1. Peach Blossom

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Tencel jersey from fabric.com

Notions: fusi-knit tricot interfacing, elastic tape to stabilize the shoulders

Sewing Time: 2 hours

Notes: 

I’ve never been a lover of spring, but this year I’m a convert. In the past two weeks every tree and bush has erupted in blossoms. Each day I find a new favorite – sometimes it’s the magnolia, sometimes it’s the cherry. Today, it’s the peach. All over my neighborhood there are branches of these blush red flowers. Up until this week we were having some phenomenal weather. Saturday was 78, if you can believe that. Unfortunately, I had to go and ruin it by cutting my first piece for my Spring Wardrobe Challenge. I kid you not, the very day that I cut this fabric it started to rain and the temperatures dipped to the more seasonal appropriate 50’s.

This pattern was my first attempt at drafting for knits so I referred to my school text on how to treat the darts and waist shaping on my sloper. My sloper has four darts in the front (shoulder, armhole, bust and waist) and two in the back (shoulder and waist) all of which needed to be taken out. After I had taken care of the darts and waist shaping, I altered the neckline and drafted the yoke and front gathering. All that was left was truing and adding seam allowances. I was surprised at how quickly it came together and was just sure that I had missed some critical step but in the end it all came together!

Since I had ordered much more fabric than I needed for a simple blouse, I decided not to make a muslin. If I had, I think the final garment would have come out much more professional but it’s still a good casual top. One thing I wish I could change is the gathering at the front yoke. I had never used gathering on a knit fabric but figured I could just treat it as I would a woven. I ran a few rows a basting through the fabric, gathered, and then serged it to the yoke. Unfortunately, the serger flattened the gathering and it’s more like random tucks than gathering. Can you recommend a better way to do this? I was thinking of sewing a straight stitch to secure  the basted and gathered piece before serging it.

I tried out two other techniques on this blouse. The first was to use clear elastic tape to stabilize the shoulders. At first I had trouble feeding the elastic in my serger but I learned that if you leave a tail coming out the back before you start it’s easier to handle. The second technique I tried was using fusible tricot interfacing to stabilize the neck and armholes for the binding. Wow! Did this ever make a difference. You may recall this dress from last fall – while I realize it could have been worse, I was really disappointed that the neck was so wavy after I had carefully followed the instructions for applying the binding. The interfacing solved this problem in a snap and was so easy to stitch into that I even used a single (rather than twin) sewing machine needle to stitch in the ditch. I’m curious to see if interfacing would do similar wonders on a hemline.

And can I just say that tencel jersey is amazing! Have you ever worked with it? When I first felt it, it reminded me a lot of modal. Both are types of rayon and I’ve been trying to understand the difference. Regardless, it’s incredibly soft, lightweight, drapes beautifully and has a lovely sheen to the fibers. I’m trying so hard not to drop all of my sewing plans and buy up the rest of this for pajamas. I would love a few pairs of straight legged drawstring pants and matching tank tops! Gahh – stupid self control. All the better reason to get cracking on my spring garments.

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42 Responses to “1. Peach Blossom”

  1. Your top is lovely! I love that shade of grey. Very cute on you!

  2. Very nice! Yay for the first garment of spring!

    I’ve never used the fusible tricot interfacing either, but I just bought some the other day and plan to try it out today on a project. The lady at the store told me to soak it in hot water for 20 minutes and the line dry – she said that will prevent bubbling. We shall see!

  3. Ah its lovely! And the blooms behind you are blowing my mind! So beautiful! I love modal – may have to check out the tencel… also thanks for the tip about the elastic tape and interfacing. I’ve taken a break from sewing knits because I get so stressed out about the wavy binding.

    Also – my serger came with a gathering foot – I’ve never used it but I wonder if that would make a difference with your gathers? I also think there is something you can do with the differential feed on your serger to make the fabric gather, but I’m not sure… I’ve never really played around with either of those options – but I think they exist!

    • This is someone’s front yard! How lucky are they? There were cherry trees and citrus and these little blooming bushes.
      I took a class on textiles last fall and the format was to pass little swatches around of hundreds of fabrics and then discuss them as we constructed a swatch book. We had gone through all kinds of lovely silks, cottons and wools but when we got to modal EVERYONE oooh’d and aaah’d and rubbed it on their faces. We were all so surprised when she told us what it was. It’s environmentally friendly as well but you have to check how it was dyed. It doesn’t take dye well and manufactures tend to use really toxic ones for it.
      Unfortunately my serger is as basic as they come – no gathering foot and no differential feed! It’s time to upgrade but it’s not quite in my budget.

  4. Super cute! My serger flattens out the gathers too (at least when I serge over the seams after I’ve gathered my pieces together.) I’ve tried serging each seam individually first, then basting using long stitches and gathering by hand, which is a little bit better. Don’t know if there’s a better method out there though?

  5. This looks great, and so easy chic. It’s possible to let the serger gather for you, but I always do a bunch of testing first with the differential feed. Mine is old (I’d LOVE a replacement Babylock), so I just fiddle until I get it right – it doesn’t have a separate gathering foot.

    I’ve never used tricot, but my mom saw some in a shop recently & picked it up for me. I love using Vilene Pellon bias tape to stabilize knits. It’s amazing stuff! We’ve had such a mild winter, and just as I finished a slinky dress, it started snowing! Go figure.

  6. Very cute top Liz, it looks perfect! Thanks for sharing the construction details. I don’t know much about working with knits, but your post is very helpful.

    • I’m so glad. For my first knit garment, I was using instructions from Sew-U Home Stretch. They’re good for a beginner but they don’t produce flawless results. These two techniques helped me to get a more professional result.

  7. Loving the shirt. The entire outfit looks great on you.

  8. I just found your blog! Wonderful! In another life I’d love to take that pattern drafting course. Maybe you could do a review of it sometime, if that feels comfortable. (so we can know what we are missing!)

    If you don’t already know about it, there is an amazing fabric sale that happens sporadically in Berkeley at Erica Tanov’s workroom. (I used to live not far from it…) The selection is very limited BUT the fabrics are crazy and some of the additional things are awesome like silk chiffon bias tape etc. And the prices are great for the quality. Oh how I miss it!

    And lovely shirt!

    • Barbara, thanks for coming by and commenting! I appreciate the suggestion and I’ll consider doing a little review.
      This fabric sale sounds incredible! From what I’m reading it happens once a year around May. I’ll keep my eyes open. Thank you!

  9. Lovely! The fabric looks really soft even in photos.
    I love peach blossoms as well, can’t wait to have them here as well.

  10. This looks so cute! I love it! I had a dress a few years back from American Apparel with a similar neckline and yoke that I loved to pieces… but of course, it fell apart and pilled after just a few wears. I’ve always meant to reconstruct it– it’s such a flattering, but relaxed, style!

  11. So nice- it’s understated and chic! You must be so proud for drafting it yourself! :)

  12. Ahh so cute! I love the delicate gathers under the yoke!

  13. What a lovely fit. The blouse looks delicate but sassy at the same time. Your drafting skills are quite impressive!

  14. That looks like a lovely soft fabric! I like the simple cut and I admire your prowess at draping jersey – bravo!!

    I don’t really know how it works cause I don’t have one myself, but my serger has an optional gathering foot – do you think that might help? Maybe I’ll have to get one just to answer that for the team LOL.

    • I was just reading a blog post (somewhere) about working with knits for the first time and they were saying to stay well aware from jersey but I just don’t get that. This is the second knit I’ve worked with and I think it was easier to handle than the other “stable” knit I used. Perhaps it would have been a different story if I hadn’t stabilized the neckline though.
      I’m curious about the gathering foot but wonder if it would be like the gathering foot on my sewing machine which doesn’t allow me to control the gathering. I’d be curious to see if you do decide to take one for the team!

  15. Cute! I’ve made a knit dress with a yoke and gathers just like yours. On mine, I did do a straight stitch over the gathers, but yours still looks great! I love the color =D (and it looks like it feels amazing!)

  16. I stumbled upon the Tensel the other day online and was wondering what it looked like and draped like in person. I love it! Great top. What you do is so impressive!

  17. Really pretty top Lizz! I’m going to start some autumn sewing today – and maybe summer will come back here!

    For the gathering, would it make a difference to have the gathers on the underlayer so the feed dogs assist it? I find it more natural to have them on the top layer though!

    • I like your thinking – maybe I should break out the wool!

      I hadn’t thought about moving the gathers to the bottom. I find it more natural to have them on top as well but never considered that it could have an effect on things. Thanks for the suggestion!

  18. that shirt is a beautiful work of ART. if you are too saddened by the tucks, you may give it to me. I can bear the pain.

  19. Cute top! I’m giving you a Liebster Award – check my blog for the details!

  20. It is a lovely top and don’t worry about the weather. The flowers are popping and on my side of the world its getting decidedly cooler. So your spring wardrobe will get a lot of wear. :o))

    This is great and I haven’t done a knit gather on a seam line before. You could try doing the gather with elastic but that adds bulk on the seam which would make it sit oddly. Alternatively muck about with the differential feed on your serger so it drags in one layer in the seam more than other. Again it depends on how flat the resulting seam sits …. Worth a try?

    Weird how the tips from the blog you found suggested keeping away from anything other than stable knits. I don’t generally use them and love the finish on the stretchy jobbies.

    • I’ve been itching to get a new serger and all this talk about differential feed is making it worse! My machine is VERY basic and I think it was made before differential feed was standard. Good to know that it’s handy when I do decide to take the leap.

      • Oh the temptation of new equipment! I have thought of another option – try stretching the shorter piece to match the length of the longer, pinning at regular intervals to even out the gathers. Depending on how well the tencel bounces back to retain its original stretch-icity (can’t think of the proper term) it could be nicer….

  21. Cute top Lizz! I wish I had some advice on the gathers because I always have that problem where they look like pleats rather than gathers. I have differential feed so maybe I should practice. You mentioned hems… I have tried using double-sided fusetape (it’s almost like webbing) to “stick” them hem in place and then stitch. It really helped with the tunneling and rippling. Some sergers also have an option to blindhem–does yours?–it takes a blindhem foot and a two-thread option. This looks nice and the serger doesn’t seem to stretch the fabric as much as a normal sewing machine.

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