HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope your holidays were blessed and peaceful. My husband was born on December 25th, and when he didn’t have to work on Christmas Day, our family would stay home, eat dinner and relax, just the four of us. My sons and I decided to do the same thing for our first Christmas and birthday in his absence. We ate and watched movies all day long. I made my husband’s birthday cake, like I’ve done for the last 23 years, and took it to the fire station he retired from the next day.
The New Year is here! My wardrobe, patterns and fabric are decluttered, and I’m ready to get back into the groove of sewing (after a very long break).
One type of garment that’s missing from my wardrobe is sweaters. I have four turtlenecks (2 DIY & 2 RTW). I’ll be traveling to Memphis, TN this month and I’m not prepared for that level of cold, so the first item I’ve made is this oversized sweater tunic. I’ll be there for five days, so I wanted to make at least three sweaters to take along. I’m already working on another turtleneck, which should be done today. Then I’ll start the last sweater. I LOVE that I don’t have to use my time trying to figure out what to make for the trip. I factored the need in while planning my sewing for the month.
I used Simplicity 8738 for the tunic and this Sweater Knit Fabric from my collection. The fabric is thick enough to keep the turtleneck from sagging too much when not folded dow. Because the collar is sewn in a double thickness of fabric, it holds up pretty well.
This pattern is rated “Easy-to-Sew” by Simplicity and I agree. There are only four pattern pieces: front, back, sleeve and collar. I sewed View B in a size Medium, eliminated the thumb-hole, shortened the sleeves a bit, and added a band to the hem (details below). If you’re a new beginner, this pattern is a winner.
When I posted on social media that I would be sewing this sweater, a few people asked if there would be a sew-along video. I had not initially planned on creating one, but I’ve changed my mind, so stay tuned.
As I begin to add functional pieces to my DIY wardrobe, I’m thinking about how they can be worn with other items. Whereas before I would sew with only one function in mind, now I consider it a challenge to see how many styling options I can pull off with one garment.
I styled the tunic with three different pieces from my current wardrobe, and as I add more DIY garments, I’m sure there will be even more options in the future.
STYLING OPTION #1
My favorite styling option is wearing the tunic with a pair of skinny jeans and boots. This is the only pair of jeans I own (for now). I know, it’s sad, but temporary. I added my newsboy cap, and a large pair of hoop earrings. This is the perfect “run around town” casual outfit.
STYLING OPTION #2
I paired the tunic with a pair of thick leggings and ankle boots (booties). This would look great with the Ugg Boots in Option #1 also. It makes me want to lounge on the sofa with a hot cup of tea and girly movie. Of course, it’s also appropriate for wearing outdoors since the tunic is long enough to cover my bottom while wearing leggings.
STYLING OPTION #3
Finally, it begs to be dressed up a bit, so I adorned my favorite (RTW) lace skirt, a strand of pearls and clutch purse. Can you guess what I had in mind for this look? If you’re thinking tea party or church, you’re right.
Whenever I can make a garment work for the tea party, it’s a big win. I’ll add a big white floppy hat and gloves before heading to the party.
As much as I attend church, you would think I have an abundance of clothing options, right? Nope! I’m lacking there too. I’ll probably be wearing this to church on Sunday. Hmmm… Maybe!
Seven Tips for Sewing Sweater Knit (for beginners)
If you’re a beginner and want to get started sewing this sweater right away, here are seven helpful tips you can follow.
Tip #1 – Use Proper Stitch Settings
Use a zig-zag stitch whenever sewing with sweater knit fabric. Set your stitch width between .5mm and 2.0mm. Choose a stitch length based on the thickness of your fabric. I used a 2.5mm stitch length for a medium weight sweater knit on my Baby Lock Soprano.
The main challenge in stitching with knits is to prevent the seams from growing. Therefore, I highly recommend practicing the stitches on a scrap piece of your fashion fabric. Adjust the settings until your seams are flat and the same length when you finish as they were when you began. You can actually measure a length of the scrap, placing marks at beginning and end. Sew the seam, then measure that same area again. If the measurement is longer, then the seam was stretched during sewing and you’ll need to adjust the stitch length or presser foot tension. Check your sewing machine manual for help with these adjustments.
Tip #2 – Use a Walking Foot
If your machine came with a WALKING FOOT, use it! If you don’t own one and you’re planning to sew with knit fabrics, GET ONE! GET ONE! GET ONE! I can’t tell you how amazing this tool is. It helps to feed both layers of fabric through the machine at the same time, eliminating uneven layers and fabric stretching. I know it may be pricey for some, but I assure you it’s worth the investment. It will literally have you smiling as you sew your knits in the beginning, especially if you’ve ever had the problem of one layer of fabric being longer than the other at the end of a seam. Trust me on this one. Get the walking foot! Check your machine manual or local fabric store to find one for your machine.
Tip #3 – Transfer Markings with Thread
It’s difficult, and in most cases, impossible, to transfer chalk, pen or pencil markings onto sweater knits. However, using thread to transfer markings, such as darts, buttonholes, pleats, notches, pocket placement, etc., is a widely used and successful option. It’s done with a hand needle, inserting double thread through two layers of fabric, cutting and leaving thread tails in both layers. I’ll demonstrate this technique in the sew-along video.
Tip #4 – Use Plastic Clips to Hold Fabric
Some sweater fabrics CAN’T be held together with straight pins (particularly loose weave varieties). In such cases, craft clips are an amazing option. I’m using these clips from Evergreen Art Supply that work very well. You can also purchase clips from Amazon.
Tip #5 – Stabilize Seams with Clear Elastic
Sweater knits are prone to stretching more easily than other fabrics. Therefore stabilizing the seams with CLEAR ELASTIC is a smart choice in preserving the integrity of the garment through wear and tear. I stabilized the shoulder and neckline seams where the collar is attached. These are the two areas that receive the most stretch in this garment. Use clear elastic to stabilize the seams of any knit garment where there will be stress during wear or when pulling onto the body
Tip #6 – Press with Caution
When pressing sweater knits, use as little heat as possible. These fabrics can become distorted with too much heat or if using back and forth motions with the iron. Set your iron to the correct setting for the type of fabric that you’re using. Be sure to use press and lift motions instead of sliding the iron back and forth over the fabric.
Another helpful tip with pressing is to allow the fabric to cool a bit before handling it after the seams have been pressed.
I also, try to keep the fabric from hanging off the board as much as possible to prevent the fabric from stretching. I fold or gather it on the board around the seam that’s being pressed.
I use a PRESSING HAM for curved seams, like armholes and necklines. Remember to use a pressing or rocking motion, and avoid sliding the iron over the ham. Remove the ham from the garment to allow for faster cooling. The ham retains heat longer than the fabric.
Tip #7 – Finish Seams
Sweater knit fabrics tend to ravel, which could cause problems later if not attended to during construction. My favorite seam finish for this type of fabric is serged seams. I realize, of course, that not everyone has access to this specialty machine. If you don’t own a serger, then try using a zig-zag or overcast stitch on your regular machine to finish off those seams. Check your owner’s manual to see what stitches are available.
If you have a serger, then you could actually sew the entire garment with this machine. I chose to sew my tunic with a sewing machine and finish the seams with my Baby Lock Evolution. Always test with a scrap piece of your fashion fabric before serging the garment. You will need to make adjustments to the tension or differential feed to prevent stretched, wavy seams.
The serger produces very clean, professional looking seams on the inside of you garments. Once you’ve mastered your sewing machine techniques and have quite a few projects under your belt, I recommend investing in a serger to elevate your sewing.
Adding a Band to Hem
Instead of inserting a regular hem at the bottom of the tunic, I attached a band for a cleaner finish. This can also be done to add cuffs to the sleeves. Here are the steps I used:
***Cut off 1 1/2″ from bottom of sweater. This can be done before sewing the sides together. I did it afterwards because that’s when I decided to add the band.
Cut a 5″ strip of fabric for front and back, using bottom of corresponding pattern pieces.
Sew front to back at short ends, right sides facing, forming a circle. Finish seam allowances and press. Fold band in half, lengthwise, with wrong sides together and press.
Clip band to bottom of hem, right sides facing, and sew using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Finish seam allowance and press seam toward bodice.
Now that I’ve completed my first sweater for the 2019 winter season, I’m so excited to wear it everywhere. Now tell me, how would you style it?
Thanks for stopping by!
(DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission on qualifying purchases. All opinions in this post are my own.)