Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Pearl Necklace Isla Top

I have just completed a month of sewing knits and I am feeling much more confident in my ability to sew a knit garment successfully. I love the Isla Pattern from Made By Rae as evidenced by all the Isla dresses I have sewn. I was not as happy about the fit with the tops because of my long torso or as my Dad used to say, it just didn’t seem to suit my style of beauty, at least when I made it with the same adjustments I made to my Isla dresses. But after giving it some thought,  I felt I owed it to the pattern to give it another chance adjusting the bodice to have it hit at my natural waist and see if I liked that version better.

I am 5’9″ and all my height is in my torso. I wear  inseam 31-32 for my jeans.  I took a picture with a measuring tape for anyone out there with this body type planning to make this pattern (wearing another Isla dress I recently sewed). From the bottom of my neck to my natural waist is 16 inches. I had previously had my daughter take pictures of me wearing my Isla dresses with my hands at my waist and using that as a guide, I added 4 inches in length to the Medium bodice which I had already added an inch to so 5 inches in total.img_5008I also added a bit of width and smoothed out the curve on the side to see if it would help with the riding up of the top that I had with the others I have made.  Here is the front.img_4999Here is the bodice as sewn.img_5003I cut the ruffle using the regular medium cutting line because I had added so much to the length of the bodice that I didn’t want it to end up as a tunic but I wasn’t sure if I would like the top with such a disparity between the bodice and the ruffle. I think it is cutest when they are more in balance size-wise but I figured the only way to find out was to try it. Luckily, this fabric was easy to work with, gathered easily and the whole project took only a couple of hours start to finish. I took pictures of the finished bodice prior to attaching the ruffle with the measuring tape to show the length.img_5005And a second picture to remind me that I took a picture of the back not the front of the bodice. I use these pictures as a reference when I make a pattern a second time. It is easier for me to remember adjustments I made than writing them down.img_5007And here are the photos of the finished garment. as worn. Somewhat forced smile because my daughter is saying: Smile, Stand up Straight, Shoulders back, Belly in. I thought I had lined up my pearl necklaces when I cut the ruffle but as you can see, I have a bit of a diagonal thing going on here which was not intentional. It is a little more tricky to line up the circles with the knit than the woven which I used to make a Washi dress that I love and wear all the time in Spring and Summer.img_5022I also had an issue with the hem rolling up which I don’t seem to have with the dress version-thinking maybe it is the lighter weight of the fabric piece. Side view.img_5029Backimg_5033So overall I would say that for my body, I am happier with the Isla as a dress. In fact I may end up cutting off the ruffle and adding the dress length skirt to this and make it into a dress for myself or my daughter at some point.  The top is so cute on many people but I don’t think that it works for me well enough to continue to make it. I love the dresses and will wear them all the time I am sure. As for tops, I have so many to choose from after my summer of Gemma Madness. In fact, today, I wore this beauty in Macrame fabric which you can learn more about here.img_5016Now it is back to woven fabric and on to the Cleo skirt pattern which was released today. Can you believe how beautiful this one is?

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Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Sewing with Knits 101: The Isla Dress by MadebyRae

I attempted to sew some knit garments last year. My results were mixed. This Lady Skater dress was a reasonable success and is currently being worn by my step-daughter (fabric purchased at Girl Charlee).img_3846-1But I wasn’t thrilled with the results I got using my regular sewing machine. When Rae launched the Isla Pattern, I decided to give knits another try but first I did research. And I got some great tips from Instagram friends and from Rae herself (check the comments on Rae’s instagram posts on this pattern-a wealth of info!)  So this weekend when I had a bit of time, I decided to try making an Isla dress using some of these tips. I started this project after lunch and had the dress version finished before dinner. Based on my measurements I cut a Medium and added an inch both to the the bodice length and to the skirt. I am 5’9″ and I generally wear a Medium in Rae’s patterns and add 2 inches to most dresses so I thought I would try that and see how the fit was. The fabric is a jersey knit blend from Girl Charlee purchased on sale last year. I bought 3 yards for $6.60 each. This dress takes 2 yards.  I will likely also make the top with this fabric-only takes 1 yard- and may try lengthening the bodice further to see which fit I prefer. I have found that it is worth it to make a wearable muslin and then actually wear it for a day to be sure you have the right fit. This fabric, while inexpensive, is actually something I will wear and it feels amazing to have a new dress and top for less than $20.

I didn’t iron the fabric before cutting it out, I just lay it as flat as I could straight out of the dryer.img_4058-1 I tried a stretch stitch on my machine based on this post by Susan. It took a minute for me to get used to the stitch because the stitching process is much slower. The machine goes back over certain areas so I am not able to zip the fabric through the machine as I would with a straight stitch but once I got used to it,  it worked really well. I used hand-wound stretch thread in the bobbin only, a stretch needle and polyester thread in the needle. And since I had issues with the fabric feeding in an uneven way with my regular foot, I took the plunge and bought a walking foot for my sewing machine. I found a simple tutorial online that showed me how to change the foot to the walking foot. There are many on You Tube. I cut my notches as triangles to make them easier to see. img_4059This is what the test sample of the stretch stitch looked like on a scrap.img_4061These are the settings I used for the stretch stitch which I used for all my seams. img_4066And here are the settings I used for the zig zag stitch that I used around the arms and neck to tack down the seam allowances after attaching the binding.img_4065Here is a close up of the arm binding with the zig zag sewn about 1/8th inch from the seam. The walking foot worked really well feeding the fabric in evenly and helped the machine handle the bulk where seams were joined.img_4113I used the same tension I always use for all of the stitching, even the gathering stitch with elastic thread, and it worked fine.img_4120 The gathering technique is magical. Using elastic thread in the bobbin and a zig zag stitch, the skirt was gathered exactly the right amount. I have learned after sewing many MBR patterns to just trust Rae. She knows. Her instructions are straightforward and work great when followed.

I ended up making a mistake and sewed both shoulder seams and then realized that you aren’t supposed to do that until you add the neck binding. Oops! Luckily, I had recently read this tutorial by Erin which saved me. I don’t think I stretched the neck binding enough while sewing because it did start to gape a bit as the day wore on as seen below:img_4115

img_4118but that may also be because I am very small busted. I will try to make the neckline binding a bit smaller next time ( I find that it usually takes me 2-3 tries to get a pattern down,) but I am overall really  happy with my first version.

Although Rae doesn’t include it in the pattern, I zig-zagged a narrow ribbon to the shoulder seam allowances after sewing the seams for stability.img_4063I used a twin needle with stretch thread in the bobbin to sew the hem. I ironed the hem before sewing. img_4069I used wonder clips to hold the hem in place for sewing.img_4071Test fabric showing the twin needle hem.img_4070I used the presser foot edge as a seam guide and got really good results with the twin needle.img_4072Hem as stitched below.img_4111Hem seam as seen on the inside. It lies pretty flat but I think I will have even better results with a slightly heavier knit. This is pretty thin fabric. img_4112Twin needle settings below. (I take pictures so I remember for the next time.)img_4068Finished dress below. The bodice looks a little wonky on the hanger but it seems less so as worn. I think the next time I make this, I will sew my elastic gathering seam a bit farther away from the edge because my machine was chewing up the edge. It is actually amazing how well it ended up considering. I did not take out the stitches or redo the gathering or the seam where I joined the bodice to the skirt and it looks relatively even.img_4110And as worn. I am not sure if I want to keep the bodice this length or shorten it or lengthen it. This is with an added inch so you can see that it is pretty short as drafted. I have a really long torso and I haven’t decided which would be the most flattering.img_4079I am very happy with the fit around the arms and the neck.img_4075Back view.img_4095And with a cardigan which is how I will be wearing it this winter.img_4096This pattern is a quick sew. What I loved about it: gathering the skirt with elastic thread. Brilliant! I used a zig zag stitch, not a stretch stitch for gathering and sewing the bodice to the skirt with elastic thread in the bobbin. I highly recommend this pattern and the little knit tricks I learned above which enabled me to have a really nice result with a regular, inexpensive, sewing machine. Next time I will use the twin needle instead of the zig zag around the neck and arms, but otherwise, I am really happy with the results. This pattern is a keeper!

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