Thursday, 1 October 2009

Further Tales from the Stretch Fabric Frontline

After my previous successes in the field of stretch, as reported in my last post, I was riding high! Two wearable endeavours were making me feel like I had made solid progress towards stretch domination. Here’s the boat neck version I was wearing yesterday paired with my birdy appliqué skirt (BTW, I’m pissed off with Christmas having the monopoly over the colour combo red/green, I’m trying to take it back for the masses). With a bit of time before I had to start back at work, and my overlocker sitting there all threaded up and looking at me, I looked around for some ideas to inspire another quick stretch garm.

At this point I must admit I’ve massively fallen in love the Macaron dress pattern by Colette patterns, pictured above. It’s just so cute and sexy in a really wearable way. I especially love the kind of bustier line, that is neatly and subtly emphasised by using contrast fabrics. I am on the brink of ordering it, but am holding back to see the new Autumn collection, so I can make a bulk order and reduce my, umm, carbon footprint or something. However, seeing more and more people’s interpretations of this pattern has set thoughts of potential colour and fabric combos whizzing round my brain.

Then I saw the amazing creation above by alisondahl on Burdastyle. I realised it’s a way to recreate the sexy bustier line of the Macaron dress but in comfy stretch. I decided to, well let’s not beat around the bush, more or less copy it. I think that’s fine if you just say it out loud! So using my newly tried and tested stretch top pattern I set to work tracing a bustier line to the front and back. Using some of the remains of the blue and white stripe slinky stretch fabric from my last project fabric for the bottom section, and some plain white T-shirt fabric my flatmate had knocking around for the top pieces, I eagerly began construction.

Now, little did I realise that the normal T-shirt fabric would behave quite differently to the slinkier stuff I had previously been dealing with. The joining of the pieces over the bust line curve was a bit of a nightmare, creating little annoying tucks on the join on the white fabric. But the real disaster occurred when I tried to self bind the neckline. It looked disastrous! It stretched the neckline hideously, and no amount of steaming could encourage it to shrink back to something wearable.

After feeling thoroughly disheartened and confused, I carefully unpicked the offending binding, trying not to stretch the neckline any further than it already had been. I resolved the situation by applying the technique I used on the blue and white striped top, which was to zigzag stitch thin elastic close to the edge on the wrong side of the neck line, to kind of ping it back into some sort of reasonable shape. Whereas the blue and white striped top’s neckline sat pretty flat, with this normal T-shirt fabric, the effect ended up kind of gathered. This is because I had to pull harder at the elastic when zigzagging it into place to utilise more of its elastic properties to stop the neckline from gapping. I’m pissed off that I didn’t see this coming, but I’m not unhappy with the final result, so I can swallow the gathered effect and attempt to pass it off as deliberate!

Now in hindsight I’m guessing the difference in fabric behaviours is to do with the fabric content. I’m thinking that the slinkier striped fabrics I used for the first two stretch tops had an elastane content which helped keep the neckline (and on the second top, the curve of the bust line on the stripey lower half) in shape when the fabric was cut. I am also thinking, that the normal T-shirt fabric’s stretchability come purely from the knitted ‘weave’ of good ol’ cotton, without the ‘help’ of any stretchy elastane type fibres, which is why all hell broke loose when I cut it and tried to mould it into fancy curvy shapes. If anyone knows ANYTHING about what the hell is going on here, PLEASE leave a comment. And any suggestions for how to deal with the necklines of normal T-shirt fabric tops would be most grateful. Phew! At least the frikkin’ thing is wearable:


chrrristine said...

can't really help with any of those questions, just dropping in to say that the stripey bustier-line shirt is super nice and looks hot on you! I'm just finishing my first 3835 built-by-wendy dress (it really is as quick as everyone says!), but before tackling the slightly more tricky neckline I thought I should procrastinate a bit online.... ok, back to work. I'll definitely be checking back here for answers to your questions though.

EmilyKate said...

I LOOOOOOOVE it!!!!!! Can I make one too?

Zoe said...

Thanks ladies, and good luck with your respective sewing projects. EmilyKate, go for gold! I was thinking about sharing the pattern on Burdastyle, but I feel a bit funny seeing as I pretty much ripped off Alison Dahl's creation! What do you think? Is it easy to upload a pattern and instructions?

Lakaribane said...

Hi, I think the article you need is "Splicing Knits" by Connie Long in Threads magazine no 142, may 09.

She's an expert on sewing knits. The technique seems to be that you overlay both knits, zigzag them together THEN cut out the excess on either side of the sewing line.

This implies drawing the full pattern piece and tracing the motif on the pattern pattern, then transferring that to the top layer of fabric.

She does say to do this with wool or cotton jersey, sweatshirt or fleece. "Lycra/spandex or ribbed knits have too much stretch to produce smooth seams"

Here's the link to buy it:

FYI, in dec, they come out with a DVD-Rom set of all the issues from 1985 to date. It is a hefty $150 US but that's 24 yrs of a great sewing mag. I'm already on a spaghetti diet, LOL!

Hope this helps!

lsaspacey said...

Wearable? I think it's awesome! I love the gathered neckline. Great job.

Anonymous said...

So nice to see something "classic",classy,with a new twist!
It's awesome!

Fabrics_World_USA said...

Fabrics World USA is a famous and fashionable fabrics store in USA. Online fabric store in NYC with the largest collection of discount & designers fabrics.

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