Friday, March 1, 2013

Lekala 8004 (FREE Pattern)

This is my first wearable muslin. For those non-sewists a muslin is a trial run at a pattern. You sew it up in a fabric you don't mind wasting in order to see how it works before you cut into your nice, expensive fabric. With woven garments most muslins are made from muslin, hence the name. But knit muslins need to be made from a knit fabric, preferably with a similar stretch and drape to the intended fashion fabric. This is how my first wearable muslin (as the name implies it is a muslin you can also wear) came into being.

I was cruising around a sewing board on Ravely and happened upon a lady's version of a Star Trek top. Being a long time Trekkie I was immediately interested. Come to find out she got the pattern from an online Russian pattern company, Lekala. This company provides custom pattern PDF's specifically tailored to your unique measurements. How awesome is that? And the patterns are inexpensive. Some are even free (like this top pattern). I was intrigued and set about sewing one up immediately to see if the fit was all it was cracked up to be. I downloaded 8004 and began piecing it together so I could trace it off onto freezer paper.

I immediately ran into a snag. every 3rd page of my pattern printed incorrectly. I am sure it is an issue with my printer but I was able to cobble things together enough to use by adjusting some cutting lines like the one below.

I cut out the fabric pieces and pinned them to Mama Smurf. Things looked pretty good so I pressed on.

Before I started sewing the top together I used an over edge stitch to finish the edges. No, I still have not made friends with my serger. That will take some time and I am too impatient. Must get sewing!

I hemmed the front neck edges, joined those to the midriff and sewed the shoulder seams. I used some clear elastic to stabilize the shoulder seams. I learned that trick from the Craftsy Sewing with Knits class. It was worth the price of admission just for that.

Hmmm, once the front and back were joined it was apparent I had another problem to address. The front neck opening was droopy.

 Because this piece is cut on the bias it really needs some stabilizing. I could remove the top stitching and redo it but my old eyes can not see the top stitching thread when it is hidden in the fluff of the velveteen fabric. I thought about it and came up with this quick fix. I rummaged in my stash and found some elastic thread. I ran that along the underside of the neck edge hem, catching it in the over edge stitches.

It is not seen from the wrong side of the garment.
(pardon the fuzzy photo)

I had to be careful not to snug the elastic thread too tightly or the edge rolled to the outside. Here you can see how the elastic thread fixed the problem. The left side has the fix, the right side does not. huge difference.

Onwards and upwards. It was now clear that this top would be wearable. Uh oh, another issue. You see there is a problem with this fabric which is why I was willing to sacrifice it to a muslin. The color is gorgeous, the drape nice, the hand soft...what could be wrong? Ugly red dots. 

These make no sense. Why would the fabric designer ruin a perfectly good fabric? It looks like someone had an accident with glitter nail polish. I wanted to cover them up, but how? I purchased some black sequins and sewed them over the offensive dots. All better.

I sewed the rest of the top together and checked the fit. It fits better than most store bought tops I've had. There was just one more hurdle to clear. I had never hemmed a knit fabric before and was worried after that saggy neckline fiasco. I planned to use a twin needle with woolly nylon in the bobbin but I needed some type of stabilizer to keep the edge from stretching and to prevent skipped stitches. I experimented with some Stitch Witchery I had in my stash. The label claimed it did not impede the stretch of knits. And it didn't. I was going for teeny hems so cut the Stitch Witchery in half lengthwise and ironed it in place.

I then used the double needle to sew a hem that looks similar to a professional cover stitch found on purchased knitwear. As long as I sewed on top of the stabilizer I had no skipped stitches. I am thrilled and this will be my go to hem for knits. I think I will also try using the Stitch Witchery to stabilize the neck edges on my next version of this top. My friend, Lennea, gave me some lovely wine colored crushed velvet knit that will be perfect.

So here it is, my finished Lekala 8004. I love it and will wear it proudly! The only change I made was to give it 3/4 sleeves. In Roxi's closet most tops and dresses will have 3/4 sleeves. I adore them.

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