Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tutorial: My Hybrid Binding Technique

There are loads of fantastic tutorials available online for different methods of doing a bound edge with knit fabrics.  I think over time I've tried nearly all of them and I use two or three different methods depending on the situation.  In my mind the methods generally can fit into one of two categories either worked flat or worked in the round.  I LOVE doing my binding flat (i.e with one shoulder seam of a neckline still open), because this opens up the possibilities of using a wider variety of fabrics for the binding.  If you bind flat then you can simply cut the binding longer than required and then stretch as you stitch it on, later cutting the binding to length.  This means the amount of stretch a fabric has isn't as important (you can even cut your binding on the bias if need be), and you don't have to do some fancy guesswork or complicated maths to work out the binding length.  If you bind in the round you need to know the exact length of the binding before starting as the first step is to join the binding into a circle, and this length will vary hugely depending on the stretch and recovery of the knit used.  
BUT when working flat the final step after completing the binding is to stitch the second shoulder seam and therefore close the neckline, which results in a serged seam exposed at the neck edge.  This is usually stitched down with a few straight stitches across the width of the binding but my machine HATES doing this so it drives me crazy.  This is avoided totally when binding in the round.
So...... as I was sewing in a sleep deprived state the other day, in my overly cramped sewing space where I have to keep changing my machines over between my standard machine and my serger, I was struck with a flash of brilliance (or something) so I thought I'd share.  (For all those of you who already do your binding like this feel free to burst my brilliance bubble but why oh why haven't you told me about it!).
Here you go (note I used a cotton/lycra as my binding and it does curl slightly which shows in some of the photos, this doesn't happen with many other knit fabrics).
Step 1: Stitch one shoulder seam
 Step 2: Pin you length of binding (I cut my the length of the neckline by 4cm in width) to the neck edge right sides together, stretching it as you go.
 This shows the fabric relaxed so you can see the binding will stretch out as you sew.
 Step 3: Serge (or stitch the binding to the neck edge) to give a neck edge that looks like this.

 Step 4:  There will be extra binding hanging off the end of the neck edge so this can now be trimmed back.

 Step 5:  Now pin the other shoulder seam including through the neck binding, when doing this step you need to make sure that the seam allowance of the binding is pointing towards the binding NOT the garment.
 Step 6: Serge or stitch the second shoulder seam.   So now what started as flat binding is suddenly binding worked in the round!
 NOTE:  If you are lazy like me or have little sewing space you can now continue to serge all the other seams of the garment and put in sleeves, do side seams and attach any sleeve or hem bands.  If you sew our knits on a serger you can get to this point without even turning on your sewing machine, neat eh?

Step 7:  Now fold the binding over to the wrong side, covering the neck edge seam allowance and folding this towards the binding (so it is encased by the binding).  Pin in place carefully putting pins on the right side of the garment.

 Step 8: Carefully stitch in place, I use the inside of the left prong of the foot as a guide for stitching (it probably has a technical name but you know what I mean).  I also try and hold the binding firmly underneath as I come to each pin and remove it, especially if the fabric tends to curl as this one did.
 Step 9: Sit back and admire your lovely bound neck edge and if you are feeling really good give it a press :-)
 See the nicely encased seam at the second shoulder seam.

So I hope some of you might find this helpful, if you do I'd love to hear about it or to see pics of what you make :-)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

KCW Day 6: Library Lion Tee

One of my favourite children's stories to read to my two children is The Library Lion.  I'm not sure what makes it so special to us but we all love it, and I knew I had to make something inspired by it for this KCW.  Unfortunately I couldn't find any lion fabric that looked more like The Library Lion so I had to go with what I had in stash.
I got this yellow jersey fabric some time ago and Miss M loves yellow so that decision was made quickly.  I've gone back to my favourite tee pattern of the moment, the Raindrop Tee by Gracious Threads and made the same mods that I outlined here.

I think this is possibly my favourite one so far.  I finally got the sleeves to gather as I wanted them too, although they look a little uneven in the photo they aren't really.  And the fussy cut pocket is cute.

Once again I used the Lattice Hem stitch for the sleeves and bottom hem.  On this fabric, or possibly because I was stitching a curve, I got some wrinkling within the hem stitch but I still like it.

And the all important opinion of the owner? She wouldn't take it off so I guess that means she likes it :-)

Friday, October 24, 2014

KCW Day 5: Quick Stripey Shorts

These wee shorts really don't fit in with the theme for KCW at all but Miss M needed more for the summer so I whipped some up in amongst the other sewing this week.
I went back to my trusty Ottobre mags for these wee shorts and used pattern #10 from issue 3/2010.  As usual for leggings I needed to cut a much smaller size around than in length so I double checked Miss M's measurements and traced and size 86 with 98 length in leg and rise.
These went together well and were quick as expected.  I'm pleased with the fit too which is huge since I find it hard to get leggings to fit Miss M nicely.

And just because I could I tried out a new stitch on the hem, a lattice hem stitch.  It seems to have god stretch, is a bit more interesting than a zig-zag and doesn't require installing a twin needle or setting up my coverseamer.  WIN!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

KCW Day 3: Kitten Top

When DD saw this fabric she nearly flipped, I don't think I've ever seen her so excited over fabric (unlike me).  It reminds me of the kittens you used to find in Little Golden Books, and I found one here called "The Wait-for-me Kitten" that we have read many times.
The pattern is the Banyan Tee by Figgy's patterns (I love Figgy's patterns and have a couple of others to make up too), which I actually made in the January KCW in a pink broiderie anglaise knit here.

This time around I went for a size 4-5 and the fit is perfect :-)

There is a slight design feature on the neckband because I added the neckband in the round and it was slightly too long.  A couple of wee tucks which are hardly noticeable and it's good as new.
Apparently when you are wearing kittens you need to practise your ballet....
....and every performance ends with a bow!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

KCW Day 2: Red Riding Hood and the Lollipop Swirl Review

No that's not some kind of crazy new book title you haven't heard of, I'm just killing two birds with one stone with this blog post.  Yes it is part of KCW and again inspired by a childhood favourite.  I feel a bit like I'm cheating with this one really.  I loved the classic fairytales as a small girls and I now enjoy reading them to Miss M, I had several large collections of fairy stories and loved each of them for different reasons.  Usually at that young age the pictures drew me in as they really bring the story to life.  When the Red Riding Hood fabric line was released by Riley Blake I fell in love and it is this that I've used here in a skirt for Miss M.

This post is doubling as my pattern review for the Lollipop Swirl Skirt from My Treasured Heirlooms and while I received a copy of the pattern from the designer to do this review the thoughts and comments are entirely my own.

This cute bias stripwork skirt comes in sizes 12m-10y and has 3 different waist options (elastic, buttons or zip/button).  While I loved the look of the 3 button closure as Miss M is all about independence at the moment I went with the elastic waist for ease of dressing for her.  First impressions are that I was really impressed with this pattern.  It is very clearly laid out and for someone like me who has a bit of a love/hate relationship with printing and taping patterns there is the added bonus of very few pages to print - woohoo.  The grain lines are clearly shown on the pattern, which is particularly important if you want to cut your bias panel from a directional print like I did.  There are also clear instructions included on how to lengthen/shorten the skirt as required.  While I would usually have made a size 3 with 4 length for Miss M, I decided that since I was doing an elastic waist I could get away with making straight size 4 and adjusting the elastic length to suit her :-)

This skirt net together really well, the instructions for overlapping the bias strips for sewing were well described and accompanied with clear pictures.  I realised as I went to sew mien together that I had cut them all out with my pattern up the wrong way which means that my skirt 'swirls' in the opposite direction to the ones on the pattern, I'm calling it a design feature, lol.  Also I decided to topstitch the panels to give a clean finish.  The only slight issue I had was that my waistband was slightly smaller than my skirt waist when I came to attach it.  I'm sure this was user error on my part (probably some of those joining seams had a slightly smaller seam allowance than they should have) so I ran a quick easing stitch around the waistline and eased it in as required (there wasn't a lot of difference).

The verdict?  This is a really sweet, quick wee skirt with simple lines and the added interest of the bias panels.  Miss M loves it and so do I :-)

Monday, October 20, 2014

KCW Day 1: Happy Prince Pants

I have decided to sew along with Kids Clothes Week once again, I did this back in January as well and it was lots of fun.  This time the theme is Children's books/stories and my love of kids books really drew me into the challenge.  While the link to kids stories may be quite tenuous in some, if not all, instances I have enjoyed making my projects reflect some of the books and stories I loved as a child or love to share with my children now.

First up for me this time around are a pair of trousers for Miss M which I've called her Happy Prince Pants.  The Happy Prince is a story that I used to listen to on the radio as a child.  Before weekend kids tv we used to have a sunday morning radio show of kids stories and songs and it was a treat to lie in bed on a Sunday morning and hope your favourite stories would be on that week (boy just writing that makes me feel old).  I had lots of favourites but one that stands out is the story of the Happy Prince.  Yes, like many others I would cry when I listened to it, but isn't being so emotionally involved a true sign of a fabulous story.

To be honest Miss M needed new trousers (she has grown a lot lately) and I have loved this bird cotton fabric for ages, but it didn't take me long to draw the connection between the birds and the colour of the fabric and the bright blue sky and the swallow of the story.

The pattern I used is from Ottobre 1/2014, pattern number 18 "Snappy Happy Pants".  I used view A as a base but I omitted the drawstring and knee patches.  I also managed to cut these out without adding a seam allowance - OOPS!  So I got a little creative and found some aqua wide bias in my stash and used it to add a stripe down the side in an attempt to compensate for the lack of seam allowance.  It seems to have worked fit-wise and I'm actually pleased with the added lift the stripe gives them.  I made a size 92 with 98 length in the leg and rise and didn't have to make any other adjustments at all in sizing.

The only issue I had with sewing these up was doing the bottom elastic casing no the legs.  The top three rows of elastic are sewn on before sewing the inside leg seam but then at the end you iron up and sew the bottom elastic casing.  I found the ironing up of the casing a real pain with the other elastic already in place.  In future I would irony hat casing up first, before sewing on the other elastic, and then sew the casing as the end as instructed to give a nice clean finish without the hassle.
A couple of pics showing the cute pockets and bottom leg elastic.

Even though these aren't pink they have been given the stamp of approval and have already been given a thorough testing :-)

Love these and so does Miss M - win:win!