Monday, February 23, 2015

Testing... Testing...

This is my "it should be on
auto focus mode" face to the
hubs behind the camera.
When I saw the call for pattern testers on Straight Stitch Designs blog, I took one look at the shirt she was modeling and thought, "oh, how cute a woven shirt with a knit accent band." I was so wrong. Imagine my surprise when I opened the pattern and it was for a knit shirt with a woven accent band! Considering my knit sewing skills consisted of 2 maxi skirts, done a good year apart, I had a moment (okay, a good half hour) of panic. I very nearly sent Kimberly a lovely, thanks but no thanks note. I am so glad I didn't!

First, I made a commitment when I signed up to test and backing out just wasn't an option for me. Second, for a person who has made a whopping 2 skirts out of knits, I have, frankly, an obscene amount of knit yardage in my stash. And third, I decided that I would focus on expanding and refining my sewing skills this year and that included getting over my fears of knits. All of this culminated in my perfect sewing storm. Fortunately, only a collar was sacrificing to the raging waters of knitware.

The pattern is called Bellevue and is definitely a good knit top for a beginner as well as advanced sewist. Once I started putting the top together, most of my knit sewing anxiety faded away. I was thrilled at how easy the pattern went together. Kimberly's instructions were well thought out and easy to follow. Her diagrams are straightforward as well. As at knit novice, I had no problems stitching up and attaching the raglan sleeves. I eschewed pins, as I was tackling my top with the serger and pins are so easy to get lost when you're serging along. Hitting a pin on your sewing machine is bad enough, on a serger...OUCH! Instead, I reached for my trust, bold red wonder clips. I love these little babies! There is no missing that baby when you come up to the knife.

Fabric selection was remarkably easy. As I mentioned, obscene amount of knits, which might have caused some stumbling, but I've had this lovely piece of embroidered white knit in my stash forever. I didn't buy this fabric, it was given to me. Honestly, I can't remember when, but I would vaguely put it around 20 years ago, by possibly a grandmother out of their stash. Yeah, that old. I would say that it is easily the oldest piece of fabric remaining in my stash. Without this top, it probably would have lingered on until it crumbled into dust. It isn't that I haven't pulled this fabric out and tried to convince myself to use it before, I have! There was a scant 1 3/8 yards, however, which meant that nothing I tried previously would work. I was thrilled to discover that not only would the knit portions of this blouse fit on the slim yardage, but I had enough to eek out 3/4 length sleeves.

Rotary cutter is your friend with knits!  Just line up the ruler
along the straight edges and go to town.  The curves take
more work, but the results are worth it.

The original pattern suggestions, which have been greatly expanded by the testers, called for chiffon as the accent. I invested in a yard and then proceeded to do unspeakable things to the poor airy bits of fabric fluff.  Let's just say that I have some more work to do on refining my chiffon cutting/sewing skills before I go tackling that amethyst chiffon skirt I dream of adding to my wardrobe, okay? Rummaging through my stash, I unearthed a remnant of blue linen. Not as drapey as the chiffon, but the knit was a bit heavier than t-shirt, so I figured the pairing would work. It certainly cut straighter, and hemmed up in nothing.


The sleeves hemmed up beautifully using EZ Steam II. I have read about this stuff in passing on other blogs where people have used it to tack up knitwear seams and then finish everything off with a double needle. At a recent run through JoAnn's, I saw a box and picked it up. The way Thing 1 loves her knit maxi skirt, I figured another was in my near future. I had no idea I would be using it sooner on something for me! I honestly don't think I would have tackled the double needle hem on the sleeve cuffs without it. So super easy to use!

My only hitch in putting this top together came with the neckband. I'd never done one, but that hadn't stopped me so far. I pinned and stretched and sewed on my regular machine...and it went all sorts of wonky. I stopped about four inches in and reread the directions, then pushed forward against my better judgement. I should have stopped and asked for help. By the time I did, I had one neckband that needed to be unpicked. White knit. White thread. All stitched together using a stretch stitch. Let's just say there was swearing. Lots and lots of swearing. In the end, the neckband didn't survive. Thankfully, I had just enough of my precious knit left to cut one more neckband. The second one, after a pep talk from the very helpful Kimberly, went in perfectly.

Neckband 2, after a good peptalk and a nice cup of tea.
The pattern gives two options for the neckband, one with the band showing and one with it tucked away. I tried on the top and with the able assistance of my wonder clips, tried out both options. I decided, the visible neckband was more to my taste. After that, it was all down to the double needle. I stitched in the neckband and then did a line along the accent piece.

Neckband showing

Neckband as a facing
So, what do I love? The overall style is good and Kimberly got the fit down really well. I sewed up the pattern in a straight 16. Next time, I will go with a 14 at the bust and grade out to the 16 at the hips as I like my tops more fitted.

What didn't I love? Having worn the top an entire day, I can safely say that the things I don't love are minimal. 90% of my unhappiness with the top is pure fabric. As lovely as the embroidered knit is to look at, it itches. I'm hoping a couple more runs through the wash will take care of that problem. The other is in the sleeves. I need to go back and narrow the cuff area. It bags out on me and catches in my coat. Kimberly fixed this after the fact so it shouldn't be an issue with the pattern now.

Will I make it again? Absolutely. I have the last revision of the pattern assembled and cut, the fabric is washed and waiting. The pattern has an option for a straight raglan t-shirt, no accents and I can use a nice staple shirt, so I'm going to tackle that next. In pink. Because you can't have too many pink raglan t-shirts in your closet.

Kimberly is running the Bellevue pattern on sale until Friday for 20% off.  So go grab one quick!!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful top and I like the neckline finish you choose. I just ordered this pattern and can't wait to get started on it.