Sewing with Knits – The Moneta Dress

Can I be honest with you? Knits and I have not been friends. I was starting to feel like it was a battle and the knits were winning. I love to sew garments. There is just something about putting on a handmade dress that makes me feel really good. And I love to wear clothing made out of knit. It’s just so comfortable! And maybe if I made clothes out of knit for my 10 year old daughter she’d actually wear them. But I could never get my knit garments finished well enough that they didn’t look like my 10 year old made them. It’s those dang neck and arm holes and the blasted hems! I just kept wondering, why does it have to be so hard?! That is until I met the Moneta pattern by Colette.

Now I know that it’s really fun and freeing to sew without a pattern. But sometimes a pattern is the way to go. It’s a place to learn those little tips and tricks from the experts. The Moneta was just that for me. So many lights turned on as I worked through this. I finally feel confident enough to move on to my next challenge and even finish some things that have been taunting me from the corner of my sewing room.

So here is what I loved about the pattern. It’s a pretty quick sew up for beginners. And of course, I loved all of the side tips on sewing with knits. Another great thing about this pattern is that it comes in sizes XS-3XL with three sleeve lengths and five collar options. A quick Google image search and you will see this dress is flattering on almost every figure and it’s so comfortable to wear.

The bodice is fully lined and finishes off very nicely. There are great instructions on how to line it and there is even a video tutorial on Colette’s website.

The waist is gathered using 1/4″ clear elastic. I really like this stuff and thought it worked great. I cut it a little short the first time so it was rather tight. But nothing a little seam ripping and a little more elastic couldn’t fix. Although I didn’t get it put back together as well the second time. So when you do this part, make sure you cut a piece that is comfortable around your waist.

I read up about clear elastic in “The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits”. This is a great reference book for sewing with knits. It has everything from the type of stitches you should use, to how to use a serger, and even types of knit fabrics and how to use them. We are so impressed with how thorough and accesible this book is. I learned from the book that clear elastic can also be used to stabilize seams to keep them from stretching out, like in the shoulder seams of garments that need extra help to keep them from over stretching and becoming misshapen. You might even notice it in some of the store bough t-shirts you have.

My favorite notion I learned about is Wonder Tape. It’s a double-sided adhesive that works great for hems and around arm and neck holes. What makes this stuff so awesome is that it’s tacky. So you can hand press things into place befor eyou iron it down. This helps eliminate puckering so you end up with a straight, smooth hem.

Because knits are stretchy, you have to use a stitch that won’t overstretch the fabric and will also give when the fabric is stretched. The amount of stretch a seam needs to have depends on where it is on the garment. If it’s a flow-y garment like this one, the hem won’t get stretched too much when you wear it, so a slightly lengthened straight sticch should work great. But if the seam is at the neck or arm holes it will get stretched every time you put it on. You can use a zig zag stitch or some sewing machines have special stretch stitches. I like to use a double needle when I topstitch on knits. I really like the double needle because it looks very finished and provides the stretch needed for neck and armholes.

You’ll notice that while the top of the garment looks like a double straight stitch, the underside of the seam is a zig zag stitch. A little tip I learned recently is that it helps if you lower the bobbin tension (This is not the same as the main thread tension. Check your instruction manual for directions on your machine) a little it helps relax the bobbin thread a bit so it will lay flat and you don’t get a channel between your two stitches.

Here is a great tutorial on how to use a double needle.

http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2011/05/sewing-tips-basic-stitches-plus-double.html

I also like to use the serger when I sew with knits. It has a lot of give in it and finishes the garment off very nicely. Not to worry if you don’t have a serger. Just use one of hte other stitches we’ve talked about or come use our sergers in our classroom for $5 an hour.

So there you have it. One knit dress down, fifty more to go! I mean, look at all of these tasty new knits we have. I can’t stop thinking about my next Moneta.

Still feeling a little intimidated about sewing with knits? Not to worry, our garment instructor Jean Sando will be teaching the Moneta dress pattern on July 22nd and July 24th in a two-part class. Register here for the class! Can’t wait? Catch Jean’s next Garment Sew In.

Don’t forget that June is Garment Sewing Month at Modern Textiles!

* Weekly drawings! This week we are giving away a Moneta pattern! Stop in the store, share a Facebook post of ours, or regram an Instagram photo to enter. Drawing will be held each Saturday at closing time.

* Get a 25% coupon when you show us your garment sewing this month! Show us in the shop, post it on our Facebook page or tag us on Instagram (#mtgarmentmonth).

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