An Athletic Wear Tunic: Great for Hiking

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Sedona, AZ

Hiking Tunic:

This year we did the crazy thing and planned a winter trip to the Southwest USA to visit some of the National Parks.  Oh yes, and that was during a shutdown of the National Parks.   As I was thinking about what to wear, I only knew that my attire would be something between short sleeve shirts and 3 or 4 layers of warm weather clothing.  Enter a hiking shirt that covers my bum and could be layered.

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A not so pretty photo of my back side (with an underlayer for additional warmth)

A day after downloading the BeeKiddi BeeWave  pattern, I received an order of lightweight Polartec/lycra knit athletic type fabric and immediately knew this was the  perfect union of pattern and fabric.

What’s Right with the Pattern:

  1. The design of this top is brilliant and the designer kindly provided pattern pieces and photos of options for design elements such as a cuff with a thumb hole and trim options.
  2. The high neckline can replace a scarf and the tunic length with a hemline band covered my “bum” for warmth.
  3. The method for attaching the collar at the front center is pretty cool and one I’ve not encountered previously (too complex to describe here). It produces a nicely sculpted finish. My V-neck has less definition than the pattern shows but that’s because I ripped it out a few times and stretched out the neckline.

What’s Not Quite Right with the Pattern:

  1. There is a small and large neckline choice with 3 collar styles however the pattern doesn’t differentiate between the small and large neckline.  Through trial and error I was able to make the collar fit but either something is missing in my ability to understand the pattern or with the pattern itself. I have emailed the designer and am awaiting a reply.  On my first attempt I tried the large wide collar and it was too much fabric for the neckline so I took it out and used the small collar.
  2. Some of the steps aren’t clear in the instructions which I attribute to the translation of a German pattern into English.

A Home Sewist’s Attempt at RTW Details:

One of the things I love about RTW athletic garments is the abundance of construction and design details (likely produced by underpaid employees in developing countries) and coverstitching, most of which are difficult to replicate by the home sewist.  For this garment I wanted to stretch my skills a bit.

Collar Center Back Trim:

The pattern called for a zipper or other contrast trim.  Because I didn’t have anything suitable in my stash (yes, hard to believe) I created RTW-ish trim with 1/8″ and 1/2″ grossgrain ribbon.

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Collar Center Back Trim
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1/2″ black grossgrain with 2 strips of 1/8″ aqua grossgrain

Aqua Contrasting Trim:

The pattern describes and has photographs of ways to use special stitches to make the top look like RTW. First I tried a triple zig-zag around the neckline and it stretched the neck so badly that it was unwearable.  Of course that was followed by an epic seam ripper workout, removing every one of those stitches. Alternatively I topstitched a tube of aqua tissue-weight poly knit to the neckline which worked out well.  To do this I cut a piece of fabric 1-1/4″ wide, sewed it into a tube and turned it.  Note that I did not press the tube as the heat would have distorted the shape.  Then I topstitched it using a narrow zig-zag stitch.  It looks quite nice.

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Top-stitching the Neckline Trim

Then I decided to add aqua piping to the hem band and the cuffs but it looked ripply so I removed that too. By widening the strip of piping and sewing it into the seam, I could topstitch the trim to the body of the garment. This was also a win.  For these pieces, I cut the fabric 1-3/4″ wide and sewed it into the seam, leaving 1/2″ exposed.  The other edge was then topstitched with a narrow zig-zag.

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Top-stitching the Hem Band and Cuff Trim

In Summary:

Due to all of the trial and error, this project took 3 or 4 times as long as it should have but I really like the end result.

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Polar Vortex: Children Need Warm Leggings

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PowerStretch Leggings

Because the midwest USA is experiencing very cold weather, I am reminded of how important it is for children to have warm leggings.  While regular leggings are great, they just aren’t warm enough for bitter and cold midwestern winters.

Each winter for the past 8 or 9 years, I’ve sewn winter leggings for my grand-daughters using Polartec Powerstretch. This year I sewed about 10 or 11 pair as requested by my son and daughters as they’ve come to rely on these leggings as essential winter fare.  Sixteen year old granddaughter Mira still requested new leggings this year, as last year’s were too small.  With a 3 year old grandson in the mix, I also made leggings for him.  Because I’ve acquired a new embroidery machine in the past year, I added pockets and embroidery this year.

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Patterns:

The patterns for these leggings were Go To Leggings and Ottobre Funny Legs .  The $10 for the Go To Leggings pattern was a wise expenditure as I’ve used it more than 25 times in a variety of sizes.  Or your favorite leggings patterns would work as well.

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Go To Leggings
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Ottobre Funny Legs

Fabric:

For all of the leggings I used Polartec Powerstretch, which a smooth outside, fleece inside and has both horizontal and vertical stretch.  This makes the leggings easy to wear and the fleece inside is so cozy.  This year I purchased the fabric at Mill Yardage and The Fabric Fairy.   Powerstretch comes in light and medium weights and either will work for these leggings.  Of the two types I purchased this year, Mill Yardage had medium weight and the yardage from The Fabric Fairy was lighter in weight but also stretchier, which is always a nice feature for leggings.

Construction:

Serging has always been my preferred stitch for this type of garment and for stretch fabric however you could use a narrow zig-zag or a stretch stitch on a regular sewing machine.  For the waistband, I serged 3/4″ elastic to the top of the pants and then turned it over and top stitched with a narrow zig-zag stitch.  To finish the hems I turned the hem under and top-stitched with a simple zig-zag stitch.

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So if the children in your life are in need of warm leggings, consider using Polartec Powerstretch.  As for purchasing the fabric, snatch it up early in the season as the color selection sells out quickly.

Happy sewing.

Sewing with Knits: A Better Patch Pocket

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Recently I made a wearable muslin for the Blackwood Cardigan and learned that I really love this pattern.  The sweater is long and has cuffs for warmth and style, has pockets and is very easy to sew.  The lower band addresses the hemming dilemna that sometimes occurs with hand-sewn sweaters.  What’s not to love.  I’m eager to make another out of a different fabric.

The Muslin:

I used a wool, poly and bamboo knit that’s cozy warm but which has poor recovery and pilled after a single washing, making it the perfect fabric for a muslin.

As for the pattern, I made a few changes:

  1.  The front band is 2″ wide and hangs nicely down the front however it doesn’t overlap, which is a personal preference.  So I removed the band and thankfully had enough fabric to cut a new band, doubling the width to 4″.  For the next try I’ll go with a 3″ band.
  2. The patch pocket is topstitched, which isn’t my favorite method on this type of knit.  Even after using iron-on tape, the top-stitching looked wavy and uneven.  And that’s the point of this blog post.  Here’s my try at topstitching the pocket (sorry about the poor color but you get the point).

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The Solution:

In a creative moment, I decided to try attaching the pocket using a very narrow zig-zag stitch (after using iron-on fusible tape to keep the pocket in place).  Here’s the result, which I really like:

 

To do this, I used matching thread and a stitch width of 1 (out of 4) and a length of 3 (out of 4), just catching the edge of the pocket with the needle. For the navy band I switched to navy thread.IMG_1030  After it was sewn, I gave the pocket a little tug to make the stitches disappear into the fabric.  The pocket has of a 3-D look and appears more like ready-to-wear.

I’ll give this pattern another try soon and will see if this method works with different fabric.