Cross a major goal off my list this year: sewing with knits!
Meet my very first Coco top, from Tilly and the Buttons. I’m excited. Can you tell??
When I set a goal earlier this fall to learn to sew with knits, I prepared by, well, reading everything under the sun about sewing with knits. The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits by Alyson Clair, the instructions for the three knit patterns I bought to start off (Coco, Lady Skater, Moneta). Every tutorial and post I could find online. You name it, I researched it. I didn’t want to be scared when I tried it for the first time, and I wanted to be armed with as much info as I could find. And I was damn prepared, if I do say so myself. I’m so glad I was, too, because when it came time to actually sewing, it really was nowhere near as bad as I expected!
I started with a medium-weight jersey (I think interlock? I’m still learning—it’s the same on both sides) in a bright, sunny yellow. You know I love me some yellow, and I knew a yellow tee would get a ton of wear. It wasn’t as non-stretchy as the pattern called for, but I figured it would work well.
I cut a straight size 1 with no changes, since I wanted it fairly fitted (my measurements would otherwise have called for a 2). I sewed the side seams shut at the bottom (after cutting 1″ off the length), instead of the little split because, well, I forgot.
Not that I’d likely wear it untucked over a skirt like this, but it gives you an idea of the full silhouette. Really, the fit is exactly spot on to what I wanted! I think if I were going to do the dress, I’d go up to a size 2 so it wouldn’t be too fitted.
I sewed the entire top except the hems on my serger, which was new for me (and a wee bit frightening, sewing a seam and cutting at the same time). I used a twin needle for the hems after serging the raw edges. The nice thing about serging first is that between that and the twin needle zig zaggy bobbin thread, it kind of all hides a few spots where I wasn’t exceptionally even with pressing the hem up before sewing, so it looks pretty professional!
I should clarify that the pattern doesn’t require a twin needle or a serger, but I took it on as an added challenge. You can definitely sew the entire top on a regular machine with a zig zag stitch, and Tilly meticulously walks you through all the steps in the pattern.
I used Wonder Tape on the hems just like a ton of people say to do, and let me tell you, it’s the stuff of the sewing gods! It meant I didn’t have to fuss with pins when hemming, which was great. And with a walking foot (new purchase for sewing with knits), I had no stretching or distorting of the fabric. Yay! A bit of tunneling (worse on the neckline, which I did first), but not bad at all, I don’t think. And way better than my samples without Wonder Tape.
The only thing I’m not sure about is I don’t feel the hems are particularly stretchy, but I think that’s because this hasn’t been washed yet and so the Wonder Tape hasn’t dissolved.
Well actually, there’s one more thing I’m not sure about! I had a really hard time getting the tension right for the twin needle. I know the bobbin is supposed to zig zag between the needles, but I had to ratchet up the tension way higher than normal before it stopped being a straight line (from 3 to 7, out of a possible 9). And even then, I could still tug the bobbin thread out if I tried to. I did that on a few samples and was worried. But all sewn in a tube with the ends secured it’s not an issue. So is that just the way a twin needle works? Is the bobbin thread kind of loose like that since it has to stretch and give? I can’t find anywhere that addresses it, but I just had my machine serviced and it otherwise seems to be in working order. So I might just be paranoid about it.
Anyway, I’m over the moon about my Coco! I paired it with a skirt I just finished up last week (which I should have ironed first, whoops), using a delightful Japanese cotton featuring Can-Can dancers. Because, why not!
This is actually the skirt from my Singin’ in the Rain dress (and various others at this point, it’s one of my favorites), with a waistband to make it a skirt with a center back zip and pockets. I really wanted a nice a-line basic, but did a muslin of both Tilly’s Delphine skirt from her book and the Colette Ginger skirt, neither of which were working for me, for various pear-shaped-related reasons which I’ll work through in future muslins. But damnit, I really wanted a skirt ASAP, so I popped this out instead. And I’m actually pretty thrilled with the results! I even dared to go above the knee!
And by the way, I hear some of you saying, “Didn’t you just tell us you weren’t going to wear shorter skirts without tights?” Wellll I’m technically wearing tights! But yeah, in principal, you got me there. I tried it on with black tights and didn’t love it, so I went with these nude ribbed ones (wish I remember where I got them). And the skirt isn’t so short that I feel weird without dark legs.
I quite love the shape of the skirt above the knee, actually! It hits a nice balance between gathered skirt and a-line. I mean obviously, since it’s both. Whatever, I’m excited and overstating the obvious. You get the idea.
I’m totally going to sew this skirt again, and may even do a scalloped hem version! And I’m going to sew Coco again. And again and again. In fact, don’t be surprised if you see this exact outfit repeated in different colors and patterns for the next several months (soon with added winter-appropriate wooly layers thrown into the mix).
And one more cheer for Coco: it really was easy to put together, even for a newbie to knit fabric. I love the shape, and couldn’t be happier about it. There’s a reason so many people have sewn this pattern! I’m delighted, and happy to have my first knit sewing project behind me. And a successful one, at that.
Maybe it’s just a basic yellow tee, but it means so much more than that to me! 🙂
Coco top: made by me
skirt: made by me
shoes: Swedish Hasbeens heart sandals
lucite earrings, bangles, polka dot scarf: misc.
Fräulein K. says
wonderful Outfit. ich love the colours and the shoes. awesome!
Thanks so much! 🙂
Aw you look wonderful Tasha! I love your whole outfit and all of its yellow and turquoise accents! Hoorah for your first foray into sewing with knits. It won’t be your last! x
Thanks, Jane! The colors seem right up your alley! And you’re absolutely right, I already know it definitely won’t be my last foray into sewing with knits, I’m hooked! 😀
Emileigh R. says
I adore this outfit, and your shirt looks fantastic! I’m a bit nervous to sew with knits as well, but this inspires a bit more confidence in me!
Thanks! Arm yourself with as much info as you can, it’ll feel a lot less daunting when you sit down to do it. I practiced on a few test samples first which helps a lot, too! That made the very first seam less scary. 😉
Mary Beth says
Target has a great selection of nude colored tights, and they’re warm. Actually Target is great for all sorts of colored tights.
Brava Tasha! It’s lovely. I’m surprised you didn’t want more negative ease, but you’re totally familiar with the concept from knitting, and I think your fit here is terrific. I would watch sizing up a whole size for a dress though, you might end up baggy.
Welcome to the wonderful world of sewing with knits. Love the outfit. That yellow is divine. Especially around this time of year. I think I shall pull out my stash of yellows. And yes, that Wonder Tape is the stuff of the gods. It will soften and relax once the garment is washed.
I love yellow and like to use it as a neutral. 😉 Thanks for that about Wonder Tape, I assumed it probably would but haven’t washed the top yet. I can’t wait to make a million more!
Katie Emma says
Lovely! I had the same issue on my vintage machine re: twin needle tension. I crank up my tension when sewing with knits, and I’ve found that the zig-zag effect never fully appears, but my hems have held up and are stretchy enough, and when hemming after serging you can’t really see that the bobbin thread isn’t that pretty. Welcome to sewing with knits! It’s super fun, but I find it very tedious to switch between universal and jersey needles for every project. Am I the only one?
Glad to hear you’ve had similar issues and it hasn’t proved to be an issue. My annoyance in my next project (Moneta) will be switching from a twin needle to regular ballpoint to gather it, then back to twin. lol And then back to universal for another project. Eventually I’m thinking my goal will be to setup my vintage machine for the twin needle sewing so less back and forth, but I still need to get it serviced.
I love this whole ensemble! The yellow is just perrrrfect for you, it suits so well.
Thanks, I love yellow! 🙂
Cathie Sue says
I’m new to knits too. Your top looks so well done. I read somewhere that if you use wooly nylon in your bobbin when you twin needle the tunneling goes away. I’ve tried it and it really works!
Yes that’s one thing I haven’t tried yet, wooly nylon!
bonita vear says
I have to say a huge congratulations for your conquering of knits Tasha! I too have been so inspired to try sewing vintage styles with knit fabric, but I’m still way to chicken. I think more research is in order, and maybe dropping some cash for a serger…
But I love what you’ve done, your top looks so neat and perfect, and just your style. Great job! It looks fabulous, and that skiiiirtttt…. *drool* 😀 ♡
bonita of Lavender & Twill
Thanks, Bonita! Yes, a serger did help although it’s not necessary, although it does alleviate some of my concerns about making absolute sure the seams are stretchy and tidy. Definitely doing a lot of research helped make me stop being chicken about it! 🙂
That looks like a great top! I should try it sometime. I just made my second knit project, another skirt. It didn’t turn out perfect, but it’s good enough for work or other dirty jobs. I used a pattern this time and it is closer to what I want.
The whole outfit is delightful! Congratulations on conquering knits. I’ve never had luck with a twin needle, but if your bobbin thread is loose you could try tightening the bobbin tension. There’s a screw on the casing that you can tighten or loosen accordingly.
Wow! That top is spectacular! Your quality is beyond exceptional! Tension always freaks me out when sewing, and I’m sorry you had trouble with it. And I ADORE the can-can print of your skirt! Also those Swedish Hasbins are super adorable! I may need to go get my hands on a pair – finally!
I also struggle with the dreaded pear shape! I found the delphine to be ok for me, it took a hell of a lot of grading between sizes though. This coco is lovely, the block colours tend get underestimated sometimes I think.
Beautiful outfit! I loved the color of your Coco and those shoes!! I did 2 coco’s but perhaps my bodyshape is not for them 🙁
Cute! Cute! Cute! The top, the skirt, those shoes and everything in between.
Jessica Cangiano says
Seriously charming, cheerful outfit! I love lemon necklace – oh my word! It taps right into my unending passion for fruit/vegetable/food in general themed vintage and vintage style clothing and accessories. You really look terrific, dear Tasha!
Thanks, Jessica! They’re actually little pears, believe it or not. I do love veg and fruity themed items a bunch, too!
HOORAY! Congratulations on your first tango with knits! The top looks really gorgeous.
Thanks Michelle, I know you’ve been doing great at your first knits projects! 😀
Well done on getting over your fear of sewing with knits! You really suit that shade of yellow, I looooove the cancan girls skirt (have had my eye on that fabric for a while: I should really spring for some soon) and yeah, the yellow hasbeens. I LOVE those and would gladly give them a good home if you ever tired of them 😉
Thanks, Roisin! For as often as I do turn to a plain tee and a skirt like this, I can’t believe I didn’t stop being chicken sooner. You should totally get that fabric, it would be great for a dress and unlike me who has yet to find good pink shoes (been meaning to fix this fact for months, as I only have a pair of ultra summery flats which I can’t transition into fall/winter), I know you have no problem in that department! 😀
I love this outfit so much!
The colours, that amazing can can print, and your gorgeous top stitching.
My sincere congrats on the masterpiece. Sure, it’s a masterpiece, since it’s made perfectly to the last detail (yes, the finishing in the inner end of the sleeve IS the final detail) 🙂
Like yourself, I like the lighter tights. I don’t know why – it just brightens up the whole image..
Melissa C says
Ooh lovely! The yellow is just delightful.
Andi b says
When you twin needle you want to decrease the tension in the bobbin. You do this by loosening the screw on the bobbin case. I have a second bobbin case that is adjusted for twin needling.
Check your owner’s manual. Christine Jonson at cjpatterns.com , I believe has a good tutorial on twin needling.
Pink Haired Princess says
I thought the top and necklace were one, the yellow matches so well! I honestly did think it was somehow interlinked with the top and threaded through some way! Anyway, well done, don’t think I’ve ever worked with jersey/knits. The skirt is absolutely glorious, I love that fabric. Oh and your glasses are divine! Brand new follower btw x