Itch to Stitch is one year old and is celebrating with a sale, a great giveaway, and a pattern hack blog tour!
I am so delighted Kennis ask if I would like to be a part of her blog tour birthday celebration! I love her patterns and have had great success sewing them. Kennis ask that I take an Itch to Stitch pattern and perform a pattern hack.
Deciding which pattern was a bit difficult for me. I have sewn several of Kennis’ patterns, here and here are a couple examples and have loved them all. Her patterns are the first patterns I have ever been able to sew with zero alterations! It is so nice to be able to focus on making great stitches and not fit.
I finally settled on the Kathryn top. Confession here, I have already made three Kathryns.
The Kathryn is my all time favorite sewing pattern. It is a good style for me. It is easy to construct yet has interesting design details that keep it from being boring. It also has lots of potential when it comes to pattern hacks!
Deciding on a hack was NOT difficult however. It is early fall here, soon to be winter and I had already thought about adding long sleeves to a Kathryn. I also had been thinking I wanted to try something different with the neckline. So, that’s what I did, added long sleeves and a bias bound neckline around the entire neck instead of just on the back bodice neckline as per the instructions.
Figuring out the sleeve part was a bit tricky for me as the Kathryn sleeves are a part of the bodices and are sewn together at the shoulder seam. I first thought about cutting the pattern pieces to make a raglan sleeve and then lengthening that piece to the wrist. However, I was unsure how that would change the way the front pleats came together. Over the course of a couple days I kept trying to work it out in my brain and then realized one thing I really enjoy about the Kathryn is the ease of construction! I didn’t want to make things super complicated so, as I was searching through some patterns and came across this knit top pattern from McCalls, I had a…..
lightbulb moment….why couldn’t I just use the sleeve pattern from the McCall’s pattern by cutting off the sleeve cap on the pattern piece and attaching it to the Kathryn sleeve end? Easy Peasy. My only concern was it might hang at a weird angle.
The bound neckline was also an easy hack especially after watching this Craftsy class, 40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know. I highly recommend the class which is chock full of great information.
It was horrid. Way too busy for a dress. There was a little over a yard left in my stash and I thought I would use it up to make a Kathryn muslin with my hacks. I didn’t want to start with my best knits in case my hacks did not work out or I had to make major changes in some way. Because of the small amount of fabric left, I ended up cutting my bodice pieces on the crosswise grain. I wish I could say this was all carefully thought out but it wasn’t. I absolutely love the way it turned out though. A huge side benefit is it helps to break up the fabric pattern. I also decided to use black for my sleeves for two reasons; to help break up the pattern of the fabric and I didn’t have enough blue knit for sleeves anyway.
There are only 6 pattern pieces to the Kathryn so pattern prep and cutting goes quickly.
The first step in construction is to arrange the front bodice pleats.
I do recommend hand basting the pleats in place to allow for greater accuracy in pleat placement. This I will do on every future Kathryn as it made such a difference in the end result. I then went through the normal construction of the blouse until basting the lining and the front bodice together around all the edges and I did not sew my lining top edge to my main front top edge as per the instructions. I also used my main knit fabric for my lining facing piece instead of a woven as called for in the instructions. In retrospect it didn’t really matter either way because I was going to bias bind. On a couple of my Kathryn’s I have had some trouble keeping the front facing from rolling outward and thought I would try a less stiff fabric for the facing to see if that corrected the problem. This is the main reason I chose to bias bind all around however and so what material I used became irrelevant.
Another recommendation is to use a very light weight knit (the same thin black knit I used for the sleeves was what I chose for the lining and is pictured above) to line the front bodice because another thing I have noticed with my Kathryns is a double layer of medium weight knits (for the lining and main piece) actually make the blouse quite bottom heavy. This makes sewing the pleats a little tricky (and can stretch your shoulder seams so use stay tape there) as they can easily get misaligned whilst sewing the front bottom to the lined front bodice pieces. Here is an example of what I mean. My pleats are pulled to the left at the joining seam I believe due to the weight of all the layers.
Moving on, I simply joined my back bodice to the bottom back and sewed my completed front and back pieces together at the shoulder seams, sewed up the side seams, gave the blouse a hem and a good press.
Time to add bias binding.
To add a bias binding to your Kathryn measure your completed neckline, cut a 2” strip of knit the length of your neckline minus 1”. Sew the short ends of the strip together to form a circle. Here is a great tutorial on adding bias binding to a neckline: http://www.made-by-rae.com/2014/02/knit-necklines-part-ii-bias-bound/. However, I cut mine 1” shorter than neckline as suggested above, divided it into quarters, pinned the strip to the neckline and then gave it a bit of tug while sewing. This helps your neckline lay flatter. This technique is also explained very well in the Craftsy class I mentioned before. When everything is sewn in place, trim very close to the stitched seam on the inside.
Below shows a flat neckline and perfectly placed pleats. The little time it takes to hand baste the pleats and the front bodice/lining together is well worth it.
All done now except for those sleeves. I measured both my bodice sleeve hole and the top of my McCalls pattern sleeve to make sure the openings were a close match in diameter. Doesn’t have to be perfect with knits. Mine turned out to be very close so I did not worry about adjusting. Using my McCall’s pattern, I traced from the hem line of the short sleeve version to the bottom of the sleeve. This is a pretty basic shape and could be drafted without a pattern fairly easy.
Folding my fabric right sides together I cut two sleeves from my black knit, then serged the sleeve seam.
I fiddled a bit with some design ideas on attaching the long sleeves but didn’t like the results so ended up simply serging the sleeve addition to the bottom of the bodice sleeve. To do this, turn your garment wrong side out, slip your sleeve in to the sleeve end with right sides together and matching raw edges and side seams. This is the same basic method as setting a sleeve so, just do that.
A tip I learned from another Craftsy project is to serge with the sleeve on top. Another class says to serge with the sleeve on bottom! I chose the piece that has more ease to take up to be on the bottom. In the picture below at the yellow pin you can see where I have quite a bit of ease which the serger takes up easily.
Hem the sleeves and ta-da…done with 2nd Kathryn hack!
Now I am all set with my first fall/winter Kathryn. My muslin turned out so well I didn’t make another one as I was very pleased with the results of my hacks!
A big thank you to Kennis for inviting me to Itch to Stitch’s birthday party! I am looking forward to all the new patterns that will be released in the upcoming year! Don’t forget to check out all the other great pattern hacks on the blog tour!
P.S. Please join us on fb at Sew A Longs and Sewing Contest where like minded sewist come together to sew a long on a monthly project! Shhh….don’t tell anyone but we have a lot of fun.