Friday, September 4, 2015

Fabric Stash Audit - Jersey/Knit

I recently learnt about "Stretch Factor" in knit or jersey fabrics. I use the term knit/jersey pretty much interchangeably in this blogpost.
As per the tutorial instructions, I made myself a "gauge" for measuring the stretch factor in fabrics.
And I methodically went about analysing the "stretch factor" of all the jersey fabrics in my stash using this gauge.
One by one, I numbered each fabric, measured how much I have and then I placed two pins 5cm apart on the crosswise grain (doubled-over, perpendicular to the selvage) and stretched the fabric along the gauge. Then I did the same on the lengthwise grain (again doubled over).
The photographs really highlight the "knit" of these fabrics which I don't think I'd ever noticed before.

Stable Knits

I have two "stable knits" in my stash. Stable knits are treated like woven fabrics. They do not require the pattern to be adapted to accommodate for the ease or stretchiness of the fabric.
 Grey/black crisscross pattern.
Turquoise-green colour sweater fabric with furry texture on reverse side.
From the most stable to the most stretchy...

Super-Stretch -100

I nicknamed this category "super-stretch-100". Knit fabrics with a stretch factor of 100% in both directions (crosswise and lengthwise) are a category unto themselves! I just have one of these in my stash: white with navy stripes which used to be a t-shirt... and which has suffered slight pink discolouration from a washing machine adventure with something naughty and red.
Knit fabrics like this with 100% stretch in both directions require a 10% pattern reduction; usually the reduction is taken from the side-seams.


I have 7 super-stretchy fabrics. Some of the fabrics, however, are equally stretchy in both directions, albeit not quite as stretchy as "super-stretch-100"!
This fabric, a deep tomato red which used to be a dress, has 100% crosswise stretch and 85% lengthwise:
Whereas this light grey fabric has 90% crosswise stretch and only 10% lengthwise:
The light grey fabric is woven in a tube! There is no selvage edges - I'd never seen that before. Actually, "woven" is completely the wrong term... because of course we're dealing with "knits" here. So the fabric was knit in a circle.
I think it's fascinating what a big difference there is in the crosswise stretch of each of these fabrics. The red fabric is definitely a "two-way-super-stretchy" knit whereas the grey fabric is simply a "super-stretchy" knit.

More Two-way Super Stretchy knits

 Cerise pink. 87% stretch factor in both directions.
I have made baby hats from this green-with-pink-dots fabric and they have worked out very successfully. I only have 60x60cm left. It has stretch factors of 75% and 85%. Because I have so little left, I couldn't guess which direction was crosswise and lengthwise. The tutorial I was taking recently recommended that stretch fabrics are used with the direction of greatest stretch across the body.
I really like the feel of this fabric. But I don't like the pattern! In general, I'm not good with pattern. I try to introduce more pattern to my life, but invariably I don't like the item! I made a dress from this in my very early days of dressmaking but I never wore it. Was it the pattern? The fabric? The fit? My analysis now shows it has 80% / 50% stretch factor.

More Super-Stretchy (but not two-way)

 This off-white fabric has 90% stretch in one direction and 32% in the other.
This is a baby pink colour fabric with gold dots. It's not really a fabric I like but I think it would make a great garment. I bought it a week or two ago at a dressmakers closing down sale, she advertised on facebook that she was clearing her studio. I paid €3 for a metre of this fabric, 128W. It has 90% crosswise stretch and 20% lengthwise.


This is the beautiful Nano Iro printed knit fabric. I only have a teeny amount of it: 81x60cm. It has 65% and 20% stretch factors.
This fabric was bought about two years ago to make a dress for a friend but I haven't had the courage to tackle it. I feel I need to be better at drafting patterns and making blocks that fit etc. She's a very patient friend! The fabric is quite thick so it's appropriate for a winter dress. It's much less stretchy than I thought: 57% crosswise and 18% lengthwise. So only stretchy in one direction really.
I bought this light-brown fabric in Penney's. It was sold as a scarf. It is 90x180cm. Stretch is 60% and 10%.

Moderate Knits

This is my newest fabric! A bright multi colour stretch. This is the fabric that I want to make a t-shirt dress out of; the reason I undertook the tutorial on knit fabrics which has led me to doing this analysis on all the jerseys in my collection!! This fabric has 50% stretch on the crosswise grain and 35% lengthwise. It is therefore a "moderate knit" and would require pattern reduction of 2%.
This is the fabric I used to make my beloved "t-shirt dress". It's a two-way moderate knit: 48% crosswise stretch and 45% lengthwise.
I'm calling this "geometric autumnal". It's actually quite a light fabric and I don't know what to do with it! I bought it a long long time ago when I first wanted to make something with knits. Maybe it needs to be lined? I think that's why I bought the off-white fabric! This geometric autumnal knit fabric has a stretch factor of 47% and 20%. At one stage, I made a scarf from a quarter metre of it, it's 150W but it was awful!! Now, having done this stretch analysis, I know that the off-white fabric would not be suitable as a lining because I think that ideally linings and main fabrics have similar stretch factors. The off-white is coming in at 90/32.
This grey marl is a cut-off from a job I did on a friend's summer dress. I don't have much of it, 30x80cm (x2). It has 35% and 32% stretch factor.
Although the picture looks grey, this is a black fabric. It is slippy and shiny which is probably why it came out greyish or silvery in the picture. Dunno if it could be silk, I bought it in Róisín Cross Silks in Dún Laoghaire. Stretch is the same in both directions: 40%.
This pink/salmon coloured knit is quite light and has stretch factor 35% equal in both directions. I used it to make a Sewaholic Renfrew top. It wasn't really appropriate for that fabric as it was too light and the recovery was quite poor; although the recovery when I tested it just now was coming out fine.
Recovery is when the fabric "bounces" back to it's original shape - in the test I'm doing the pin placed at 5cm which had been stretched would either bounce back to the 5cm mark quickly (="good recovery") or would be slow to unstretch. As a rule of thumb, fabrics with poor recovery should not be used to make clothes - they become saggy quickly.

Job Done!

So am I any wiser?
This has definitely helped me to understand knits a bit better. I'm not sure yet how to put the information into practice but it is good to have the knowledge to hand and to have got "stuck in" with knits in this way.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tutorial photos v Reality photos

I'm not sure which of these images to show first.
I wanted to make my own "stretch fabrics gauge" from cardboard.
One of the photos is taken when I got the thought "I should document making this".
While I was making it, I had fifteen pens, a few rulers, two cutting mats, blade, spare blades, green pouch to store blades, instructions for how to draw the gauge, red cardboard, red cardboard remnants and probably a cup of coffee strewn all over my desk (only some of which is captured in the picture).

The second photograph is taken after I realised "I didn't use a lot of the equipment that is strewn all over my desk" and tidied up the desk and put things away.

So which is the more useful image to demonstrate how I went about making this for myself?
Often when I follow a tutorial, it recommends "2B pencil, L-Square, Clear-Grided-Ruler..." - I don't have these items! Or I do and I can't find them, so I pull out what's to hand and instead of having a tidy list of 4 items, I have a mishmash of items that I'm making do with.
It can get very disheartening for a learner to see an online video or a blog tutorial with really tidy photos and neat point-by-point directions, no hiccups, no lines that don't align and all equipment spick-and-span, unbroken and exactly what is required for the job.
Have you ever seen a pencil sharpener in an online tutorial?!
(Have you ever rummaged to look for a pencil sharpener *during* a tutorial?!)
On the other hand, the tutor has to consider the most effective way to instruct the reader/viewer. And clutter wouldn't be helpful. But I think it is fascinating to see the contrast and to see how marketing and "the perfect image" can block us and be an obstacle to following our own haphazard make-do creativity.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Online course for Stretch Fabric Pattern Drafting

Last week, I signed up for an online course with BurdaStyle Academy: Pattern Drafting and Designing for Stretch Fabrics.
I've made myself two dresses which i *adore* and wear a lot. I can't find any pics of them on this blog so I may never have blogged about them. I wear them all the time, the minute they are out of the wash, I am wearing them again. Basically just a "long-sleeve, high-round-neck top, past-the-knee skirt"-dress. Very suitable for the Irish climate. No pullovers required, no mixing matching of different items. One garment and I'm dressed.
This is the pattern I used for the dresses:
I didn't do the funny split at the elbow, and I lengthened it a bit. But I've since sold the pattern.
I've bought more fabric to make another dress. But have been humming and hawing over blocks I have from a year or two ago, not sure if they'll fit, checking the measurements etc. So to give me a little push, I decided to take this online course.
I'm very happy with it for no other reason than it shows that I should be more confident about my pattern-drafting, there's not that much to it and I am totally able for it. So watch this space... pics of stretch-fabric garments ahoy.
But first... an audit of the stretch fabrics I have in my stash.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What a difference a patterned fabric makes

I've moved house. Here's a pic of the window in the bathroom:
 It needs a blind. So I got a blind... plain white:
And then I added some fabric to it. I was pleasantly surprised by really how much of a difference the pattern makes:
From Ikea! The fabric and the blind itself.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Meditate where you're at" cushion

I intend to meditate more often. So why don't I? I'm not a lazy person and I'm good at keeping my word - so usually when things aren't happening there's an explanation for it. And if I really truly intend or want to do the thing... then I should search for the reason that it's not happening.
I got a meditation chair, thinking that would entice me
 ... but I'm still not meditating. And I think it's because:
  • it takes up a lot of space > so there aren't many options about where it can be
  • the chair is a permanent fixture > I can't move it from place to place depending on where the sun shines or if one of the rooms in my place is occupied
For a while, I thought I wasn't using it because it had no cushions, but I made cushions so I had overcome that obstacle!
I'm staying away from home, alone on a semi "retreat"right now (which is why I'm thinking about meditating!) and I started scribbling and designing an idea for a "Meditate where you're at" cushion - because really all meditating requires is sitting on your bum on the floor and concentrating. I'm a big believer in posture; striking a pose has a huge effect so sitting on the couch wasn't working for me, I need to be crosslegged. The tiled floor is cold here and the cushions were too small... hence the requirement to design something.
I'm thinking it can fold.
The black line indicates a zip. And it's got a handle on it, not sure where yet
There's loads more work to be done! I'm writing about it here so I can throw out the scribbly bits of paper that I've been designing on!
For the filling, I researched some Ikea baby foam mattresses, Vyssa Slappna:
160x70x7 €30
120x60x5 €20
When I go home, I will ask someone to sit on some paper or fabric on the floor and draw around them to get the shape and dimensions.
Regarding the shape, I'm not fully decided on it yet, not entirely sure that I like the heart shape above. I had dismissed this shape, however, and focussed on progressing with the other, the folding etc is working out with the heart shape.
This is what happens with design - an idea must get discarded, sometimes for no valid reason other than a whim - but I suppose that's what designers are for, trusting their whims and following them!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Baby bibs

Today I was mostly... finishing sewing baby bibs
11 bibs made and no two the same
Thanks to for the pattern


The Eleven Bibs - back and front

A tie shape appliqué for a little man.

Plain and simple. Bright orange! With tie fastener.

A simple dickie bow for a boy. And matching blue on the reverse.

It's harder to find ideas for girls! I appliquéd one of the circular shapes from the oilcloth pattern on to the orange fabric.

This one features an appliqué boat on one side, and blue watery colour fabric at the rear.

Same as the first one - tie with blue on reverse.

Black and white fabric with orange on reverse (using up fabric scraps from my stash!)

Blue/orange combo

Orange/ B&W combo:

A lovely oilcloth pattern with orange on reverse:

(I think there's only ten there!) They will be gifts for friends and family.