Monday, October 19, 2015

Sweater Knit Cardigan

Another assignment from my Patternmaking for Knits class was to draft a pattern for a cardigan type of garment for a sweater knit.  The draft was to have no side seam.  I always need some type of shaping because I am busty but in this case, I nevertheless thought I had a chance for a successful garment because we could choose any type of fabric we wanted as long as it was a sweater knit.

I had a beautiful very loose weave brown fabric in my stash I thought would work for this assignment.  Since the fabric was so incredibly forgiving, I did not have the dreaded fold at the side where the fabric wants to become a dart:

And this time, I was able to draft the back smaller than the front so I do not have any excess fabric in the back:

Because it was a loose weave fabric, the edges frayed like crazy when cut.  I decided to adhere fusible tape to all of the cut edges before removing the fabric from the pattern which prevented the fabric from unraveling as I worked with it.

I went to Pacific Trim in New York City (38th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues) and purchased a separating zipper which they cut to size.  They have a selection of zipper pulls so I had them replace the regular zipper pull with a circular one.  I love it!

I asked them to give me the left over zipper which I used as trim on the pockets.  Given the loose weave and thickness of the fabric, I decided to attach the pockets by hand so as to prevent distortion.

Since the fabric is thick, I was not able to use the same fabric for the undercollar.  I instead used ponte fabric for the undercollar.  Ponte is a stable fabric but it still has some give to it.  The stability of the ponte would prevent the collar from stretching out of shape but it still had enough give to work with the knit fashion fabric of the top collar.  To make sure the ponte stayed out of sight and underneath the collar, I used a pick stitch all around the edges to keep it under control.

I initially wanted to attach the collar as I usually do, attaching the undercollar to the neckline and then  folding under the top collar cut edge over the seam line and slip stitching it closed.  Unfortunately, the thickness of the fabric would produce too much bulk.  Instead of folding under the top collar, I just topstitched it in place and used a strip of Petersham ribbon to cover the raw edges.  I like how it looks and it has the added bonus of adding some stability over the neckline.

This was the first weekend here in the Northeastern U.S. that felt really cold so this sweater knit cardigan is just what I need right now.  It is very warm and comfortable.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Ill-fitting Jacket

One of the assignments from the Patternmaking for Knits class I took at FIT this past spring was to draft a pattern for a "Chanel-look" jacket for a stable knit fabric.  We were allowed to make the garments fit ourselves but only within the parameters of the assignment.  The course was designed to teach pattern drafting used by the industry.

I am top heavy so I always need bust darts for shaping.  Since this assignment required that we draft the pattern for a boxy dartless jacket for a stable fabric, I knew I was in trouble!

The jacket was not meant to be a couture level type of jacket so the jacket was unlined with serged seam allowances.  The best thing about this assignment was that we learned a really nice way of finishing the edges.  I am sure this is nothing new and someone somewhere has already written about it.  Nevertheless, I want to share what I learned because I think it's a cool technique.

We pressed the seam allowance to the right side of the jacket.  My seam allowance was 1/2 inch.  We then were to purchase trim slightly wider than the seam allowance so we could apply it on top of the seam allowance thus covering the seam allowance and providing a clean finish outside and inside.  I chose trim 3/4 inch wide.

1/2" seam allowance turned to right side

Trim 3/4" wide applied on top of
seam allowance
I did not feel confident I could apply this trim successfully by machine so I painstakingly attached the trim by hand sewing tiny stitches on both sides of the trim.

The following photo shows how nice and clean the inside looks:

Back to the issue of fit.  As you can see below, the photo of the side view shows that the jacket is screaming for a bust dart.  You can see the fabric fold trying to become a dart. 

The pattern draft assignment also required that the front and back be the same (except for the neckline) because that's how pattern drafts for knits are done for the mass market.  Now since in the industry patterns are drafted for the B cup, if you are a B cup or smaller, this would not pose a problem.  The fabric would give enough to allow a nice fit.  I may be able to squeeze by with a very stretchy fabric or one with a loose weave but this does not work for me at all in a stable knit.

In my case, I am disproportionately bigger in the front than the back.  Thus, by drafting the back the same as the front, I ended up with excess fabric in the back.  Ugh!  Look at those folds!  I sure could use a sloping shoulder adjustment here as well.  Oy.

After the class was over, in a futile attempt to somehow redeem this jacket, I decided to line the sleeves in charmeuse so it would be easier to slip my arms in and out of the jacket.  I used the same sleeve pattern as I used for the jacket but sewed the lining with 3/8" seam allowance instead of the 1/2" used for the jacket sleeve so as to allow a little ease in the sleeve so that the lining would not strain or tear.  I also created a jump pleat at the bottom of the sleeve.  I attached the lining by hand all around the armscye and sleeve hem.

After all of this effort, I do not like this jacket due to the poor fit although it is warm and comfortable.  This was a frustrating assignment - maybe I should have drafted this particular pattern for the perfectly symmetrical B cup dress form available in class (that was an option).  Oh well!  This particular assignment confirmed for me why ready-to-wear does not fit so many people.

Happy sewing!