So knits are easy. Seriously. At least knit SKIRTS are easy. I haven’t tried pants. Once you know what stitches to use, you’ll be making skirts very quickly. I found these to be fun and refreshing, since there wasn’t a lot of turning and pressing and finishing seams.
So let me introduce Sammy, my little neighbor. She was spinning, because what else would you do in a ruffly skirt? (Yes, there is Dog Sammy and Kid Sammy – and they love playing together!) She likes coming up to play in my sewing room, and I like making stuff for her!
I measured Sammy’s waist. She’s little for her age, so the suggested size for her was a 2T, which sounded about right. (It came out WAY too big.) I started with pre-washed and shrunk fabric, and I didn’t really stretch it out, I just kind of patted it out on my board. I’m not sure if that was the right thing to do. I factored in that I would only need a 1/4″ seam allowance for the sides, so I don’t think that caused my problem.
I sewed up the sides of the skirt first with a stretch overlock stitch built into my machine. (#17) Since this part of the skirt won’t be stretched, this wasn’t as important, but this stitch worked GREAT. If you have a newer machine with more than just straight and zig zag, you should have a stretch overlock stitch.
The default on my machine for stitch #17 is a width of 5.5mm (my machine’s max) and a length of about 2.8mm. I bumped it up to 3. I also used my walking foot! If you have one, use it. This is also a great time to get out your manual and turn to “stretch” or “knits” and see what is recommended.
Try to position the fabric so that the right side needle down position it just at or over the edge of the fabric. Hence, “overlock”. It will still form the stitch if the needle lands just to the side of the fabric. Just make sure the left side stitches look good. Click the photo to enlarge on Flickr!
To hem the skirt, I used a TWIN STRETCH needle. I used an 80/12 JERSEY BALL POINT needle on everything else. The twin needle simulates a coverstitched hem. Basically you feed two threads (together, at the same time) from the top of the machine down to the needle (wind a bobbin for a second spool of the same color) and thread one through each needle. Then use your regular bobbin thread. The twin threads share one bobbin, and it makes a mini zig zag across the back of the seam. No one will see the back of a hem. I did not use the wooly nylon that everyone recommends. (Where do you buy that stuff, anyway?) The hem is not going to be the most stressed seam on this skirt, so I figured it was fine. It worked great. Also, knits don’t ravel so you only need to turn once and stitch. I measured 1/2″ and pressed, then lined up the machine and kind of felt where the hem was, then guided the edge so it barely caught on the inside. You could use a Post-it or painter’s tape to mark a guide for the edge, if you would like.
To make the ruffle, I just straight stitched and pulled the threads like you would with a woven. If you make one of these, don’t freak out when the waist band doesn’t stretch after you attach it – once you remove the basting stitches it stretches fine – so have your seam ripper ready to go!. There sure was a lot of ruffling. I don’t think I could have pulled it any tighter. It was great for a full skirt, and for spinning!
So, to attach the ruffle to the waist band, I pinned it in several places and then tried THIS STITCH! The lightning bolt, #9. It kept the waist band all stretchy! Is this the “narrow zig zag” everyone talks about? I’m not sure about that. But this stitch worked great. The default was about 1mm length and 2.5mm width, and I bumped the width up to about 2.2mm and the length to about 3.5mm. I have no idea if that is right or not, and this is where you really need to experiment. I will try the 3-step zig zag some time too, but my manual recommended this #9 stitch, so that’s what I went with. And it worked!
Then, I overlocked the layers together. I used the full 1/2″ SA here and trimmed it off before overlocking with the same stretch overlock stitch. I bumped up that overlock stitch to a much longer stitch length, since it’s not actually holding a seam together.
And…. they are too big. I made the first waist band using her measurements, tried it on her, and it literally fell to the floor. I took in about an inch on each side before finishing it with the skirt. Still too big. So I made the pink polka dot one even smaller, and a couple inches shorter too in the skirt and waist band. Again, too big! I had to leave the skirt she was wearing on underneath it to hold it up. She’s an exceptionally skinny kid and I think that elastic is required. I think the knit just doesn’t have enough elasticity to hold it up. Next time I will either leave a hole in the waist band for elastic or put elastic in the waist band before attaching the skirt. I like the proportions on the scaled down one better, although it’s still longer/bigger/fuller than most of the skirts that she wears. I do love the style and the design, so I’m glad I chose this pattern and I think they will be adorable next summer when she might be able to wear them. I might have enough of the pink fabric to make one that actually fits, and I think it will be cute over leggings for winter.
I asked her to spin, and spin she did! She has the cutest shoes. They blink when she walks. Do they make them in my size?
And finally, since I didn’t want to send her home with two skirts that were way too big, I made her one with elastic. SO EASY. Not quite as fun as the contrast waist band, but SO EASY. Did I say easy? OK then.
I picked this fabric up for about $2.50 at JoAnn’s for 1/2 yard. I cut two pieces, about 24″ wide, and used the stretch overlock stitch to sew them into a tube. I pressed the hem up 1/2″ and used the twin needle to topstitch it (about a 3.5-4mm length). Then I folded the top down about 1 1/4″ and again topstitched with the twin needle to make a casing for the elastic. I left about 4″ open for 3/4″ wide elastic, fed the elastic through, put it on her to see where to cut/sew the elastic, sewed the elastic together and sewed the opening shut. 30 minutes tops. More like 10 once you know what you are doing. I can’t remember how long I made it because I shortened it before sewing the top. This skirt didn’t even require the lightning bolt stitch, just the twin needle and the overlock stitch. And it fits! This was so super duper easy – do you want a full tutorial for this (some day!) or can you figure it out just by my description?