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May 06, 2021 2 Comments
This post has info on two things: tips for sewing with woven fabric and some woven pattern inspiration. If you are pro at woven sewing, feel free to skip ahead to the fabric and pattern suggestions -- right now Love Notions is having their annual 40% off sale, so now is a great time to stock up!
Tips for woven sewing
Many times a woven pattern calls for gathering. I love the look of gathering and this season I am seeing it everywhere. Especially that gathered tiered look. (Fun fact, you can add a gathered tier to the bottom of just about any hemline.) However, the most common way to gather involves sewing two or more lines of basting stitches and sliding fabric down to scrunch it up and create the gathers. Maybe it’s just me, but I intensely dislike this method. Using that basting method, my gathers tend to be totally uneven, a tight bunch of gathering here and a flat line over there. It’s not cute.
However, I’ve recently started to use clear elastic to gather and it totally evens out the gathering AND it supports the seam, which can easily get weighed down with the weight of the fabric. If you want to see how to gather with clear elastic, check out this video.
Unless you are sewing with linen or chambray, woven drapey fabrics (like rayon challis or others) can be a little on the slippery side. Try adding a light spray of starch to them when you iron so that everything behaves a little better. This is crucial for projects like Rhapsody Blouse (a phenomenal woven sewing pattern) and that spray starch can make a big difference when assembling bias tape. We love using the Mary Ellen Best Press for a nice workable sizing without any buildup or residue.
3. Stay stitch
Woven fabrics can get stretched out after they are cut and handled which can drastically alter the fit, and make sewing your seams a nightmare. What happens when you try to attach a sleeve to the armscye but the army scye has grown two inches more than the sleeve?? The way to prevent situations like this is to stay stitch. At certain points in the construction (for example after you sew the shoulder seams or side seams), sew around your necklines or arm scyes with a straight stitch inside the seam allowance. This stitch will help everything stay the size it’s supposed to. Many patterns will recommend stay stitching, but some people skip it. I think it makes a big difference on woven projects. Especially on the necklines where bias tape will be attached.
4. Make a toile
When it comes to KNITS, a toile (or muslin) might not be super necessary. After all there is stretch built into knits that allows for a bit more forgiveness when it comes to fitting. However, most WOVENS don’t have that extra give. In fact, most wovens have very little stretch, even mechanical stretch. Does that mean we should all be super scared of wovens? NO! It just means that we need to make adjustments to get the perfect fit, and that usually involves using some cheaper practice fabric first to practice. This is the beauty of sewing: you can make adjustments to fit your unique body and it can result in clothes that feel amazing.
For example, I recently made this Lyric Dress. I had already made a few Lyrics previously so based on those “muslins” or practice pieces, I knew that I needed to shorten the bodice by 1.5 inches and blend sizes from a 14 at the bust to a 16 at the waist.
For others, their muslins might help them nail tricky sewing techniques before they break out the easily damaged final fabric, or it might mean that they check or alter the dart placements. Making a toile is all part of the process and can result in clothing that looks and feels amazing. The good news is that a toile can be made with cheap fabric like old bedsheets and doesn’t need buttons or full finishing so it can be very quick too.
Now let’s talk patterns for those beautiful fabrics! These are all from Love Notions and are 40% off through May 10th, but so many lovely pattern companies have beautiful woven sewing patterns.
Patterns for woven fabric
2. Melody Dolman - I am a huge fan of this in chambray fabric which makes it more casual and easy to sew. Chambray is one of the easiest to sew woven fabrics and that stability can be helpful with a pattern like this which has a few more complicated woven sewing techniques like that collar and functional buttonholes.
3. Allegro Bottoms - beautiful with a linen fabric these will be your go-to comfy pants for the season! With so many options from shorts to capris to skirts to crop pants, these Allegros work with everything. And in a linen they will be easy to sew and light and cool throughout the spring and summer. Also, elastic waist pants are always the way to go! Keep in mind that this pattern can also work with stable knits like french terry or ponte as well.
4. Lyric Dress and Peplum - I think you’ll love this dress much as me when you try it with a drapier fabric like Rayon Challis. This pattern has some fun sewing techniques like a bias binding neckline, a full length of button holes and multiple darts for shaping. I did a little hack on the pattern because I am seeing this look everywhere right now and I love being able to make a maxi length dress that is actually appropriate on my 5’2 height.
The pattern has three sets of darts - two front waist, two back waist, and one set at the bust - this helps give a beautiful custom fit. Remember how fitting is a little more involved with wovens? Darts help to shape the fabric to your body and that’s why these are here. It also has a neckline that is finished with bias tape for a supremely sophisticated finish. And it has a line of buttons so make friends with your machine’s buttonhole attachments, your fray check, and your buttonhole gauge -- you’ll do great!
Here are some of the details about my make with 4 yards of this lovely dainty floral calico from RCF. You can find the fabric here. I was immediately drawn to this print and love how romantic it is. I posted this make recently and was inundated questions about how I did it, so here goes:
I hope this gives you some woven encouragement and some shopping inspo for the Love Notions 40% off sale! Happy sewing!
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