i’m so excited that rae asked me to participate in her “KNITerview” series, where she is interviewing bloggers about how they sew with knit fabric (jersey, interlock, fleece, etc.). my post is up today! go check it out here and the full series of KNITerviews here. as a companion to rae’s post, i wanted to make something new to remind myself what techniques i use when i sew with knits, and to take photos to give you some tips as i went.
i decided to make Em an oliver + s hopscotch dress (i first made the hopscotch skirt here). it’s refashioned out of a men’s t-shirt and promotional energy drink tank top, with an elephant applique for my elephant-loving girl! i intended it as a nightgown, but so far Em isn’t really buying that – it’s a daytime dress to her! and let me tell you something – with all my project run and play “design it myself” craziness, it felt great to actually sew a pattern as written, especially an oliver + s one! my brain needed a break.
above are the original garments – i got the dark gray-blue t-shirt from target for something like $5, in a men’s XXL. i loved the color, so i picked it up with no specific project in mind. always buy the biggest size possible! the lavender tank was free and never worn. both are jersey knit, and the tank top has a band of rib knit at the bottom, which i used on the neckline. here’s how to take it from t-shirts to nightgown (er…dress):
deconstruct the main t-shirt, cutting up the side seams and around the shoulder sleeves. to preserve the factory hems of the t-shirt as i mention in my KNITerview, line up the pattern pieces with the hems. i was okay with the sleeves being a little longer here, but you should normally take into account the fact that the pattern has a built-in hem allowance. read your pattern instructions and move the pattern piece down accordingly (for example, if the pattern says to fold up 1/2″ then another 1/2″ to hem, move your pattern piece down 1″ on your t-shirt – i sometimes draw a light pencil line on my pattern piece so i know where to line it up on the existing garment).
here’s how i like to cut knits. i iron my fabric well, place my pattern, then use pattern weights to hold it down (i got them at joann with a coupon, they’re filled with ball bearings and are nice and heavy). i trace around the pattern with my disappearing marker or tailor’s chalk (the triangle thing in the upper left), depending on the color of the fabric. i remove the pattern and weights, then pin along the inside of my traced lines to keep the two layers of fabric together while i cut (here it was on the fold). jersey knit especially loves to move around, so the pins prevent the layers from shifting.
the pattern calls for this, but adding 1/2″ strips of fusible interfacing to the shoulder seams helps keep them secure. i’d also highly recommend adding interfacing under buttonholes. for the applique, i use steam a seam lite – that keeps it flexible.
sew or serge your seams (i have a serger, so i serged!). if sewing, use a ballpoint needle. it does matter.
here’s a tip that i learned from trial and error. if i just serged the seams, i noticed eventually they’d pull apart at the ends because you can’t backstitch with a serger and i wasn’t folding up the garment to enclose the edges due to my goal of preserving the factory hem (i think they look nicest). so now i take the edges of my sleeves and bottom hems and give them a pass through the sewing machine after serging – i go back and forth 5-7 stitches or so within the serged seam to reinforce those edges. the casual observer will never know you didn’t hem it, and it stays secure!
place your applique, topstitch around it (which i didn’t do here as an experiment and it peeled up in the wash, so be sure to topstitch), and you’re done! ready for an elephant party!
this is Em’s elephant family. most were gifts, and somehow the collection keeps growing! she is quick to say that she is not their mommy (they have a mommy elephant over there on the far right), but she is their loving caretaker and has even been known to nurse the baby, little frankie, on occasion. they all have intricate relationships and she has named each one, most of whom are girls (oh shoot, i just realized i forgot popsicle popsicle!). little frankie is her current fave, but she really loves them all.
so now you see the full extent of her elephant obsession and know why i’ve got one happy little girl on my hands in her new elephant nightgown!
that’s it for me! i’m truly honored to be included in the fantastic group of bloggers that rae pulled together for…