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Friday, August 31, 2012

Working with Knitted Fabrics: Cutting Knit Fabric

Okay, I lied. Except maybe I didn't. Last week I said that I'd be knitting for a few weeks and so all my posts would be about knitting. But somewhere during the course of the week I set my knitting aside and picked up some knit fabric. I have a few projects on my plate, from gowns to cloaks to wedding gear requiring knit fabrics, so I decided to get back on track.

As a result, my tip this week involves working with knit fabrics. So, maybe I didn't lie last week. Knitting and knit fabrics are closely related, after all. Slight shift, but not by too much.

Anyway, one of the first things you do (though not THE first) is cut out your pattern pieces. But this can present a problem when using knit fabrics. Accuracy is of the upmost importance when cutting knits. When you're paying out your pattern (assuming you're using a commercial pattern), you'll want to follow the "with nap" instructions. Don't get creative. This layout is specifically designed for those fabrics that won't look the same if you hold them upside down. For example, velour catches the light different depending on the direction of the fabric. You certainly don't want your garment looking ... odd. Yes, odd is a good word. Odd and silly.

Once you have your fabric pieces laid out, make sure you use very sharp, burr-free scissors. Better yet, pick up a new rotary cutter blade to prevent snags, stretching, and bunching. You can stick with scissors, but only if they're very sharp. Practically new would be my suggestion.

As your cutting, don't stretch the fabric. Yes, I know holding the fabric taunt helps with accurate cutting, but that's only for woven fabrics. Knit fabrics don't get taunt. They stretch. And if you cut the stretched fabric you'll only end up with misshapen pattern pieces. So don't touch the fabric while you're cutting if at all possible.

Well, that's my tip for this week. Who knows what my tip for next week will be? If I'm still working with knits, it will probably be about knit fabrics. If not ... you'll have to tune in to find out.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Knitting Tips: Choosing a Knit

I've been knitting a lot lately and it's caused me to think about all those little questions I've been asked over the years. Knitting is an art and takes some practice, and a tip here and there can't help. So over the next few weeks I'll be posting a few knitting tips. How many? I don't know. One a week until I decide knitting is boring me and I wander back toward my sewing machine. 8, maybe 10. Possibly as many as 12. But all the tips will be based on questions I've been asked or little helpful things I've discovered in the years since I was a little girl at my great-grandmother's knee.

This week's tip involves choosing between a single-knit and a double-knit. To know which knit to use, you'll have to know what you're making. Each fabric will behave differently. single-knit fabrics such as jersey are lightweight and have a great deal more stretch. Since the yarn forms a single layer of interlocking loops, there is a clear right and wrong side to the fabric. And because of the stretch, they're great for everyday items such as form-fitting shirts and dresses. But not so great for a bag, scarf, or anything that needs to keep its shape or keep your warm.

Double-knit fabrics have a double layer of interlocking loops. Fabrics made in this manner, such as interlock, do not have a visible right and wrong side. This type of knit is perfect for scarves and blankets that might be viewed from both sides. The fabric is heavier and more stable and so works well for hats and mitts as well. But it is a very warm knit and garments made of double-knit fabrics are usually too warm for summer wear.

So deciding on a double-knit versus a single-knit requires you to know exactly what you're making. Of course, if you're following a set pattern, this decision has probably been made for you. But when I'm knitting, I don't usually work from a pattern, leaving me to deciding on a knit based on the purpose of the finished product.

Friday, August 17, 2012

SINGER 4423 Heavy Duty Model Sewing Machine

Every once in a while I have to get a new sewing machine. Let's face it, with everything I sew, machines eventually need to be replaced. They tend to not be worth fixing, so a new one every couple years is certainly in order.

This year, I had to replace my old machine. Okay, so it's not that old. I bought it only two summers ago. But the motor had an unfortunate accident and would cost more to fix than a new machine would, so I went shopping for a new one. I tested out several models before finding one I absolutely loved.

The SINGER 4423 Heavy Duty Model Sewing Machine was perfect for my needs. It was high speed, meaning I could get the professional results I pride myself on as quickly as possible. And when they said heavy duty, they meant heavy duty. It handles even my largest projects with speed and precision. The fabric feeds smoothly and it's incredibly easy to set up. And the SINGER 4423 Heavy Duty Model Sewing Machine has 23 built-in stitches, which is a couple more than my old machine, giving me more variety.

But the best thing about this machine is its ability to handle heavy weight fabrics, or even multiple layers of heavy weight fabrics. My old machine was heavy duty, but it couldn't hold a candle to this thing. So if you're looking for a new machine for more than casual sewing, you might want to try the SINGER 4423 Heavy Duty Model Sewing Machine.

Friday, August 10, 2012

How to Fashion Design Series with Bob Martin

I love products that help people unfamiliar with sewing methods and techniques learn something new. But what I love even more are products that are useful for both the novice and the seasoned pro. This is what I found in the How to Fashion Design Series with Bob Martin.

This product explains the process of designing and constructing a garment from start to finish. There are three DVDs, each focusing on a particular step of the process. The first DVD explains garment construction. You can learn to sew seams and will actually construct a garment as you follow along.

The second DVD gets into fashion drawing. These lessons start at the very beginning, so it doesn't matter if you're artistic or not. You can still learn to draw out unique and beautiful fashions. This is probably my favorite of the DVDs in this set.

But let's not forget the third and final DVD. During this series of lessons you will be introduced to the entire design process. Do you want to create your own designs either for your own use or perhaps as a way to start your own business? This is the DVD for you (though you'll need the other two as well).

The entire series is well worth the investment for anyone interested in more than simply following a pattern.