Completed Coco Paprika Dress in Knitted Fabric

Blog / 4 March 2014

A sewing with stretch extravaganza! That’s my round up of last nights Bee!

I’m really enjoying watching the contestants work through more structured challenges so far. I think having a week about working with stretch fabrics was great as so many people are apprehensive about this type of fabric – including me! Sewing with knitted or jersey fabrics has always seemed a bit daunting to me but it's been at the top of my list to learn more about it for a while. After getting my own over locker last year I've wanted to learn how to use it more, especially to sew knits but it is totally do-able with a regular machine too.

Tilly has recently released her first printed sewing pattern (also available as a download too) called Coco. It comes with three variations - a dress, top or top with funnel roll neck and cuffs and is designed for low stretch knit fabrics. It's the perfect starter project and when we got a big delivery of new knitted and jersey fabrics recently I was conjuring up ideas before it was properly out the packaging.

I choose this gorgeous paprika orangey ponte roma which is quite a stable knit and much easier to work with that a light weight jersey - so good for getting used to the stretchiness!

I choose to make the dress and add the larger patch pockets in a contrasting yellow/goldy fabric of the same weight and I hacked the sleeves just a bit to make them shorter – I just prefer this length on me. I cut them a bit shorter when first cutting out the pieces, but once I'd made the dress and tried it on, I chopped them down even more. 

I wanted to get used to using my regular machine first so I stitched the seams using a zigzag stitch with a ballpoint needle in the machine. Ballpoint needles are more blunt than regular universal needles, which means they push through the fabric instead of piercing it, which means no pulls or puckers.

To stabilize the neckline and shoulder seams I used this iron on interfacing tape, which will help to maintain the shape at those areas. I had to cut little snips in it to help it curve around the neckline, then it just irons on - really easy!

At the neckline, sleeve and bottom hems I used a double needle to stitch the fabric in place. Using a twin needle is honestly not that bad. You just need to figure out where a second spool of thread can sit on your machine. Sometimes there will be a little extension piece that sits on top of where you normally wind the bobbin or there might be another spoke thing (yes that's very technical!) that you can pull up.

Next just thread the machine in exactly the same way except there will be two threads running together. Have the twin needle in position where your normal needle usually sits, thread each needle (you can get them different distances apart too), have it on a straight stitch and away you go! Test it out on a scrap piece first in case you need to alter the tension dial a bit and hey presto! I love it!

If you fancy giving it a go you can read Tillys full Coco Sew-a-long blog posts which will make things much easier and clearer.

We also have a great one day introduction to sewing with jersey workshop where you learn how to make a simple top in the morning and then a more complicated top with set in sleeves or a dress in the afternoon!

We'll show you how to sew with jerseys and knits on a regular machine but if you wanted to give the overlocker a go then we will have some out for you to try that too! Click here for the full details of the workshop

We've had a huge delivery of lots of new jersey recently too so if you haven't spotted it in the shop click here to take a browse!
The best ones for a Coco are….

This blue and grey stripy one...

The Paprika and Gold Ponte Roma that I used....

This medium weight black one for a classic every day comfy black dress..

This gorgeous light aubergine coloured one...

And the best bit....get 10% off with this code GBSB3 until Midnight today (5th March)!!

Don't forget to share your creations! You know I love to see them!!