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

Purple Table Runner

I made this table runner for a friend to place on her cabinet after she threw out her old one. She didn’t care what it looked like as long as it was purple. I hadn’t been sewing for a while so thought it was the perfect project to get me sewing again. I raided my stash for purple fabrics I had on hand so I could get in and make this project whilst the sewing urge was there.

The top fabric I picked up at a Spoolette’s fabric swap, it is very funky purple daisies. I never actually opened the fabric piece up until I grabbed it for the this project to wash. Someone had tried to make a wrap skirt with the fabric and it actually had a pocket. I was still able to use the fabric but instead of having it as one long piece like originally planned I pieced it in 3 pieces like a quilt after I cut off the skirt seam lines. The backing fabric again was from my stash, from memory I had brought it on sale to make wild life rescue pouches with but I have plenty of fabric for that so I used it in this project (I still have some leftover)

Construction wise it is just the backing fabric, a layer of cotton batting and the pieced top. For the quilting I first went in the ditch where I had pieced the top and then just eyeballed where to do place the other quilting lines across from there. Again just eyeballing it I went down the centre of it once. After it was quilted I folded the backing fabric over to form a front border and stitched it down. This was a nice easy no fuss project to do.

I posted it up to my friend and it seems it got the approval from the important members of the house. I don’t make a lot of homeware accessories but this was fun to do.

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

York Pinafore – Orange Peel

I have a slight obsession with the orange peel quilt block pattern. If you’re not familiar with the design it is basically like 4 elongated ovals that are set on point to form a circle with the points all touching. It is a very striking pattern when you see it repeated. A year or two ago I came across a black and white print of it at a discounted price so I brought some to at some point make something (back then I was probably thinking a skirt) After making my first York I came across the fabric in my stash and thought this would make a great York. The orange peel design gives the fabric a bit of interest but doesn’t look too hard on the eyes.The fabric isn’t a soft quilting cotton even after washing and ironing but it is perfect for me to use in the York as over the torso area where a crispy fabric would irritate me it is layered over the top you wear under it. In hindsight had I used this fabric in a skirt which was fitted around the waist area it would’ve been a garment I never wore as it would’ve been too crunchy and not soft against my skin. Around the waist and thigh area the fabric is comfortable in this pattern as it isn’t tight around the skin. I wore this last week on a rather warm summers day and it was very comfortable.

With this one I did add length to the bottom so it was the same length as the other version available in the pattern. In the pattern the version with the kangaroo pocket is a shorter length which is what I made my first one. It is just a fraction too short for me I think and to be honest I haven’t worn it a great deal even though it has that great pocket. To add the extra length I measured the difference between the 2 versions from the paper pdf I still had and used the original pattern I cut out from to tracing and toile just marking in the extra length at the bottom with tailors chalk directly onto the fabric before I cut it. Both versions are straight at the bottom so this was easier than retracing the entire pattern.

Once again I love the pocket on this. Originally I was wearing this over my work jumper but it just didn’t look right, it was like I wearing an apron. I started wearing this under my jumper but over a t-shirt to work and I get so much use out of it now. As it the longer length I end up wearing this on almost a weekly basis. It is a little more fitted in at the waist then my first one too by chance when I stitched it up. It is really easy to access the pocket under my jumper at the front.

So that is now 2 York’s made. I am still contemplating a denim one, I have seen many made of denim on social media and it looks very casual. A denim one I could wear with sneekers, I spend a lot of time in sneekers and don’t have a lot of clothing that I can wear with them.

Cassiy

To Sew List Jan 19

Back in August I did my clothing “To Sew” list with a plan to update it every 6 months so perfect time to post it on January 1. My list isn’t set in stone and if I don’t make everything or even anything on it I am not bothered, it is more of a reminder to myself of patterns I want to make when I think I want to sew myself something but what… To recap this was my list

  • Concord t-shirt
  • Springfield top
  • Turner dress
  • Cedar dolman top
  • Concord t-shirt dress
  • Scrundlewear
  • Calista curvy bra
  • York pinafore
  • Hollings Circle skirt
  • Rusholme A-Line skirt
  • Finsbury  Bubble skirt
  • Fallowfield  pencil skirt
  • Roehampton culottes
  • Brighton Front Opening skirt
  • Derwent Wide Leg trousers
  • Winnats tank
  • Monsal Lounge pants
  • Longshaw skirt

Well I am happy to say that I have gotten a lot of the pieces made including making 2 York’s as I really liked the pattern and I have made all the patterns from A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing Knitted Fabric. Some of the items do need tweaking just because of the fit and I am having issues with my curved shoulders (too much computer work) I was able to use up a lot of fabric from my stash making the different pieces which was good but saying that I kept adding to my stash at the same time!

This is my latest to sew list

  • Turner dress – Cashmerette
  • Appleton dress – Cashmerette
  • Pembroke dress – Cashmerette
  • Appleton dress – Cashmerette
  • Cedar dolman top – Cashmerette
  • Concord t-shirt dress – Cashmerette
  • Scrundlewear – Stitch Upon A Time
  • Bunzies – Stitch Upon A Time
  • Calista curvy bra – Stitch Upon A Time
  • Quicker knickers – Little Finch
  • Poppy bralette – House of Morrighan
  • Robbie pants – Tessuti
  • Black Winnats top – Wendy Ward
  • Black hoodie/cardigan/jacket (no pattern yet)
  • Hollings Circle skirt – Wendy Ward
  • Rusholme A-Line skirt – Wendy Ward
  • Finsbury  Bubble skirt – Wendy Ward
  • Fallowfield  pencil skirt – Wendy Ward
  • Roehampton culottes – Wendy Ward
  • Brighton Front Opening skirt – Wendy Ward

I still have the remaining skirts from A Beginner’s Guide To Making Skirts as I haven’t gotten to those yet. I now have 3 undie patterns that I want to try, I have so many knit scraps left that I really just want to use them up on undies. The Calista is still something I would like to try but I have also found another bra pattern which looks kind of easy so will try that too. The Appleton dress is what I want to make for Frocktails so I need to get in and start sewing that. The Robbie pants are just something I saw this past weekend, a friend has made them few times and she looks fabulous in them so I thought I would give them a try. Prior to the lasted Dr Who this year I was wanting a long hoodie/cardigan/jacket but after watching the series I have really fallen in love with her jacket. I want to make something similar but in black. In my mind I can see a long hoodie type cardigan that does up with a zip, I haven’t got a pattern yet but I haven’t seriously looked around for anything yet either.

As mentioned for the pieces from my last list I was able to use up a lot of fabric from my stash, particularly when making the pieces from A Beginner’s Guide To Knitted Fabrics where I used fabrics that I wasn’t sure how else I would use them such as white fabrics. Since my last list I have been adding to my stash. Over this past few days I have ordered another 6 metres of fabric alone, it was on sale and hopefully can be used for 2 of the items on my new list. Now I am a bit more picky on how much I buy and try to buy with a purpose in mind. I raided my stash to find fabric for my Appleton dress so I will use the black/white daisy fabric. The Sesame Street fabric is newly acquired, it will probably be another Turner skirt but with the faces only on the front and a plain black back. I wasn’t able to buy enough to make a full turner skirt so will team it up with black fabric from my stash.

There is no pressure on myself to get all my items made. I’m just going to make myself clothing when I am in the mood.

Cassiy

Cashmerette Washington Dress

The first ever Cashmerette pattern I saw and purchased was the Washington Dress. This combines a knit with a woven which is really unusual and I have never seen a pattern like it. The bodice is a knit and the skirt is a woven, so really it is the best of both worlds!

 

I worked on it a the first Cashmerette retreat I went to. Working with the combination of fabrics sounded a bit tricky so I thought making it with the designer Jenny who created the pattern whilst I had the chance would be my best option so I could pick up any tips and tricks. I was really surprised with myself I was smaller than I realised and was able to make the bodice a smaller size than I originally I thought I would need. We graded between 3 sizes for the bodice, yoke and the skirt so this is a mix of size 18, 24 and 22.

At the retreat I got it all finished except for the hems on the arms. I tried to finish it at home but my dear sewing machine who doesn’t like knit fabric ate the fabric on my first attempt… I was devastated. The dress looked good but I wasn’t sure how I was going to do the arm hems. The dress then lived on my lounge chair for about 6 months. I would pick it up every now and then but still unsure how to fix it back I placed it. After doing some of the patterns in A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing Knitted Fabrics I discovered a technique to do the hems where you use a three step zig zag stitch. I did it on a couple of patterns from the book and it worked on lightweight knitted fabrics which my machine normal ate the fabric on but using this stitch it didn’t. I bit the bullet and pulled out this dress and within 15 mins my dress was finished.

The knit fabric was something I got about 2 years ago but just lived in my stash waiting to be made into something. The woven I think I got from Pitt Trading, again it was living in my stash waiting to be made into something. The pattern suggests you use a scuba fabric for the yoke but all the scuba I can find is synthetic which I hate wearing so I used the same fabric I used for the rest of the skirt. The fabric has a slight stretch to it. I am really happy with my choice.

This dress ticks all my points when considering items to make

  • Comfort
  • Classic
  • Creative / Quirky
  • Natural Fibres

It is really comfortable and I have actually worn it heaps. Style wise it is a nice simple fitted dress. The combination of fabrics makes it a bit quirky and certainly is a creative way to use them. Both the fabrics used are cotton, the skirt is more a rigid cotton but it is cool to wear on the skin even on the waist which is slightly more fitted than I am used too wearing.

Now I will be honest when I first saw this pattern I wasn’t really taken by the fabrics used in the pictures for it. The models in it looked great in the dresses but the colour combinations used in them weren’t drawing me in to making it. The pattern sketch diagram was what made me really want to make this dress. Seeing this dress made in colours that were to my taste has just made me really fall in love with this dress. If I find colour combinations I like I will make this dress again.

I love my dress. It is a shame it took me most of the year to finish it but saying that I have learnt so much clothing making wise this year that I am proud that I was able to work out how to finish it after learning techniques from other projects.

Cassiy