Have you seen the new Colette Guide to Sewing Knits?
(Available @ Daley's | $32.00)
It's a great resource for anyone who is interested in working with garments! It gives you tips on how to seam and finish knits, whether you have a serger or not. If you don't have a serger, it gives some suggestions on what features to invest in. You'll learn professional techniques, how to shop, and tips on how to fit!
It is true that you don't NEED a serger to work with knits, but boy, do they make life a lot easier! Here's a project I've done several times on my sewing machine, t-shirt applique. This is a technique that I've had trials and errors with over the years, so I've got some simple tips on how to make it great! The idea is, we all have t-shirts that we love, but unfortunately, we don't fit into them anymore. You hate to give it up, you may not be interested in whipping up an entire t-shirt quilt, so why not upcycle it into something you can wear again. I started playing with this when my fiance's favorite t-shirts were skin tight on him. I figured, how hard could it be to buy a plain black tee in his size, and then cut out the graphic on the old tee and sew them together? Easier said than done, but with a few great products, and a few manipulations of my sewing machine, I made it work.
*The featured tee is for a family reunion I'm attending next weekend, so head's up! I won't be in on Saturday, August 9th. The shop will be open from 10:00-5:00pm, as usual. Tom the tech, Sabina, and Jo Connolly will be here to help you!
First things first, cut out your graphic. I cut it out rough, so that I don't waste more interfacing than I need to. I also don't like cutting knits to their final size before interfacing them, because they warp and then are tough to work with. Next, interface your graphic.
I used Pellon "Easy Knit", we have it here for $3.95 per yard.
Once you've got your t-shirt interfaced, you can cut it to size. I find that straight lines are the easiest to deal with in this case, so I'm going with a rectangle.
I prepared the t-shirt I'd be working with by spritzing it with a little best press ($7.95). I love, love, love, to the 10th power: best press. It's a starch alternative. It comes in yummy scents. It's a miracle in a bottle. It gives you firmness without giving you stiffness, the way regular starch does. I didn't want to interface the entire t-shirt, it'll end up being heavy and uncomfortable. Therefore, a little firmness helps me reduce stretching the shirt.
Now, I could just pin the graphic onto the t-shirt and have at it, but as you can imagine; the knit will shift and make you sad. I used heat'n'bond ($2.28/yard), which is an iron-on adhesive, to 'stick' my graphic to the t-shirt. This ensures minimal shifting.
I ironed the heat'n'bond onto the back of my graphic rough, and then cut around it and got all the extra off. Once the product is ironed onto the back of the graphic, you peel the paper off the other side. Once this is pressed, it creates a permanent bond. I placed my graphic on the t-shirt where I wanted it, and then measured to make sure everything was centered.
Once you've bonded these two items together, you're ready to stitch!! I flip the tee inside out to work on it.
Here are the machine settings I used. My presser foot pressure is turned quite low, I want to avoid as much stretching of this fabric as possible. The stretching shows up as ripples, and ripples make your upcycling too obvious. This machine had a built in applique stitch that I used as a baseline. You can also just use a zigzag stitch and play with the length and width. My built in applique stitch was very close together, so I lengthened it. Again, you want to avoid stretching this fabric by all means. A dense applique stitch will lead to slower fabric feeding, which will lead to stretching.
I used a 1D foot to work with this applique. The extra boost of feed-power helps reduce any pulling. I also moved my needle position a bit, which you may notice on my screen. I generally like to use whatever presser foot I'm using as a guide. There is a center marking on the foot, which is very easy to see and very easy to line up in the center between my graphic and my shirt. Therefore, I moved the needle position over, so that the right side of my zigzag stitch would land on the very edge of my graphic, and I could use that marking as a guide. It's easier to move the needle position over than try to get that stitch to land perfectly by eye.
Do you work with a lot of knits? Or are you intimidated by them? Have you ever done t-shirt applique, or would you try it out? Share your story here in the comments, or on our facebook page!