Category Archives: Knits

How DO You Make Knit Tees Look RTW?

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Your coverstitch hem stitching looks like Lombard Street in San Francisco. Your neckline served as an excellent crumb catcher at a cocktail party hosted by your husband’s new boss. What the H is the problem!?! Knits are fast and easy, right?

Sewing knit tops by Sew Maris

Yes. And no. In my opinion, the basic construction of a Tee is fast and easy. But your finishing details can spell Becky-Home-Ec-y in a heartbeat.

I made 3 Tees last night; two sleeveless tanks from Pamela’s Patterns Versatile Twinset, and a long-sleeved Tee using Pamela’s Perfect T-Shirt pattern. Both of these patterns are TNT for me, and I am very happy with the fit of my previous versions. BUT. A few have some not-so-perfect-for-me issues. Little things. The kind of things no one would notice. Except possibly some of my ASG sisters. (I’m looking at you, Helen! . 😉

Sewing knit tops by Sew Maris

This sleeveless tank is made from Birch Fabrics Twigs organic cotton interlock. I don’t sew with interlock that often, but this fabric was a dream to work with. Zero complaints about the fabric, and I think the tank sewed up really nicely. Rather than turning the neck and armhole edge under as Pamela suggests, I added a narrow band finish. The armhole to binding ratio was 1:1, and the binding to neckline ration was approximately 7:8. I think I might have cut the armhole binding a smidge shorter, but the neckline ratio turned out pretty close to perfect.

The conventional wisdom for neckline: binding ratios is somewhere between 7:8 and 3:4. So basically not much better than a guess, huh? I can’t offer perfect precision, but I can say there are a couple of factors to keep in mind when deciding which ratio to use.

  1. If your fabric has lycra (i.e. great recovery), then do not get that binding too short. WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD.
  2. If you are using baby rib or some other very, very stretch fabric, even 3:4 might result in a gappy crumb catcher neckline. (Ask me how I know 😉
  3. Basting the completed ribbing to the neckline is a great way to test your ratio without ripping serger stitches. Just sayin’.
  4. Experiment with binding widths. Look at RTW. Narrow is often used in RTW, but is tougher to do really well in a very stretchy rib.

Sewing knit tops by Sew Maris

This little pink number is made from a cotton baby rib, and is super soft and yummy. And I Just.Love.Petal.Pink! LOVE it!

I stuck with the same narrow armhole bindings as the organic cotton T, but I did make sure the binding was shorter than the armhole length. The neck binding? I put that sucker on 3 times! The first mistake was that even a 3:4 ratio is too big on a stretchy rib knit. And the narrow binding that looked great on the interlock looked weird on ribbing. Yes, I ripped out serger stitches. The second attempt I cut a shorter and wider binding, and also made sure to apply the binding so the join was in the center front instead of center back. GRRRRRR! Bad words were uttered, and I ripped out serger stitches a second time. Note to self: Do.Not.Sew.Late.At.Night. Thankfully, the third time was the charm. Wider band and less than even a 3:4 ratio made sure the neckline was not gappy.

Sewing knit tops by Sew Maris

I had enough of the pale pink ribbing to also make a long-sleeved Tee. I even managed to apply my lessons from the tank neckline to the Tee neckline, and it was right the first time. But you can be sure I checked where that seam join was before I started serging. Twice. 😉

I noticed something on a RTW Tee belonging to my granddaughter. The binding on the armholes is applied before the side seams are stitched up, and then the side seam is stitched down with a straight stitch on a regular sewing machine. This straight stitching is only about 1 inch long, and is right at the armhole so it doesn’t show at all. That 1 inch of stitching really neatens up the serged seam at the armhole edge, and keeps everything tucked into place. Super easy and effective RTW technique combined with an easier/faster armhole binding process. You’re welcome!

Sewing knit tops by Sew Maris

Now, shall we talk about hemming knits. Specifically, coverstitch hemming? Actually, that is a whole ‘nother post. Maybe a tute. Because I have lots to say about that process.

Happy sewing!

Maris

 

Easy Fix

Technically, this Cosy Cardigan was not a UFO, but it had been living in the gi-normous UFO pile for some months. I had worn it several times, and love it….with one tiny exception.

When I originally made this cardi I didn’t want to put buttons/snaps/any kind of closure on it, but discovered that when worn the angled front edges refused to behave themselves. They are a bit floppy actually. And since there is no one alive who detests fussing with her clothing more than me, something had to be done. I get dressed in the morning, and that.is.all. Clothing placing/smoothing/straightening is a definite no bueno.

Striped Cosy Cardigan by Sew Maris

Can you see the slight difference on the right front (as worn)? I am hoping that softening the angle will help the front “stay put” a little better when worn.

Cosy Cardigan by Sew Maris

It really was a minor adjustment. All I did was rip out some of the topstitching, adjust the seaming to a gentle curve, trim the old seam allowance, and then re-topstitch. BAM! I didn’t even rip out all the topstitching, tho I did make sure to start and stop stitching in the navy part of the stripe. The navy thread blended so well the overstitching was not even visible, so yay!

I have been on a bit of a mission to clear out some of my UFO/not quite perfect garments. So far, one purple fail and this Cosy have been yanked from my pile. I hope to test drive this sweater next week, and am super hopeful this tweak will move it from an OK garment to a workhorse. I love, love, love the fabric and the styling, so, fingers crossed!

How long does it take you to “fiddle” with your not-quite-perfect garments? Do you fix, or toss?

Happy sewing!

Maris

Vogue 8323 Purple FAIL

Tissue knits and I have a very passive-aggressive relationship. They always promise to behave properly before they get into my studio; but once home they immediately start sneaking around causing trouble. Most confrontations end up Tissue Knit 1; Sew Maris 0.

Purple Tissue Knit T-shirt by Sew Maris

See what I mean? Most T-shirts do not end up making me look as broad as the side of a barn, and ummmm, frankly,  matronly. <shudder>

These sleeves hit at the wrong point, and ride up if I wear a cardigan because they are all loose and sloppy. The artsy, little twisted neckline looks like CRAP. There are some weird flare-y things going on at the sides near the hem.

Purple Tissue Knit T-shirt by Sew Maris

WTH? I generally like princess lines on my body. I like purple. I have successfully attached cute, artsy little necklines onto Ts before. But this shirt is just one hot mess.

I am not giving up on this pattern; I think made up using a fabric with a bit more heft things could turn out differently.

Maybe part of it is I grew up sewing on linen, wool, and nice weight cottons, and I just haven’t developed a “light touch” for for handling these uber-soft and lightweight knits. But this fabric has beaten me once too often; I am going to conquer it or die trying. Game on!

Happy sewing!

Maris

A Dress in Two Hours?

Do you ever get sick of tracing/cutting loads of pattern pieces and fiddling with fitting a new pattern?

Well, you have plenty of company, my friends. Some days we just want a new dress. We want it to be comfortable AND flattering, easy to launder, travel nicely, and most of all, we want it NOW.

Enter the t-shirt pattern. That’s right, the one you use for your basic-not-very-exciting-but-essential wardrobe staple. For me, The Perfect T-Shirt by Pamela’s Patterns is the ticket. Yep, those 3 simple pattern pieces will make you an attractive dress in a blink, by just adding to the length.

Red Sweater Dress by Sew Maris

Here’s the proof!

I made two of these dresses before heading to London last November, and I have plans for at least 1 more from a yummy wool blend cable-knit. It was as simple as adding enough inches to the front and back pattern piece to cover my wrinkly-old-lady-knees. No flaring. Just a straight line down from the hip. Easy-peasy. I used sweater knits for both versions, and I don’t remember the exact fiber content, but it was definitely a blend.

Red sweater dress trim by Sew Maris

You can add stretch trim to the neckline and sleeve hems if you want a bit of contrast; I added some black “faux piping” I made in about 2 minutes on my serger, just to add a bit o’ pop. It is subtle, but I like the finish.

Grey animal print sweater dress by Sew Maris

Grrr! Animal prints are always fun.

I.Love.These.Dresses. They are my new go-to wardrobe staple. With a belt, tights, boots, and a bit of jewelry I feel polished and put-together, and it takes almost zero effort. My kind of dressing!

Have you ever altered an existing top pattern to create a dress? Are you a dress or separates kind of gal?

Happy sewing!

Maris

 

 

 

T-shirt mania

Evidently garments that are worn on the top half of a body are produced in multiples around here. Four. That’s how many tee-shirts I finished up this weekend. I know, two of them were started last fall. But two of them were started and completed in the past several days.

Knit T-shirts by Sew Maris

I fell in love with this fabric on a buying trip to Billie’s Designer Fabrics in Chehalis last fall with my two fabriholic sewing pals. My colors, my fiber (cotton knit with maybe some lycra), and my kind of print (graphic and modern).

Tee shirt Knits  by SewMaris

I used Pamela’s Patterns Perfect Tee, with 3/4 sleeves and then widened and lowered the round neckline slightly. I trimmed the neck and sleeve edges with FOE stretch velvet trim, and am really happy with the result. Belt or sans belt I think this T will come into wearing rotation frequently with jeans, black pencil skirts, black slacks, and probably other things in my wardrobe I’m not thinking about right now.

Knit t-shirts by Sew Maris

You shouldn’t have your DD take photos for you; too much giggling occurs! 🙂 This is another great purchase from Billie’s; a lovely, drapey ITY knit in black, teal, royal blue, and white. Hmmm, drapey fabrics work for cowl necklines, right?

Knit t-shirt by Sew MAris

I used McCalls 6963, with a few modifications. I adjusted the neckline so it was midway between the “hi” and “low” version on the pattern, and also cut a size larger than my normal McCalls pattern size. So sort of View C with an adjusted neckline and 3/4 sleeves. Loads of folks who have made this previously found it a little snug, and a little low, so I was giving myself some extra insurance. I also did my standard forward shoulder and above-the-waist-petite-ing adjustments because, well, because they are needed. I know, I know; you think these lo-o-o-o-n-n-ng legs are crazy cool, but a bit more body length would be nice, people. Really.

T shirts by Sew Maris

Santa Monica Tee  by Textile Studios with short sleeves. I think the only modification I regularly make to this is to lengthen by a couple of inches. I bought this fabric at my local Pacific Fabrics last summer or early fall, and seriously wish I had more of it. LOVE this print.

Tee shirt knits b y Sew Maris

It’s scary back there!

Tee shirts by Sew Maris

Love the pop of red against the grey and black!

Tee shirts by Sew Maris

Last one! I promise! Another Pamela’s Patterns Perfect Tee, this time with 3/4 sleeves and the standard round neckline. I tried to jazz up the stripe a little by cutting the sleeves cross-grain and binding the neckline and sleeves with bias strips. I have no idea where I bought this fabric, but it is super soft and cozy. You know that means it will probably pill and not last very long, but it is still pretty cute. I even made a half-hearted attempt to match the stripes on the side seams; successful enough for the 3-foot rule!

Tee shirts by Sew Maris

 

Glad to have some fresh tees in my closet, they are such a staple you can hardly have too many. Do you have a favorite tee pattern? How do you like to mix ’em up to keep them interesting?

Happy sewing!

Maris

 

Decisions, decisions! What’s a girl to do?

Seriously readers, I need help. I have this stack of knits in my stash, and some of them are just NOT telling me what they want to become when they grow up. Does that ever happen to you? You buy a fabric that speaks to you in the store, but at home it gets a little feisty and doesn’t want to play nice!

Knit fabrics by Sew Maris

I guess you can tell my color palette at least. Look at me going all crazy with that touch o’teal one! 😉

Knit fabrics by Sew Maris

This big chunky sweatery-textured-not-too-stretchy knit is really stumping me. I thought when I ordered it I would make Pamela’s Patterns Banded Front Cardigan, but I think it might be too thick for that. It doesn’t drape much at all, so too much fullness is out. Maybe I should switch to one of these 2 coat style patterns if I have enough fabric? Other ideas?

Knit fabrics by SewMaris

I love this print, and love the colors. Not sure if it has enough drape for a pretty cowl….maybe a simple Christine Jonson Basewear Two T-shirt would be better for this one? And yes, I do already own the CJ pattern, but didn’t pluck it out for consideration since I was trying to step outside my plain, TNT T-shirt rut. I think the fabric is a either cotton + lycra or a combo rayon+cotton+lycra. A little beefier than most straight rayon knits.

Knit fabrics by Sew Maris

Despite my earlier comment, I was originally thinking a plain round-neck T for this silky ITY knit…..but am reconsidering. Maybe the McCalls 6963 shown on the grey graphic knit above is calling this guy’s name instead. Hey, chatting with y’all is helping! 😉

Knit fabrics by Sew Maris

Sparkly, metallic-y sweater knit. Pretty sure this needs to be a drapey cardigan. Oh look! I just happen to own Pamela’s Patterns Draped Front Cardigan pattern. Maybe I should use it yet again, eh?!? I think I have 2 (possibly 3) of these sweaters in my closet right now. LOVE this pattern.

Knit fabric by Sew Maris

Am I in a cowl neck rut now? I do own the Style Arc Issy top, as well as the Tootsie….but haven’t tried either of them yet. Both are pretty popular on PR,and since I am a Style Arc addict they would be kind of a no-brainer.

Are you “stuck” trying to decide what pattern to use on for one (or more!) of your projects? Please tell me I am not the only one who buys fabric with a specific plan in mind, only to forget or change my mind!

Happy sewing!

Maris

How to Design Your Own Tank Top

Tank tops are not just summer attire; they are great layering pieces under jackets and cardigans year round. Since you S-E-W, you can design your own tank tops to stand out a bit from the RTW crowd. We sewists love to be big ole’ smarty pants like that, right? 😉

Black Coffee Bean Knit Cardigan + tank top by Sew Maris

Start with a great pattern. I love Pamela’s Patterns because they are easy to sew, and provide a great basic fit for my body. It is easy enough to experiment with several different pattern companies to find a brand or pattern that you like. In the image above, I used the sleeveless tank from Pamela ‘s Versatile Twinset pattern.

How to design your own tank top by Sew Maris

Next up, decide on a fabric. The sky is really the limit here. Be sure to check your LFS as well as the plentiful online resources. Two of my favorite virtual shops for knits are EmmaOneSock and Marcy Tilton. Great, great quality fabrics every time from these two lovelies. For the teal tank above, I used a plain black rayon/lycra knit underneath, and the pretty, pretty teal stretch lace on top for a  great color pop. The scalloped edge of the lace is a bonus!!

Stretchy trims for how to design a tank tutorial

You can also add stretchy trims to your knit tanks. There are so many wonderful trims in a wide variety of colors, styles, widths, and patterns. This is a great place to let your imagination go wild.

See how easy that was? Take one simple pattern, add great fabrics, and optionally trims, and you are an instant designer! Have fun, and do share your pictures and comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Happy sewing!

Maris

Another “Cool Cardigan” and Versatile Tank

I think Pamela’s Patterns “Cool Cardigans”—Draped Front just might be my new favorite drapey cardigan sweater. Maybe you remember I used this same pattern recently to make a little cheetah print sweater, and here it is again in a wonderful black and grey coffee bean knit from EmmaOneSock.

Black Coffee Bean Knit Cardigan + tank top by Sew Maris

This fabric is purrrrr-fect for me in every way. It is:

  1. an easy care knit
  2. a wardrobe neutral in my basic color—black (+ grey)
  3. a great match for my hair color! 😉
  4. a perfect print design for theSeattle  coffee-holic that I am!

Black Coffee Bean Knit Cardigan + tank top by Sew Maris

Since I had already altered this pattern to fit exactly the way I like, I did not make any adjustments to the body of the cardigan. However, the “3/4” sleeve length as indicated on the pattern is too short for my gorilla-long arms, and that “sewing fail” resulted in my tutorial on adding a vented sleeve band. It worked out for the best, though, as I love the extra detail of the sleeve band on this sweater.

Black Coffee Bean Knit Cardigan + tank top by Sew Maris

The tank pattern I used for this combo is also from Pamela’s Patterns—part of New Versatile Twinset. Nice! I am both “Cool” and “Versatile” when I wear these two items together.

Black Coffee Bean Knit Cardigan + tank top by Sew Maris

Oh, I am “magical” too, right? You might recognize this Magic Pencil Skirt from the an earlier blog post. The beefy ponte knit fabric is such a dream to wear and totally easy care.

I am in a mood to sew multiples using the same pattern. You are going to see more of these, for sure!

Happy sewing!

Maris

 

Summertime Magic Pencil + Santa Monica

I am really in the mood to sew easy garments for our short Seattle summers. If you expect to get any wear from your summer clothes they need to be done and ready for action early—early!

Santa Monica tee + Pamela's Patterns Magic Pencil skirt by Sew Maris

I think I might have just figured out my “go-to” summertime outfit!

What do you think about my slightly hacked version of the Santa Monica Tee by Textile Studio Patterns? I have used this pattern before, and as drafted it has a straight hem. Recently the amazing KnitnBee at Handmade by Heather hacked out a boxy Madewell tee knockoff from a Lady Skater pattern. I know, I know, I did not make a boxy tee like Heather, but her post just reminded me to make a design change on my existing patterns now and again. Mix it up! It turned out kinda cute, huh? The fabric is a black and white (what else?) cotton + lycra print from, ummm, somewhere. Maybe someplace in the NYC Garment District? Anyway, all this top needed was a little serge, serge + turn down and coverstitch the hems. BAM!

Santa Monica tee + Pamela's Patterns Magic Pencil skirt by Sew Maris

Is that a slug on my shoe? Aaack! Springtime in Seattle,folks.

Santa Monica tee + Pamela's Patterns Magic Pencil skirt by Sew Maris

OK, now let’s talk about my favorite new skirt pattern—the Magic Pencil Skirt from Pamela’s Patterns. No zipper. No waistband. Just a nice slim fit and pretty shaping. This version is out of a beefy black double-knit, and it stitched up super fast and fits like a dream. The only alteration I had to make was lengthen the skirt 1 1/2 inches (could have used another inch) and nibble it in a bit on the side seams. Pamela offers 2 waistband choices: a high-waist and an “at-the-waistline” option. Since I am a short-lil’-waisted gal, I definitely choose the “at-the-waistline” option. Four darts, 2 side seams, a sewn-on elastic waistband, + a machine-stitched blind-hem later and my new bestie was ready for prime time.

Santa Monica tee + Pamela's Patterns Magic Pencil skirt by Sew Maris

I actually made 4 Magic Pencil skirts the other day, so you are going to see more of them when I get a few new tops made to go with. I was reminded again what a great idea it is to make multiples of a single pattern, varying the fabric + trims + simple design lines to create unique looks.

Happy sewing!

Maris

A Cool Cardigan Sweater

Who doesn’t love a great cardigan sweater? Since my work no longer requires professional business attire, I wear a skirt or pants + a woven or knit top + a cardigan sweater most days. And since my business is all sewing all the time, I try to wear mostly me-made clothes. Because those kids ask me every day if I made what I am wearing! 😉

Pamela's Patterns Cool Cardigan Drape Front sewn by Sew Maris
Check out this stinkin’ cute Cool Cardigan – Draped Front by Pamela’s Patterns. The fabric I used was a tissue-thin sweater knit in a quiet little cheetah print. Nothing over the top for me! Since I have not been so successful with mesh and other featherweight knits in the past, I was very hesitantscared to death to sew it up despite loving the print.

Pamela's Patterns Cool Cardigan Drape Front sewn by Sew Maris

By George, I think I’ve got it now. A better fitting pattern, a little less volume in the completed garment, a few construction tips from Pamela Leggett, and my sweater happiness quotient is up, up, way up!

Pamela's Patterns Cool Cardigan Drape Front sewn by Sew Maris
I completed most of this sweater last weekend during the Seattle ASG Spring Educational event with Pamela Leggett. Surprisingly, the fabric really did not torture me too much. I wouldn’t say it was exactly easy, but it was manageable. Increasing the differential feed on my serged seams to 1.5 helped, and maybe the fabric was just afraid to act out in front of Pamela. It must have been smart enough to realize the big guns were on deck last Sunday. 😉

Pamela's Patterns Cool Cardigan Drape Front sewn by Sew Maris
After wearing my new sweater for a bit, I decided to ruche the sleeves up so they are more of a 3/4 length. Long sleeves bug the heck out of me, so I don’t know why I even cut the long-sleeve version of this pattern. Besides, the ruched sleeves and the ruching at the back neckline on this sweater make me feel all girly and feminine when I wear it.

I would give Cool Cardigan – Draped Front an A. Give this easy pattern a try and let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Sewing!

Maris