Sewing with knits

Grey dress

Apart from a suspect maroon sweatshirt that I made in textiles class as school, I have always shied away from working with knit fabrics.  The preconception is that they are far too difficult to manipulate and will stretch out of shape if so much as looked at in the wrong way.

Colette patterns’ latest design changed my mind and encouraged me to try working with jersey and I have to say, I was more than pleased with the results.

I would add that having my own overlocker and array of stretch and twin needles really helped.

The Moneta pattern, as with all of the Colette patterns that I have used so far, is beautifully designed and easy to follow.  It was my first experience of buying a paper pattern from Colette.  I have previously opted for the downloadable PDFs, for ease and convenience, but having recently found a UK stockist and I don’t think I will be going back.  Apart from not having to print out and construct the huge jigsaw puzzle from the PDF, the physical patterns are just beautiful.  They come with a gorgeous booklet, with the pattern pieces tucked into the back pocket.

I had some teal medium weight jersey in my fabric stash and decided the dress would look great in that.  I opted for the longer sleeve dress as am blessed with the joys of air conditioning at work!

Jasmine being helpful

The teal jersey was actually quite stable and easy to work with so cutting out the pattern pieces was no problem, once the cat was out of the way!  I did try, once again, to use my rotary cutter and mat but I am just not a fan – I much prefer the pinning and cutting method.  I can’t seem to get a smooth cut with the rotary blade and always end up going over and over the same area and having to cut bits with scissors eventually.  It also doesn’t help that I am left handed and my cutter is right handed so I can’t see the blade properly.  So until I buy a left handed version, shears it is!

The pattern was very easy to use and I had the bodice made in no time.  I made a schoolgirl error when it came to inserting the pockets into the skirt though.  I didn’t overlock the pieces separately first and waited until the pockets were in, leading to me cutting a slight chunk out of one of pockets with the serger blade.  Not a massive drama as it wasn’t on the skirt side and was easily fixed with some darning.

Next came the challenge of inserting the elastic into the waistband.  I have to say, this part was really tricky at first and I did have to consult my sewing books, youtube and google before I got it right.

I couldn’t get the fabric and elastic to move through the machine at first, leading to a clump of stitches on top of each other and lots of time with the seam ripper!  I then decided to use the overlocker and see if that helped – it did not!  I ended up cutting into the top of the skirt by nearly a centimetre


After the initial horror of having ruined my dress died down, I realised I could just take off a centimetre from the top of the entire skirt and reduce the hem slightly.

Phew, crisis averted!  So, after three unsuccessful attempts and lots of unpicking and ruined elastic, I finally found the technique to use.  I hand-sewed the elastic into the waistband at eight even points and then after securing the first couple of stitches under the machine, you need to hold the back of the fabric (behind the needle) as well as holding the first hand-sewn point and stretch out the elastic and fabric so that it lays flat and fits into the skirt.  Hold tight and don’t let go and sew slowly.  You really need to guide/pull the fabric through from the other side of the machine.

Using clear elastic

This video tutorial helped me immensely from FashionSewingBlogTV.

Once that was done, it was all plain sailing for the rest of the dress.

IMG_2110 Teal dress

I love the fact that each new sewing project teaches me new skills to use.

Things I have learned from this project:

  • Sewing with knits is not scary!
  • Using twin needles for hems is great and gives a really professional finish.
  • Serge pockets separately before inserting into garments (I knew this already, I just didn’t follow my own rule)
  • Even if you think something is ruined, it might still be salvageable – just walk away and hopefully the solution will come
  • I don’t like my rotary cutter and that’s ok.
  • Instagram is great!

Since getting some great feedback on the dress, I then decided to make it again with some beautiful dove grey lighter-weight jersey that I bought online from Guthrie Ghani.  It was much easier to make the second time round and I whizzed through inserting the elastic like a dream.

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