Kathy and I first met when she started attending one of my classes 6 years ago. She heard about me through her friend, Mary Poor, who had been taking lessons with me. Kathy kept coming week after week, month after month. She started with home dec, never imagining she would sew clothing, let alone, knits. Now, Kathy’s outlet is sewing and she has a fabulous new sewing room in the house she and her husband, Noam, just moved into after lengthy renovations.
Kathy has become a very good friend and has gone exploring the internet and fabric websites and pattern makers I hadn’t even known existed. Recently, we took a trip out to Sawyer Brook Fabrics in Clinton, MA, together. Pattern Review arranged a special day visiting SBF. They opened the showroom on a Saturday for us, gave us a preview of their fabric line and let us loose in the showroom to purchase fabric. I only bought 4 pieces, hah! A beautiful silk tweed; a soft, pinwale printed corduroy; and 2 different knits. I will post pictures when I finish those garments. After we finished at SBF, we all went to a lovely orchard in Sterling, MA. called Meadowbrook Orchards. The sandwiches were great and do not miss their apple turnovers.
So, back to Kathy. I am posting pictures of a few of the items she has made. I think you will enjoy working with her. She is positive and can help you understand working with knits from purchasing them, matching them to the right pattern and construction techniques on a regular sewing machine. If you have a serger, you are welcome to bring it, but it is not required to be able to take this class.
Please check out the web links on the right column for resources.
Patterns: Jalie, Christine Jonson, the major pattern companies: McCall’s, Butterick, Simplicity, Kwik Sew, Burda, New Look, Green Pepper all have patterns for knits. The Ottobre Designs Magazine always has some nice patterns for knit clothing. You can buy these patterns at each of the listed companies’ websites, plus: JoAnn’s, Pattern Review (website), Sewing Patterns.com, The Sewing Place, Sewzanne’s and others.
Since Fabric Place is closing, it is harder to find good quality knits locally. Online is our best resource for buying knits. This can be scary for us who like to feel the fabric before we buy it. Most online services will send you swatches of fabrics which interest you. And, places like Sawyer Brook, offer a regular swatching service in which you receive swatches of the new fabrics several times a year. Usually there is a small fee for this service, but it is worth it.
I have several sites listed. There are so many great knits available today. Eco friendly like Bamboo, or even Soy! Tencel, Rayon, Cotton and blends and Polyester and hemp, this list goes on. Check out: Emma One Sock; Sewzanne’s; Gorgeous Fabrics; Christine Jonson; Fashion Fabrics Club; Vogue Fabrics; Sawyer Brook Fabrics; The Rain Shed (known for activewear and outdoor fabrics), Denver Fabrics and I am sure there are other places I haven’t encountered, yet.
Kathy will be going over the basics for choosing the right materials for your project. Have some ideas in mind coming to the first class. One thing you need to know is that patterns for wovens are sized for woven fabrics. There is extra room built in for “wearing ease.” There needs to be space between you and the fabric so that you can move your body. With knits, the fabric itself has wearing ease built into it, from a little to a lot. Have you ever bought a knit shirt that was smaller than your body, but when you put it on, it fit perfectly? To get a skin tight, curve-hugging fit, the knit shirt had to be made smaller than your body measurements in order to fit that way. The give of the knit fabric allows it to hug your shape.
Different knits, have different stretch. Some stretch more in one direction than another. Most sweaters have more give across your body than up and down. Knits designed for activewear usually stretch equally across an up/down. Double knits, you may remember the cursed Leisure Suits of the 70′s, are very stable and hardly stretch at all. You would use a pattern for wovens for this type of knit.
Denver Fabrics has a very good page on their website describing different types of knits and their appropriate uses for garments. They also describe how much stretch is in different percentages of stretch suggested for patterns. You see, each pattern for knits will have a stretch guide on the back of the pattern envelope. For example. A 50% stretch fabric means that if you take a 4 inch piece of fabric, it must stretch at least 6 inches wide to qualify to be used in the pattern calling for 50% stretch. On Sewzanne’s web site, there is a description in the right hand column of each particular knit, how it is made and best suggested uses. So, if you click on the page for “French Terry,” it tells you its definition in the right hand column, next to the color listings.
I have been playing with knits more lately because of Kathy’s encouragement. I bought some Jalie patterns through Pattern Review. As a member, I receive a discount on patterns purchased through their website. Nearby is a picture of my daughter. She is wearing a shirt I made for her from Jalie pattern 2788. It is the twist top pattern with a couple of alterations. I made a girls size “8″ (Jalie sz “L”), but lengthened it quite a bit. As you can see, she is thin and long. I raised the back neckline so it no longer scoops or needs a tie. She wanted long sleeves that flare out at the bottom. A nice part of Jalie patterns is that they are sized from a girl’s size 2 up to a plus sized woman’s. I used this same pattern to make 2 different sleeveless tops for myself. You trace off your size from the heavy paper pattern. I like using Pattern Ease for this. Pattern Ease is sold by the yard. It is a non-woven polyester/rayon material which is stable in all directions and is sheer enough that it is easy to trace patterns. It is quite durable and I prefer it over Swedish Pattern paper or other tracing mediums. Fabric Corner, here in Arlington, usually carries it. It is often kept with the interfacings.
If you use Ottobre Designs, the patterns are traced off from a Magazine insert. Pattern Ease works great for this, too. Getting back to this shirt I made for Amelia on October 3rd…..After I traced and altered the pattern, I sewed the seams with the serger on a 4 thread overlock and used a twin needle for all of the hems. The 2 best things about the project were that I finished it in 2 1/2 hours and Amelia really liked the shirt and it fit her. I guess that is 3 things.
In conclusion, you will love this class. Kathy is personable and funny and knits are easier than you would think. You must know how to sew in order to join this class. This is not a class for beginners. If you are not sure where you stand, just call or email me to find out if you have enough experience.