Thursday, 24 September 2009


If previously to reading this you’ve cast your eye toward the side bar to the right, you will already have noticed that the Wardrobe Refashion ‘Life’ icon is announcing my eternal pledge. If you haven’t, take the opportunity now. Ok, so we’re all up to speed. In short, I couldn’t imagine going back to buying mass manufactured clothes, my feelings and thoughts on such matters have altered way too much, so I’ve taken the metaphorical plunge.

Becoming a ‘Lifer’ has raised new questions about how this pledge is to be sustained. There are certain wardrobe requirements and desirables that my sewing spheres don’t yet cover, and I’m not sure I can rely on charity shops and hand-me-downs to solely provide them from here on out. Nor would I want them to. One of the best things about sewing is the freedom and control you have over the fabric/colour/print/fastening/details/fit of a creation, and I’ve got used to that. So I’ve come to accept that I’ve got some sewing bullets to bite, starting with STRETCH FABRIC.

I could make all the amazing dresses and blouses I like, but realistically when it comes to throwing something on to go to work, 7 out of 10 times I reach for a comfy T-shirt or stretch top. But I hadn’t touched stretch since university. During my time there I dabbled a bit with reworking existing T-shirts, but also had fear of stretch instilled in me by my pattern cutting teacher talking about stretchability ratios and two/three/four way stretch and the alleged effects on the pattern. Hmm, really? There are thousands of successful stretch creations on Burdastyle, and I doubt the vast majority of the creators concerned themselves with stretchability ratios. With this in mind, I got amongst.

University provided me with access to lots of proper industrial machinery like a cover-stitch and binding machine which are specifically for using with stretch fabric. I had to work out how best to utilise my overlocker and normal flatstitch machines to produce similar, if not so professional effects. The acquisition of the Built by Wendy ‘Sew U: Home Stretch’ book helped iron out (nice pun, eh?) my concerns by providing lots of advice on techniques and finishes. Next I had to find a good pattern. First I tried the Lydia basic T-shirt pattern from Burdastyle, but hated the fit and trying to figure out how to alter it was beyond me. So instead I used the basic T-shirt pattern included in ‘Sew U: Home Stretch’ as a starting point, and then laid an existing nicely fitting T-shirt on it as a guideto reshape the side seams to accommodate curves, as the original pattern had no shaping at all. After some fiddling around (AKA, pattern alteration) I produced a ¾ sleeved, boat neck pattern that resulted in this:

The most observant will have noticed this top paired with the red shorts from my last post. The super nice stripey fabric was bought in the summer sale of a fairly high end fabric shop, it was reduced from €16.95 a metre, to €2.95! After the sale, the price went right back up. Jeez, talk about mark up! Well, fresh from the triumph of this well fitting top, I cranked out a puff sleeved scoop-neck item from another striped fabric from the same source:
Now seeing as these are essentially day time items, and I’m not much of a day drinker, I cannot pass them through the previously prescribed field test of applying large quantities of booze to the scenario. Instead, you’ll have to take my word that the latter top fared very well during it’s initial outing to the supermarket, and has continued to do so since. In fact I’m wearing it now. I've still got some experimenting to do and improvements to make, but Stretch Fabric, I fear you no longer!


EmilyKate said...

I looooooooove your stripey top! Looks like you've definitely got the hang of knits, if I hadn;t been told I would have thought it came from a shop!

Akazukin said...

Definitely inspiring. I admire all the thought you put into this. I especially like the stripey top sleeves.

chrrristine said...

yay for stripes! those shirts look perfect!
I'm still fighting with doing nice seams, tend to just overlock everything or leave them as they are, but that doesn't look nice forever...
how did you do yours (or should I be buying the book?)?

Knitosaurus said...

Good on you! I am petrified of knits after an experience simply hemming a knit dress that was too long. I've never seen a more wobbly, uneven, bubbly hem in my life!

Those shirts are lovely though. Did you find that Sew U was a big help?

Zoe said...

Thanks ladies for your comments! I would definately recommend this book. It gives you some options of different ways to finish seams, hems and neck edges, depending on the style of your top/dress/etc, the type of stretch/knit fabric you are using, AND what type of machinery you have to hand. I used a zigzag stitch on my normal machine to hem the sleeves and bottom. I made a half-successful attempt at binding the boat-neck top (the book gives you several options, but I think i used the wrong one). And for the scoop neck one, the book advised using elastic to keep the neck shape which was zigzagged on with my normal machine. This took a few attempts, but I'm really pleased with the outcome of that style, and realise maybe I should have used elastic on the boat-neck top before binding the edge. Phew! Learning curve!

I'm now trying normal T-shirt fabric (these ones are pretty slinky) and the differences are really pronounced, watch this space for those creation attempts coming soon!

Unknown said...

I am from Barcelona, but now I am living in Philadelphia. I will go back in December.
I like very much sewing. And I like also tha clothes that you made.
If you need information about BCN, let me know. I suppose you know but you can buy nice clothes and no expensive in els encants!!! and buttons!!!

Rachel said...

That top looks great!

I have the sew u home stretch book too, and want to issue you with a word of warning about it - i think that some of the projects in the book were stuck in on a whim and not properly tested, as some of them don't list everything you need in the requirements list, and the 'flashdance' jumper is just a complete disaster!

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