Monday, August 13, 2012

Sewing Class: Knits vs. Wovens vs. Bias Wovens

A couple weeks ago, I got an itch to finish project for myself, so I made a faux wrap top using McCalls 6120 and some leftover poly knit I had around from a dress I made in the past several years. I wore it and it looked fine enough, but I was a bit disappointed that it felt uncomfortably warm.  It was a 90+ degree day, so I realize I shouldn't be too hasty in my judgment. But for your edification, here is an I-can’t-believe-I’m-posting-this-why-did-I-set-the-camera-at waist-level photo of me in it, in my poorly lit basement after a full day of  mothering the small hordes that occupy my house. In case you had any illusions about me and my glamorous lifestyle :) Looking at the photos, it gives me the feeling of nursing-home-chic meets Hawaii… I like it, but I don’t love it. But it does fit well (could fit better if I had adjusted for a small bust). I added bands instead of hemming the sleeves and the neckline-faux-wrap-area, and it worked out well for both coverage and easy finish. The hem was woeful (see closeup), but that was a simple problem with my walking foot that I only diagnosed and solved a week ago when it tried to ruin another project (the feeding mechanism was loose). I shake my fist.

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I have also lately been wanting to make something chevronish. Why? I still do not know. The only fabric I had that might work for a chevron project was this silky blue and white striped fabric – possibly intended as lining fabric, certainly remnant in origin. I modified the bias cut tank top option of Kwik Sew 2761, and this was the end result (the pointy chest was because I had a bustier underneath on the mannequin - forgive my lazy ways):

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I had to use some vintage bias tape for the hem because I was not at all sure my walking foot would cooperate (the problem had not yet been diagnosed). It worked pretty well, though when I finally had the top on… I was not super impressed with the final fit. I think it will be great under a cardigan with jeans, but it was not quite what I had wanted. The neckline was generally higher than ideal, but that was a function of the stripes. I was impressed with my ability to line up the stripes even on silky stretchy bias lines without pinning since I used the serger (yay me!), but that still didn’t make it perfect. I have much to learn.

So, okay. A couple projects completed with mixed results. But it got me thinking more and more about sewing knits versus sewing woven non-stretch fabrics, and then about sewing bias wovens. Their are so many differences and vagaries of working with each category, that I can understand how a person might really specialize in one. I haven't decided which I prefer to work with. Knits can be tricky, but wovens need more complex closures. Unless they are cut on the bias. Sometimes. Knits can be forgiving, but wovens can be altered. Generally. Knits are challenging on conventional sewing machines, but are wonderful on a serger. Wovens offer the epitome of selection and variety and predictable results. Knits vary greatly in stretch and thickness, and results might not be what you expect. But they're so comfy!!

What do you prefer? What was your most recent project, regardless of ├╝ber-success or mediocre pass? Share a link in the comments if you Flickr or blog!

1 comment:

Jodi Bonjour said...

I think I am at the point in my life where I pretty much have to stick to knits, at least for shirts. My body changes too often to work hard on something that won't fit next week. :)

The impression I get with knits is that the better quality they are the easier they are to work with. I need to take the leap and start shopping online, I think.