Hey Sewing Sisters!! Welcome to 2020!!  And to the 2nd edition of our Tips and Tricks Recap!  Today we are going to continue our recap of last years tips and tricks that were shared in our newsletters, continuing on with the letter I and going through letter Q!  

I is for interfacing. What is interfacing and why is it important? Interfacing is used to provide stability, shaping and support.   

Collars, cuffs, facings and plackets are the most commonly interfaced areas, but are not the only areas it can be used.  For example, our Wren weekender bag is a great place to use interfacing!  

There are several types of interfacing, such as fusible and sew-in.  Some very lightweight fabrics cannot withstand the heat of fusible interfacing and it also adds a little more stiffness.  If that isn't your desired outcome, you may want to go with sew-in or lightweight interfacing as lightweight interfacing will not take away from the drape or airiness of your fabric.  Another great place to use interfacing is in your button plackets.  Using it there will reinforce your holes, which is especially helpful if you have little ones who like to dress themselves.

J is for JUST DO YOUR BEST!!!  It was one of our favorite tips from this collection, as it applies to EVERYONE!  Each of us are in different places in our sewing journey.  Some of us have been sewing for many years and some may have picked up the craft just this week.  No matter where you are on your path of sewing, remember to just do your best.  Give yourself grace and time to improve and grow as a sewist!  Don't get discouraged, and just take each project one step at a time!  

If you are looking for a place to share your projects or get answers to questions, our Facebook group is a great place to get encouragement from others who many have been where you are & might have wonderful words of wisdom to share!  We are all in this together and love to rejoice in each other's successes!

K is for Knits. We are sharing some of our favorite tips and tricks for sewing with knits.  Sewing with knits may seem a little foreign, especially if you are only used to working with woven fabric, but it is such a great tool to have in your toolbox as knits are always kid-approved and many times knit patterns are super quick sews! 

The first thing to learn when working with knits, is that there are many types, and each works better for different projects.  Some knits are easier to sew with than others.  The less stretch a knit has, the easier it is to sew with, however it might not be the right knit for the project.  Knowing a little about the types of knits available will help you choose the correct type of knit for a specific pattern.  Here is a list of 7 more commonly used knits:

Cotton Jersey (shown above): A knit fabric made of natural cotton and used mostly in t-shirts.  This knit has a sturdy hand and wear with minimal stretch.  Note: unless the T-shirt has a wide neck opening, another type of knit would be needed for the neckband.

Cotton Lycra (shown above): Known for its smooth hand, excellent stretch and recovery.  This is what we would suggest for most of our patterns.

Cotton Interlock (Shown above): A double knit that is thicker and a little heavier than a single knit, which can make it a bit easier to sew with.  This knit typically is the most stable of all knits, keeping its shape very well.

Cotton Ribbed (shown above):  A double-knit fabric in which the wales or vertical rows of stitches intermesh alternatively on the face and the back (like a t-shirt neckband)

 Jersey ITY (shown above): Typically comprised of 92% Polyester/8% Lycra, this knit is ultra soft, does not wrinkle and has great stretch and drape.  It is perfect for active-wear, dresses and tops.  

French Terry (shown above): Features looping and piling on one side only and has a flat, unlooped back.  Typically this knit is 100% (meaning not much stretch), but it can be found with spandex or other fibers for increased stretch and recovery.

Lycra Spandex (Shown above): This type of knit has a heavier weight, very smooth hand, and a four way stretch for a dded comfort and ease.  Perfect for swim wear and dance wear!

As we were discussing those 7 types of knits above, we often referred to the stretch and recovery of the knit.  Why is this important?  Most knit patterns will instruct what time of knit is recommended, by some will even instruct the percentage of knit stretch recommended.  This is important because most knit patterns are  designed with 0 or negative ease.  This means the garment is designed so that the knit will stretch to the subject's measurements when worn.  If your fabric does not stretch enough, your garment may end up being too tight or small.  

The other thing to keep in mind when choosing knit is stretch recovery.  Some knits (like rayons) will stretch a ton, but they tend to have bad recovery, meaning they stay stretched out.  This can be a problem.  For example, if you are making a neckband (which is typically 10% smaller than the neck opening) you want the neckband to stretch out while you sew it to the neckline and then bounce back to its original length to "shape" the neckline.  If the knit has poor stretch recovery, then it will stretch and stay stretched making a really huge, stretched out neckline.  You can easily test stretch recovery of a fabric!  All you have to do is take a 10" strip and stretch it.  After it is stretched, if it returns to 10" then it has great stretch recovery, since it bounced right back to proper size.  If it's anywhere bigger than the original size, then it doesn't have the best recovery.  

Additional knit tips:

~Knit doesn't fray, so hemming isn't absolutely necessary

~Do not stretch the knit as you sew

~Use a stretch or ball point needle (discussed in last weeks blog)

~Although a serger, walking foot or cover-stitch machine are not necessary for sewing with knits, you may find the addition of these tools takes your knit skills to "store-bought" level.

Bottom line - Don't be afraid to try knits!!  They may open a whole new world of possibilities for you!

L is for Linings!  Linings are included in most of our patterns.  They are used to hide seam construction, help the garment to hang better and, in some instances, keep a garment from being see-through.  A helpful tip would be to use plain white cotton as your lining fabric instead of wasting your good fabric in a place where it won't be seen.


 M is for Muslin. You might be wondering, "Why do i need to create a muslin?"  Well, have you ever used your expensive or treasured fabric on a garment, only to find that the fit isn't what you intended? 

Not all people or kiddos are the same shape and size!  We try our very best to make sure that our patterns fit a wide ranges of shapes and sizes, but sometimes they still may need to be tweaked for your taste or intended fit.  This is when making a muslin would come in handy!  

Making a quick muslin with an inexpensive fabric would allow you to get the exact fit you desire, perfect the process, avoid frustration, and in the end, you could even have an extra wearable garment! 

There are a few things to think about when constructing your muslin.  One would be to use fabric that is similar to your intended fabric so that you can achieve similar drape and fit.  Second, even though you might be sewing a super quick test garment, make sure you still take the time to make it correctly!  Be sure to cut your pieces carefully and pay attention to the grain so there is no warping or weird fabric issues with the muslin.  Also, be sure to follow the seam allowances as you would on the final garment.  Lastly, baste everything so it is super easy to tear apart if needed.  You can always got back and reinforce the stitches if you decide you want to keep it as a wearable garment!

N is for Nap!  Nap is the texture of a fabric with the raised fibers of the fabric going in a particular direction.  It is most noticeable in velvets, corduroys and fleece fabrics, but it is also present in silks, satins and other smooth surfaced fabrics.  Most of the time you can determine if a fabric has a nap by brushing your hand over the fabric in one direction to see whether it changes color or shade. 

If your fabric is textured or has a one-way pattern, follow the "with nap" layout.  This requires all of the nap to run from top to bottom.  If there are pattern pieces where the nap is running a different direction, it will be noticeable.  So, when you are working with one of the above mentioned fabrics, cut carefully and with your pattern pieces going in the same direction! 

O is for Overlocker!! Is an overlocker (otherwise know as a serger) necessary? The answer is no!  However, it does make life a lot easier and makes your finishing look much neater!   And overlocker is a sewing machine that cuts and overlocks the edge of your fabric at the same time.  

It can be 3-8 threads and can be used for a variety of creative stitching.  Some people even use their machines for gathering!  If you want to take your sewing to the next level, a serger would be a great investment! 

 P is for Pre-shrinking!!  This is one debated topic among seamstresses!  We are going to err on the pre-shrinking side though, especially for your knit fabrics. 

There is a few reasons to pre-wash/pre-shrink your fabrics.  For example, most fabrics are treated with chemicals and dyes while in the manufacturing process, and pre-washing washes out any of those treatments.  Also, pre-shrinking means that your fabric becomes washable when made into a garment because the shrinking has already be done!  This is the main reason we mentioned pre-shrinking your knits.  They have a tendency to shrink up more than wovens, so pre-shrinking will ensure a proper fit after washing. 

Q is for quilting!  Quilting is not just for blankets and pillows!  It is a really interesting technique that you can use on bodices, side panels, and even skirts!  We love how Carrie Tweten from Maggie Mae used a chevron quilting technique on her bodice for this darling dress:

There are many quilting designs available which could provide great inspiration for your next sewing project!!

We hope you are enjoying these recaps helpful tips and tricks!  Join us next week for our final letters of the alphabet - {R-Z} and we can't wait to see what you sew up next!

Happy Sewing!!




January 08, 2020 by Ericka Wright