and can be slippery and, they need to keep their stretchiness once sewn, which can be tricky.

Luckily, I have a serger, so sewing them is never my issue.  My issues belong to sizing and hemming.  Ridiculous, but I have never made a hem on a knit that suited my fancy.  I always get the 'dreaded tunneling effect' with  my twin needles and I can't fix it, no matter what I do.

While last year's dresses and tops were all about the Lady Skater and Comino Cap and variations thereof, this year's are all about sleeveless dresses.  Because school started last week and it was no less than 400 degrees in my room.  And I melted several times.  I got grouchy.  And I probably bit someone in my heat induced delirium.

This weekend has been amazing with nice cool and dry air but I see it's back to 84 for next week, so  I needed some new dresses.  I have tons of sleeveless dresses that I've acquired over time, but most are polyester or rayon or something else very clingy.  Not that knits aren't clingy, but I feel like they won't stick to the back of my legs when I get up.

They'll absorb all my sweat instead!

I can't figure out how to make the Lady Skater into a sleeveless dress, so I took a pattern for a tank top and added on to it.  I made one of these last  year and only wore it once.  It's more snug than I'd like, I hate the way I did the hem (it's too tight and I always worry I will snap the threads) so I don't wear it often.

To make sure my master plan would work, I made the tank as instructed.  The directions are simple:  sew.  And the pattern is simple:  a front and a back.   That's it!   But the method the pattern gives for creating the neck and armbands has my brain in tatters, so I winged some measurements and luckily, came up with very satisfactory results.

This blue knit was a remnant at Joann and I'm so dumb as to have thought it was better quality than it is.  It's just like another solid color knit I bought last year, which I swore I never would again.  It pills after the first wash and I'm not much of a fan of pilling knits.    Especially if they pill before I've even worn them, let alone before I've even sewn them!

This hem took two tries.  The first was a little too long, even though I had already taken the pattern up at the waist last summer.  And it was slippery.  I think I had a threading issue when I sewed the hem the first time, so the material kept sliding around, almost like it was gathered.  So, I cut it off about 1.5 inches and did it again.  A much better length for me but still not quite right in the tension.  But, since it's already pilled, I won't be wearing it to any high class events, so it doesn't matter.

I like the way the topstitching came out.

Not the biggest fan of this hem.

I thought if I took the top and just continued in an A line sort of shape from the waist, it might work.  I drew it out on wrapping paper since that was the only paper I had that was long enough to make a consistent drawing.

Along the way, this happened, which put a serious damper on my excitement about my newfound plan.  After I cleaned that all up, I poked through my knit scraps to see if there was enough of anything I could coax into becoming my muslin for this pattern.

I forgot that when I bought this fabric for the repeat of this long dress that never happened, I had plenty left over.  I ended up making it a tunic because I was just slightly short of the amount I needed for the dress.  I thought I had a post about it but I can't find it, so imagine that dress at thigh length. As a tunic.  In this fabric.  Which is really lighter in real life.

Got it?

Because I'm short, I had just enough to make my demo tank dress.  My neckline and armband numbers still worked and the flare of the dress made me really happy.  But, I felt like it was a little more snug at the waist than I'd like (it's hard to be in front of kids for an entire day and suck it in so I added just a little more at the hip for the next one.

While it looks black, it's actually navy with darker navy dots.

This isn't the color either.  It's one of those colors that my ipad isn't letting me capture.  Since the knit has these black dots, I decided to make the bands with the other side showing.  I was afraid they might fold on the dots which are slightly raised and look bizarre.  I like the effect.  But I cut these bands a little wider than the others, so the neckband on this is thicker than on the others.

I don't ever do anything right when it comes to sewing.

This one is a much more substantial knit, with less stretch, so I thought the added amount at the hip would work really well because it would be really form fitting otherwise.

Try as I might, that wall went nowhere.  I'll have you know that the hem isn't anywhere near as Marcia Brady short  as it appears here.  I blame it on my ipad angle and that my arms are up.

It's more like this.

You know, proper "below the fingertips" length.  Or whatever.  I've noticed that since I've moved down to the elementary school, the shorter teachers wear shorter dresses than in middle school and no one seems to care.

Short hem lines?  Sign.Me.Up!

The next knit was so stretchy and flimsy, it's probably meant for pajamas.  But, nothing seems to stop me when it comes to making what I want to wear presentable, so I off I went.

Striped dress, striped cat.  I'm très en vogue, non?

The stripes that are in style right now always look absurd on me.  I usually feel like I'm trying to emulate a small French sailor.

Or Waldo.

I didn't realize that the neck and armbands should match the stripes but at this angle, it sure looks like I hit it dead on.  Maybe if I move around A LOT, it will all look just right.  Just one more reason sewing with stripes can be a nightmare...

Finally, I present my attempt to add more red back into my wardrobe.  I used to wear a lot of red, the more tomato in color, the better with my complexion.  But then the world started wearing dreadful colors like dark teal, purple, mustard yellow, and the right red became impossible to find.

Sadly, this isn't really red.  It's doing a fantastic job of looking red in these pictures because I took them inside.  It's really raspberry and even said so on the bolt of fabric. But it's not quite as light raspberry as you see in this picture either.


It's actually the same fabric I used for this dress and I like the way that held up so much, I got some more.  I'm pretty sure the denim blue in the first dress of this post is also this same material.  It doesn't pill and I like the weight of it a lot.

So, I have an entirely new wardrobe for school this week and since it's a 4 day week, I'll have one
dress per day!  The knits were on sale at Joann and I got my teacher discount on top of it.  Since I'm vertically challenged, I can get away with making these out of just over a yard of fabric, depending on which way the stretch goes.

I think I've exhausted the knit department and there is nothing else there that suits me right now.

So sad that I turned 40 and now feel that knits are the best thing since sliced bread.  And that I use expressions like "the best thing since sliced bread".

linking here:


  1. Hi there! Wow I love these super cute dresses you made!
    Thanks for joining and sharing them at Cooking and Crafting with J & J.
    We hope to see you again.
    Julie xo

  2. These dresses are awesome! You did a fantastic job making them. Thanks for sharing with us at Funtastic Friday. Hope to see you again at this week's party:-)

  3. These are SO cute!

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J! Please don't forget to enter the $25 Starbucks Giftcard Giveaway that ends tomorrow night!


I love comments almost as much as I love summer. I reply to all comments except those ridiculous anonymous comments offering me dirty deeds and real estate. When you leave your comment, please make sure your own settings will allow me to reply to you. Nothing makes me sadder than replying to your comments and then realizing it’s going to the no-reply@blogger address!