Weekend Project: Be Ye Not Afraid of the Knits
There are a lot of good resources for learning how to sew with knits out there. Handily, there are also a lot of great knits hitting the stores as manufacturers try to meet the demands for accessible (not to mention, cute) prints on new base cloths. I am a relatively new knit garment maker, but have found that over the last few years that it's no more hard to put together something made from jersey, than it is to deal with woven fabrics. In fact, knits are often more forgiving to sew and wear even without a serger.
I bought Wendy Mullin's Sew U: Home Stretch right after it was published and it has been my go to resource for sewing with knits. Patterns aside, it covers construction and finishing techniques for those with and without sergers (I have only recently fallen into the former camp), and most importantly gives you the basic techniques for learning how to pattern draft for yourself. The pattern pieces enclosed are basic (raglan, tshirt, and dress pieces), and then each project redrafts the basics slightly so you're left with the parts for something completely different (hoodie, boatneck, square neck mini, for example)
My first few projects worked out all right, but had some fit issues-- I have found that with the pattern pieces included in the book, you need to ignore the stated measurements/fit guide and measure the individual pattern pieces. This is true of most commercial patterns. Wendy covers this aspect of fit, recommending that you measure favourite tshirts and take them to the store when you shop, in order to match their weight and stretch. Depending on the stretchability of your fabric or the kind of fit you want, you can go up or down sizes accordingly.
I've been messing around with the new knits from Michael Miller this week. This top is a version of the scoop neck/tank top pattern option. Alterations included raising the scoop slightly and adding an enclosed binding around the neck. The Michael Miller knit is lovely-- medium weight, nice drape and super soft. The shrinkage is pretty substantial, but so is the width of the cut (58-60" selvage to selvage). I pre-washed it twice (in warm) and did a hot dry. I lost about 10% on width and 20% on length-- so on one yard, get an extra 1/4 (I bought 1 1/4 yard at 59" wide and got 1 yard at 54" wide). I used my sewing machine with a ball point jersey needle to put it together.
Most importantly this top covers everything on my list: long/wide enough in the right places, opaque weight, and STRIPED. I never underestimate the feelings I get about a good stripe. Or a tshirt that fits me properly.
Bolt is carrying knits (and wovens) in all manner of stripes these days. Don't forget to check Wendy's book out next time you're in, too.