Thursday, May 30, 2013

Guest Post: ITY Knit with Amber

Hello there!
Amber is the last of our three seamstresses sewing knits.
Make sure you check out what Meg and Kathy made! 
Amber did a fantastic job on this post with a lot of great tips and thorough explainations.
You will definitely enjoy it!
We asked Amber to make something using ITY Knit.
ITY Knit is wonderful not only because it is fashionable and comes in a lot of great prints, but has nice stretch, drape, and is made to be comfortable and breathable. And let's not forget, washable.
You can make dresses, tops, leggings, drapey cardigans, skirts, and more. So for the next pattern you use that suggests a light-medium weight knit consider using ITY!
Check out our selection online:
http://www.fabricmartfabrics.com/xcart/ITY-Knit-Fabric/
And now, here's Amber:
 
Hi!  I'm a stay-at-home mom of two little ones after working for quite a few years in a long hours, high stress job as an IT administrator.  My mother sewed when I was growing up, however I didn't do much sewing until I was in high school and then only dabbled in a couple projects.  Three years ago I lost 70+ pounds after having my second child and decided that rather than purchase a new wardrobe, I would attempt to make one instead.  I always enjoyed sewing, I just never thrown myself completely into it and once I started, I haven't stopped.  I'm a perfectionist which is both good and bad in sewing but means I usually agonize over the details and make sure things are precise.
 
When Fabric Mart Fabrics asked me to demo how I sew with polyester ITY knits, I decided to chose Vogue 1339 as my pattern.  The line drawing of this shows a right shoulder pleat, a twist on the left shoulder, a hand-rolled hem around the neck and arms, two bodice pleats, many, many pleats on the skirt, a dart, an underskirt and flounces!  Are you serious?  Right?  Throw in some French seams, and yeah, that wraps it up!  To my surprise, this was actually a terrific project to walk through sewing with knits, because I couldn't rely on my serger or coverstitch. 
 
 
Pattern Sizing with Knits
Use finished garment measurements where possible as a guide and in some cases be open to zero or negative ease.  A lot of times I will sew a smaller size in knits than what I would make in wovens, but it largely depends on the design of the garment.  For the fit on knits, consider that some garments are snug intentionally for support so take this into consideration when sizing.  Also for some styles, consider using a lining, especially with thin knits like poly ITY as they can be clingy and revealing with certain designs.  This masks undergarments as well as helps the garment hang more forgivingly.  In this particular Vogue pattern, the lining wasn't an issue as the pattern includes an underskirt, but this particular pattern must be fitted so that it is snug through the waist/hip/thigh to support the weight of the flounces.  I ended up making mine a size too large, because I didn't account for this but was able to make it work by adding elastic to the waist to help account for some of the lacking support which it probably needed any way.
 
Prep/Cutting with Knits
I usually use a rotary cutter for polyester ITY knits since they can move around quite a bit on you.  For this particular pattern, I had no choice but to cut it with scissors on my dining room floor because the pattern pieces were so large and required a single layer of fabric.  The best thing you can do in this case is use a lot of pins and keep it as stable as possible as you are cutting.  Try not to rest or lean on the fabric at all as it will shift, slide and distort grain also try to keep the pins away from the very edge as this can also pull and distort things.  For marking, I love Frixion markers (Pilot - thermo-sensitive gel ink).  I did also have to use a little tailor's chalk and tailor marks hand sewn in a contrasting thread to mark certain things due to the black portions of my fabric that made it hard to see.
 
Fabric
I chose a fabulous Maggy London polyester ITY knit print.  Polyester ITY is a wonderful fabric however it is deceptively heavy, especially when you get multiple layers and longer lengths of fabric.  This should not prevent you from selecting it for your pattern, it just means you have to consider things like stabilization as you go along.  I always stabilize my shoulder seams whether with clear elastic, Stay Tape or even ribbon.  On maxi length dresses, I almost always find the need to add snug-fitting elastic at the waist, back or bustline (depending on where the seam is at) to help support the extra weight.  On this particular dress, I added clear elastic to the shoulder seams, ribbon to the underskirt behind the gathering permanent stitching, and elastic to the waist in addition to the bodice stays that the pattern included.
 
Sewing Method with Knits
I usually tend to use my serger quite a bit on knits, except where you can't (darts, pleats, topstitching, seams that feed into other seams or stop mid-stream) or where more precision/control is needed or desired (such as some neck bindings/facings or curved bands).  I tend to use my coverstitch machine for hemming sleeves and the bottom hem of garments or to chainstitch in areas where stabilization is needed (like a neckline, I'll often chainstitch a neck binding on which also serves as nice looking topstitching).  It is extremely rare for me to use my regular machine to primarily construct a knit garment however this is just because I have the other machines.  I'm proud to say this entire garment was done either by hand or on my regular machine (straight stitch w/modifications) with the exception of three serged seams (bodice side, underskirt, and the waist seam), and I could have just as easily done a double seam there using my regular machine.  Now before everyone thinks "popped stitches", note the following very important distinctions: 
  •     I used Gutermann polyester thread (poly thread has some give, could use Woolly nylon too)
  •     I used a ballpoint jersey needle
  •     I applied a constant stretch both in front and behind of the presser foot
  •     I also adjusted tension accordingly while sewing on my machine (testing with my fabric initially)
  •     I made sure my stitch length was in the 2.0 to 2.5 mm range for permanent stitching. 
I tested a ton before I started, experimenting with various stitch types, tensions, techniques mainly focusing on comparing the straight stitch with stretching versus a narrow zig-zag.  I've used the built in stretch stitch on my machine in the past however I would recommend it absolutely last as far as ease of use, end result, look, waviness, etc.  I personally found that if the proper technique is applied to stretching the fabric in front of and behind the presser foot, the straight stitch provides the stretch, give and nice look that you need to your seams.  I wasn't happy with the narrow zig-zag personally and found it to have less give (assuming you don't stretch it as most people say you don't need to do) but always test with your fabric, thread and tension first to see.  Jalie has excellent videos on YouTube and their blog demonstrating their techniques for sewing knits with a regular machine.  The best advice I can provide based on my experience is to steer clear of the built-in stretch stitch and play around with the other options to see what works best for you and how it stretches/gives and compares to serged seams.
 
Handstitching/Basting with Knits
On this pattern, I had to slipstitch the entire length of the armholes and the neckline after doing a hand-rolled 5/8" hem.  I used a #9 needle with a single strand of Gutermann and kept my tension taut but with some ease since it does have to stretch and give due to being a knit.  On basting, keep in mind not to loosen your tension too much as it can be too loose by the time you add the extra stretch when sewing if machine basting.
 
Darts/Pleats/French Seams/etc. with Knits
I had two darts (underskirt and skirt), two French seams and many, many pleats on this garment (three on bodice and many in various directions on both sides of skirt/flounces).  I found the best way to sew these on poly ITY was just to do what you would normally do on a woven except with the straight stretch stitching method I've discussed.  Many textbooks I referred to asked for narrow zig-zag/crooked straight stitches on darts however I think this looks a tad messy and given my stretch test results, I opted instead to stick with my tried-n-true.  You can see in the pictures of the dart that it is sewn precisely and also has the stretch needed to prevent popped stitches and hold up to wear.
 
I also have pictured the many pleats found on the skirt of this garment which worked well with this stitching method (they hold a lot of weight and need to stretch so a good test).
 
Hems with Knits
Typically I coverstitch with a 6mm or 3mm on my hems.   If I were using my regular machine, I would use a twin-needle.  In this particular dress, the flounces and bottom of the skirt is left with a raw edge.  Normally I would use my serger to do a rolled/lettuce edge on this but in this case, the raw edges grew on me.  I'm not someone who ever leaves edges raw in knits since it always just seems unfinished, but I can say in this particular dress, it fits the style perfectly so I learned to let go.
 
For anyone that would like more details on the pattern, I will have a pattern review for Vogue 1339 write-up on http://sewing.patternreview.com/.  I would also like to thank Fabric Mart Fabrics for selecting me to do this as I am not a blogger, just love to sew and appreciate the chance to do this.  It was a great opportunity for me to tackle this project and now I have a fabulous dress! = )

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Inspiration: Father's Day Gifts

 Father's Day is coming and we have to be ready for it. Not only with breakfast in bed, day plans, but also a gift.

My 10 year old daughter is making a lot of preparations for that day including a handmade card, breakfast, washing his car, pampering him, and obviously asking me over and over, “what are we buying the guys (Dad and Grandpa)?”

The question is: What can we give my husband and my father that shows them how important and loved they are? The fact is that there is not the magical gift for all Dads, since all of them are different.
To begin my search for the perfect gift I asked myself a couple of questions just to make it easier for me to pick the right gifts and save some time.
What my your budget? 
What is your dad’s favorite activity? Does he have a hobby?


What is his job?     

What is his participation at home? Does he enjoy cooking or grilling for us?

Does he love to play a sport?     

    What does he do with his friends? Does he golf or bowl, watch games?

Does he enjoy dressing & accessorizing?



    Does he enjoy grooming? 

Personalize Shaving Bowl


What does he do around when resting at home?


Once I answered these questions I highlighted the answers that I know are his favorite things to do or enjoys the most. Then I was ready to surf those web pages and pick something!

~ Gabby ~

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Guest Post: Merrick from Merrick Art

Do you have a favorite sewing blog you follow?
Well here is ours: Merrick's Art. Merrick is an adorable mommy who has found ways to impress us everytime with the way she alters clothing. So when we chose to talk about making old pieces new on the blog this month, we NEEDED Merrick to guest blog! Here she is!

Hello!
I'm Merrick from Merrick's Art where I blog about sewing, style, and life. I'm excited to share a really fun refashion here today! 

Many months ago, I went thrift shopping and picked up this ginormous navy blouse.  I had no brillant refashioning plans, so it sat in my fabric box for many months until just recently I saw a navy peplum top and instantly knew that's what this top was destined for. 

With my 2013 goal to be a better seamstress, I really took my time on this project, making sure to think through each step, and I am thrilled with how it came out!




I didn't have a blue zipper, but this green one made for a fun pop of color -- now it's my favorite part of the top! 

top: thrifted/refashioned by me // jeans: american eagle // necklace: c/o wild about jewelry // shoes: old navy (in store only)

This isn't a difficult tutorial, but it does have a lot of steps. Just forge through!

Materials:
  • oversized blouse (these are a dime a dozen at the thrift store)
  • zipper (optional)
  • matching thread
  • seam ripper
  • elastic
  • measuring tape
STEP 1.  Using a seam ripper, remove the sleeves from the bodice. 


STEP 2 (Part 1). Measure from your shoulder to your natural waist, and then carefully cut your blouse to that length. Set aside the extra fabric from the bottom of the blouse -- this will become your peplum later on.

STEP 2 (Part 2). If your material isn't stretchy, you'll probably need to put a zipper in the back so you can get in and out of the shirt once it's slimmed down. Cut a straight line down the back of the shirt and insert a zipper. I used a 22" invisible zipper, and cut it down to be about 17" or so. You can make your zipper go all the way down the back -- I left about 3 inches at the bottom and just sewed that part closed.


Once your zipper is in, the back of your bodice should look like this:


STEP 3. Moving to the sleeves, pull the oversized sleeve (turned inside out) up your arm and mark with a pin how much you want to take it in. Make sure your seam curves to allow some movement at the armpit (as seen below). Sew with a straight seam along the dotted line, then trim off the extra fabric and zigzag or serge the raw edge to prevent fraying. 


Repeat on the other sleeve. They should now look like this: 

 

STEP 4. Going back to the bodice, turn it inside out and try it on. Mark with pins where you want to take it in (make sure your zipper is centered in the back).

Carefully remove the top and sew with a straight stitch along your marked lines. Trim off the extra fabric and zigzag or serge the raw edge to prevent fraying.


You should now have three pieces that look like this:


STEP 5.  Now it's time to attach the sleeves to the bodice. First, try on the bodice and measure how wide you want the shoulder width, then trim the arm holes. I cut mine down to 4 inches wide, as seen below.


Then, with right sides together, pin the sleeve to the bodice, as seen below. 


The arm hole on the bodice will probably be slightly larger than the arm hole on the sleeve -- this is normal. As you pin, distribute the extra fabric evenly between pins, and then as you sew, stretch the fabric as much as you can and you will be able to avoid tucks. 

Sew around the entire sleeve with a straight stitch, then trim off the extra fabric and serge or zigzag the raw edge.


Once your sleeve is attached, turn it right side out and press. The extra arm hole fabric, that I mentioned above, might create a little waviness, but it will iron right out as long as you don't have any tucks. 

Your shirt should now look like this (this is pre-ironed -- see the waviness?):


Repeat STEP 5 to attach the second sleeve.

STEP 6. Now let's move to the peplum. Take the bottom of the blouse that we cut off at the beginning and trim it down if necessary so it's completely even all the way across. (mine was 7" tall once it was trimmed).


STEP 7.  Measure the width of the bottom of your bodice (where your natural waist is), and cut 2 pieces of elastic in that length. Sew the ends of the two pieces of elastic together to make a big circle.


Pin the circle of elastic to your peplum (I pinned mine in four places, which you can see two photos down, and sewed in sections, pulling the elastic tight in between pins). Sew around the entire peplum, stretching the elastic as you sew (as seen below).


The bottom of the bodice and the top of the peplum should now have the same circumference measurement, and your peplum should look like this:


STEP 8. With right sides together, attach the peplum to the bodice. Using a straight stitch, sew next to the elastic (don't sew on the elastic!) as shown below with the dotted line.


Once the peplum is attached, use a seam ripper to remove the elastic (keeping it there just adds bulk to the waistline, which you don't want, obviously).


Once the elastic is removed, trim the seam allowance and zigzag or serge the raw edge to prevent fraying. I used all the original hems, so press all your seams and you're done!

Voila -- a peplum top! Look familiar?



Awesome, right?
Please visit Merricks Blog for more projects!


Are you going to try to make a peplum shirt?
I sure want to!

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Resource Library: Eco-friendly Fabrics

I get several requests from customers to find eco-friendly fabrics. And with the rise in desire to save the environment, it is no wonder they are asking for it!
It is important to know that to be truly an organic or eco-friendly fabric, it must be grown, made and dyed by an organic process. And it is almost virtually impossible to know all of this information unless you have the right paperwork.


Organic Cotton - The methods used to make organic cotton should have a low impact on the environment. Organic cottons are made with cotton that has not been treated by pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Not only does the fabric need to be organic, but organic dyes must also be used. Organic dyes come from natural resources such as wood, plants and nuts.

CQA3687 - Organic Cotton Velour - Ruby Red

Bamboo - Bamboo can be a great fabric to work with, but has a bad rep at times, especially in the garment industry. It is one of the fastest growing woody plants that does not need pesticides to help it grow. Many times bamboo is so similar to rayon, that you cannot tell the difference, and that is because it is rayon. Rayon is made from cellulose, a natural material, which go through a chemical process. The cellulose in this case is bamboo. Many times it cannot be made without going through a chemical process, therefore not eco-friendly. 


Recycled Fabrics - Recycled fabric can come from a variety of materials but some of the most popular are cotton and polyester. The great thing is this reduces waste that would go into the landfills. Soda and water bottles are a popular form of recycled polyester. You could be wearing a water bottle!


I found an interesting article from Patagonia. In 1993, they began to use a recycled polyester fleece made from plastic bottles. Most of the fabrics that Patagonia uses are organic or eco-friendly in some way.
The great thing about buying from Fabric Mart is that all the fabrics we carry are closeouts or "leftover" fabrics from designers and manufacturers. Designers estimate how many yards they may need for various designs and sometimes they order too much. This is where we come in and buy up the extra fabric. This is a great way of recycling, otherwise the fabric would end up in the landfill! So even though we do not have a wide range of organic fabrics, we are helping the environment in our own way!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Guest Post: Ponte Knit with Meg

Today we have a great post from another one of our knit ladies!
Meg from Made by Meg is going to show you how to make a peplum tshirt out of ponte knit.
Ponte knit is a heavier knit that holds shape well and still has some stretch. It is perfect for tshirts, fitted dresses, fitted pants, and pencil skirts.
In real life, Meg is a nerd in the non-profit world, but she sews and knits because, as she says, you can't wear a thesis! She's working on filling out a handmade wardrobe, and blogs about her sewing adventures at Made by Meg.
I didn't jump on the peplum bandwagon right away, but once I made my first simple knit peplum top, I was in love! The peplum adds style and sophistication to what is otherwise a comfy t-shirt, which is something I can rock all day long!
If you're thinking you might want to try your own, you're in luck! Today with the help of the Fabric Mart Fabricistas, I am bringing you a simple-to-follow tutorial on how to make your own using a t-shirt pattern from your stash and a self-drafted circle skirt that can be made in two hours. And what's better than a free tutorial? Discount fabric! Head on over to the shop and get yourself 40% off on all their knits! But hurry! Their fabric goes fast!
If you're new to knits, don't worry!
Believe it or not, one of the first garments I made was from a knit. In some ways, it's actually the perfect fabric for beginners: no buttons or zippers, no frayed ends and, best of all, knit garments are easy to fit. However, as you may well know, the reason many people shy away from knits is because that same stretch that makes it so easy to wear can also makes it difficult to sew: my straight stitches popped, my hems were wonky and, if I didn't pre-wash my fabric, it would shrink like crazy! 
Over the years, my initial love of knits never wore off, and I have learned that just a few simple changes make it easy to use the fabric that I love. For this project, Ponte knit is a fairly thick and stable fabric and thus an easier knit to work with. Before you start sewing, follow my fabric prep steps below, and play with your zig-zag seams on some extra fabric to get your stitches just right. A stretch stitch such as a zig-zag prevents the thread break when the fabric stretches. For more tips on sewing with knits, check out Dixie DIY's great and comprehensive series, Never Fear Knits.

OK, let's get started!

1 1/2 yards sturdy knit such as ponte
I'm using Deep Dark Emerald, and I also like:
 - Berry
 - Taupe

A standard t-shirt pattern:
I used my t-shirt pattern block from McCall's 6164, but many people also love the Sewaholic's Renfrew Top. Or, try this downloadable one from BurdaStyle! For a tutorial on how to make your own pattern from a shirt you already own, check out Cotton and Curls's tutorial.


Pre-Wash your fabric as you normally do, in hot water and dried on high so that it shrinks as much as possible. If you're particularly worried about shrinkage, you can even do this twice - I've noticed that my knit garments can continue to shrink (especially lengthwise) after the first wash. 

Cut off the fabric selvages (pictured above). The strips running lengthwise along the edge of the fabric are often bound or glued and lay differently than the rest of the fabric, causing it to pucker slightly instead of lying flat for cutting.

Trace your t-shirt pattern. Shorten the t-shirt front and back pattern pieces to the waistline by folding each pattern piece of your favorite t-shirt pattern 5/8" below the marked waistline. Lay these out along with the sleeve on 1/2 yard of your fabric and cut.

Fold peplum fabric. Fold the remaining 1 yd of fabric in half top to bottom and then again left to right. Your upper left hand corner should now be the center of your fabric if you were to unfold it.

Calculate your peplum measurements. Measure the waist of the t-shirt pattern front and back pieces, subtracting the four seam allowances (that's minus 2 1/2" if you're using a standard 5/8" seam allowance) to get your total waist measurement. Now divide that waist measurement by 6.28 to get the waist radius (and you thought you'd never use geometry again!).

waist measurement / (2π) = waist radius

Draw the peplum measurements out from the upper left hand corner of the twice-folded fabric. Just like you did in high school, hold your ruler in the upper left hand corner and trace an arced line on the fabric at the distance of your waist measurement.   

Now that you've drawn the waist, decide how long you want your peplum to be. Add 5/8" to the top and bottom of this measurement for seam allowance and hem, and add to your waist radius to get your total peplum length. Starting again at the top left hand corner, draw another arced line as long as your peplum length.

Cut along the lines your drew, and you should have a full circle!


Sew the t-shirt pieces together, following pattern instructions but omitting the bottom hem. You will want to use a zig-zag stitch or overlock/serger machine so that the seam lines can stretch with the fabric.

Attach the circle peplum to the top, right sides together, again using a zig-zag stitch. Hem and you're done! For tips on hemming knits, check out this post by Made by Rae.

As a bonus, check out Made by Meg this week for some variations and a link party!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Inspiration: Where to donate fabric



Is it time to clean up your sewing room?
Do you have an excessive amount of scraps hanging around that you intended on using but have yet to make anything?
We have a few ideas on how you can spring clean your remnants while providing for others in need.
A few ways Fabric Mart donates:

Quilt Groups- Contact your local churches or quilter's guild to find an organization who can use your scraps to make quilts to donate. Check with the group to know what materials they use. Some places will take a variety of materials while others might only take quilting cottons.

Animal Rescue Centers- Damaged, Dirty, Stained, no problem! The animal shelter can use them. We suggest packing up a bag of knits, fleece, or other soft materials.

Unfortunately, Fabric Mart is already committed to a number of local organizations and is unable to donate to more. We appreciate that you have thought of us in your search for materials. We encourage our Fabric Mart friends and readers to help so all of our non-profit friends can keep up the fantastic work!



Some other locations:

Youth organizations- Contact your local youth groups to see if they can use your scraps for crafts! Some organizations might even teach sewing and would love anything you could donate.


This quilt was made over here at The Ribbon Retreat: http://www.theribbonretreat.com/blog/zig-zag-quilt.html

You could even make a few things to donate using your extra material!
Here are just a few ideas:

Beanies, stuffed animals, diaper covers, blankets- you can donate these to Children's hospitals. Contact your local hospitals and see what items they will take and what restrictions they have.

Stuffed animals and fleece blankets- I personally donate these to my church's prayer shawl. I make them specifically for children. Our church gives a blanket to newborns, children going through medical treatments, and others to provide them with comfort. Call around to your local churches to see what prayer shawl groups you can donate to.

Comfort Pillows- Make little pillows to donate to the hospital to give to out-patients. These pillows are great for gently applying pressure to their incision and help them feel comfortable.

Simple Dresses- You can donate dresses as simple as a pillow case dress to organizations that send them to children in need. A majority send them to girls in Africa. There are several options so you might have to search the internet until you find one you are interested in supporting.


There are so many ways you can give using your talents and stash!
Can you think of any more places you could donate or ways that you already do? Share with us by commenting on this post!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Resource Library: Favorites

I love reading blogs and catching up on posts before bedtime.
There are so many posts that I love and like to revisit and I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you.
 
I was surprised to find out that the headquarters is so close to Fabric Mart!
R.I.P. Lilly!

This is a great tutorial on how to wallpaper your wall with a projector and sharpie!
How cute would this be in a child's room or as a fun accent wall or hallway?
(It's easier than it looks!)

I love making pretty fashionable pieces that I wouldn't wear everyday. But then I run into a problem.
I have nothing to wear to my day job. It doesn't seem like such a bad thing until you are actually in the position of deciding whether to wear pajamas to work because the only thing in your closet are party dresses. And as fun as it would be to wear party dresses to work, lugging bolts of fabric up and down stairs just doesn't really permit such attire.
 
 
 
I personally signed up for Me-Made-May to attempt to wear more of my sewing projects as well as create more pieces to fill in the holes in my wardrobe.
It might be a little late to sign up with So, Zo for this challenge, but you could always try to challenge yourself!
 
The Stitching Odyssey wrote a little post about her frustration with sewing lately.
I know I personally get a little upset when I spend a lot of time on a piece and it comes out a dud. Ill-fitted, uncomfortable, the zipper breaks, etc.
She states in this post that she is not doing the Me-Made- May challenge due to her current mishaps in sewing.
 
But I am going into the challenge with opposite feelings.
I want to work on getting better at create items that fit me the first time I make them. I will be taking my time to do the muslin and fit the garment to me first before cutting my good fabric.
I will also take my time fixing up some of the items I have made. Maybe they just need a new hem, or a less puffy sleeve, or to be taken in at the waist.
 Here goes nothing! - Katie
 
 
What has been your favorite post lately?