Sewing My Way Through A Beginner’s Guide To Knitted Fabrics

Last year after getting A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics by Wendy Ward I set myself the personal challenge to see if I could sew my way through the book. I never set myself any time limits to do it, it was more just something I was going to do over time and enjoy the process. I can happily say I made the last item from it in December so challenge completed in 2018.

To recap the book has 5 projects to make

  • Peak t-shirt
  • Derwent wide leg trousers
  • Winnats tank
  • Monsal lounge pants
  • Kinder cardigan
  • Longshaw skirt

I didn’t sew them in the order listed but I did make them all. Some I made multiple of, some I made additional versions that were in the book. For top / cardigan patterns I used the largest size pattern, for skirts / pants I used the 3rd largest size.

Kinder Cardigan
This was the first item I made. My first intention was to make it in the navy fabric but I didn’t buy enough fabric and couldn’t get anymore so I brought the teal fabric and made it in that. I was able to make the blue version after being a little creative with a remnant piece that was in my stash. This is sew comfortable to wear and I wore both of them lots last year. This was such an easy pattern to make. I love the pockets! I do want to try making this again but I’m going to see if I can add a zipper to the front.

Peak T-Shirt
This was the second item I made. The pattern is a really simple t-shirt. I used some cotton lycra from stash. This became my gym shirt last year. It is a little bit fitted around my neck but it isn’t uncomfortable. If I was to make this again or should I say when I make this again I’m adding a little extra to the neckband particularly if I use a firmer lycra. Later in the year I made the t-shirt dress variation which is also in the book. I wore the dress a lot last summer and will continue wearing it this winter. This is my go to t-shirt pattern now. This top isn’t fitted so I could possibly go down a size in it particularly if it is softer knit.

Longshaw Skirt
This was the third pattern I tried. This skirt was a challenge not because it was hard to make but because my brain could not grasp the concept of how this was sewn until it was cut out and I had the fabric in my hands. I still call this my origami skirt due to the way you fold it to form the pockets and sew the seams. Don’t be afraid to try this skirt, try the brilliant instructions Wendy has in the book and will it come out fine. I used some fabric in my stash just to try out the pattern not knowing if I would like it. I’m not totally convinced this skirt is flattening on me, maybe due to fabric I don’t know. I think this skirt makes me look too hippy or bulky around the thighs. I don’t hate this skirt, the pockets on this are fantastic and I have worn it a bit. I would like to try this again in maybe a black or darker fabric.

Derwent Wide Leg Pants
The fourth item I made using again some fabric from my stash. I had never used wide elastic before and wasn’t sure if I would even like it comfort wise but I love these pants. Because they are white I only wear these at home but I found myself wearing them a lot. The wide elastic doesn’t bother me as it is covered over with fabric. I do get confused which is the back and front of these (I don’t put tags in my clothing) either way I wear them they are comfortable. I do plan on making these again in black so I can wear them to work. The fit is amazing and I am really happy with these. Once again an easy pattern to make and a real great basic for your wardrobe.

Winnants Tank
The firth pattern I tried was the basic tank top. I had some leftover fabric in my stash that I was planning on making a tank top with at some point and just had enough for it. This I would say is the easiest pattern to make in the book and a great one to start with if you were a real beginner and wanted to try clothing making. I lived out of this top last summer in Sydney as we had many hot days and it was really comfortable. After making the first top I made a black version last month which I wore to Frocktails but will also be my gym shirt for next summer. The fit of this top is brilliant. It isn’t revealing so I can exercise in it without feeling like I’m flashing everyone. I do need to add extra to the bands around the arms and neck as I am not too good with sewing bands on and to reduce puckering I need the extra length. I do have fabric to make another version of this.

Monsal Lounge Pants
The final pattern which I made in December when I decided I would finish the book in 2018 was the shorts. I have made the most basic basic version of the pants. I have only worn them once or twice so far as it has still been too hot to wear them but I know I will wear them around the house this winter. They fit ok, they aren’t designed to fitted as such more just comfortable shorts which they are. I would make this pattern again and maybe try the version with pockets.

I am pretty proud of myself sewing my way through the book. It was fun to do because it is a great book. The minute I saw this book was coming out I pre-ordered it as I just felt I was going to like the book and I don’t like it… I love it! All the patterns are wardrobe essentials that you need. The different versions of each pattern in the book allow you to make version that is for you. If I had to pick a favourite pattern it would be the Winnats tank but they are all great patterns and I want to try all of them again using different fabrics or techniques. It isn’t just the patterns that make the book great but also the explanation of sewing techniques, the knowledge I picked up from this book I have used in making other patterns. This book really boosted my sewing confidence last year and helped expand my me made wardrobe.

Cassiy

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Monsal Shorts

The last pattern I was still yet to make from A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing Knitted Fabric was the Monsal Lounge Pants. I had some French terry fabric in my stash which I thought would be perfect for these. As I am not liking longer pants unless they are tights I decided to make shorts.

 

My first intention was to make them with pockets. Silly me didn’t read the instructions properly when tracing out the pattern and I traced out the version that didn’t have the pocket area cut out on the front pieces. I thought no problem there is a way around this instead of having inside pockets I will put patch pockets on the outside. When I started sewing these was when I had my overlocker issues. I did get my overlocker working eventually by a lot of rethreading from scratch. On the upside I don’t find that side of overlockers scary anymore.

I made the pockets but once I went to attach them to the front of the shorts I realized that my overlocker which was still temperamental was going to struggle through the bulkiness of all the fabrics so I opted not to put the pockets on. I’m happy that I was able to work out how to make the pockets to be patch pockets, the above picture is what they looked like before I turned the pockets the right way out. My sewing curves on the overlocker is improving.

In the end I made a very basic pair of these shorts. I’m going to be wearing these at home so pockets are not essential. I’m happy with the finished pair. As mentioned these are very basic shorts but they fit and aren’t too big or small. The waistband on these make them very comfortable. As the fabric is a little bit thicker these are winter shorts, in summer in they would be way to hot but in winter just perfect.

I do like this pattern and if you read all the instructions and trace out the pieces correctly they are a very simple pair of pants or shorts to make. Would I make this pattern again? I think so.

Cassiy

Peak T-Shirt Dress

This dress is another pattern from A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing Knitted Fabrics, it is a variation of the basic Peak T-Shirt and is the pattern used on the front cover of the book.

When I was sewing my way through this book this dress was one of the pattern variations I thought I would like to try at some point, it looked comfortable and face it who doesn’t want to wear a t-shirt disguised as a dress.

For a couple of weeks I kept going on Zebra Fabrics website to look at this one geometric circle print in their remnant section which from memory was around 1m in length (give or take 20cm) I really liked this fabric but had no idea what I would make with it as it was a smallish piece, I could squeeze out a tank top but my fear was bad pattern placement and I would end up with giant circles on the centre of my boobs (that could be embarrassing) One day brainwave I thought outside the circle (or in this case the geometric circle) I could team it up with other fabric and make a t-shirt dress.

The fabric is a lycra cotton knit, from Ruby Jam Fabrics I brought some black lycra cotton knit which is roughly the same weight (plus I wanted to try out their black lycra) My initial thought was to only use the remnant in the skirt portion of the dress but thinking about how much fabric there was I decided to use it on the sleeves and collar first then use the remainder in the skirt adding extra length with the black fabric if needed.

Looking at my list to consider when clothing making

  • Comfort √
  • Classic √
  • Creative / Quirky √
  • Natural Fibres √

This dress is ticking the list 100% The cotton lycra knit fabrics means it is very breathable and comfortable. Style wise it is a simple no fuss dress but using the geometric fabric in the creative way I have has just changed it around it a little adding a bit of interest. I really thought about the construction of this dress and I had never really done that before with clothing.

I opted not to put elastic around the waist to pull it in as I thought the elastic might annoy me a bit. Admittedly it does make it look a bit baggy as is, perhaps I should’ve graded down in the skirt portion to make it a little slimmer. I’m not actually too bothered by this as I have been wearing a jacket or jumper over the top which pulls the fabric in anyway. I’m toying with the idea of adding belt loops and making a simple belt or even stitching the side seams a little even though I have already worn this a heap of times. The neckline is a bit baggy at the back, I really think I need to start doing the rounded back adjustment but I’m actually trying to correct my rounded shoulders by exercise at the same time. When you have a jumper or jacket on you can’t tell anyway that the neckline is baggy.

I love this dress, it has turned out the exact way I planned it out in my head. The remnant piece was destined for this dress, for me there is no other better way I could’ve used it. I also got to try out another pattern from A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing Knitted Fabrics (I really do love that book) This pattern I would make again, it was really easy to do and as mentioned I have worn it heaps which is always a good sign.

Cassiy

Longshaw Skirt

As I was going through all the patterns in A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing Knitted Fabrics there was one pattern that kept doing my head in every time that I looked at it, the Longshaw Skirt. I just couldn’t get my head around how it was constructed from looking at the drawing of the pattern pieces no matter how many times I looked at it or tried to read through the instructions. The front and back of the skirt are the same pattern piece so you cut 2 of the same but the piece had lots of curves to it and I couldn’t work out where the seam lines went or which was the top and bottom.

I trust Wendy Ward’s pattern so I figured she knew what she was doing with making this skirt, after finding some white printed fabric in my stash that I got from Zebra fabrics and not knowing what else I might do with it I dived in and tried this pattern. Once I had the skirt pattern pieces cut out the instructions started to become more clear in my head. This skirt has a centre front and centre back seam rather than side seams and a curved bottom hem line. I have nicknamed this my origami skirt due to way you fold the pocket pieces in on the sides. It is actually very cleverly constructed once your brain grasps the concept of it.

Referring to my tick list when making clothing

  • Comfort
  • Classic
  • Creative / Quirky
  • Natural Fibres

This skirt is actually really comfortable, the hem line of the skirt does come in a bit so it doesn’t flare out at the bottom but it isn’t restrictive. This is a very quirky skirt, as I mentioned above it is a bit of a brain twister. The knit fabric I used is a light weight cotton and is very soft and comfortable. I don’t think I would really call it a classic style unless a tulip style is considered a classic style of skirt.

Now I will be perfectly honest I’m not entirely convinced that I like this skirt although I have worn it multiple times to work because the pockets are amazing. Saying that as wonderful as the pockets are I think they make me look too side heavy/bulky/puffy. I don’t have that large of thighs but with the pockets flaring out right on the thigh area I just think it looks bulky. I’m not sure if in black fabric it would make it seem less wide.

Would I make this skirt again? I’m curious now how it would look in black. I do now have some black brush cotton in my stash which is a heavier knit that I might try another with but with it being a heavier knit it might not drape as well and will that result in the same bulky thigh feeling. I’ll think about it. It was good to try out this pattern and tick it off my list of patterns from the book. I used fabric from my stash too so that is always a good thing.

Cassiy

Winnats Tank

This top is another from A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics. I made this a couple of months ago and have made nearly all the patterns in the book now so I can’t remember which order I made it in.

This top is incredibly simple to make. It is a basic front, back, bands around the neck / arms and bottom hem. If you were a super speedy sewing master you could get this easily done in a couple of hours if that. If you were a beginner and wanting to pick a pattern to start on from the book I would recommend this top.

Fit wise I am pretty happy with it. I did make the largest size as I need to with all the top patterns in this book. The back is gaping a little but not enough to bother me. Perhaps I may take out some from the back next time but the fabric is a cotton knit so it more forgiving and less noticeable than other recent top patterns where I have had that issue. My sewing is a little bit dodgy around the bands on the neckline and one arm. I didn’t hand tack my fabric before attaching the bands on the overlocker so I did have to go over them in parts to correct bits I missed and my machine ate some of the bands in the process. I am lucky due to the nature of this fabric I can get away with as the print is busy.

This is a great essential little top. You could wear it under jackets or layer it under dresses, in summer this would look cute under a York Pinafore. I think it would make a great gym top, the neckline is high so you’re not exposing yourself as you bend forward. The side of top goes up nice and high under the arm so again you don’t have any side expose. It is not too high under the arms or around the neck that you feel uncomfortable or that it is choking you. I am very tempted to now make one in a black cotton lycra for summer gym sessions with my trainer when I am finding the peak t-shirt I made earlier this year and have been wearing to the gym to be a little bit hot and boxy in the warmer weather. I have no problem wearing a fitted top the gym as I am there to work out and not be a fashion show so as long as I am comfortable I don’t care what I wear.

The fabric used was leftover in my stash from when I made my skirt a couple of years ago, at the time I thought I would like to make a simple top with it so I could have entire outfit but in my cupboard it went and I forgot about it until I was “playing” in my stash one day and found it. I had just enough fabric left to squeeze this top out and that was with making the largest size. I really did fall in love with the print of this fabric when I first saw it. To be honest I haven’t really worn my skirt since I made it. No particular reason I just put it in my drawer and forget what I have made. Now that I have a matching top I think I will wear it more this summer. I can wear it to work as an outfit even though I will be wearing my work jumper over it because you will see a peak of the neckline under my jumper.

Looking at my points to consider when making clothes

  • Comfort
  • Classic
  • Creative / Quirky
  • Natural Fibres

It is super comfortable due to the fabric so ticking the comfort and natural fibre points. The style is very much a classic tank top that can go with any skirt so ticking that point. The fabric is a little different, pretty but in a non girly pink way so I think it ticks the creative/quirky point.

I am super happy with this top. Not only did I make another pattern from the book which I aim to sew my way through but I also made a top from fabric I had set aside waiting for the perfect pattern (ok and forgetting about) Sewing and decluttering working as one and giving me a fantastic outfit.

Cassiy

Derwent Wide Leg Trousers – White

Recently on a couple of occasions I have sat down in front my fabric stash armed with my favourite patterns and sewing books with patterns in them to get inspiration of what I can make from my current stash. My garment sewing stash isn’t overly huge these days but it also isn’t little. I am trying to be more selective to what I add to it these days, I’m not saying at times random pieces don’t get added to it but now days I try to think of a pattern in mind when I get new fabric. I purchased some white fabric years ago and I don’t know why as I don’t wear white fabric. It was a knit bamboo mix that had a fleece side to it. I’m thinking at the time maybe I could make a top from it but reality is it would’ve been too hot. Ticking off my patterns from A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics I thought why not make the Derwent Trousers out of them, the pattern called for fabric like it and the pattern kind of reminds me of yoga pants. I had a fall a few months ago where I tripped on the bottom of my pj pants and since then I have been living in leggings as I am scared I will have another fall so I thought these pants might be a nice alternative in the cooler months at home to leggings. It also gives me a chance to try out the pattern.

I made the crop version as I just had enough fabric to make them. With the patterns in Beginner’s Guide To Sewing With Knitted fabrics I’m finding for tops I need the largest size possible but for pants or skirts I can go down to about the 3rd largest size. I don’t might a more snug fit on my waist and hips but not on shoulders and bust area.

These pants are really quick and simple to make as there is only 2 pieces to them. I had a near disaster sewing up my side seams as I pinned them wrong and almost stitched instead of fronts to back leg to leg. Luckily I held them up pinned and thought this doesn’t look right! The only problem with these is when I picked them up I can’t tell which is the front and which is the back. I’m not entirely convinced in these photos I even have them on the right way. Along the centre seams on the elastic I tried to make one side longer than the other when I stitched them down but of course I can’t remember now if the shorter side means it is the back or the front. I guess if they feel uncomfortable I can always turn them around.

I have never stitched with 3″ wide elastic and wasn’t even sure if I would like it around my waist. I was getting flash backs to those wide elastic belts that were in fashion in the late 80’s early 90’s which I hated. Surprisingly the waist is really comfortable. I attached the elastic to the top edge with my overlocker (serger) then just followed the instructions as per the book how to finish it. I’m really amazed at how flat it is sitting.

To hem these I used a 3 step zig zag hem which is one of the hems recommended in the book. I was lazy and eye balled the hem as I pinned it. I’m not worried if they aren’t even, these are just for home besides due to my disability I don’t even stand even. The hem was really to do on my sewing machine which generally hates sewing knits.

So would I make this pattern again? Absolutely, I think these would look great in black or denim. I only wear cottons so finding fabric for these is a little difficult for me. In thick cotton lycra they would make great casual yoga pants to wear out but I am looking to get more black unbrushed cotton (the store I brought it from doesn’t have it in stock at the moment) so that I can make a pair to wear to work.

These are the 3rd item I’ve blogged about from my challenge of sewing my way through A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics. I have actually also made 2 other items from the book which I will blog about soon.

Cassiy

Peak T-Shirt

Last summer I made a heap of t-shirts to use as pj tops to sleep in and I discovered they are really easy to make. I have lived out of them. As much as I love them I can’t wear them out as they are just a fraction too big even for me who loves baggy clothing. Yes I could just trace out a smaller size but I refer to that pattern now as my PJ top and it is actually a men’s pj pattern (K4088) I wanted to make a new t-shirt to wear as my gym top as the top I was using as my gym shirt was an old charity volunteer top and I no longer volunteer for that charity so I thought it was maybe wrong to keep wearing the top in public. It was fairly old and the fabric was one those cottons that go crusty with age and not soft and squishy. I thought this is the perfect opportunity to make my second pattern from A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics the Peak T-Shirt.

 

I had 2 pieces of blue fabric in my stash that kind of looked the same each about 1m. I remember buying one them and know it was cotton lycra, I can’t remember where or when I purchased the second one. As the 2 felt and stretched the same I assumed the 2nd was another lycra knit. At one stage I was wanting to make bike pants so I think that is why I brought them, I still want to make bike pants but never in blue.

I traced out the largest size of the pattern. The book mentions a few knits to use for this top but not cotton lycra, my thinking was it is a t-shirt and you do find them made out of cotton lycra so it should work and it did. The 2 pieces of fabric are very similar in colour but not 100% the same. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough fabric out of either piece to make the entire top from one fabric so I had to do a mash it up.

The front, back and neckband are made from the one of fabric. I went with the fabric which was slightly darker and the one I am more certain is the actual cotton lycra piece. It was little I guess firmer so I thought would retain the shape better over the body of the top. The sleeves are made from the other piece. Unless you get up really close and know to be looking for it you don’t see the colour difference between the fabrics.

I assembled this on the overlocker and used the sewing machine to join the neckband into a ring and do the hems. My hems I just folded over and did a zig zag stitch. I’m not sure why they became wavy. I’m just calling it a design feature particularly when it is on both the sleeves and bottom hem.

Despite my expression I do like this top!

I am surprised by the fit of this. I have road tested this as the gym and it was really comfortable. I can move all my shoulders easily. The sleeves didn’t get in my way like some tops I have worn have. I personally don’t care what I look like when I work out but I feel comfortable in this. It isn’t baggy but it isn’t super snug that I can’t move about in it. I can say I have made active wear now!

My aim is to sew my way through this book and I have made 2 patterns so far with 3 garments in total. At this point from fabrics in my stash I should be able to make at least 1 if not 2 or more items. I’m not rushing myself to make things when I feel inspired to try a pattern I will.

Cassiy