French Terry Dolman Top

So, yeah. When Rachael at imagine gnats asked if I wanted to test some fabric I might have asked for some french terry to work on a project for ME as well! One of my goals this year was to start doing some “selfless sewing”; I spend so much of my time making things for my kids (and customers), that it’s time I make stuff for myself.

To keep things easy to start off with, I chose the newly released drop shoulder top from Seamingly Smitten. I’d never sewn any of her patterns myself but had recommendations from a few friends. And truthfully, it was 50% off at the release so that might have swayed my opinion just a little. Hehe.

Rachael sent me a medium weight french terry in a fun stripe print. When I opened the package I literally wrapped it around my shoulders and fell in love. The french terry is nice and warm without being super heavy. Off it went to be laundered and I began the fun task of printing and taping pattern pieces together.

The pattern was pretty straightforward and came together fairly quickly. Like so many striped fabrics, the stripes weren’t printed completely straight across the fabric, but it was much better than some I’ve worked with. To make sure it wouldn’t drive me crazy every time I looked at it I took the extra time to line the stripes up precisely at the seams. That part was honestly the most time consuming step! Sometimes my perfectionist tendencies slow me down but it was soooo worth it in the end.

Stitch To Stitch French Terry TestingThe french terry wasn’t as easy to work with as the ponte de roma I used for the ruffle pants, but still easier than some knits. The edges do curl a little. This can be challenging when attaching cuffs or other pieces when you need to stretch one piece to fit the longer length of another. To help combat this, I sprayed the pieces well with Best Press to help them keep their shape. It didn’t stop it completely but made it easier to work with.

I used my serger to construct all of the garment, and then topstitched on my sewing machine (using my walking foot and a ballpoint needle). Because the neckline is so wide I used a long, straight stitch to topstitch the neckband in place. I knew it wouldn’t be under stress to fit over my head so the need for a stretchable seam wasn’t as important. This was more about looks than functionality. I also added a cuff at the end of the long sleeves, and a bottom band instead of a traditional hem. The project took me a couple of hours with intermittent breaks.

As soon as I put it on, I couldn’t stop smiling! When making it again I would make some slight changes to the overall pattern (minimizing the dolman sleeve slightly, and adjusting the overall length of the sleeve and the top) — with this being the first time using it, I wasn’t sure how it would fit but it was good following the directions based on the size chart. And I’m short too so tops are quite often long one me. But this shirt is so incredibly comfortable and WARM. It’s going to be well worn. Especially during the colder months!

Comfy enough that I could stand outside in temps in the low 30’s today, to get some photos! Which was hard for me because I’d much rather be behind the camera than in front of it.

Stitch To Stitch French Terry Dolman 1To add some fun contrast, I flipped the fabric on the arm pieces so the stripes went a different direction! Love how it turned out.

Stitch To Stitch French Terry Dolman 2You have to love the squinty-looking-into-the-sun photos! I figured I shouldn’t have every one with my sunglasses on…

STS French Terry Dolman 3

Fabric details:

  • This is 100% cotton french terry, and weighs about 13oz/yard. It makes it a nice weight for a lighter sweatshirt without being overly heavy.
  • Shrinkage was minimal, and I was surprised. My 2 yard piece shrank about 3″ total lengthwise after washing/drying on medium high temps. For 100% cotton knit fabric this minimal shrinkage is awesome.
  • It is a 50% crosswise, 2-way stretch with about 85% recovery. This allows you to stretch it to fit over your body but it will not completely go back until it’s washed/dried again.

I’m so glad that I took the plunge to make something for myself! Can’t wait to do it more often. And you can bet I might have to make myself another one of these tops in a solid color!

Amanda at Stitch To Stitch

Ponte Knit Ruffle Pants

A little over a week ago, I gasped when I saw the new shipment of knit fabrics over at imagine gnats — an array of gorgeous new colors and prints. When Rachael messaged me shortly thereafter I quickly agreed to help her try out some of the beautiful new fabrics. Who says no to playing with fabric, after all?

I was instantly drawn to a bright, bold print and knew it would be perfect for my middle girl. Rachael paired it with a coordinating solid and I set off to find the perfect pattern to use. My daughter is obsessed with ruffle pants right now, which helped narrow down my search; I decided on the Strawberry Fields Knit Triple Ruffle Pants by FooFoo Threads.

Then, I had a moment of slight panic when I remembered I’d be sewing with knits! I have handfuls of knit fabrics I purchased and then set aside because I prefer to sew with woven cottons. With Rachael depending on me to get this project done ASAP I knew I’d have to face it head on. Yikes.

A few days later, the mail lady delivered my pretty fabric and I was in love. The fabrics I chose were both Ponte de Roma knit — meaning they are a medium weight, with a beautiful drape and great recovery (you can stretch them and they come back to the original size really well). The colors were even more vibrant in person and they were silky soft. I had a feeling they’d be much easier to sew with then the lighter weight stuff I usually buy.

A quick run through the washer and dryer to get some measurements on shrinkage and I was ready to start sewing! Since I’ve made hundreds of pair of ruffle pants over the last 5 years, there wasn’t much need to the pattern. I used the pieces to cut what I needed, scanned through the directions (which are always well written, I love her patterns!) and off I went. My girl peeked in before bed to see what I was doing and was ecstatic to see I was making something for her.

Thankfully, the ponte de roma was fantastic to sew with! I used my serger for the main construction so the seams would have some stretch to them (a regular straight stitch has the tendency to snap when used on knit fabrics because the fabric stretches, and the seam doesn’t) and then topstitched ruffles with a twin needle on my sewing machine. The heavier weight kept the edges from curling and it didn’t get sucked down into my machine. One of the nicest things about knits too is the edges won’t fray; meaning there’s no need to finish the raw edges if you don’t want to. This not only makes it much easier to gather fabric for ruffles but it also meant I left the bottom edges of the ruffles unfinished. As I do with any knit garment, I used the walking foot on my sewing machine and ballpoint/jersey needles.

Start to finish I was done in just over an hour, and the results were fantastic!

Stitch To Stitch Ponte de Roma Ruffle PantsThe FooFoo Threads pattern is designed so the pants are more fitted through the waist/seat/hips and then widen out slightly through the leg. Not super skinny leggings, nor overly wide like traditional ruffle pants — in my opinion a perfect pattern for petite little girls. I will definitely be using this pattern to make her many pair of pants for spring/summer!

Stitch To Stitch Ponte de Roma Ruffle Pants 2Fabric details:

  • They are both blends (95% polyester, 5% spandex for the print and 75% polyester, 21% rayon, 4% spandex for the solid) and a little heavier at 11-13oz/yard; it might get heavy if you use it for large projects but these itty bitty ruffle pants turned out at a reasonable weight.
  • The fabric blends also meant less shrinkage when the fabrics were washed; the print shrunk from 36″ to 33.5″, the solid shrunk from 36″ to 34.5″. This is much less than most cotton knits.
  • Both fabrics are a 2-way stretch (about 40-50% crosswise) and have 100% recovery.
  • And they came out of the dryer wrinkle-free!

Overall, this project came together much better than I anticipated! The ponte de roma knits were great to work with. I’m already scheming items to make for ME with some of the other prints Rachael has in her shop.

Amanda at Stitch To Stitch