Tag Archives: Sewing With Knits

A Review of the Longley Cardigan Pattern

Looking for that perfect in-between-seasons project?  My Longley cardigan pattern might just be for you and Fiona of Diary of a Chainstitcher blog has just made a gorgeous version which she’s blogged about along with a review of the pattern.

Spoiler: I think she loved it! Here are some of the lovely things Fiona says about the pattern.

“When the construction is as well thought out as this getting professional looking results is very satisfying.”

“The finishing of the Longley is a real selling point for me and I highly recommend it as a cracking pattern to try if you are looking for a similar style.”

Read her full review here. You can also read more reviews of the Longley pattern here and get your copy of the pattern here.

How to Sew Stripes and Stripe Match Every Time

stripe matching tips

If, like me, you love wearing stripes, you really need to learn how to stripe match. Look at most cheap high street stripey clothing to see great examples of awful (non existent) stripe matching. Argh, it sets my teeth on edge!!

If you’re making your own clothes you have the power to change that and get beautifully matched stripes every time.

stripe matching tips

I’m going to show you some of my simplest stripe matching tips so that you can achieve results like these. Spoiler: there are no shortcuts.  It takes time to achieve perfection and sometimes it can be wasteful of your fabric, that’s why you’re unlikely to find it on the high street.

I’ll show you how to ensure perfectly matching stripes at every stage of making your garment:

  • Planning Stripes
  • Stripey Layouts
  • Cutting Stripes
  • Sewing Stripes

STEP 1: PLANNING STRIPES

Fact – some stripes are easier to sew than others. If this is your first attempt at stripe matching, go wide. The wider the stripe, the easier the stripe matching.

In these examples, the stripe on the right may just tip you over the edge if you haven’t had a bit of experience with stripe matching.

The second thing to consider (more in terms of fabric consumption and cutting) is whether your stripe is symmetrical.

A stripe with a simple symmetrical repeat (like the 2 above) will allow you to use a 2-way lay plan ie. you will be able to turn pattern pieces upside down in order to make best use of your fabric.

These two examples of asymmetric stripes would mean placing all your pattern pieces the same way up with the tops of the pattern pieces all at the same end of the fabric:

Here’s an example of one of those stripes in repeat with front and back pattern pieces placed on it in different directions:

how to sew stripes

 You can see straightaway how the stripe repeat would be different across the front and back of the garment; that narrow double red stripe would always be above the wide red stripe across the front, but below it across the back.

STEP 2: STRIPEY LAYOUTS

Once you have worked out whether your fabric has a symmetric or asymmetric stripe, you’re ready to start laying out your striped fabric ready to cut.

If you’re working with a knitted fabric and a horizontal stripe, this can be a challenging stage. You need to be sure that your fabric is square and if you want to cut out your fabric folded, that fold has to be spot on and the same stripe must be sitting on top of itself with the fabric folded otherwise you’ll never be able to match your seams and your horizontal stripes will end up looking a bit sea sick.

how to sew stripes

I tend to cut stripes on the right side of the fabric to be absolutely sure they’re going to match, so once you’ve folded your fabric and followed the same stripe around the fold to the underside of the fabric to ensure it’s sitting on top of itself, pin the ends of the stripes along the selvedge to hold them in place. I like to pin every few stripes – yes you’ll be using a lot of pins!

how to sew stripes

This is also when you can find lots of knitted fabrics haven’t been cut square. You can see where the 2 selvedges meet in the middle of the fabric above; once I had matched up the stripes the selvedges were drifting off at a bit of an angle. This is because most knitted fabrics are knitted on circular knitting machines as a tube. As most home dressmakers are used to working with “open” fabric, this tube is then cut open, not always accurately.

If you’re struggling to keep your stripes matched when folding your fabric, don’t panic, just cut out your fabric as a single layer. To make life easier, adapt any pattern pieces that are cut on a fold into full pattern pieces and remember to flip over pieces that are cut twice to make sure you get a left and a right piece and not two identical ones.

STEP 3: CUTTING STRIPES

Now you’re ready to place your pattern pieces onto your fabric and start stripe matching across the different parts of your garment.

The key thing to remember, is to start with one prominent pattern piece (such as the front) and line up the same points on each pattern piece with the same part of the stripe. The easiest points to line up are the hemline or the top (underarm point) of the side seam.

how to cut stripes

Always try and follow a stripe along straight hems and if you’re working with an asymmetric stripe with a very dominant colour or wider stripe in the repeat, think carefully about where you want that to end up in your garment as it’s likely to draw the eye to that particular area.

I prefer to weight my patterns and draw around them on stripes, again to ensure I’m being as accurate as possible.  Then remove the paper pattern and cut along the chalk lines. If you’re working on folded fabric, place a few pins within the chalked out pattern piece at its extremities to ensure the layers don’t move while you’re cutting.

A note about bust darts – if your side seam incorporates a bust dart on the front of the garment, begin your stripe matching at the hem. Only by chance  will the stripes match above the dart (it’s all down to the size of your dart and width of your stripes) and you have the longest expanse of seam visible to the stripe-matching police below the dart!

STEP 4: SEWING STRIPES

Now, if you don’t like tacking or precision sewing, maybe stripes aren’t for you just yet as we’re going to be doing a lot of pinning and tacking.

First, match up the stripes at each end of your seam and pin them accurately together. Then, work your way along the seam pinning every stripe for wide stripes and every other stripe or every 2nd stripe for narrower stripes. Place your pins at right angles to the edge of the fabric; you can fit in more pins and the pin is holding more of the stripe in place.

stripe matching tips

Take a peek and double check the stripes in between your pins are aligned before you start tacking.

stripe matching tips

Set your sewing machine to do a tacking stitch: a straight stitch on the longest stitch length setting.

Machine tack your seam together ON THE SEAMLINE don’t tack to one side because when you do your final stitching the stripes can move out of alignment.

how to stripe match

Once tacked, open the seam to check the stripes are matching.

stripe matching tips

If they have moved (yes, I know how frustrating it is once you’ve got this far and been sooooo careful), don’t fret, all is not lost. Your fabric is likely to be either very stretchy, a bit thick or a bit “bouncy” and the top layer of your seam has been moved slightly by your machine, pushing the stripes out of alignment.

Here’s how to fix it:

1 – If your machine has the facility, reduce the presser foot pressure.

how to stripe match

This reduces how hard the presser foot presses down on your fabric and so can stop your machine pushing that top layer of stripes out of alignment.

2 – Use a walking foot.

The walking foot has an extra set of feed dogs (the little metal teeth under the presser foot that feed the fabric through the machine) which means your 2 layers of fabric feed through the machine evenly without the top layer being pushed out of alignment.

A walking foot tends not to come as a standard accessory with your sewing machine and so needs to be bought separately.  Make sure you buy the correct foot for your make and model machine.  The price will vary according to what sort of machine you have. It’s worth investing in a walking foot if your machine doesn’t have the facility to adjust the presser foot pressure.

A note about hand tacking – anyone that knows me knows that I love a bit of hand tacking, but honestly, I don’t think it’s the best method for tacking stripes; machine tacking is just that bit more secure which is exactly what we need when stripe matching.

Once you’re happy with your stripe matching after tacking, carry on and permanently stitch the seam using your chosen method. If you’re sewing a  knitted fabric with just your regular sewing machine, I have written lots of tutorials with advice on different machine settings here. If you’re going to overlock your seams, here’s a short video of how easy your overlocking will be once you’ve machine tacked your stripes in place! Note that I’m following the tack line with my left needle thus making it the seamline.

Now you too can become a stripe matching geek!

stripe matching tips how to stripe match how to stripe match

Vote for February’s MIY Maker

February MIY Maker

Who gets your vote to be February’s MIY Maker?

Here are your fabulous four to choose from, clockwise from top left:

So, it’s over to you, whose make do you think deserves to be this month’s MIY Maker and win their next MIY Collection pattern for free?

Leave a comment with your favourite and I’ll announce the winner at the end of the day tomorrow (Wednesday 1st March). Voting is also open on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

Who Should be the 1st MIY Maker of 2017? Vote Now!

January MIY Maker

It’s MIY Makers time again. Who gets your vote for the first MIY Maker of 2017?

To choose from we have, clockwise from top left:

Whose make do you think deserves to be January’s MIY Maker and win their next MIY Collection pattern for free?

Over to you! Leave a comment with your favourite and I’ll announce the winner at the end of the day tomorrow (Wednesday 1st February). Voting is also open on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

Vote for December’s MIY Maker

December MIY Maker

The last MIY Makers of 2016 already, which make gets your vote? Here are your 4 choices. Whose make do you think deserves to be this month’s MIY Maker and win their next MIY Collection pattern for free?

We have, clockwise from top left:

Over to you! Leave a comment with your favourite and I’ll get 2017 off to a good start tomorrow by announcing the winner at the end of the day. Voting is also open on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

Vote for November’s MIY Maker

November miy maker

I can’t believe it’s that time again! Here are 4 fabulous makes on which to feast your eyes and cast your vote. Which do you think deserves to be this month’s MIY Maker and win their next MIY Collection pattern for free?

We have, clockwise from top left:

So, over to you! Leave a comment with your favourite and I’ll announce the winner tomorrow (Thursday). Voting is also open on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

October’s MIY Maker

miy makers

Better late than never, here is the make that won your vote for October’s MIY Maker sewing challenge.

Congratulations to @_stingeling_ on Instagram with her gorgeous Brightside Shrug who can now choose her next MIY Collection sewing pattern for free.

Reckon you have what it takes to be November’s MIY Maker? Post your makes using my patterns online and you might make the final 4. Full details of how to enter here.

I look forward to seeing your makes!