Friday, 4 December 2020

Free Pattern Friday: Socks for Everyone


Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

I've been making my own clothing for a long time now. I've even had a bash at making shoes. But there are a few things that I continue to rely on shops for, namely bras, socks and tights. I can't imagine ever getting good enough at knitting to successfully knit my own socks, and I'm not sure that I'd really want to spend all the time and effort to do so anyway when I prefer thinner, less wooly socks anyhow. However, I've seen a few people in the sewing community who seem to have successful sewn socks, including Carolyn who made these great looking sockettes. I've kept this possibility in my mind for a while. So when I recently chanced upon the free the Ellie & Mac Sew It Forward Sock pattern, I was all in! Thanks heaps to Ellie & Mac for sharing their hard work for free. 

Pattern type:

This pattern is for making basic ankle socks with a cuff band at the top. The pattern is made up of four pattern pieces, and are constructed with just four seams. 

(image source: Ellie & Mac)

Sizing info:

The pattern has been graded to include almost anyone who wears socks, from small children (
UK kid's 7-8) to men (UK adult's 12-13). A sizing table is included for US, EU and UK shoe sizes to help you select the right size to cut, but it is worth noting that the stretchiness of your chosen fabric may affect which size will be more successful. 

One of the reasons why I was excited to try this pattern is that my shoe size (UK 7, FYI) is usually the biggest included in most women's sock size ranges (usually sizes 4-7). So I'm convinced that my socks wear out quicker than other women's who have smaller feet! Therefore, I was excited to see that I could select a size UK 6-7.5 that put my size in the centre of a size range rather than at the outer edge. 


Fabric info: 

Knit fabric with 50% four-way stretch is recommended. I'm guessing that the type of fabric that most people would have in their stash that fits this description would be a cotton/Lycra single jersey. They require very little fabric, so a dig through your scraps and leftovers might provide you with some 'free' fabric to make some really fun, crazy socks!

The grey pair in these photos is made using a scrap of weird knitted stuff that I have no clue about. It looks like tights fabric so I thought it'd be suitable, but in hindsight I feel it is too drapey and slippy. The rust coloured pair uses some very lightweight jersey (once again, can't be sure of fibre content). This pair clings to my feet a bit better but still feels too slippy and thin. I expect both will wear through at the toe or heel pretty quickly. 

(image source: Ellie & Mac)

Findings:

Accessing the pattern is easy, you just need to add it to your cart and go through the check out on the Ellie & Mac site. The pattern pieces and instructions are part of the same PDF document, which makes it easier not to lose either! One issue I did have with the pattern was that the band paper pattern piece looks very different from the fabric band pieces that are photographed at the beginning of the step-by-step instructions on page 9. So much so that I emailed them thinking I'd missed cutting the piece on the fold or something. 

Aside from that confusion, putting these together was ridiculously quick. However, I've found that the second seam that joins the back pieces to the top piece can result in a little pleat where the seam intersects the first seam at the ankle, so that step should be taken slowly. The pair pictured above has no weird pleat, however you can see in the picture of my pair at the top of the post does. It doesn't really effect the fit, and I reckon if you were making a stack of these, you'd get really good at avoiding making a pleat.

As for the fit, I really like the shape of them, and although I was concerned that the band might be too tight, actually it's fine. I felt that they come up a bit high, so I made my rust pair a couple of centimetres less so, although you can't really tell in these pics. The grey pair is made using an overlocker, with three threads rather than four to avoid bulk. I made the rust pair using a narrow lightning flash stitch on my regular sewing machine and the seams of this pair are definitely less noticeable when worn. 

The fabric choice will really make or break this project I think. I'm tempted to try again using a more standard cotton/Lycra jersey that is thicker and more stable than the knits I've used here. 



Customisation ideas:

I like the idea of being able to combine sizes to make narrower or wider socks, if that's something you require. You could also alter the height in either direction: shorter to make sports socks or higher to make knee-highs, or beyond! 

Would I make them again?

Umm, I really don't know. I doubt I'm going to reach for these pairs of socks unless all my other pairs are in the wash. Less slinky fabric may help, but I'm just not really sure I want to wear jersey socks. Maybe I'd get used to it. I do love the idea of being able to make everything that my kids and I wear, although I feel that jersey socks would be an even harder sell for my kids than they are for me! 

Recently, most of my shop-bought socks decided to all developed holes at the exact same time, and I enjoy the idea that I am able to tide myself over with me-mades until I get round to getting myself some more. This really was a very fun and super speedy project, so if you are at all interested in giving them a try and have some suitable leftover fabric to hand, I really do recommend giving them a go.

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