A Plantain journey of discovery

I made my first garment in a knit fabric and I survived!!

LESSON: DON’T BE SCARED OF KNITS.

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There seems to be a general consensus among sewers that knit fabrics are a bit scary and confusing at first: I lost count of how many blog posts about knits I read that started similar to this one.

I can’t speak for others, but for me the confusion about knits is probably because I couldn’t envisage how you would draft a pattern for a fabric that stretched. I couldn’t get my head round the relationship between the body, the pattern, and the fabric, if that makes sense. For woven fabric patterns I understand the process by which the pattern was designed, but for knits it confuses me. Do you use ‘normal patterns’ and adapt them? Are there special patterns for knits? Do I need an overlocker?! Argh!

Best way to find out the answers is to have a go, non?

Step in the amazing (free!) Deer and Doe Plantain pattern which seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that. I was sold when I saw Anna’s dress adaption tutorial and I quickly bought some white and grey cotton jersey from La Maison des Tissus and printed off the pattern.

Yesterday (Saturday) I spent the whole day on this project (I love sewing in long stretches when you get the chance), from cutting out the pdf pattern and sellotaping the pages together, to cutting out the pieces and carrying out the dress modifications, then cutting out the fabric pieces and finally sewing it all together, it was a day well spent. I did stop for lunch and tea breaks though.

So what did I learn?

-While I’m sure an overlocker is very useful for advancing with knits, for a relatively simple project I don’t think it is essential.
 – Use a special jersey needle!
 – Use a zig-zag stitch as your stitches must stretch with the fabric and with a straight stitch that won’t happen.
– Play around with the tension and stitch length to work out what works best. I was pleasantly surprised how easily the jersey guided through the machine.
 – Twin needles are awesome! I used a twin needle to finish the neckline and the hem. Looks so professional.  You just double thread your machine, set a straight stitch and off you go. You get two lines of stitching on the top and zig-zags on the bottom.

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Lots of advice out there online on sewing with knits. Lladybird is a good place to start.

All in all I’m pleased with how it came together relatively easily, despite some problems sewing on the elastic which involved a bit of unpicking.

This is what the inside looks like at the waist, should it look something like this? Wasn’t sure whether I could neaten up the finish by somehow containing the elastic and the open seam in someway. Any tips on this are most welcome. For a first attempt I think it is fine like this but would be good to have a more professional finish next time on the inside.

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I omitted the elbow pads as I didn’t think they were necessary I was too lazy to add them. It’s funny because if I saw this dress in a shop I’d probably walk past it as I’m a bit of a magpie; always attracted to the brightest and loudest garments. But it is great to have made something I will actually wear day-to-day, teamed with bright tights. I’ve worn it all day today and it is so comfortable!

I really like this version of the Plantain by Irbis. I’d love to make a similar sweatshirt one day.

So from now on I won’t be skipping past the jersey section when I’m out fabric hunting. Upon finishing this project in a flurry of excitement I even ordered Sew U Home Stretch.

This project was also my official Coco training project. Very very eager for Tilly’s pattern release 🙂

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