HERE ARE FEW HELPFUL TIPS FOR SEWING ON KNIT FABRICS:
- Always use a ballpoint needle. A ball point needle has a rounded tip and allows the needle to move in between the thread fibers instead of piercing the thread fibers. (Which will cause holes in the fabric.)
- When sewing seams that need to stretch, be sure to use either a narrow zigzag stitch- set at a medium stitch length, or many newer machines have additional stretch stitches you can use. (Refer to your manual to find out which ones your machine does.)
- It helps to loosen the needle thread tension just a tiny bit. (experiment on scraps til you find what works best on your fabric.)
- For seams that don’t need to stretch (like side seams) a regular straight stitch is fine. To keep the fabric from stretching when you sew, you can try a slightly longer stitch length and loosening the needle thread tension just a tiny bit. ALWAYS do a few practice stitches on the fabric you will be using and then make any adjustments needed.
- If you are working on a fabric that keeps curling, use fabric starch and your iron to flatten out the fabric. This technique is helpful on all knits as the starch makes it less stretchy and moves through the machine smoother.
- For hemming on knits, you have a few choices: 1. Leave the edge raw. This looks fine on casual garments. 2. Add a bound edge. (You can see examples of how adding a bound hem works here and here.) 3. Use a walking foot and hem the edge with either a zig-zag or other stretch stitch or using a twin needle. (The walking foot helps feed the material through the machine with less stretching.)
- Remember to try a slightly longer stitch length and to loosen the needle thread tension just a tiny bit!
- If your fabric is getting sucked into the machine or is still stretching, you can place a piece of thin tissue paper between the fabric and bottom feed dogs. After you are done sewing, you can gently tear the tissue paper away.
WHERE TO BUY KNIT FABRICS:
Knit fabric comes in so many different weights, content and stretch. It is important to use the right fabric for your project. I’ve tried a few different fabrics and definitely have my favorites. In this project, I used a light to mid-weight flowy rayon jersey blend with about 50% stretch. (this particular print is sold out, but these from Girl Charlee and these from Fabric.com are similar.
How to make a High Low Ruffle Tunic.
Use a 3/8 inch seam allowance unless otherwise noted.
- Stretch knit fabric (Similar fabric to what I used)
- T-shirt Pattern (or your own favorite t-shirt pattern)
- Basic sewing supplies like this Rotary cutting set, thread, disappearing ink fabric marker, fray check and Dritz Washaway Wonder Tape. (I’ve just discovered this Dritz Washaway Wonder Tape. I highly recommend it for hemming knits. It was a lifesaver for tricky fabric.)
Step One: Print and assemble pattern.
Print your pattern, cut out the size needed and tape together. (Don’t forget, if you are using my pattern it comes in sizes 3 to 14 and you can use the layers function in the Adobe reader and print only the size needed!)
You will be making changes for both the front and back, so I recommend printing the pattern 2 times, cutting the front piece out on the 1st one and the back piece out on the second one.
Step 2: Changes to make to the pattern to add a high low ruffle.
Hold the front pattern piece up to your child and decide where you want the ruffle to begin. (For us, we went with right above the belly button) If you don’t have a child to measure, this is a great measurement chart to consult.
Front pattern piece:
On the “Fold” side of the pattern (center) mark the spot, you want the ruffle to start and lower it by .25 inches for the seam allowance (or whatever seam allowance you like to use.)
Measure down 2.5 inches, and mark that spot on the other side of the pattern (armscye side).
Draw in a gently curving line from the fold side to the armscye side as shown below. Please note, it is important to keep the line flat at the beginning and end for a smooth transition from front to back.
Go over this line with a dark marker, so you will be able to see it through the back pattern piece.
Back pattern piece:
Line the back pattern piece on top of the front pattern piece, and lightly draw in where the ruffle cut line is. Measure down 3 inches on the center side and draw in the curve on the back pattern piece. The cut line on the armscye side needs to meet on the front and back pattern pieces. Don’t forget to keep the edges of the cut line flat so the transitions will be smooth.
Use these measurements for sizes 7 and up. I recommend subtracting an inch for sizes 3 to 6. (so measure down 1.5 on the front and 2 on the back)
To get the measurement for the ruffle piece – measure from the mark you made on the center/fold side of the front bodice piece to the bottom of the pattern. Add .25 inches for the seam allowance (or whatever measurement you like for a seam allowance). This measurement is the height of your ruffle.
Measure the bottom of the front bodice pattern piece. Multiply that measurement times four (gives you the bottom circumference of the top) and that number times 1.5. This number is the width of your ruffle piece.
Cut a strip of fabric the height and width of your custom calculation.
Next, cut the new front and back pattern pieces out.
Step 3: Assemble the top.
1st, hem the bottom of both sleeves. (pattern includes a 1/2 hem allowance.)
Line up front and back bodice pieces, right sides together and sew along the shoulder seams.
Line the sleeves up at the shoulder seams and sew in place. If you like to do set in sleeves, wait to attach sleeves until after the ruffle is added.
Line up the side seam and arm seams and sew along the edges (3/8 inch seam allowance) on one side only!
Step 4: Assemble the ruffle.
Hem the bottom of the ruffle. (half inch hem allowance included in pattern.)
Sew a gathering stitch along the top of the ruffle.
Gather the ruffle piece until it is the same width as the bottom of the bodice. (remember, you only sewed one side seam together, so it is much easier to attach the ruffle.)
Right sides together, line up the raw edges of your ruffle piece with the bottom of the bodice piece and sew along the gathering stitch to attach the ruffle. Take care to remove pins as you sew.
Line up the side seams and sleeve edges and sew along the edge with a 3/8 seam allowance. (If you waited to do set-in sleeves, do those now.)
Step 5: Neck binding.
If your neck binding fabric is less than 50% stretch, you will want to measure the neck opening and cut your strip of fabric about 88 to 92% of that measurement.
Cut your neck binding strip. Fold in half and press.
Open the strip and sew the ends together with a 3/8 inch seam allowance. Trim the seam edge to about 1/8th inch. Fold back into the pressed position.
Divide the neck binding into 4ths and the neck opening of the tee into 4ths. Keep in mind, the front neckline is deeper, so the side marks will not line up withthe shoulder seams.
Pin the binding strip to the neckline at ht e coresponding marks.
Sew the binding to the neckline, pin to pin, using a 3/8 inch seam allowance, stretching the binding strip as you sew. Take care to not let the neckline fabric stretch. (Go slow and know this may take practice.)
Remove any of the gathering stitches that might be showing, gently press the ruffle and you are done!
If you end up making one of these tops, be sure to share a finished photo to my facebook page or tag me Instagram so I can see what you’ve made!
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!