I’d been avoiding the bins of kids clothes we have stored in the basement. I couldn’t remember if we had girls clothes down there in size 3T. This time it was different because either they were there or they weren’t and either way it was heavy because the daughter who used them or was supposed to use them isn’t or didn’t. Up until this point I knew that we had the clothes and the problem was whether or not to use them. Would it be too hard? Would it honor her? Was it creepy? I’d been dreading coming to the end of the bins of stored clothes since MJ was born. This time I didn’t know which problem I was going to confront or what questions I might ask myself.
And then I went downstairs and and discovered that we have lots of 3Ts, summer things B had worn and winter things she hadn’t. I’m feeling terribly unorganized and burdened by things and the emotional weight they carry. So many pants, many of which are cute little jeans that MJ will never, ever allow to be put on her person. She’s more likely to leave the house in this mismatched clashing pairing, if she deigns to wear the t-shirt at all:
She’s her own person. And Goddamn if I don’t love her for it.
After all that hemming and hawing about… well, hemming, I stopped trying to be fancee and a perfectionist and used a narrow zig zag to hem Moneta. And you know what? It looks FINE. Even better, it’s FINISHED.
Size: Small at the bust and shoulders graded to medium at the waist and skirt
Fabric: Birth Organics Wink Knit
Everybody and her sister has already made a Moneta and for good reason: easy to fit, easy to wear. This dress feels like a leotard which makes me feel like I’m playing secret dress-up.
I have friends who swear by knit dresses but I don’t remember feeling comfortable in one since college which was long ago enough that I’ve become someone who uses terms like “since college” as a way of referring to herself as if in the third person. This dress is something of an experiment in personal style. Will I reach for when getting ready in the morning? We’ll see!
I’m surprised every time I read a sewist’s sewing-with-knits-is-so-much-easier-than-I-previously-thought story. They’re everywhere. Or do I only notice them because I seem to have nothing but trouble? I find knits utterly befuddling. Partly my problem is that I overthink it. I couldn’t figure out, for example, how to finish knit seams. Answer: you don’t.
So, Moneta. Again. I tried to sew it last year as my first sewing-with-knits project. It was an utter failure. I was trying to be good and made a trial run or two of the bodice but it didn’t seem to give me a good idea of how things would turn out. Then I got to the part when you gather the fabric with clear elastic. I couldn’t manage that at all. I was wrestling with the elastic and wrestling with my fabric and wrestling with my machine and each one seemed to be pulling in a different direction. My results were abysmal.
I stuffed it in a drawer, but instead of forgetting about it this project weighed on my conscience. After making that tiny t-shirt I decided to go for broke. I already at the double needle installed and raring to go, why not take it for another walk?
I graded from a size small bust to medium waist and added 1.5 inches to the bodice and got…
a somewhat drop-waisted Moneta. Turns out I didn’t need all that extra length after all! Not bad, huh? This came together like a dream one Saturday morning as the children were making a horrible mess playing. A serger can make a big difference! Especially with clear elastic. It was happening! I too would have a sewing-with-knits-was-easier-than-I-previously-thought story!
And then? And then (dramatic pause) the dream turned into a nightmare. I sat down at my Bernina Nova. As I was winding a bobbin the double needle broke spectacularly. Weird, right? No matter, I had a jersey double needle on hand. I could sub that one in. I tested. It looked terrible. Was it the needle or something else? I investigated and discovered that the screw on the bobbin casing that I had so carefully loosened had, in fact, flown out of the bobbin casing entirely. STRESS.
My priority after that was to get my machine and the bobbin tension back in good working order for regular sewing. I have no confidence in my mechanical abilities, but I’ve made a dress muslin or two and a top since then and they’re all sewn together which is as much as one can ask for from a sewing machine if a brain doesn’t overthink it (I refer you back to the first paragraph of this post: I excel at overthinking). But I haven’t tried the double needle again, yet, and so the dress in the picture that came together so quickly on a Saturday morning languishes for want of hemming and finishing and my sewing-with-knits-was-easier-than-I-previously-thought story continues to elude me.
IT’S A T-SHIRT! A tiny t-shirt at that. RAAAAAAAH! THE CROWD GOES WILD!
OK, maybe not exciting for you, but very exciting for me! This is my first t-shirt, you see, and only my second successful attempt to sew with knits. This is also the first time I’ve used my serger to assemble a garment and the first time I’ve used a double needle. Even my mother, when I called for advice, said she’d never used one of those. Go me! I wish I’d followed up by asking her how she’d hemmed knits because I steadfastly used every tip and trick listed here (except for buying a 2nd bobbin casing because it would have been $70) and I still have tunneling, especially where my stitching missed the wonder tape. How does one sew over tape she cannot see? I expect the answer here is “measure better.”
One small step for a sewist, one giant leap into a world of stretchy garments.