Wednesday, September 22, 2010


So it's Day 3 of the big EM KCWC, and I've got something to show. Those t-shirts, all three of them. The boys did a quick pose for me this morning, still wearing their pj's and braving the chilly southerly. I'm glad to report they like the shirts, and wore them today (under a few other layers, but still). I used New Look 6932, which is really a pajama pattern, and will make the neckline a bit higher next time, but it's good and has a really cute pattern for girly pj's too.

Sewing this has been a complete revelation for me. I don't know why, but I always thought you can't sew knits without an overlocker. I got one, carefully read everything I could find about sewing with the mysterious fabric, and then I got going. And did the whole thing on my lovely old Elna sewing machine, only overlocking the seams. I got all sorts of fancy and expensive supplies, like a twin needle, double-sided fusable tape and wooly nylon, but in the end got the best results with my single ballpoint needle using plain old sewing machine thread for top and bobbin.

So if you're new to sewing knits, or have always been intimidated by it, like me; here's some tips (from someone who's only sewn 3 t-shirts, mind you):
  • Read these posts on Oliver+S and Sew,Mama,Sew blogs. To give you an idea of how it works, and a clever tutorial for a t-shirt, read this on Made.
  • The best advice I found was about tension. Spend an hour or so just reading your machine's manual, playing around with (reduced) tension, stitches and thread. Do this before you run out to Spotlight and buy all those things I got but didn't need. You might find you can do it all with what you've got.
  • You will need a different needle though, a ballpoint or stretch needle. I found that I could sew very succesfully with a normal straight stitch; no need for time-consuming little zig-zag stitches. For some reason I had skipped stitches on one of the twin needles while the other gave a perfect result.
  • The hems look fine with a single stitch-line and I didn't need any tape to reinforce it; I only ironed the hems before I stitched them.


Tina @ Squirrel Acorns said...

Thanks for the tips! I'm hoping to tackle sewing some knits for the first time this week too. I have some gorgeous new knit fabric from Patty Young. But I'm going to try on the cheap knit first!

Jacqui said...

They look great! Your voyage of discovery sounds pretty much like mine - and I still do lots of the sewing on my regular machine which necessitates a lot of swapping around which is such a pain. I do like the double needle though, it gives a great stretch if you get the tension right. I'm still not sure about wooly nylon though - sometimes it seems better in the bobbin and sometimes it doesn't. The difference is probably just my imagination though. The one thing I _haven't_ conquered is the hemming, I can't seem to get the stitching stretchy enough so it doesn't break when pulled on. I've tried all sorts of combinations and just can't seem to crack it. Let me know if you do!

Cotton Kiwi said...

Wow Heleen. Your t-shirts look fabulous. I really ought to bite the bullet and get back into sewing them for the kids.

Ruby in the Dust said...

thanks guys! I just couldn't believe how simple it was!