Colette Patterns recently released two patterns for knit fabrics, the Moneta dress and the Mabel skirt. As I was on the East Coast and missing my sewing machine, I bought both of them. Let’s just say that sewing knits for the first time has been an interesting experience. While starting with the Mabel skirt would have probably been less traumatic, it calls for a stiffer knit fabric and all I had was the light and stretchy kind. So instead I dived head first into the madness of my first Moneta, learning some valuable lessons about taming stretchy fabric on the way. First the good parts. Oh my goodness knits are comfy! I have worn my
brown milk chocolate Moneta dress pretty much every other day since finishing it last weekend. The fit is also perfect because the fabric stretches, so there was absolutely no pattern-altering required. I did cut a medium at the bust and a large at the waist and hips, but that’s it!
Now for the not so good parts. I am a perfectionist when it comes to finishing edges nicely, even if no one but me will ever see them. Trying to do that without a serger seems to be nearly impossible, unless I roll over every edge, which is tricky to do on curved edges and adds questionable bulk to the bottom hem of the skirt. By pretending that this first Moneta would be a “wearable muslin”, I tried really hard not to care about ugly finished edges (e.g. see below for the horrid underside of the bottom seam). What actually bothered me even more though, was that I had to use a stitch that would stretch, so all the edges are finished with a zigzag stitch. If I had lined the top of the dress I could have gotten rid of all the zigzags on the top, but the bottom hem would have still bothered me. My friend Anna suggested using a figure 8 stitch and hemming the bottom of the dress by hand, but oh dear that sounds like it would take forever!
Things did improve once I realized that changing the size of zigzag stitch was crucial. The elastic I used to shir the skirt was almost ruined by using too small of a stitch, since it refused to fully contract again after sewing it to the skirt. I also learned the hard way that pulling the fabric while feeding it into the sewing machine resulted in stretched out edges, such as around the neck opening. However, pushing the fabric into the sewing machine resulted in bunched up seams, so there appears to be a narrow happy medium. This probably means I should follow the Colette instructions and get a twin needle or something sensible like that.
Despite the frustrations of sewing with knits on a standard sewing machine, I can’t help but love the result of a super-simple, soft and cozy dress that doesn’t take ages to fit or finish. In fact, my project this afternoon is to cut out fabric to sew another one!