Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A Reverse Appliqued Sweatshirt

It's funny how fast circumstances can change. In general and specifically. Deeply and more shallowly. On the shallow end of things, I'm sitting here thinking that just a month or two ago I was struggling with my machine having to be repaired (and repaired again!) and  NOW. . .well, thanks to some a thrift store machine and the local Facebook garage sale group I have not one fantastic machine but three - AND a serger!
Now what in the heck to do with them?! I absolutely do not need three machines. Having one is very sufficient, with perhaps one as a back up. I gave my spare machine to my sons friend last summer when he came over for sewing lessons and it's brought me so much joy to see and hear about the projects he makes! Perhaps I need Judah to recruit another friend who has an interest in sewing!
So with the  new acquisitions I rearranged my sewing room a little, adding in a small table so my serger has a permanent place. I freaking love it. I've been contemplating getting one for a while, but have always been really intimidated by how complicated they seem. I remember back when I was a young teen and my great aunt asked me to make a few flower girl dresses for a wedding. She brought me over yards of thin poly satin, which frayed out almost as soon as it was cut. Back then I thought using a serger would be very helpful to finish those slippery seams so I borrowed one from a lady at my then-church. I could NOT figure out how to work that thing so I never did use it. I finished the flower girl dresses with bag linings and lots of fray check.
Yep... highly unfortunate motif placement. 😂
For the last very long while I've finished my seams on all my garments via several different methods, depending on the garment, the fabric and if it is a historic garment or not. For 1860's women's clothing, seams left raw and pressed to one side are perfectly appropriate for sturdy fabric. For material that tends to fray or will get washed a lot (like childrens garments and mens shirts) I generally use a hand felled seam, which looks like little stitches on the outside of the garment. For items that have selvedge edges, the selvedge can often be left as a natural finish (like the seams of petticoats). For modern stuff, if I'm not lining, I always try to use french seams and if that isn't possible, zig zag stitching and topstitching looks nice and is sturdy. I did not NEED a serger but as I began to sew more with knits last year, the more I thought that having one would be nice, eventually.

Well, about a month ago someone posted in the local facebook group about a serger and a sewing machine for sale. They came as a set, so even though I didn't need the sewing machine (another Kenmore) at all, it was worth the price for the serger alone. Seeing the serger in all it's multi-threaded glory brought back horrifying memories of those flower girl dresses but this time I had an instruction manual to consult. I didn't have time to even sit down and look at the machine for several weeks, so it sat on the floor in my sewing room and I got used to looking at it.

When I finally did get time to sit down with the instruction manual and the machine I went through it carefully, step by step. I located and named all the parts of the machine, re threaded it and then just started using it! The best way to learn is to just DO! And the more you do, the better you will get. (I tell this to my kids all the time. You are never going to be great when you are just starting out! But starting out and continuing to DO means you CAN AND WILL GET GREAT AT SOMETHING!) The first session I had with the serger I merely overlocked all the edges on many squares of scrap muslin. After each square I played with the tensions a little bit and finally got to the point where I could see where each thread interlocked with the others to create the overlocked edge and two rows of stitching. The second session the tension was good so I made little towels for my girls LOL Dollhouse out of a few washcloths cut into quarters. Then, we made some little pillows and blankets for the doll house. Finally I felt confident enough to make a wearable garment so I pulled out the leftover black and red knit from my t-shirt dress I made last summer and made some leggings. The serger made the construction of these SO fast! Three main seams, a waistband, and I left the bottom edges just overlocked instead of turning and stitching a hem. I love wearing these leggings even if I didn't have enough material to even try to match the print.

My first proper project, though, is this sweatshirt and the shorts I made to go with them. This is a double knit fabric, one of those precut 2 yard lengths that WalMart sells. I think it was $4? I kind of planned to make it into a hoodie but I noticed my only pullover sweatshirt was getting ratty looking so I decided to replace it. The double knit is grey on one side, black on the other. For this project I decided to use it black side out.
The pattern is a 1984 dolman top/dress/tunic pattern that was given to me by our 4-H leader. While I probably will never use this pattern to make a dress like the one on the pattern cover, it is a nice cut and worked great for this shirt! To make the shirt a little more sweatshirty I added fitted bands at the waist and sleeves. For the neckline I serged the raw edge and sewed a row of machine stitching about 3/8" below it.
The fun part was embellishing this very plain shirt with a little bit of color. I decided to do reverse applique so I interfaced and cut out my design elements, pinned them to the inside of the front and stitched them down. Since this fabric is a knit and doesn't really fray, all I had to do was clip out the material inside the stitching lines on the outside of the shirt, about 1/4" away from the stitch line. I love how this came out and will probably use this technique again sometime.

I decided to use some more of the cotton material I used for the applique to make some shorts from a pattern I wanted to test out. These were also sewn on my serger and while I like the shorts, they did come out a bit big despite sizing down several sizes. I do hate how much wearing ease modern patterns have! The legs on these shorts are enormous! Still, perfectly wearable for around the house.

I've made a few more things since finishing this outfit with the serger, but for now I'm working on a project that is strictly machine-only. 😀 I'm sure I'll be using it again soon though! I'm looking forward, so much, to becoming more proficient with it.

Much love!


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