The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Sewing with Knits Class

First session (on Saturdays I do classes that run weekly, not consecutive days like on weekday classes) on Sewing with Knits class, and I always glean so much from my students.  I try and pack the classes with information and keep the students on track during class, and I push hard, mostly cause I want the student to get the most value for my time.

But sometimes they are in a different mode or speed, and that’s OK too.  Because most of all this is supposed to be fun and instructive.

I have a wonderful set of students at different levels of expertise, and  it’s fun for all of them to see the varying instruction that takes place.

One student is an ex-engineer and current masseuse (talking about following your dreams, this gal does it in spades!), and she has a collection of knits and some of the older Blue Fish garments that she’s loved, but either the knit is gone or she just wants to use it with something else.

BTW, as an aside here, I’m thinking of doing a fabric surface design class to work with the surface of fabrics so that you can even design your own designs for your clothes.  There is  so much inspiration out there on the on the runway for this sort of thing.

But my BF (Blue Fish) student is taking apart some of her older knits that she loves – the colors are beautifully faded and with that wash sort of nap shading to it, that make it so enviably gorgeous.  And we’re making Marcy Tilton’s Vogue 8497 (with a side bust dart alteration).

She’s doing version B of this jacket.  Her cotton knit is so beautifully worn (which means it’s been washed a gazillion times, but the fabric itself is very much intact), that it’s really prime for a more unfinished edge, so we’re overlaying one side on the other and then top-stitching it in place.  Then we’ll fray the edge slightly which will cause it to ravel and ruffle just a little with a shabby chic sort of feel to the edge.    This will be such a fun process to follow as she completes this top.

Another student is one of my more advanced students, and she’s mostly into fit and detailed construction issues.

She professes that she is NOT going to the Yankees spring training in her new shirt, but I think it looks remarkably Saville Row rather than Yankeesque!  This doesn’t look like a problem, however the stripe was widthwise, not lengthwise, and not wanting the stripe to go around, she wanted to cut it on the widthwise grain.  That sounds like it’s not a problem, but here’s why cutting on the lengthwise is the preferred grain.

When you weave fabric, you have a warp (the long or lengthwise grain) and a woof or weft which is attached to a shuttle and woven in and out  (up and down) through the warp weaves.  The woof thread or yarn doesn’t have to be as strong and usually isn’t as the lengthwise grain yard.  Imagine if that warp thread wasn’t as strong and it broke half way through the weaving.  Well then you’d have to tie off another thread to that broken warp thread and continue weaving hoping that while you’re putting the stress on the warp thread won’t cause it to break again….remember the fabric weaver is passing the shuttle through there, pushing the last threaded weft thread through and preparing for the net weft thread to come through.  The point here is that this lengthwise thread has to be strong.  Imagine a bolt of fabric – usually 25 to 50 yards in length – and then you get the idea of how strong this thread is.

That’s why you cut on the lengthwise grain – it doesn’t break or stretch or disfigure as much as the widthwise.  But sometimes fabric can’t be cut that way or the design isn’t what you want.  So that presents certain problems – mostly about grain.  Staying seams (shoulder, neck, armhole) is usually the preferred solution, but the real problem in the garment may not show up for a couple of years or after some wearing.  Just be prepared that you will probably have to go back in and stabilize parts of the shirt, which is not a bad bargain, considering you have picked the design or in Kristin’s case the stripe direction you want.

I’ll post further episodes as the class progresses!

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