What comes first for you? Seeing a fabric you want to sew, or seeing a pattern you want to sew?
For me it can be either way, but mostly I’d say the fabric is the first deciding factor! As was the case with these beautiful new embroidered mesh fabrics. As soon as I saw them I knew I wanted to make something with them, so in this post and video I wanted to share my latest makes, the Helens Closet Ashton Top (with the sleeve expansion pack) and the Named Kerttu Skirt, and give you lots of tips and ideas for how to use these lovely fabrics!
This fabric has a really light weight black mesh background that is a bit stretchy and unstable. The embroidery is pretty dense so it does help to add some structure to it, but overall it’s still pretty transparent/see-through. The key thing to notice with this fabric is that the orientation of the embroidery means that it runs at 90 degrees to the selvedge, not parallel. Along one selvedge there is a pretty scalloped stitched line, which indicates the bottom of the design that is embroidered on the fabric.
Pre-washing/after care advice - I didn't prewash the embroidered mesh fabric as I didn't think that it would shrink or change the fabric in anyway as it is made from synthetic fibres. When I come to launder the garments I've made, I plan to wash them on a hand-wash cycle in my machine with the garments inside one of those laundry bags for delicates (like what you would use for washing tights) so that it minimises the chances of the embroidery getting snagged.
When you come to cut out your pattern pieces you need to create a fold in the fabric that is at 90 degrees to the selvedge. I did this by using the scalloped edge stitching as a guide and lined that up over the fold and then spend time smoothing out the fabric and making sure it looks flat before placing your pattern pieces on and cutting out as normal
As the scalloped edge can be the finished hem line of the garment, you’ll need to take account of the hem allowance when you cut out, otherwise what you make will end up longer than intended. Following the hem allowance in the particular pattern you are making, fold that amount back on the pattern, making sure that it is at 90 degrees to the centre front/centre back.
Then you will lay the pattern piece onto the fabric, lining up that bottom edge of the hem with the bottom of the scalloped stitching. Bear in mind that if you are following the scalloped stitched edge, it will mean your hem line isn’t shaped or curved.
Alternatively you could not use the scalloped stitched edge as a hem and simply create a narrow double turned hem, line I did on the sleeve of my top.
It’s best to mark the notches with tailor tacks rather than snip into the fine fabric. It will be hard to see snips and it might cause fraying or snagging of the mesh or embroidery.
A size 70 needle is good for this type of fabric, either microtex or standard would be fine. You might find that your sewing machine struggles to feed the fabric at times, especially if two denser layers of embroidery stitching are layered up on top of each other, right next to a thinner mesh only bit. If you have a walking foot this can help. I didn’t use one on either of my makes but I did find that I needed to manually help the machine to feed the fabric on a few occasions.
French seams work really well with this type of fabric, that’s what I used in my Ashton top. Sewing the darts was also no problem, just sew them as normal.
For finishing off the neckline, I made bias binding with plain black viscose fabric and used that. I also raised the neckline slightly from the pattern, which in hindsight wasn’t the best idea as its very tight to get on and off over my head!!
For my Helens Closet Ashton Top, I chose not to line it and instead wear a black vest top underneath. This particular one is the True Bias Zoey in the Meet Milk Black Derby jersey.
As mentioned above, I used French seams, even on the sleeve insertion. This was a bit tricky but doable. I created a narrow double turned hem for the sleeve hem, which I also shortened to my preference once I had made the top and tried it on. The neckline has bias binding was made from our plain viscose fabric.
I shortened the shorter version of the Ashton by 1 inch, with the intention of being able to wear it with my high-waisted jeans/trousers but unfortunately it's a bit too short and I regret making it that short! Never mind, you live and learn!
For my Named Patterns Kerttu Skirt I lined it with our plain viscose fabric, the same one I used for the neckline binding. There are a few ways you can line this type of fabric.
‘Flat lining’ - by this I mean cutting out the mesh fabric, cutting out the lining fabric and before moving onto any construction, basting the two layers of fabric together for each individual piece together within the seam allowances with the right/outer side of the embroidered mesh facing outwards. I used this method for the waist band only on my skirt. The waistband is made up and inner and outer section, so I basted the mesh fabric to the outer section of the waistband and then constructed it. I also did this slightly differently from the instructions and instead have an overlocked edge on the inside as I felt it might add too much bulk and be too fiddly to do it as per the instructions.
‘Make two’ lining - by this I mean make a skirt out of lining and a skirt out of embroidered mesh fabric and then combine the two together at the waist band. This means that all seams and hems for the lining are sewn seperatly to all seams and hem of the outer fabric.
For my skirt I used a combination of both methods. The main sections of the skirt are totally separate. I did french seams on the side seams of the mesh and for the gathered section seam allowance, I finished it off with the overlocker. For the lining I sewed the seams as normal and finished them off with the overlocker for quickness.
Once I had made them, I then based them together at the waist line with the wrong side of the embroidered mesh facing the right side of the lining. This way all the seams of the lining are right on the inside of the dress - otherwise they would show through the mesh.
Once they were basted together at the top edge, for all intents and purposes, they were then treated as one layer of fabric for attaching the waistband and creating the channel for the elastic.
Tops - Sew House Seven Remy Raglan, Merchant and Mills Florence Top, Closet Core Cielo, Megan Nielsen Dove Top, Grainline Scout Tee, Cashmerette Springfield Top,
Skirts - Sew Over It Ava Skirt (I have a tutorial on how to line this, linked below)
Dresses - Avid Seamstress Day Dress - you could even leave the sleeves unlined for a subtle contrast, Tilly and the Buttons Indigo Dress, Tilly and the Buttons Stevie Dress
Hear all about my fun time filming a sewing machine feature for this TV show!