Wednesday 4 April 2018

A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics - blog tour

Today it's my stop on the Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics blog tour. This is Wendy Ward's latest book and the perfect starting point if you're wanting to branch out and start sewing with knits. The book includes full sized paper patterns for six core garments (T-shirt, Wide Leg Trousers, Tank, Lounge Pants, Cardigan and Skirt) with a variety of hacks to give a choice of twenty different variations. 

The book is laid out in a similar way to Wendy's first book A Beginner's Guide to Making Skirts (reviewed here). For each project there are step-by-step instructions with clear diagrams, with methods for tackling specific techniques (adding a neckband, hemming, using elastic etc) included in a comprehensive 'techniques' section. These techniques are noted at the start of each project and I'd recommend reading up on them before you start. In fact I'd strongly recommend reading the "How to Use This Book' section on page 9 before you do anything, as it lays out everything you need to know to get the most out of the book.  

The patterns are printed on both sides of each sheet and overlap, so you will need to trace them. Also, some larger pieces (such as trouser legs) may be printed in two halves, so make sure you know where the two halves are! A helpful guide showing which projects and pattern pieces are printed on each sheet can be found on page 23. One thing I found slightly annoying is that there are no sizes i.e. size numbers printed on the patterns, just the different pattern markings for each size. If you're confused about which markings relate to your size (as I was) there's a key on the inside back page of the book.

Sizes range from US size 4 (UK 8) to US 22 (UK 26) and the garments are sized depending on which area of the body the garment will fit most closely. The two trouser patterns are sized on hip measurements, the cardigan, T-shirt and tank are sized on bust measurements and the skirt is based on waist measurement. Just make sure you're working from the correct area of the body before you start.

I have to be honest and say that a couple of the patterns were not really my style, most notably the Longshaw Skirt. The T-shirt and tank were similar to designs I've made lots of times before and the wide legged trousers didn't appeal. It was therefore a toss up between the chic and versatile Kinder Cardigan or the Monsal Lounge Pants. Now Lounge Pants have never really been on my sewing radar, but the weather was cold and miserable at the time of making, and all I wanted to do was lie on the sofa, so lounge pants it was.

There are three pattern options: full length, with or without cuff, and shorts length. I went for the cuffed version, adding the optional cut away pockets with a contrast pocket band. One very helpful thing that Wendy does in the book is list the fabrics that each of her samples are made from. Based on this I chose a navy ponte for the main trousers with a contrasting grey marl in the same fabric for the cuffs, waistband and pocket bands. The quality of the ponte was lovely - a nice medium/heavy weight with a good amount of stretch. With hindsight, I should perhaps have chosen a lighter weight fabric for the pocket bands as the double layers of ponte ending up very bulky to sew through. 

The instructions were a breeze and actually employed a different method than I've previously used for trouser making. Usually I would make up both legs separately, then put one leg inside the other and sew the front and back crotch seams in one go. The method in this book is to sew the crotch seams first - which give you an entire front section and an entire back section - then sew the inside leg seams. Once the pockets are added you simply sew up the side seams and you have a pair of trousers! This seemed like a much simpler method to me and one I'll definitely use again.

Trying to replicate the model's pose above...
The fit is supposed to be loose (not baggy) with a tapering leg shape. I like the tapering leg shape but I could probably have done with shortening them a bit as they noticeable crumple below the knee. The calf section is also a bit tight, but that may be down to my newly discovered runners calves (ahem). As predicted, they're supremely comfortable and perfect for lounging stylishly around the house. When the 'Beast from the East' hit the UK recently they were an absolute godsend - cosy, comfortable and a definite step up from pyjamas!

There's a lot of work that's gone into the writing and production of this book and this is evident throughout. It's an excellent first guide for beginners and a very good source of patterns and advice for those who are already familiar with sewing with knits. Like the look of it? Well you're in luck, as are offering readers of my blog a 25% discount off the purchase price. Simply purchase through their website and enter the code BLOG25 at the checkout. The discount is valid until 21st April 2018.

A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics was given to me for review by CICO Books and the fabric for my project was kindly supplied by Minerva Crafts. All views my own. 


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