Confession: I really don’t think I’ve ever set in a woven sleeve properly. I ALWAYS have little gathers!
One of the many reasons that I love sewing with knits is that sewing sleeves is completely painless and foolproof. No gathered basting stitches, no fancy matching of notches…. just a couple of pins and one quick seam!
The key to knit sleeves is that they are sewn in flat, before the side seam is sewn. If you’ve ever sewn a Renfrew, Lady Skater, or any other knit pattern I can think of, you’ll have tried this method. But just in case a complete knit newbie is reading this, or someone who has only tried knit kimono sleeves, I thought I’d explain how I handle the process!
Step 1: Sew the shoulder seams, and finish the neckline. Lay out the shirt and sleeve with the right-side up. See how the armscye and sleeve curve are basically the same length but slightly different curves?
Step 2: Use a pin to roughly mark the straight of the grain at the highest point of the sleeve cap. When you sew, this point will line up with the shoulder seam.
Step 3: Flip the sleeve up so that it is right-sides together with the shirt. Re-pin through the shoulder seam and top of the sleeve cap.
Step 4: Once you’ve pined at the shoulder seam, bring the corner of the sleeve down to line up with the armscye. I put a single pin in the corner at the start and end of each seam. (Actually, I usually don’t pin the corner where I start… I just hold it in place until I start to serge! Why put a pin in that I’ll just have to take out 3 seconds later?)
Remember how different the curves of the armscye and sleeve looked before? They magically look more similar now. I find the first 15cm or more lines up quite neatly, the over the top of the shoulder I might have to stretch the shirt to east in the sleeve. Once I have the shoulder seam pinned to the top of the seam, it’s pretty clear how much easing will have to happen and wear. Just stretch it and MAKE it fit! Don’t be too gentle - Show that knit who is boss!
Step 5: Here’s what my seam looked like after serging! I don’t reinforce anything most of the time, nor do I use my sewing machine to reinforce the serging. I’ve been wearing my t-shirts steadily for a year, and never ever had problems with my 4-thread serger stitching popping open.
Step 6: Here’s how my sleeve seam looks form the outside. Don’t worry if the seam looks a little wobbly or bubbly.. your shoulder should fill that out just fine!
Step 7: The most satisfying step! With right-sides together, sew up the sleeve sides of the t-shirt in one go! I like to start at the sleeve end, concentrating on lining up the seams under the armpit.
After that, it’s time to finish the cuffs and hem, and you are done your shirt! I know some people like to finish the cuff flat before sewing up the sides… I prefer to do them after so that I don’t have to worry about perfectly lining up the edges of the cuff as I sew the sleeve.
So how do you set in sleeves on a knit garment? Has anyone ever tried setting them in the round? Do you have any tips or tricks of your own?
As always, my other Lazy Tips for Sewing Knits are gathered at the top of my blog page! I’m going to wrack my brain for new tips for the new year, so let me know if you have a question!
Well, I got a little ahead of myself this week and posted
about my Honeycrisp Mittens before the official blog hop started! (Can you blame me? They are nice mitts!)
Lucky for me that Mari from Disparate Disciplines
is a forgiving girl! ;)
If you are interested in how versatile the pattern is though, you’ll be able to check out versions by the following bloggers over the next few days:
I really can’t recommend the pattern enough for gifts this holiday season - they take very little fabric, are fast to sew, and would make perfect teacher gifts, hostess gifts, or presents for Aunties and Grandmas!
I’ve always avoided sewing baby clothes… but as my only niece turned 1 this fall, I thought it was high time I gave it a shot! Instead of going with the classic frilly baby dresses, I though I’d stick with what I know: Stretch pants and knit tops!
For patterns I used two great basics from LouBee Clothing. The Hosh pants are pull-on pants for stretch wovens, with an ingenious adjustable elastic waistband. There is no side seam, so I also used the pattern to make leggings! I also used the Bimaa top pattern, which did the rounds on blog tours this fall. It’s basically a kid’s Renfrew tee, with options for a hoodie, cowl or shawl collar.
Hosh Pants! I used the 5T width with the 12m length. Because of the adjustable buttonhole elastic in the back waistband, they should fit her for a good long while… and the hems are deep enough that I can let them out later if needed. The red and coral stretch denim are leftovers from pairs of jeans I made myself this summer, and the black is stretch twill I use to muslin my own pants. I’d already made her a solid black pair to test the sizing, so I added homemade bias tape as a tuxedo stripe to fancy these up! The blue ones are the only item I bought fabric for - it’s a lovely 4way stretch jeggings fabric! I took about about 2” of ease to make the pattern into leggings, and just did a normal elastic waistband.
Eeee! Look at all the cute tops variations I got from just one pattern! All of these fabrics were in my stash or left from other projects. The hoodie and black+white top are made from double knit, and the others are jersey. Putting on the tiny cuff bands entertained me every time! I’d wear any one of these shirts myself, and I’m seriously considering scaling up the shawl-collar piece to make a Renfrew hack for myself!
The most satisfying thing for me is that together these clothes make a wearable, comfy mix-n-match wardrobe for my niece. The tops and pants all work together, which makes sense because they all fit my trusty colour palette! (Bonus sign of success? I hear today that my niece wore the leggings and coral striped top to meet Santa for the first time today! :)
How do you feel about sewing kids clothes? I’d highly recommend the LouBee patterns to anyone looking to sew some simple kids clothes! I’ll be saving up my scraps so that i can make my niece some more clothes come summer!
Have you seen the new Honeycrisp Mitten pattern from Mari at Disparate Disciplines? I was lucky to be a pattern tester, and now I get to show mine off!
As you can tell from the snow, winter has truly started in Canada. Even the local lake has frozen over now, and my 45 minute commute through the countryside now takes closer to 60 min because of the ice and snow! (Don’t worry, i’ve had my snow tires on since October!)
I wanted a warm pair of mittens to go with the coral and cream wool cowl my sister is knitting me (which, incidentally, turned out to slightly resemble bacon! Yum.)
For my mitts, I used polar fleece form my local Fabricland. I bought .5m, and still had enough leftover after the mitts to make a cosy cushion for my new kitty! (More on that later!) It took me about 5 minutes to cut them out, and maybe 30 min tops to sew them. I can’t wait to make some more for quick Christmas gifts!
My favourite aspect of the pattern is the v-shaped seams where the top piece wraps arounds and meets at the inner wrist. (Most confusing explanation of a simple seam ever. Sorry about that! But look, it’s elegant, pretty and fun!) I sewed them on my regular sewing machine, and left the edges unfinished. Sewing with fleece makes everything so simple!
If you are looking for a handmade gift you haven’t already given everyone another year, I really recommend this pattern! It is based off quite careful measurements when you fit for yourself, but I think it would be quite simple to guesstimate what size your friends and family would need. I think my next pair will be from a thrifted wool sweater - all the warmth of wool mittens, with none of that pesky slow knitting!
As for that other thing I mentioned… we got a KITTEN!!!!! We’ve been promising ourselves for years now that we’d get one when we moved out of my parents’ house… so when I got full-time work last week, it seems like the right moment! We meant to adopt an adult cat, but I’m so glad we got swayed by this little kitty’s purring!
Meet Clay! Short for Dr. Clayton Forrester, a mad scientist from Mystery Science Theatre 3000… and my husband declares our next cat will be Frank, Dr. Forrester’s sidekick! Nerds. What can you do but love them?
Clay is 5 months old, and the highlight of my day! I’ve always lived with cats, but never one of my very own… and I instantly became that crazy cat lady who talks to their cat and photographs them constantly. I”m not ashamed, though, because I have such good cat lady role models in so many Sewcialists!
(This is how blurry most of my pics of her are! She’s a quick little devil!)
Meow. Cats are the best. Also, mitten. Mittens are cos and warm and well designed! Cats AND mittens? That makes for a happy winter!
When I tell non-sewing friend and coworkers that an internet friend is visiting me this weekend, and we’ve never met before, people keep giving me the oddest response. "Thats brave!" they say, while looking highly doubtful.
Watch out! The grunge Sewcialist is coming to town!
Brave? Like the lovely Leila could turn out to be… what? A 14 year old? A creepy 50 year old guy? A friendly, kind lady who only *pretends* that she sews so that she can lure me into letting her into my house? As far as I can tell, it would be a full-time job fooling me on Twitter, Facebook, email, Google chat, Instagram and blogs, let alone sewing!
Could you doubt this face?
Of course, I understand their misgivings and surprise… but it’s certainly not a fear I’ve ever had while meeting sewing bloggers, nor how I live my life! In fact, my sis met her husband in a chat room WAY back in the day, and my parents regularly stay with or host Morris dancers and musicians from the UK that they’ve never met before. I’ve lived on 5 continents and, within reason, always trusted the people I live, travel, or share dorms with.
If anyone should be afraid, it’s Leila. I’ve just spent time writing a post when I should be cleaning. Sorry hon! At least the sewing room is ready to go! ;) Oh, and of course, I found time to make a new dress earlier this week - a Lady Skater with cowl from this lovely crepe knit!
How about you? Do you have trouble explaining the wonders of the sewcial network to your non-sewing friends and family? Do you ever feel a twinge of doubt when you go out to meet a blogger you’ve never met IRL?
I’ve been doing a lot of unselfish (but oh so fun) sewing for other people lately, including 3 dresses and a top for my sister and as many shirts and pants as possible for my baby niece! As a result, I’ve got nothing to blog! Instead, I’ll give you another lazy tip:
When hemming circle skirts, use your serger to gather the curved hem before folding!
This is another of those maybe-to-obvious tips, but I do use this trick a LOT, so I wanted to make sure everyone else was too!
This is a 1/2 circle skirt (A Tiramisu, of course! :P) Because of the flare shape of the skirt, the folded hem will need to be eased to fit the smaller circumference of the skirt. (Seriously, i can’t figure out how to explain that any more clearly. I just hope you know what I mean! ;)
This could be done by careful ironing, or using a curved hem template… but I prefer quickly gathering it with my serger!
Here’s a fuzzy shot of my Brother 1034D.
I set my serger to gather slightly, and serge the whole bottom edge of the skirt.
Voila! After serging, the bottom edge of the skirt naturally flips up and eases into shape, ready for hemming. At this point I iron a fold, and stitch it in place with my regular sewing machine.
This particular dress is a super-stretchy ITY knit, but I still just used a regular straight stitch. The 1/2 circle skirt is so full there is rarely much pressure on the hem stitching, so for me, a straight stitch is plenty strong enough! Of course, you could do a lightening bolt stitch, or a nice double needle hem… but those both take extra time, and I’m LAZY!
Bonus: Easing hems with the serger works equally well with woven fabrics, or with a curved hem on a knit top!
If you are lucky enough to have a serger, do you do circle hems this way? If you don’t have a serger… Sorry! Do you have any tricks for easing hems?
ps. Are you following the new Sewcialists Blog? We’ve got some fun Red October round-up posts and inspiration for the Grunge Sewalong coming up!
We’re taking over the world, Sewcialists! Well, at least the blogosphere… because we have a brand new Sewcialists Blog!
We’ve been thinking about this for months, so I’m really excited to finally make it happen! As we start to create more and more monthly sewing themes, we need a central place to organize everything. The new blog will be coauthored by, well, any sewcialist who wants to help!
Coming up soon on the Sewcialist blog we’ll have round-ups of Red October, information about several sewing challenges in November, and a heads-up about Green December! We might even manage to squeeze in a Sewcial Bee again before Christmas - What do you think?
Ready to go check it out? Please subscribe, and stay posted for some *VERY EXCITING NEWS* about another Sewcialist tech breakthrough coming later this week!
I’m a bit obsessive about this tip: For the love of pretty fabric, prewash your knits! Wash ‘em in hot water, dry them on hot, and for good measure, wash and dry them again!
I learned my lesson on my second-ever tee shirt. I was so excited by the success of my first tee that I grabbed some brand new thin black polkadot knit from fabric.com, and whipped up a cute Renfrew without prewashing it. And then, oh then… then I washed it. In just one wash it shrunk 3 inches shorter! Aghhhhhhh!!!!
Here it is, with a normal-length grey Renfew for comparison:
The pictures aren’t the best, but if you squint you might be able to see that the grey Renfrew covers the front pockets, but the black one only just covers the waistband. I find the black top too short to stay tucked into high-waisted skirts, and it’s even too short to comfortably wear as pyjamas. Too many drafts when I sit or bend!
Here are the two tops layered on top of each other:
Now, I know it may not look all that dramatic to you… but I promise, it makes all the difference in the wearability of the tops!
Of course, there are a few factors at work. First and foremost, I should have prewashed the black knit.
Second, It’s a cheap tissue knit. Maybe a better quality knit would have shrunk less? I find that rayon knits shrink up quite a bit too though.
The sad thing is that I really like the idea of this black top! It is printed with a beige polkadot, which I thought might dizzying to the eye. Instead, I sewed the top with the wrong side of the fabric. One the left below is the shirt inside out… and on the right is the “good” side, with contrast neck and cuffs and just a hint of polkadot shining through. If this shirt fit, I’d wear it all the time!
Nowadays, I always prewash knits twice before adding them to my stash - that way I’m ready to sew! I know that lots of people don’t prewash jersey, and that’s fine if it works for you… but if I’m going to put my money and time into making something, I want it to fit the way I intended!
How about you? Do you prewash? And if you do, do you use the heat settings that you’ll use forever after, or do you blitz it as hot as possible?
Ps. I missed this black top in my roundup of Renfrews in my closet, which brings my total up to 11!
Pps. The rest of my Lazy Tips for Sewing Knits are now gathered in the header bar up at the top!
As you know, I’ve recently moved to a new city - Guelph (pronounced “Gwelf”), to be precise!
I know there is a lot of interest in sewing here! In our small city, since we’ve got a nice selection of shops and learning spaces:
- Fabricland, the big box chain
- Len’s Mills, which offers lots of quilting and apparel basics
- Triangle Sewing Centre, which does repairs, notions and classes
- Greenwood Quiltery, which has designer cottons, indie patterns and classes
- and Make Your Mark Studio, which does classes, custom drafting, fitting assistance, and has started a drop-in sewing night weekly!
There’s an active Knit Night here, held at All Strung Out, and a strong community of knitters… but a sad lack of an organised sewing community! (OK, I’m new - Maybe I’m missing something, so if I am, please fill me in!)
To get things going, I’ve started a new Facebook group for local Sewists* from the Guelph and Kitchener Waterloo area. If you live anywhere close and are interested in sewing, please join! It’s not just for people who blog or tweet - everyone is welcome!
You can find us on Facebook as the Grand River Sewcialists.
If you happen to know a sewcialist** please spread the word!
For those of you too far afield to join our little group, how have you connected with other sewists locally? Is there anyone near you on the Sewintists Map?
*Sewist: Someone who sews, aka. a sewer! It’s how we get around the pesky problem of sounding like we’re calling ourselves a conduit for sewage when we write online!
**Sewcialist: someone who sews and uses social media like Facebook, Twitter, IG, etc to connect with other sewing fanatics. Find out more at sewcialists.org, and even make your own version of the logo above!
Where would Sewists be without the internet? Without Pinterest, I never would have thought of printing my own polkadot pants… and without the Sewcialists on hand to enable me, I never would have found the courage to actually do it!
Thank to the internet though, I am now the proud creator of these polkadot pants:
I started off by testing black and white polka dots on my fabric, to see which I like. I went with the black on dark grey because it seemed more wearabley subtle and wouldn’t show my mistakes as much! I squeeze normal acrylic paint into a yogurt pot, and printed the dots with the back end of a pencil.
There are a million and one ways to plan out how to space the dots, but I went for the simplest: My clear ruler! I did my dots every 2”, then eyeballed the ruler down 1”, and did the next next row. I started by lining up the ruler with the top of the pockets, and was pretty pleased with how consistent my spacing was with very little effort. One benefit of sewing is that we get really good at estimating small distances!
Looking at the finished pants, I’m actually shocked how well the two pant legs match up.
(Check out the collage behind me that my husband made for my 30th birthday! There’s a different branch for each 5 years of my life, with collaged things to remind me of what I was doing at that age… the bug and leaf at the bottom are my parents (a biologist and a botanist), and the black branch is Jamie (who only wears black). All the leaves are made from cut-up free-with-magazine-purchase records, and the tree is made with fabric, natch!)
The pants themselves are a bit of an experiment. I’ve been using and tweaking this Style Arc Elle pant pattern for about 6 months now, and been less and less happy with the fit. I decided to go back to my first version, with just my initial crotch scooping and back rise adjustments. And lo and behold, they are a much better fit!
To figure out why, I started making a collage of my past versions… and realised I’ve already made 8 pairs! Fascinatingly (for me, at least!) the pairs I like all have distinct similarities in the fabric choice, as do the less successful pairs:
Basically, I think I stayed too far from the suggested fabrics and stretch content, and lost the snug fit as a result! I ended up adding a whole inch to front and back pattern pieces for #6 and 7, after 4 and 5 were too tight, which in retrospect was way too much! I’ve taken 6 and 7 in on the legs since the photoshoot, but they still feel baggy. Too bad I did so much topstitching and can’t properly take them in all the way to the waist!
So why did my polka dot pair work better? Well, after wearing then, it’s clear that the fabric is much closer to a stretch bengaline than a stretch denim, as I thought it was when I bought it. It’s got almost 50% stretch, and don’t get baggy through the day. It’s snug without being TIGHT and showing every line underneath. Even better, I got the fabric for $3/m and bought enough to make a second pair!
Of course, there are still creases and pulls in a few places, but I’ve decided that I don’t care. They are good enough, and trying to tweek them to be perfect didn’t actually make them any better in the end!
Now a question for you! How do you decide where to place rear jeans pockets, and how big to make them? The pockets are my own addition to this pattern, so i just traced them off some other jeans. I tend to line up the bottom of the pockets with the bottom of the crotch curve, but I can’t decide if they would be more flattering higher, lower, bigger, smaller, or closer together! What do you think?
p.s. Oh, and for the record, I wouldn’t normally wear all black - I was just trying to me it easier for the camera to capture the dark-on-dark tones! I wore the pants to school the other day with a coral sweater and coral/red/black floral tee, and felt much more like myself!)