sewing with knits mondays - the poppy top (a mini tutorial)

whooeeee, i've been keeping something a secret from you all!  one of my fave blogging buddies anna, from the isanely awesome blog noodlehead (that is so fab it needs no intro from me) and i have been scheming a little mini theme month!  yep, that's right!  i know how you all love a good theme month.  so from now & for the next 3 mondays you'll get fun posts all on conquering your fears of sewing with stretch & knits on both luvinthemommyhood & on noodlehead!

woot woot! there will be guest tutorials, roundups and giveaways all in the hopes that you guys join in with us and do some sewing with knits & stretch.  that comfy, soft, lovely, stretchy goodness that feels good to wear and that can be easier to sew with than you think.

and to start the ball rolling here's a top that i recently made that was inspired by the shirt i wore in this post and also by dana's pattern "the summer vacation dress & shortie".   once i was finished with it the top also reminds me of a stretch love child of rae's (made by rae) spring ruffle top tutorial.  also please excuse how i look as i've been ill since thursday night with some kind of bug. yuck & no fun, and also it's pouring rain outside and the kiddos were crying & i was stressed trying to get the hubs to take the pics i on.  but the shirt...yes please.  super comfy and looks great with wide leg jeans, skinny jeans, leggings and even your fave yoga pants.  i think this top is flattering on most body shapes and hides a whole whack load of sins..which, yes, includes the baggage my 2 babies left behind.  darn those 15 extra pounds!

the fabric is a bit of a more thick weight stretch that i found sturdy and not too thin that it showed things i didn't want  i love the cream color for a nice base for all seasons to dress with scarves, sweaters, or in the summer - just a simple accessory.

i didn't get a chance to do a full tutorial for this one but here's a really basic outline of what i did:

i measured the length i wanted the shirt to be starting from the neckline to the bottom of the top taking into account the shirring and that the size of my "girls" would shorten the length in the front.  i then simply folded my fabric in half and marked the desired length adding a 1/2" seam allowance and cut.  i then cut that in half to give myself a back and front.  i took my front piece and folded over and stitched a 1/4" hem for the neckline and then shirred 6 rows with elastic thread.  for my back i did the same (the hem) and then only shirred 3 rows.  now on mine i wanted my back lower than my front so i did some tricky maneuvering that i wing dinged with my straps (if anyone wants more detail of this or a sketch to show what i did let me know & i'll post something for you guys).

in hindsight i should have angled the top corners of the top but because i was going for the simplest top to sew so i didn't and instead angled my straps.  i knew i wanted the straps to join on the sides of the front of the top instead of the top of the neckline so i traced out the angle of the sides to the back and replicated that on the bottom of my strap.  for the strap i simply measured how long i wanted it taking into account the shrinkage from shirring and doubled the width i wanted it to be.  cut out your fabric and fold in half, wrong sides facing out.  sew down the straight short end and the long end leaving the angled end open.  pull your strap right side out.  i did 3 rows of elastic thread on the edge of the strap that has the longest point that matches up to the side of the neckline of the top.

match up your front and back of the top right sides facing each other and sew down your sides remembering that you want your back lower than your front.  trim the bottom of the top to even it out.  i left mine unsewn cause i roll that  i like that little roll that it does plus the bonus with knits is they don't fray!  so no worries if you don't want to use a serger or zig zag your seams.  you can if you want the insides to look all pretty though :)

then i simply placed the straps where they matched up with the indents on the sides of the front of the top and stitched them in place and then pinned down the back ones and tried the shirt on making sure the length & placement was right.  stitch that down too. you're done!  that's it!  easy right?!    i hope the mini tute makes sense...i'm pretty sleepy this morning after watching "insidious" like an idiot last night and scaring the crap out of myself so bad i couldn't sleep and had nightmares like a real champ all night.  smart shannon, real smart. i don't recommend that flick to anyone who scares easily, i usually like horror movies but this one really got me bad. never watching it

some tips of mine to remember when sewing with knits:

- always use a new needle for every new project.  make sure you are using the correct needle for the type of fabric you have.  a lot of people suggest using a ball point needle when sewing with knits.
- double check your tension and stitch length on a test strip of your fabric to get the best look.
- don't pull or stretch your fabric as you sew.  it's natural to pull it a bit but don't stretch it way out or you'll get an ugly finish.
- remember to give elastic thread a try!  it's super duper fun!  and oh so easy once you get the hang of it!  for those of you who mentioned your machine wouldn't feed the elastic thread through your bobbin my sewing instructor (from sawyer's sewing centre) taught me a neat trick on the weekend (i'm taking some free lessons to learn how to use my new sewing machine) that you can use a cording foot and pull the elastic thread & hold it taut yourself to get the right amount of stretch and simply zig zag over it.  thanks wille!

and there's more tips to come but in the meantime if you want more helpful info when sewing with knits check out this roundup i did called "sewing with knits: tips & tricks roundup"!

do you guys want to join in too?  i hope so!  there's a handy little button for you all to sport on the sidebar if you so desire.  if any of you decide you want to write a "sewing with knits mondays" post on your blog please email me the link or leave it in the comments so we can all see your project too!  

don't forget to make sure to head over to noodlehead to get your hands on anna's fab "racerback tank tutorial" plus a ton of handy tips on sewing with knits!  i love this top and i'm so excited anna did a tute for it!!!  gorgeous!

have fun ladies!  do you like sewing with knits?  what tips do you have to share?  are you scared to sew knits or stretch on your machine?  what's your fave thing to sew with knits? let's talk knits and stretch girls!