The first thing many of you ask when I share a new project is…Can I sew it with knits?
The answer is (most likely) YES!
So if you bought the First Day Dress and Top Pattern, and would like to sew it with knit fabrics, then let’s do it!
I’m so happy I get to be part of Caroline’s blog hop, showing off her new fabric line….because not only does it come in gorgeous woven cottons, but a few of the prints come in KNITS! And when this pretty package showed up in the mail, I thought…..
First Day Dress…..
And how about a dress that’s FULLY reversible! So it fits your every mood?
Okay, let’s get started.
We’re making a peplum Top.
This tutorial is based on the First Day Dress Pattern which you can purchase by clicking the button below. And you can read all the details here.
You don’t need to use knit fabrics to make the dress or top fully reversible. But it sure makes it cozy and soft, and gives you even more fabrics options to work with.
If you’ve sewn the dress or shirt before then you know that the style is pretty much reversible already. But to really make it work on both sides, you need to sew a matched hem (page 20 in the pattern), and you need to consider your back closure: either a button or a tie.
The pattern calls for a button and elastic, which works well on one side of the fabric. However, when you reverse the shirt you end up with a button on the inside, touching the body. Now if the button is flat enough, you could sew one on each side of the shirt and call it good.
But….if you sew a tie on each side of the back slit, it makes the shirt fully reversible and looks adorable with that little bow in the back. Hooray!
So grab two different knit fabrics. for your Outer and Lining layers and lets start cutting.
Now let me just say how fantastic these Gleeful knits are. The fabric washes beautifully (and will shrink a bit, as is expected of all cotton knits—so always remember to pre-wash before sewing!) It’s more of a lightweight knit and it sews beautifully. I found myself hoarding leftover scraps for future projects. The fabric would work wonderfully for a pair of leggings, a baby blanket, basic Tee, KID shorts, or check out Delia’s jammies she made using the same fabric. Darling!
When it comes to cutting and sewing with knits, just follow the same instructions as outlined in the pattern, laying the pattern piece so the grainline marking runs parallel to the selvage. This ensures that the fabric will stretch horizontally, from side to side, across the shirt.
Cut out all your pieces, as outlined in the pattern.
Now let’s talk about Straight stitches vs. Zigzag stitches.
• You could sew (most of) the shirt with a serger, if you have one.
• Or you could sew the shirt with zigzag stitches. A zigzag is a stitch that stretches with your fabric (like the photo of the waist seam below). A straight stitch cannot stretch, and will snap and break, if it’s sewn in the direction that the fabric stretches.
• Or you sew with a combo a zigzag and straight stitches. That’s what I like to do.
A good rule of thumb–
• Use a zigzag stitch for seams that run in the direction of the fabric stretch, and on areas of the garment that will stretch with wear (around the waist, the neckline, the hem of a t-shirt—if it’s a basic Tee style).
• Use a straight stitch for seams that do not stretch with the fabric (shoulders, vertical side seams).
Now these are not hard and fast rules but rather, recommended guidelines.
So, when sewing the First Day Dress (SWING styles) in knit fabrics….
Sew the following seams with these stitches:
Waist seam (bodice to the peplum or skirt) – Zigzag stitch
Shoulders - Straight stitch
Sides – Straight stitch
Neckline and Back Slit – Zigzag around neck and straight stitch around the slit.
Topstitch around neckline – This should be done with a zigzag as well, so the neck can stretch when a head goes inside. However, I opted to NOT add a topstitch because I didn’t want the look of an exposed zigzag stitch. So I just pressed the neckline well with my iron and skipped the topstitch.
Armholes – Straight stitch. These armholes are large enough that they won’t need much stretch, so a straight stitch is fine. And since the armhole stitching is more of topstitch, I prefer the look of a straight stitch here.
Hem – Straight stitch. If you were sewing a basic Tee, you’d want a zigzag, since the hem of shirt often stretches around a waist. But with this particular peplum style, the hem won’t stretch very much, so a straight stitch is great.
When sewing with knits it’s important NOT to stretch the fabric as you go. Try to let the machine feed the fabric for you. It helps to hold on to straight pins (photo below) with your right or left hand to guide the fabric through without it stretching.
Now let’s talk about the back tie.
Instead of using a button and elastic, let’s sew two strings—each about 15 inches long—into the back slit.
You can use all sorts of things for the tie: bias tape, lace, twill tape, fabric, etc.
What I love to use is knit fabric string. There’s no sewing involved and it looks really cute.
To do this, cut a skinny strip of knit fabric right along the grainline (parallel to the selvage). Then yank and pull the string and the edges will roll up, sort of making a “tube” of fabric. And you have your strings! Easy!
Then insert each string in between the Lining and Outer layers. It’s easiest to go in through the armholes and then to the back slit. Pin and sew each strring in place in the two corners of the back slit. Make sure you leave enough room for the seam allowance at the top of the ncekline (as outlined in the pattern instructions).
Follow the rest of the pattern details for sewing your shirt, and you’re done!
One reversible and STRETCHY top, ready for whatever mood you’re in.
And when it comes to tying the tie in back, here’s another helpful hint to get it to lay flat and in the proper direction….
Whether you’re right-handed or lefty:
• Tie the strings one over the other.
• Then start tying your bow with whichever side of the string is “up” (left photo below)
• If the left side string is higher (or “up”), turn that into a loop first with your left hand (or vice versa if the right side is “up”).
• Then with your right hand, wrap the other string around and pull it through to make the other side of the bow.
I know it seems silly to explain. But it can be frustrating when your bow won’t lay as flat as you’d like.