Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Tips on hemming knits, a Chardon Skirt and a Plantain top.

These were sewn a few weeks ago now, I feel I am playing a little catch up with clothes and blogging.   After enjoying the warmth of my brushed cotton Chardon maxi, I found some lovely fine needle cord at this Etsy shop, paired it with a little Liberty lawn and made another along with a Plantain variation top.  I have covered the skirt process a few times so I will mention a few knit tips for the top.

I saw this variation on Flickr and found instructions and a PDF on her blog followed her PDF to adapt the neck of the top.  I used a 30cm rectangle for my neck piece.  I cut a size 36 and sewed ⅜" seams.  The result is pretty relaxed and slouchy.  I am not totally smitten; it's a little the wrong side of the Cagney and Lacey look, but it is soft and comfortable- the fabric is a cotton jersey knit.   Next time I make a Plantain I will make a straight size 36 with ⅝" seams and raise the scoop neck. For the hemming and the shoulders I used this great product- knit stay tape.   It is lightweight and has a fusible adhesive on one side. I use a strip in the hem of the back shoulders to stop the shoulders stretching out over time, and use it all round the edge of the sleeves and the top hem as it makes it stable and provides and easy way to fold the turn up when the hem is stitched.  It is not essential for creating a good hem and you could cut and use strips of knit interfacing- this is interfacing with a little stretch built in rather than fixed woven interfacing.  The knit tape is pressed all round the hem edge with a hot iron.  It is about ½" wide so provides a great guide for folding the hem.

I have made a few knit jersey tops now and each time my technique improves and I learn a little more.  These are my current tips and machine settings:

1.  Woolly nylon hand wound on the bobbin to provide elasticity to the back of the stitch.  I have one reel of this in light silver grey and use it for all my knit hems and neck lines.
2.  Size 75 4.0mm twin stretch needle
3.  Reduced the sewing foot pressure to 2
4.  Set my tension to 9 on my Janome Horizon to get a true zig zag on the reverse.
5.  Sew slowly, the twin needle places a little strain on the machine and the threads are more likely to snap.  Besides, you need to sew slow as you are guiding the hem and feeling the fold so that you can sew as close to the raw edge of the hem as possible.
6.  Leave long tails of thread at the beginning and end- you need to hand sew the ends in to secure.  Sewing forwards and backwards on the machine is not enough, the wooly nylon always works its way loose.  It is a faff but it is worth it as these edges get a lot of strain and stretching so need to be secure.
7.  Press the hem at the end.  Jersey knit benefits from pressing just like any other dressmaking.

It started to rain on our little garden photo shoot but you get the idea of the top and skirt!

And this does give a good view of the neck.  Not totally enamoured but worth trying out.

The skirt is squeezed out of 2 yards of fabric.  It is quite snug, the pile of the needle cord just adds a little bulk to the waist making it sit higher than I would like so I may change the waist inner facing for something a little finer.  

Pockets and hem are in Liberty tana lawn.

I grade my seams in al the bulky areas, one of my favourite dress making techniques.  

The patterns can be found here.  Plantain is a free download.  Deer and Doe have just released a new skirt pattern, Anemone.  It is a more formal style so I am still at the thinking stage on whether it will work for me- my life is rather informal, meanwhile I have more clothing on the go.

sib blog


  1. I really like that neckline-and the color too.

  2. Lovely! I am just catching up on all your recent makes - loved the flannel trousers! :)
    I have the Anemone pattern next on my "to sew" list, because I need a more formal edge for work. Otherwise, I would be raiding your wardrobe while you are asleep! ;)

  3. Love the colors in the top and the skirt! That skirt is just my style! ;p

  4. Thanks foe the tips on hemming knits. I used to use a twin needle for hemming knits, but got annoyed with unpredictable results. I now mostly use a triple zig zag stitch for hemming knits. It looks quite nice and still remains stretchy. But with your tips I might give twin needles another go.

  5. Love the fabrics and the neckline. All a matter of taste, isn't it, but I love it personally. Haven't made one yet but will definitely bear this in mind - thanks! Like the skirt, too. Jen


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