Top 10 Tips for Sewing With Stripes

In my last post I mentioned the great pleasure I get from sewing stripe fabric. So what better time to write another ‘top ten tips’ post on exactly that.

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1. Front & Back Pattern Placement

The aim is to get the stripes to match up. Use pattern features such as notches, waistline and centre markings to guide your pattern placement. Since these features are on both front and back pattern pieces it’s a surefire way to get a satisfying match around a garment. I also like to mark the stripes on my pattern piece (one long stripe and then a few short guide ones at the edges) if I am cutting two out, at least they will match.

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2. Don’t forget shoulders

Often we focus so much on the side seams, we forget other areas where stripes meet at a seamline. Unlike sides seams where stripe matching is done by sliding the pattern pieces perpendicular to stripes to get a match, slide parallel to the stripe direction to match shoulder seams (again use a notch to get an exact match).

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3. Cut on a single layer of fabric

Cutting on a single layer of fabric allows more control over the stripe placement and avoids faffing about with folded fabric trying to get the stripes perfectly matched up. You can either make new pattern pieces from the ‘cut on fold’ ones or just chalk around the pattern piece before flipping to make a mirror image. The latter is my preferred option but remember to cut just inside the chalk to keep the sizing accurate.

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4. Keep it straight

Use a quilters rule over the pattern pieces and fabric. Place the rule lines over the marked grainline on the pattern and check that the stripes are perpendicular for horizontal stripes and parallel for vertical stripes. This is particularly useful when flipping a ‘cut on fold’ pattern piece.

5. Pin as much as you need

I pin about every inch for striped fabric, even more if its a slippery sort. Handily horizontal stripes make it easy to space pins out evenly.

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The narrower the stripes, the more matching up you’ll have to do but it’ll be worth it in the end.

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6. Pin to check alignment

Pin on a stripe barrier on one side then flip over to the other side to check that your stripes are aligned (the pin should hit the stripe border that side too).

Sewing with Stripe Tips a Stabilising shoulder seams b

7. Directional sewing

Sew the area that will be seen the most first. When sleeves are sewn in flat, the side and sleeve seams can be sewn in one go. On a top, the side seam will be seen more than the sleeve seam so sew the sides first so that if the fabric shifts and the stripes become mismatched it’ll be in a less obvious place.

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On a long side seam, check every 5-10 inches that you are happy with the stripe matching. It’s quicker to unpick a short stretch of stitches than all of it. Basting first is also a good idea especially if you are trimming as you go with a serger/overlocker blade.

8. Have fun with the neckline

All this precise stripe match you would be forgiven for thinking stripes are boring. The neckline is a great place to have fun. Turn the stripes the opposite way to the rest of the garment or  use them to give a neat border and frame the face and neckline.

9. Thread colour

There are no rules but do ask yourself the following questions: Is there a main stripe colour (usually a wider area)? Will darker thread show through on lighter areas if the fabric is thin?  Which colour stripe will hem stitches appear on? If you are still not sure what colour thread to use, sew up some samples on scrap fabric first to see what looks best.

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10. Press just beyond a stripe border

While it’s nice to use stripes as a guide for hemming and bindings it is tempting to press exactly on the border of a stripe. This is risky and likely to show glimpses of the other colour from the outside. Instead, press the hem just beyond the colour change border so that from the wrong side there is a hint of the final stripe colour. This will ensure that contrasting colour doesn’t peak out after sewing.

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Do you have any tips for sewing with stripes? Or are you currently sewing something stripey?

Stripe Renfrew

Stripe jersey and Sewaholic’s Renfrew pattern were meant to be together. Don’t believe me? See here, here, here, here and here. If you still don’t believe me… enter ‘stripe Renfrew’ into a search engine of your choice.

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Despite the hints of spring it’s still cold outside… I took a bit of persuading to remove my gloves, coat and scarf at the weekend to get these photographs.

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I made some more changes to the pattern pieces since my first Renfrew which was ok but had room for improvement. I have blended sizes between almost every pattern piece to create a custom fit and form fitting silhouette. My final pattern pieces are: bust 6, waist 4, hips 8, shoulders 6 and wrists 2. But…

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Unfortunately I’m still a sway back adjustment away from a perfect fit.

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The fabric? It’s a lovely, soft  t-shirt knit jersey from one of my favourite ebay fabric shops brunswickmill2013. I also snapped up the reverse navy and white stripe combo before both options went out of stock.

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Stripe matching. Would you be surprised if I said I find stripe matching fun and immensely satisfying? I just love all the pattern placement and pedantic pinning only to open the fabric and see continuous stripes right across the new seam. What’s your sewing pleasure of the moment?

Sewing for Mum

Happy Mothers’ Day to all celebrating today.

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Although this make is not for Mother’s Day, it seems right to publish a Mum-themed blog post today. Mum ordered the pattern after seeing it in Prima Magasine (July 2013 issue). The toile and fabric were a Christmas present with a promise to make any necessary alterations and sew it up on the fabric.

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The toile sizing was a good guess, if I’d had measurements I’d have sewn that size for the toile anyway. When she tried it on, the sleeves were right off my Mum’s shoulders so I measured the excess fabric and made a note to narrow the shoulder. The other alteration, and I knew it’d have to be done, was a full bust adjustment. Mum and I are completely different shapes – I’m a pear, she’s an inverted triangle. Hence it doesn’t look so great on my dress form. Still, it was interesting to make pattern alterations that I don’t normally need just to learn new things.

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Here is the front bodice piece after narrowing the shoulder. I remembered to lengthen the sleeves as Mum specifically mentioned that she liked where they finished on her arm and removing fabric from the shoulder would have raised this up.

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The full bust adjustment was interesting. I realised after following the slash and widen/lower technique that all I really needed to do was widen the under bust gathering area like you would widen a dart. See, I knew I’d learn something new about pattern piece manipulation in the process.

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The ties caused me to waste two hours trying to turn them. I searched and tried to make rouleux straps using all the techniques I read about online but couldn’t get them turned right side out. Not even using the turning tool that I inherited last year. In the end I double folded and stitched on the right side.

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What I really enjoyed was sewing with cotton. It sews without puckering,  presses how it’s told to, barely fays and has distinct right and wrong sides. It is dependable… just like Mum.

The Adoration of Balloon Sleeves

Blog posts have been scant this year but that’s not because I haven’t been busy behind the Clipped Curves scenes creating wearable items and craftermath. More recently I have prioritised knitting above sewing, a rarity for me and induced purely from a strong desire to complete this project before the weather turns a corner.

Balloon Sweater Emma Robertson b

This is my third project from Emma Robertson’s book “Knitting by Design” but it has won first place in my heart (second and third place). Yeah, so it’s a little impractical (pouring drinks at the table with a roast dinner plate in front of me I worried I’d dunk a sleeve in gravy) and there’s no way I can get a coat on over it but… but all is forgiven because of those gorgeous balloon sleeves and the silhouette they create.

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The yarn, too, is worthy of some affection. Unfortunately discontinued, Amy Butler Sweet Harmony (Rowan) is a very good match for my ‘visually’ favourite ever seed stitch. It gives what those with much more knitting knowledge than me refer to as ‘stitch definition’ and if I’m going to drive myself insane (yarn forward, yarn back) I want to be able to see seed stitch from 40 yards. The colour pallet of Sweet Harmony is limited (even more so since it’s discontinued) but I chose ‘Frost’ and purchased from MCA Direct.

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I’d like to be able to say that there’s more information on my make on Ravelry but there really isn’t. I knit the smallest size and shortened the sleeves by 2 inches. I curled by on the sofa wearing my new favourite jumper on Sunday evening and cast on a new project… there’s no seed stitch yet!

The same but better leggings

Remember the brightly patterned leggings with far too much pink, that were fine at first but the fabric lacked the stamina? Well, I’ve made more leggings but this time they are better.

Burgundy Leggings Front

I made no changes to the pattern but this time used a  fabric with good stretch, slightly thicker and importantly great recovery.

Burgundy Leggings Side

The stash diet seems to have permanently changed my habits. This fabric was left over from my Renfrew and no sooner had it returned to the fabric pile than it was back out of the cupboard and cut out for these leggings.

Burgundy Leggings Back

I know it doesn’t make for varied blog posts sewing twice on the trot with the same fabric but much better on my bank balance and newly slender stash.

Maroon Renfrew

Very soon after unwrapping, I traced out both of the new patterns I received for Christmas but before I got to cut into fabric I came down with a cold which developed into sinusitis and that put a slow start to my 2015 sewing.

Nevertheless, I have a completed item to show you and photos with a put on smile because I’m still suffering with that hit-in-the-face-by-a-crowbar-feeling that is synonymous with sinusitis.

Sewaholic Renfrew 1

Sewaholic Renfrew. There’s a very good reason why this pattern is so popular. Love the cowl. Exclusively sewn on my overlocker with Jane‘s approach to thread colour – matching in the left needle, too bright red in the right needle, slightly too purple and slightly too pink in the loopers but what the heck it’s using stashed thread!

Sewaholic Renfrew 2

I started by cutting an 8 all over… that was a drowsy painkiller decision. I had to go back over the side seams and right down the arms making what I think will equate to bust 6, waist 4, hips 8, shoulders 6 and wrists 2. I’ve made those changes to the pattern pieces, also lengthened the top by 1 inch and shortened the sleeves by 1 1/2 inches. I may also need a sway back adjustment but I’ll re-assess once I’ve made a second version with my new, more accurate, grading between sizes pattern pieces!

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Oh yes, the fabric. It’s just perfect for a Renfrew. It’s a fairly stable knit with not too much stretch and excellent recovery. Purchased from Ditto Fabrics on our trip to Brighton last year. I couldn’t see this exact colour on the website but how nice is the Deep Peacock they currently have in stock?

Wait… what’s the obligatory, I’ve popped my Renfrew cherry pose again?

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Stash Diet 2014: Final Weigh In

Everyone else is posting their sewing hits, misses and resolutions but for me, the new year marks the end of Stash Diet 2014. The final weigh-in has been verified and the results are… I can’t keep you in suspense any longer…

I smashed my goal fabric weight of 12.4kg, ending the Stash Diet 2014 year on just 8.9kg.

Stash fabric height: 28cm (starting 90cm) 
Stash fabric weight: 7.7kg 
(starting 23.5kg)
Scrap fabric weight: 1.2kg 
(starting 1.3kg)
Total stash weight: 8.9kg (starting 24.8kg) —> Goal weight 12.4kg

My shrinking stash over the last 12 months…

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It now fits neatly into my sewing room cupboard.

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And the fluctuating volume of fabric scraps are much more manageable too.

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What did I learn?

  • Acquiring someone else’s lifetime stash doesn’t bring the same excitement as selecting each piece of fabric myself.
  • Purchasing fabric does not buy me the time to sew it.
  • Swapping with other sewers is exciting.
  • Pushing myself to use up scraps can lead to little moments of creativity that nicely finish a hand-made garment or provide a bit of fun.
  • Scraps can be recycled or sold but small item crafting and quilting isn’t for me.

Most surprising of all, I don’t want a rebound fabric shopping binge. I’ve unintentionally saved some really nice pieces of fabric till last so I’m looking forward to getting those cut and under the presser foot in the new year before even thinking about shopping for new makes.

And finally…

A huge thanks to Andrea and Gail for being such lovely Stash Diet 2014 hosts.

Happy New Year!