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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Monday, October 30, 2017

On production sewing and hemming knits

It's been a weird last week and I have some project catch-up to do.

First of all we have had intermittent internet issues. Our whole system (internet, phone and TV) has been up and down (at one point we had nothing for three days) for mysterious reasons.

The symptoms are that once the service tech comes out and says he doesn't understand what's going on and leaves, everything starts working again as soon as he exits the driveway, only to go down again a few days later.

Such a nuisance. I remember of course when we had none of this (and I am sure had a lot more time on our hands) but being connected is just necessary to my life. I have been able to post to Instagram more or less daily on my phone that has a different provider, but the blog has been harder to do.

Enough whining.

Last weekend I had a wonderful three days sewing with some members of the Atlantic Sewing Guild at a local yacht club. There was food, there was fitting, and there was a lot of laughter.

Would more could a sewer want?

Into this marathon of all things good I took a laundry basket of necessary garments for my everyday life cut out. At the end of the three days I had made:

  • 4 pairs of knit Brooklyn pants
  • 6 tops from various Jalie patterns, to be reviewed individually

Not the most exciting sewing maybe but enormously satisfying to have this section of my wardrobe refreshed.

The speed of production was enabled by the fact I sewed only knits. This meant that I could whip them up on the serger fast. The only thing I did not do at the retreat was hem, using my new cover hem, although thanks to Cindy I did learn a new way to finish off that kind of hem.

Now, since the Halloween sewing is done and our racoon, Batman and owl are ready to go out tomorrow, I intend to spend as much of today as I can experimenting with different knit hemming techniques.

Sometimes I am happy with my knit hems, and sometimes I am not, so I have decided to try a different technique on each garment and to record/share the results.

This is going to be a big day obviously.

Interestingly since this idea has been percolating in my mind, I was out yesterday at a fabric sale put on twice a year by a Canadian designer who sells her left overs once a round of production is done.

I know this designer's work pretty well back from when she made tailored suits and shirts for professional women.

It is interesting to me to see how her work has since evolved and that she now pretty much makes only knits in very simple shapes - something she says her clientele prefer. Every one wants to be comfortable and no one irons anymore she says.

I had a look at her pattern blocks while I was there and was struck by how simple her designs now are - 2-3 pattern pieces all the edges and hems just turned and stitched.

Most of all I was surprised to see that the raw edges of the necklines and armholes/sleeves where simply turned over and straight stitched  - I guess the width of most of them means popped stitches are unlikely. The bottom hems were all turned over twice and topstitched with a straight stitch too.

This is pretty radical stuff for a person who had set herself up for a comparison hemming project I can tell you.

I am thinking I should give this a go too today, although I might borrow an idea from Mary from last weekend and hand wind a bobbin with Wooly Nylon before I straight stitch.


Like most sewers I am terrified of a seam or a stitch opening up.

So stay tuned, hems to follow.


Kathie said...

Greetings! Always enjoy your posts to the max. I'm hoping your Instagram account is public and that you will share your "name"...I have only recently discovered it and am having fun posting pictures.

Jane M said...

I had exactly the same thoughts when I visited a local designer's fabric sale also. Knits have really changed how we dress and in this case, how garments are manufactured. I still sew my knit garments, try them on for fit, then serge the seams...which would mean I wouldn't make money if I were one of these designers. That said, I am going to challenge myself with a tailoring project this winter...but will use breaks to make myself several easy peasy woven garments just like you did at the retreat. It's great to have fun with sewing friends but also to have some new clothes at the end.

Barkcloth said...

The cloths Lisa Drader-Murphy sells are really simple designs! I wonder why people are willing to pay a lot of money for rectangles with a hole in it.

LWS said...

I am really looking forward to the upcoming post, as I sew almost entirely with knits now and am resisting buying a coverstitch machine. I hand hem heavier knits, and use a very slight zigzag for the lighter ones, but on a very stretchy knit either of those will break. Curious how the wooly nylon will work. Thanks for a great blog — one of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

So did you get any fabric? It sounds like an interesting exploration either way! I'm never sure how to finish knitted edges and so frequently what i end up with seems clumsy so your analysis of various approaches will be fascinating.


/anne... said...

I can highly recommend using hand-wound woolly nylon in the bobbin - it's not as slow to do as you might expect, and it absolutely works!