Stretchy sewing: Making the stretch block toile

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Sewing with knits or ‘stretchy’ fabric has always been a bit erratic for me.  Some projects work out well while others clearly looked home made and miss that professional touch that I’m aiming for.  So the past few weeks have been my ‘learn to sew with knits’ time and this has morphed into a ‘learn to make patterns with knits’ too!  My first step was to find out from the experts.

Sewing with Knits

I am in the process of watching Craftsy’s class on Sewing with Knits by Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated. It’s a great introduction in sewing with knits or stretch fabric without the need for an overlocker/serger.  Which is great for me since I don’t have one…yet. (This foray into stretch fabrics makes me want an overlocker even more!).  And the class comes with 5 print off patterns.

I have only watched the first 3 classes but already I’ve learnt about the different types of knits, different amounts of stretchiness, the tools I should be using (I need a ‘walking foot’…who knew?!) and the stitches that work well.  The first class project is a hoodie but it’s way too hot in Sydney for that right now so I might jump to the T-shirt or dress while we still have summer days.

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My little Elna Lotus tsp (a great little machine but I do probably over work her!), seems to do ok on a four-way stretch fabric with a stretch needle (75/11) and a narrow zig zag (not much zig and zag).  This gives a seam that stretches with the fabric but without making the seam look like it’s pulling too much.

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Another new piece of information is about stabilising shoulder seams using clear elastic. Brilliant!  You just sew it into the seam. (Or so I’m lead to believe). I got a piece of this from my pattern teacher but I’ll have to find out where to get it.  Anyone know where to source clear elastic in Sydney or online?

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Stretch patterns

And just because I like to take the bull by the horns, I thought now would be a good time to learn about making stretch patterns. For this I went to the very talented Anita of Studio Faro whose basic pattern making classes have put me on the right path for some of my amateur design endeavours. The class is a two part class with last week focusing on developing a custom stretch block with necessary alterations to make it just right.

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As suspected my waist line needs to go down by about 3cm to accommodate my long body – remember to alter your pattern at a horizontal line between bust and waist not at the waist. Some of the other women in the class needed to add darts into their blocks to get a better fit over the bust. We were assured that this was only for the block and any future design would incorporate the dart in a creative, non-darty, feature.  We also added a pseudo dart beneath the bust point that will be used later for design purposes.

Sent home with our newly made, personalised stretch block patterns and a piece of clear elastic, I set about constructing a toile for fitting at tomorrow’s class.  You will notice that I haven’t finished off the neck, sleeve and hem lines as this is a toile. If the fit is good, I’ll try clean it up for public appearances.

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The back looks good and the fit feels good

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Shoulder is nice and snug but not too droopy – I think the stabilising helps. The sleeves are fine – I actually had to make the sleeves a bit shorter because I ran out of fabric but they are already long enough so I’ll just have to remember that the pattern has long sleeves that need to be checked depending on the desired look.

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The front fit feels good and generally looks good although at some angles it looks like it’s pulling funny off the bust point.  I don’t know if it’s just the way it’s hanging or if there’s something I’m missing in my pattern block. I guess all will be revealed tomorrow.

Thanks for joining me and let me know if you have any comments or experience with sewing or pattern making with knits.

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4 thoughts on “Stretchy sewing: Making the stretch block toile

  1. Pingback: Stretchy sewing: The Twist Top at last | Dodgy Zebra

  2. Pingback: Stretchy sewing: Stretch block toile becomes wearable | Dodgy Zebra

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