Tag Archives: sewing patterns for jersey

First Sunday Workshop of 2014

My Sunday workshops for 2014 got off to a flying start last Sunday with a Dress Pattern Cutting workshop for the London Dressmaking Club.  This is a group of very enthusiastic sewers who regularly meet up to sew, help each other out with  sewing problems, visit exhibitions, go fabric shopping and organise sew-alongs.  I was really impressed with their commitment to the craft (they travelled to this workshop by coach from London due to engineering works on the train line!) and their infectious enthusiasm for anything sewing related.

Here they are, heads down working hard….!

ldc-jan14

Sewing clubs like this are such good news.  Traditionally sewing work has often been done in groups and as I often find in my classes, the act of keeping your hands busy means that people have a tendency to chat much more and in much greater depth!  As this group said themselves they get to meet like-minded people with similar interests who they probably never would have met in their everyday lives.  The supportive and encouraging atmosphere they seem to have created in their group adds that extra level of motivation when trying to make time for sewing after all the other chores of the day (such as work!) are out of the way.  Sewing on your own at home without any feedback from anyone but family can be difficult; how do you really know if you’re doing things the best way or if that dress you’ve just finished really does fit well and look great on you?!  I don’t think it’s going too far to say that this group seem to be like a big extended happy sewing family!

Anyway, enough from me, here’s what they thought of the day:

“Thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed the Dress Pattern Cutting day.  I came away with a usable full length dress block that I can use straight or easily adapt.  Wonderful value for money and very supportive, encouraging tuition.  Thank you Wendy, I am already looking forward to my next course here.”  Giselle

“Brilliant class thank you very much!  We covered a huge amount in just a day and it’s great to go home confident that I can make properly fitted dresses and develop my own ideas.  Hopefully see you again!”  Imogen

“I thoroughly enjoyed myself during this class and I learned a lot.  My finished toile is the best fitting fitted dress I have ever had.  I loved it so much I have signed up for the trouser pattern cutting workshop!”  Dibs

Dibs also writes a great blog about her sewing adventures which I’m sure you will enjoy reading here.

If you would like to organise a workshop for your sewing club, I have a limited number of days available each 6 months (I can take bookings now for July to December 2014), get in touch on 01273 693451 or miyworkshop[at]gmail.com

New Neon Orange Sewing Tools!! Win a Set……

sewing and pattern cutting tools miy collection miy workshop

Fancy winning a set of my new zingy orange sewing and pattern cutting tools?!

Enter my free competition over at MIY Collection here.

Making your own Christmas Presents? How about a Christmas Shrug!

My MIY Collection shrug pattern is proving popular with Christmas present makers this year. Lots of MIY Workshop students have been making them, one student has made five!!  They’re a really quick, easy sew and simple to fit.  You can buy your pattern here.

But, can you beat the current speed shrug sewing record set by one of my students this week?!……

shrug sewing pattern

MIY Workshop Gift Vouchers

sewing gift voucher brightonWhat more perfect gift for the sewer in your life than a MIY Workshop gift voucher?!  You decide what £ value you spend and the lucky recipient can use it as full or part payment for any MIY Workshop sewing classescourses or workshops taught by Wendy or MIY Collection sewing patterns or tools.

Vouchers are valid for 6 months from date of purchase.

If you’re a sewer and would like your loved one to buy you the perfect Christmas present, simple, send them this link!!  Don’t be subtle, subtle never works!!

Get in touch with Wendy on 01273 693451, call into MIY Workshop at 33 North Road, BN1 1YB or email her on post[at]wendyward.co.uk to buy yours.

How to Sew Jersey Fabrics on a Domestic Sewing Machine – Part 1: Seams

Many sewers both new and experienced are unnecessarily scared of sewing stretch knit fabrics.

Most knit-phobes believe these popular myths about sewing knits:

  1. I need to use an overlocker to sew knit fabrics
  2. I can’t sew knit fabrics on my sewing machine
  3. knit fabrics are harder to sew than delicate silk fabrics
  4. knit fabrics have to be stretched when I sew them
  5. it’s hard to cut out knit fabrics accurately
  6. I won’t be able to get seams to match accurately using knit fabrics
  7. it’s difficult to buy nice knit fabrics
  8. I don’t want to make really tight figure hugging clothes.

None of these statements are true!  Let’s go through them again and tell you the truth:

  1. No, you don’t need to have an overlocker to sew knit fabrics.  You can and an overlocker will make the job quicker, easier and neater, but if you’ve never used an overlocker before, definitely don’t start on one with a knit fabric!
  2. All reasonably modern sewing machines have a selection of stitches specifically designed for stretch knit fabrics.  I’m going to show you the best ones for joining seams in this article.  Even if your machine only does straight stitch and zig-zag a narrow zig-zag stitch will do the job.
  3. Some knit fabrics can be a bit more difficult to handle than a standard woven fabric, especially the lighter weight ones, but even a lightweight jersey isn’t going to be as difficult as a slippery lightweight silk.  A few more pins when cutting out and a bit of tacking when you might just have pinned are the only extra steps you’ll need.
  4. I’ve actually seen this recommended in some of the bigger commercial pattern brand’s pattern instructions.  This is absolutely the last thing to do unless you’re after stretched wavy seams!
  5. When cutting stretch knits you need to make sure the fabric isn’t hanging off your table because it will stretch the fabric, resulting in pattern pieces that ping up a lot shorter once you’ve cut them out!  If you don’t have room for the whole length of fabric on your table, pile it up over the back of a chair beside the table. Also use a few more pins than you might do normally to hold your pattern pieces accurately in place.  Using a few weights (or tins of beans!) to hold your pattern in place while you pin it will also help.
  6. To match seams accurately pin them first and if necessary tack them. Also use the nature of the fabric to your advantage…..it stretches, which means it’s very forgiving if something doesn’t quite match perfectly and you can get away with a bit of stretching to fit (as long as that bit of stretch is spread out along the whole of the seam).
  7. Have a read of my previous blog post about where to buy stretch knit fabrics, the different types of stretch knit fabrics available and their uses – knit fabric is a broad category.
  8. You can make some really flattering, draped styles using stretch knits.  They’re not just for leotards and leggings!  Think about the clothes you own that you enjoy wearing…..I’ll bet a lot of them are made from knit fabrics.

So, hopefully I’ve made a start at converting you and you’re willing to have a try.  The first thing I’ll show you is some stitches to use for seams.  I’ll go through hems and finishing edges in separate posts.

NEEDLES

The first thing you need for any machine is:

how to sew jersey - ballpoint needlesa pack of jersey or ballpoint needles.  They’re a bit more blunt on the end than a regular sewing needle meaning that they won’t ladder the knitted structure of the fabric.  You can see they also come in different sizes like regular sewing needles.

Here’s a guide for which size will best suit which fabric:

70 – very lightweight silk or viscose jersey

80 – light t-shirt weight cotton jersey

90 – interlock, ponte roma, some cut and sew knits.

MACHINE SETTINGS FOR SEAMS

The first and easiest stitch to use for seams is the stretch straight stitch:

how to sew jersey fabric

how to sew jersey fabric

how to sew jersey fabricThis stitch is useful when sewing with thicker knits whose edges don’t need any neatening and where you need to be able to press your seam open.

A stitch we use a lot for sewing knit fabrics in my classes is the overlock stitch:

how to sew jersey fabrics

how to sew knit fabric

sampleseam-HtrimmingThis stitch mimics an overlock stitch and can join the seam and neaten the edges in one go.  You can trim off the excess seam allowance close to the stitching as shown in the second picture.  The seam then has to be pressed flat to one side rather than open, so it’s not suitable for more bulky fabrics.  It works well on most t-shirt weight jerseys.

The final stitch for seams is the narrow overlock stitch used with an overcasting or overlock foot.  (See this blog post for more about what an overcasting foot is and how to use it).

how to sew stretch knits

how to sew jerseyHere’s the machine with the overcasting foot attached.

how to sew jersey on a domestic machine

how to sew knit fabricThis stitch again joins the seam and neatens the edge of the seam allowance in one go.  By also using the overcasting foot it means you don’t need to then trim off the excess seam allowance after sewing.  It also means though that you can only use it on narrow seam allowances (the overall width of the stitch).  It’s another stitch that results in a seam that has to be pressed to one side and gives a nice neat finish to lightweight jersey fabrics.  It’s not suited to heavier and thicker knits.

PRESSER FOOT PRESSURE

If your sewing machine has the ability to adjust the presser foot pressure, this can be helpful when sewing some knit fabrics to stop them being stretched by the machine as you sew.  You can read more about how to adjust the presser foot pressure in this blog post.

TENSION

how to sew jersey fabric

As with all sewing, make sure the tension on your machine is set at the right level for the fabric you’re sewing.  If your machine’s tension dial goes up to 9, 4 should be fine for joining two layers of most medium weight woven fabrics.  A lower number means a looser stitch which you need for lighter weight fabric or fewer layers.  A higher number means a tighter stitch which you need for thicker fabrics or more layers.  You shouldn’t need to adjust the tension up or down by more than one number, meaning you will usually stay within the range of 3-5.

Most lighter weight knit fabrics eg. t-shirt jersey and lighter need a looser tension of around 3.

So there you are – how to sew seams in a range of knitted fabrics on your sewing machine.  I hope you’re turning from a knit-phobe into a knit-fan!  In my next article I’ll show you how to get nice hem finishes on knit fabrics using a sewing machine.

New Pattern and Tools Available From my Etsy Shop

After much talking about it, my Pull-on Loose Fitting Shift Dress sewing pattern is now available to buy from MIY Workshop and online from my Etsy shop.  It was a very popular purchase at the Knitting and Stitching show this weekend at Alexandra Palace!shift patternThe pattern is suitable for beginners; there are no fastenings or openings to deal with and there are lots of ways to make it your own style – it can be made with or without the collar, optional side seam pockets and the pleat can be put in the front and/or back or completely left out.  There’s also an optional tie belt.  It works in woven and knitted fabrics and I’m planning on making a few that mix different fabrics for the skirt and for the bodice……..

It’s a quick pattern to make, here are a few made by students this summer at my Summer Frock Making one day workshops:

shift-studentsMy neon green perspex tools are also now available at MIY Workshop and online from my Etsy shop:

neontoolset

The perspex is called “live edge” and you can see why!  There’s no way you’re going to loose either of these tools in your sewing stuff.  Even when they’re just sat on the table with not much light around, they somehow seem to glow…..

neonbigtool-detail3

You can buy the little sewing tool and seam gauge in cm’s and inches and the bigger sewing and pattern cutting ruler in cm’s only.

And well I hate to say it but……Christmas is just around the corner…….one for your own list or for your crafty friends?!

Sewing with Knits….again!

Sunday’s Sewing with Knits workshop started with an interesting discussion during which everyone agreed that knit fabrics made the kind of clothes that they actually want to wear.  It’s true, when you think about the kind of clothes that you wear most often (and usually feel most comfortable in), I’ll bet that most of them are made from knitted fabrics.  Yet most sewers that I meet, even experienced ones, feel daunted by the prospect of sewing knitted fabrics.

Well I’m happy to say that this workshop is the cure to that fear and here are Sunday’s fantastic and wearable results……

octknitsFrom left to right Debbie, a long-time sewer but a self-confessed knit-phobe was very happy with her drapey cardi.  Elena who hadn’t sewn since school came in with a dress made of very slippery fine jersey knit fabric and went home with it transformed into a separate skirt and top!  Amandine has been loving sewing Colette patterns using lots of woven fabrics, but now is a convert to knit fabrics after making my straight neck dress and matching up her stripes perfectly.  Laura has also done a fair bit of sewing, but has avoided knits and couldn’t find a way of edging knitted fabrics nicely, she was surprised by how quick and easy my fold-over waist skirt was to make and took it home very neatly and professionally hemmed using a twin needle.

octknits-cowlAnd last, but not least, Tricia was camera shy so Elena stepped in to model her lovely cowl neck top.  This one got lots of admiring comments from the rest of the class!  Tricia was another experienced sewer and knit-phobe at the start of the day and now feels confident in being able to tackle slippery lightweight jersey knit fabrics.   This pattern isn’t yet available to buy but is one of the next ones on the list….!!

Here’s what the students themselves thought of the workshop:

“Enjoyable day as always – Wendy’s patterns are so easy to use and well designed.  Am delighted with my skirt, thank you!”  Laura

“I really enjoyed the workshop – lovely atmosphere, lovely people, a day very well spent.  Thank you Wendy!  I had a great time and I am happily back to sewing after some 20 odd years!”  Elena

“Really enjoyed the day.  Very informative and now feel more confident to work with jersey.”  Tricia

“Thanks for a great day.  Tacking tacking tacking – essential for a perfect finish!!”  Debbie

“Thank you very much Wendy for a lovely Sunday!  I feel much more confident sewing with knit fabrics with your advice regarding stitches and needles to use.  Jersey fabric is so great to sew with and I loved using your dress pattern.”  Amandine

By the end of the day everyone’s fear of knitted fabrics had been overcome and I feel sure that these 5 garments are going to get plenty of wear!

If you’d like to overcome your fear of sewing knitted fabrics the next date for this workshop is Sunday 8th December.  Get in touch on 01273 693451 or miyworkshop[at]gmail.com to find out more and book a place.

If you want to have a go at using one of my patterns to sew knit fabrics at home, you can find out more here: www.miycollection.co.uk

The British Sewing Awards 2013

Screen Shot 2013-09-14 at 14.06.05

Sew Magazine are currently looking for nominations for the British Sewing Awards via their website and in their magazine.

You can vote for your favourite sewing machine brand, best book and best of all……..Best Sewing Workshop / Course and Best Sewing Blog.

Now I’m not so presumptuous as to assume anyone would nominate me, but……..if you happen to enter, I hope I will be fresh in your mind!

It’s easy to do, this link takes you straight there: http://www.sewmag.co.uk/awards/ just nominate in the categories you want and put N/A in the ones you don’t.  Takes only a few mins…….

I’ll send some happy sewing fairies your way :o )

The Best Ways to Start and Finish your Sewing

It might sound obvious – how to start and end sewing, but it’s one of those things that is most likely to get new sewers instantly in a tangle and put them off sewing.

To my amazement, it’s also something that never seems to be well explained in sewing machine manuals.

I’m sure all sewers have experienced these scenarios…….

  1. you start to sew and instantly the machine seems to get tangled up, won’t sew and you take out your fabric to find a great big tangle of thread on the underneath of your fabric,
  2. you get to the end of what you’re sewing, lift up the presser foot to find the fabric appears to be stuck, you force the fabric out of the machine and instead of just 2 threads, find about 4.

If you follow these simple ways to start and finish your sewing, you will never find yourself in these annoying situations again, I promise!

startingandstoppinginfographic

If you’re not sure where all the different parts of the sewing machine are to be found, have a look at my whistlestop tour of the sewing machine here.

Where to Buy Organic Fabrics?

Organic and fair trade fabrics are becoming more and more popular, just like organic and ethical fashion, although it’s not always easy to know where to find organic fabric.  As I’ve been asked this question a few times, I’ve put together an organic fabric shopping list, although I must credit most of the research to one of my students – Mary Parnwell.  Mary came to me initially for a one-to-one session to get to grips with her sewing machine, then started some weekly sewing classes and did a Summer Dress Making workshop and now is regularly walking around in outfits she’s made herself!  Particularly keen to work with organic natural fabrics, this list is the result of Mary’s search.

BISHOPSTON TRADING:

http://www.bishopstontrading.co.uk/shop/products.php?category_id=112

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**UPDATE**  It seems that Bishopston Trading is about to be no more which is very sad.  You can read the reasons why on their website: http://www.bishopstontrading.co.uk/shop/article.php?article_id=210

FAIR TRADE FABRIC:

http://www.fairtradefabric.co.uk/epages/rz8us86k7vgt.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/fairtradefabric.co.uk/Categories/Shop_Online

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 09.00.10Not the easiest online shop to get around, but they’ve got a pretty big range of fabrics.

ORGANIC TEXTILE COMPANY:

http://www.organiccotton.biz/store/

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 09.02.09Another online shop that’s a bit busy on the eye, but it is pretty well organised and there is a comprehensive range of fabrics and you can also order a comprehensive sample pack.

RAY-STITCH:

http://www.raystitch.co.uk/fabric/organic-cotton-plains.html/

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THE ETERNAL MAKER:

http://www.eternalmaker.com/fabric/fabric-by-type/organic-fabric

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SAINTS AND PINNERS:

http://www.saintsandpinners.co.uk/department/organic/

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 09.10.30

THE VILLAGE HABERDASHERY:

http://www.thevillagehaberdashery.co.uk/sewing-patchwork/fabric?fabric_type=57

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And if you live near Brighton, “The Cloth Collective” in Lewes (which used to be Gossypium) has some organic cotton jerseys and wovens alongside vintage French furnishing fabrics and naturally dyed fabrics from India.  The Cloth Collective is at 19 High Street, Lewes and is open 9.30-5.30 Monday to Saturday and 12-4 Sunday.  MIY Workshop students can get a 10% discount by getting a card from me!