Tuesday, February 10, 2009

$15 remakes your wardrobe: knit t-shirts

It's taking me years of sewing, but I finally discovered knits. I work from home, I'm a mom, I live in Southern California, the result being that I live in tee-shirts. At long last I learned that they are fast and inexpensive to sew. You can make tees without a serger - I learned how, as I'm too much of a penny-pincer to buy what would probably be an indispensable machine.

Add a tee shirt in French fabric to your wardrobe:
Time: 45 minutes 
Cost: $12.58

You have to add the cost of the pattern, and the thread, and possibly the needle - but then you probably have a tee-shirt pattern in your stash.

Fresh aqua print from Lucy's fabrics

Sophisticated Anne Klein paisley from Textile Studio

French red wool, flecked with steely blue
again Textile Studio

The wool or Anne Klein fabric will set you back slightly more than $15, to be honest.

I began sewing knits with one perfectly-crafted pattern: the Santa Monica Tee from Textile Studio.  

I've found several great sources for fabric, and there are so many more, so please tell us your favorites in the Comments below.

Lucy's Fabrics has hip knits 

Textile Studios has upscale, carefully-selected knits 

Banberry Place has fabulously colorful Euro knits 

Here are a few from Lucy's now in my stash:

An adorable floral from France:
subtle teal, browns and mustard 

Zippy Pucci look-a-like, also from France:
the print goes in the bodice; 
sleeves and binding are black.

So many of you out there are expert at sewing knits, and far ahead of me. But here for beginners are my quick tips:

- Don't be afraid of knits.

- Get the right needle for your machine.

- Test different stitches before you start. Use a 3.0 stitch length for sewing seams, and stretch the fabric in front and behind the needle as you sew. You can also use a very narrow zig-zag for seams. Test on a scrap of your fabric to see what amount of stretch gives you the best results. You want to be able to stretch your garment a bit during wear without breaking the thread.

- If you don't have a serger, finish the edges with zig-zag or 3-step zig-zag. It's probably on your machine and you may never have used it. It looks so great on edges!

- Use of bit of lightweight knit interfacing in the hem so the edges don't curl while you're sewing the hem.

- Sew a strip of stable fabric into the shoulder seams to stabilize them.

- There are great instructions for binding necklines on this Threads video.

Detail of 3-step zig-zag finishing

Leftovers: You often end up with lots of leftover fabric when you make tee-shirts. Use it to make:

- Sleeves or bodices for another project
- Binding for another project
- Kids' tee-shirts
- Hairbands
- Camisoles and undies

I am going to try my hand at making boy shorts and some more tees from Jalie. Undies call for 4-way stretch but I might be able to get away with my bits of leftover rayon-lycra fabric, with more stretch in the width than in the length. 

I'll let you know in a future post how this works out - will I be able to get into this underwear? At least I've got cute tops to wear.


Kath said...

I love the Anne Klein Paisley! Other sources you might want to check out for knit fabrics are GorgeousFabrics.com and EmmaOneSock.com.

Kath said...

I love the Anne Klein paisley version. I have this pattern in my stash. It's time to give it a try. You might want to check out GorgeousFabrics.com and EmmaOneSock.com for knit fabrics...