A serger just isn’t in the cards until at least next Christmas. But I really do want to make more clothing from knits. I’ve always stayed away from knits because I found them hard to work with. I have discovered that sewing a zigzag stitch helps. So I put in my ballpoint needle and gave it a go. I tried sewing my knits with a zigzag stitch and I see how that helps with having some give in the seam (when there is so much give in the fabric). And it isn't what I am used to, but it works.
So I decided to try some different stitch lengths on a straight stitch. (I am just too old-fashioned to sew a seam with a zigzag stitch.) I plan to make several Renfrew tops for the spring, so I may come to feel differently about this.
|The straight stitch puckered a bit...|
First thing I noticed was that I needed to change the amount of seam allowance I was using. I tend to play with seam allowances because the measured sizes never truly pan out for me. It’s always more or less right, but I tend to have to take seams in or let them out for a customized fit.
So the 5/8 of an inch was too much. I went to half an inch and then a quarter of an inch.
I found when pressing the seam open, the ¼ inch seam allowance worked for me. I was too scared to try anything more extreme. I used pinking shears to finish the seams.
Another thing to note, I always back-stitch at the beginning and ending of a seam to secure it. Don’t do this with knits! After some tears, I’ve learned to either tie the ends the old-fashioned way (no thank you) or to simply stitch in place for a few seconds. This keeps the fabric from bunching up.
Then I happened to notice, in my sewing manual, that my machine has a stretch stitch!!! (Yes after working for about an hour and really feeling like I can conquer this shirt pattern, I notice that I have a stretch stitch!!!! Oh the frustration!) This stitch is created by the machine making two stitches forward and one backward stitch. This stitch takes a bit more time to sew then a regular straight stitch but the results are well worth the small amount of additional time.
Finally, I found a "leaf" stitch that my sewing manual (from the late 70s) called the "serger" stitch. I think I have found my stitch for knits.
Some of my favourite T’s have a thin strip of what looks like clear elastic sewn into the seam. It must be a stabilizer as well. I don’t have this, and at this point, I am not willing to go out and buy some. So I decided to try using freezer paper when sewing the seam. I got the idea from here. This tip always seemed too fussy for me but I have to say, it was magic. It was so much easier. And when done, just rip the freezer paper away!
Now on to the hem: what a problem hems are on knits. I think the hems are what have kept me from knit fabrics all these years. I found that top-stitching left some puckering. I decided, on a whim to add interfacing. (When I change zippers on knit cardigans, I find twill tape of interfacing help to stabilize the garment for me.) I extended that thinking into using interfacing. But what interfacing do you use with knits?I've just used a light wt fusible one, for now. Is there one that is designed specifically for knits?