Two for one on experimental sewing

This post describes two of my latest sewing experiments; Pattern Drafting and Sewing with Stretchy Fabrics.

1. Pattern Drafting

I’m building my collection of purchased patterns (commercial and indie) but there’s more to sewing than tracing the lines someone else created. I needed a basic pattern as a first experiment so I followed Mad Mim’s tutorial on drafting and sewing a maxi skirt. The only change I made after sewing up was to shorten the length by 2 inches. I haven’t changed my pattern piece because I think the weight of this jersey pulls it down so it may not happen with a lighter weight jersey – better too long than too short.

Blue Maxi Skirt 1

2. Sewing with Stretchy Fabrics

I did plenty of reading up on sewing with stretch knits and many experienced sewing blog writers make a convincing point that an overlocker is not necessary. I followed much of this advice buying a middle price range stretch jersey, cutting out using a rotary cutter and cutting board, using a walking foot and investing in some ball point needles.

From all the tutorials I read there didn’t seem to be a consensus on which stitch setting to use so I guess it’s a combination of personal choice, fabric and sewing machine stitch options. I trialed a few stitches on fabric scraps first but it was hard to tell which would work out for the best. In the end I used stretch stitch down the side seams and zig zag stitch around the waist band. Honest confession: I was glad I chose this way round because unpicking zig zag stitch when I attached the waistband to the wrong side of the skirt was probably way easier than unpicking stretch stitch. No harm done, after an unpicking session with peppermint tea and a chocolate biscuit I couldn’t see any snags in the fabric (must be the magic of a ball point needle!).

Stretch stitch seems more secure in attaching two pieces of fabric together but my fabric doesn’t have much stretch in the direction of down the body so it’s hard to know how this stitch would hold up across the body where more stretching of the fabric occurs. Zigzag stitch was easier to unpick because it didn’t give as strong a seam or look as neat on the outside but maybe this could be overcome by shortening the stitch length. On scrap fabric, I also played around with two faux overlocking stitches on my sewing machine. One of them would also have been a viable option for this fabric. I guess I’ll just have to test a few stitches for each new stretchy fabric I use.

Blue Maxi Skirt 3

I already had a twin needle for hemming and knew that it worked best on a long stitch length with low tension. I always experiment on a scraps before sewing pattern pieces and, for this fabric, the automatic tension setting worked best.

Blue Maxi Skirt 2

As experiments go I’m satisfied with this one even though I didn’t come to a conclusion on stitch setting. There’s still much, much more for me to learn with both pattern drafting and stretchy fabrics. I was pleasantly surprised that I ended up with a wearable skirt from this experiment, I only wish I’d chosen a more interesting fabric.

Now that I’ve had a try at sewing in elastic and sewing stretch fabrics on my sewing machine, I’m ready to start making my swimsuit for the swimalong!

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4 responses to “Two for one on experimental sewing

  1. Yay! Looking forward to seeing your swimsuit.

  2. Been catching up on your last makes so am posting a global comment!! I love your sureau dress, it’s such a pretty choice of fabric and looks so neat and professional….I’m sure you’ll get more confidence going on a zip course, but looks like you’ve nailed it! Anyway, mainly clustering my thoughts in one comment ( limited time before have to go to work) because I like the way you’re making things like knickers and using stretch fabrics as practice for swimsuit making. It’s genius !! And this maxi skirt looks like a perfect summer make- for our summers I’m thinking particularly, when it’s actually a bit chilly for bare legs but who wants to bring the tights out?! Jersey clothing like this will be lived in, i bet. Great job- you learnt lots too.

    • Thanks for visiting my blog! I have learnt so much. Today I’m consolidating that learning by getting stuck into swimsuit making… which I note from your latest blog post is on the cards for you too!

  3. Very nice skirt! I like a nice maxi skirt, like pants, but a skirt! Lol. I’m currently taking a pattern drafting course and though I’m finding it really challenging, I’m also loving it! It’s also helping in my sewing, as I can see the big picture a lot better now, before I get down to sewing a garment. (p.s. kitty has selected a winner for pattern pyramid and it is up on the blog now)

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