Making More From Your Patterns – How to alter a woven pattern to make up in knit fabrics

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My Celia Top in Striped Apart Pink Jersey.

One of the ‘frequently asked questions’ that often comes my way is whether you can use the same pattern for wovens and for knits.

In effect is it possible to make Kate or Celia and some of our other patterns in a jersey knit fabric too.

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The Kate Dress and Celia Tops were both designed to be made out of woven fabrics such as linen or cotton lawn. Nice sensible, stable woven fabrics. But they do make up beautifully in jersey knits too.

So the answer to this question is –  ‘Yes, BUT…”

Here are a few things you might want to consider before taking the plunge:

  • The best patterns to use as a crossover from woven to knits are pretty simple shapes that have no darting through the waist, so both Kate and Celia tick those boxes.  
  • Choose your knit fabrics carefully. Anything with too much stretch will probably not work. A more stable jersey or something that will hold its shape and have a good return will give you a better result. The Art Gallery fabrics we have in store are the perfect cross-over fabrics.
  • Jersey or knit fabric clothing tend not to have darts, even at the bust. It is a very simple alteration to remove, or partly remove, the bust dart. All you need to do is fold out the dart all the way across the front. (There is more information below so read on).
  • Woven patterns require a lot more ease than knit ones do. So you may find that you need to drop down a size or even two.
  • Knit garments are made up slightly differently in that the sleeves are sewn in flat, like a shirt sleeve, and then the sides seams sewn. This means you have a chance to judge how much ease to allow and you can take it in through the side seams if need be.
  • You may need to finish the neck slightly differently too. I tend to go for a very simple neck band and you can see how to work out how big to make the band in the Woven Peaseblossom Tutorial.

 

This is how I pleated out the bust dart.

Mark on the seam allowance at the side and then draw parallel lines across the front level with the ends of the darts. Then fold the pleat out so the lines match up removing the dart.

Showing how to pleat out a dart in a woven pattern for knit fabric

Tidy up the side seam to remove the point at the edge of the dart.

How to pleat out the dart on a woven pattern for knit fabrics

But… and this is one of those big buts, if you have a fuller bust you may wish to keep part of the bust dart in place to give you a bit more shaping over the bust.

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I have a fuller bust and frequently have to do an FBA, so I felt I needed to retain some of the dart to give a better fit. All I did was pleat out half the dart and then redraw in the dart.

I made this one a teeny bit longer and left off the frill at the hem. But you can change and adapt your pattern to suit you. That is the beauty of making your own clothes.

I hope you give the adaptation a go and I’d love to see the results so do tag us on social media.

Jules x

 

Why a Retreat is All or Nothing

Sewing Retreat Feb 2018 Web Images-0020I have been asked, more than once, regarding our own Sewing Retreat if people “could just come along for the sewing bit without the accommodation or meals?”.

Maybe they live too close to Stratford to warrant staying somewhere else, or would prefer to not to stay overnight, whatever the reason it’s a perfectly valid question. And I could say ‘yes come and join us”.

But that would be missing the point. This weekend is a retreat, albeit a sewing retreat, but a retreat nonetheless.

Retreats, regardless of whether it happens to be a sewing retreat, a yoga retreat or even a religious retreat, are different from a normal workshop environment. Everyone is together for the duration of the retreat and separate from their normal lives.

The word retreat is derived from the Latin verb retractus which means –  “to pull back”.

So a retreat is a place where you pull back from the world.

This is perhaps the main reason for going on a retreat.

But here are 10 reason why I think retreats are important and different to normal workshops.

They help you to:

  1.   Pull Back

This is a strategic retreat. Almost in a military sense, and sometimes, as with all military campaigns a strategic withdrawal gives us time to reassess.

Pulling back from life allows us the time and space to gain a new perspective, you can re-group, and re-energise.

Gather your forces and refocus your energy onto something you love. You can find new inspiration and then put that into action.

Just getting away from it all; life, work, families, gives you the time you need to focus on what inspires you.

 

  1.   Find Space

Space can mean time. Time away from all the constraints and interruptions we face on a daily basis.

A whole block of time, not just dipping your toe into a bit of ‘me time’, but a whole chunk of free time to yourself.

More time than you would spend in a normal workshop.

Time to fully immerse yourself in what you are doing.

You might find that you need a bit of clear head space to work out why things aren’t working a well as you’d hoped. What alterations you need to do to a specific pattern for example.

Or you may literally need space to cut out fabric for certain projects.

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  1.  Be Inspired

Having that head space allows you the freedom to focus on what excites and inspires you.

We are all creative in our own ways and finding the time and space away from everything else allows you to alter your thinking and find new ways to reignite those sparks of creativity.

Spending time with other people who love doing what you do and seeing what they  make can install a renewed vigour into your own sewing too.

 

  1.  Listen

What do you hear? Hopefully you can hear yourself at last above the hubbub of daily life.

What do you enjoy doing, making, reading? On a retreat there will be others willing to listen to you too.

You may even find others worth listening to. And their stories may enlighten and inspire you in your own sewing practice.

 

  1.  Detox

Everyone needs to unload, clean out and empty their mental desktop.

You will leave a retreat lightened, clearer, recharged, refreshed, and better equipped to deal with any sewing or fitting issues that crops up.

Because you will have a new perspective on how to deal with the problems you arrived with.

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  1. Lose The Fear

So many times I have heard people say “Oh I don’t make anything with zips in” or “I avoid buttonholes”.  

Being fearful of trying something outside your comfort zone is perfectly normal.

But being in the safe and supportive environment of a retreat with expert tuition will allow you to learn to overcome those fears through practicing and making mistakes.

It’s only sewing! Make friends with your unpicker.

 

  1.  Remember Who You Are

In our daily life we are so many things to so many people, wife, husband, parent, child, friend, lover.

We need to be reminded that we are also individuals.

You can ditch all the other roles you have and just focus on being a better dressmaker, sewist or sewer. What ever you prefer to describe yourself as.

 

  1. Find your Tribe

We are all the same yet all different too.

On a retreat you will meet people who, like you, find joy in creating sewn projects.

You don’t have to justify your stash of fabric or vintage patterns. The seriousness of which is taken as a given.

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  1. Help others

When you take time away from your life, those in your life get time away from you too.

This brings appreciation. They realize what it’s like when you’re not around, to work, cook, clean, love them.

Without you taking up your usual place, people will shift their roles to fill that space and life takes on a new shape. Life is actually different when you return and you are free to take up a new space within it.

This is growth.

 

  1. Establish a Routine

Trying to find time to sew in an already busy daily schedule can be very hard. If you have a space at home to leave everything out and setup it’s much easier, but if you don’t making time and space can be nigh on impossible.

Listening and learning from others will help you understand how you can fit time into your own life back at home.

Establishing ways of working on a retreat is much easier as you are encouraged by the example of others.

You go back home and re-establish your life in a new way to accommodate your sewing.

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Retreats are important because people have time to spend on themselves and leave rested, happier, clearer and having learnt new skills and techniques.

Who doesn’t want some of that?

You can join us on our next Sewing Retreat in August 

 

Making More of Your Patterns : A Sleeveless Kate

Kate is just the most perfect dress for this hot weather as it’s infinitely hackable.

This is how you can adapt the pattern to make a sleeveless version just right for the long hot Summer days.

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Pattern alterations

The pattern needs a little bit of tweaking as the armholes are designed to take a sleeve.

First of all a I drew on the seam allowances around the armholes and across the shoulders. This makes it easier to see where and how the alterations need to be made.

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The shoulder point on the pattern needs to be brought in slightly so the arm hole sits better over the ball of the shoulder.

As the Kate Dress has a visible binding to finish the neckline this works well around the armhole too. But it means that the edge of the paper pattern will be the finished edge of the dress, with the binding wrapping itself around the cut edge of the fabric. Something to bare in mind!

First  I matched up the shoulder seams to make sure that both the armhole and neckline alterations were nice smooth flowing curves.

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For this dress I wanted to widen the neckline slightly too. So I made a mark 1.5cm in from the neck edge and then redrew the neckline curve blending it in to the original line.

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The shoulder point was moved in by 3cm and as it is going to be an open armhole I wanted to raise the underarm point a bit too so it would be too gapey.

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I raised the underarm point by 1.5cm so it was level with the cut edge of the pattern piece, then re-drew the armhole from the raised armhole point on the front to the new shoulder point, and around to the back underarm point.

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I cut the pattern through the new armhole and neckline while the paper was still pinned together to make sure the lines followed true.

I also lengthen the pattern by 10cm to make it more dress length than tunic length. I did this directly on to the fabric as I pinned out the pattern pieces.

Making it up

The Kate Dress has two options for the front of the dress. Plain and simple or with a bit of gathering at the centre front neckline.

As I am more than amply catered for in the bosom department I usually opt to go for the version with a bit of extra gathers just to make everything a bit more comfortable around the bust. You can do a Full Bust Adjustment too if you prefer.

Gathers are a form of ‘suppression’ and like their confederates; pleats, tucks and darts, basically just suppress the extra fabric to create a 3D shape. They can be interchangeable too.

For this dress I wanted a flatter finish at the neckline but to keep that bit of extra fullness in the fabric. So I turned the gathers into an inverted box pleat, a bit like the one I created in the Woven Peaseblossom Hack

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An inverted box pleat on the woven Peaseblossom

The additional fabric is marked on the Front pattern piece and I marked this onto the fabric.

Kate Sleeveless pattern hack front inverted box pleat pleat

I measured down 20cm as I wanted the opening of the pleat to be just below bust level, and marked this as the base of the pleat. I stitched along the new pleat line and then pressed the pleat open evenly to create the inverted box shape.

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It can be a little bit fiddly doing it on one this little but it’s worth getting it neat.

The rest of the dress was made up in exactly the same way as a normal Kate Dress. The pockets were bound across the top edge and sewn in place.

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I know you can hardly see the pockets here, no contrasting top-stitching this time.

The armholes were finished in the same way as the neckline. I measured the armhole first to work out how much bias binding I would need. 

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I used a visible binding finish, to matched the neckline. And it was sewn in exactly the same way as the neckline and pockets.

This is a simple and easy pattern hack to do. I hope you give it a go and make several Kates for the Summer.

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Happy Sewing!

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