Thursday, November 18, 2010

Feet for Marcy Tilton's knit

Love, love, love this knit from Marcy Tilton. It's called *Midnight Black Rayon/Lycra Jersey* and it sews up beautifully. And it drapes elegantly. And it is slenderizing. Love, love, love it.

I was a happy sewer, humming along with the Weather Girls "Success" as I attached the waist band to the pants. Then I created a circle of elastic and began the Sandra Betzina technique for inserting elastic in a waist band. This requires stitching-in-the-ditch and this is where things went south.
Skipped stitches were everywhere. Luckily it's easy to remove such stitches because there's not much to hold them to the fabric. Otherwise, removing stitches from this jersey would've been impossible. But on the other hand I became very frustrated in my attempts to solve the skipped stitch issue.

Everything I tried seemed to make things worse.
I changed the needle first to a ball point, then to a jersey needle. No improvement. I changed to a single stitch plate. No improvement. I changed feet - first the ditch-stitching foot and then the zipper foot. All roads led to skipped, ugly stitches. Finally I just used the straight-stitch foot, and gave up on the ditch-stitching idea. The right toe of my straight-stitch foot is just about 1/8" wide so I arranged my stitching to have that narrow toe next to the bulk (elastic enclosed in waistband). Technically it's not stitched in the ditch - it's 1/8" away from the ditch. This created a perfect stitch.

I guess that sewing with this very, very stretchy knit requires a firm grip from the foot. So the winning combination is...
  • Straight-stitch foot (#13)
  • Universal needle for everything except the hem
  • Stretch twin needle for hem
  • Regular stitch plate - no need for the straight-stitch plate

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Only Knife Trick

Now that I've finished the Verona Coat/Jacket/Vest (my first one), I need to concentrate on some basics. So what could be more basic than black pants? A while back, I purchased this fabulous black, black knit from Marcy Tilton. It's probably her rayon, lycra jersey that she describes as *beefy.* It doesn't really feel like a jersey but then it's *beefy* so maybe that's why. It has lovely drape and the kind of weight that feels good in a top or bottom piece. Pinning pattern pieces to this stuff can be challenging. Several years ago I happened on to this technique. I place my everyday cutlery knives on the pattern tissue as weights. Then with a very sharp rotary blade I cut out the pieces. It is no-fail.

I used my TNT pants pattern that started life out as the Sewing Workshop Mimosa pants - a very basic fitted pants pattern with no waist band, darts in the front and back. Cynthia Guffey fitted it to me several years ago and it is now my go-to pants pattern. I've made shorts, pants with fly front and even skirts. I wondered how it would be in knit. I took 3/4 inch SA on the sides and inseam, took a standard 5/8 inch SA in the crotch to preserve that curve, and simply ignored the darts. I cut a 3 inch band that was slightly smaller than the top raw edge of the pants and attached it by stretching it to fit the pants waist. This seemed to take care of the excess fabric resulting from ignoring the darts. Because it is so stretchy, it fits without a zipper. Now I just need to insert the elastic and hem these pants so I can have something to wear. How is it that I sew almost everyday and have so little to wear?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Needing closure

The Verona jacket is drawing to a close but needs closures. I'm not sure about button holes so I'm playing with some bias tubes made from the sleeves I decided to omit. I think I really like it as a vest. DH says it looks like some other things I've made. How can that be? Am I in a sewing rut? It still needs a good press too, but I'm thinking I like it and it's warm and I'll wear it now that we've gone from summer directly into winter. Oh, autumn where art thou?

I got to use some great marking chalk I bought from Pam Howard. It disappears when it is ironed. I tried to capture this in the photo - hope the iron-shape shows up properly. It's very cool stuff.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Quiet House

The house is quiet. No one is here except me. The only sound is the purr of my machine and the occasional puff of steam from my iron. I'm starting a new pattern - the Verona coat from the Sewing Workshop. I'm quilting the pieces following Mary Ray's instructions in Threads. The outer fabric is red wool crepe (color doesn't photograph nicely); the batting is cotton flannel; the lining of the body is black China silk and the sleeves are red Ambience - trying to stay within my stash. I started out with wool batting but it is definitely not the proper kind to use - the loft is too high. I'll use it for a comfy quilt later.

Life is good.