Active wear is so comfortable that I’m not surprised leggings and yoga pants have become part of our mainstream fashion culture.

Why is active wear proclaimed to be hard to sew? It’s not the sewing part that is a challenge. Once you know the rules it is easy.

Here are mine.

*No straight stitches on any part that needs to stretch or the stitches will break and pop like crazy.

*Lots of zig zag stitching, double stitching and stitching with a twin needle.

*A walking foot will make all of the sewing stretchy knits much easier and keep the look professional.

*The actual hard part is dealing with each fabric changing the fit with different stretches.

*You push the fabric under the feed dogs instead of holding it taut.

Here are a few reasons why active wear knits are easier than woven fabrics.

*No ironing

*No finishing seams

*The above cuts sewing times in half.

*The best one, if the fit is not perfect it isn’t really noticeable due to the stretch of this fabric.



















I chose a pattern that was woven in a smaller size since knit stretches. I still made sure my fabric had enough structure for this look. Understanding what fabrics are appropriate for each design is something all beginners have to learn and I was no stranger to this.






















I picked out a good matching thread and filled up 2 bobbins before I started. One so if I run out I do not need to stop, unthread and refill. The other so at the end when I hem those sleeves and the skirt hem with my twin needle I can use the second bobbin as a spool of thread.






















I used fusible interfacing for all of my facings and little belt pieces. I sewed it in instead of pressing it in. Ironing polyester will sometimes make little bubbles. You can always test the fabric first on a scrap if you are unsure. Adding interfacing gives the garment structure and a professional look.






















I tried using weights instead of pins while cutting for the first time. I still wound up pinning the back pieces to transfer those darts in the proper places. It took just as long but thats the breaks when you are new to something. I will try again.























Fashion history can be everywhere you look. This pattern had an ad in it that explains a few mysteries from the cover. The pattern did not have a normal pattern number and it said it was designed exclusively for McCalls by Fels. Upon further research Fels was a laundry detergent company McCalls was collaborating with in the 1960s. They had some cute stuff too.



I double stitched all vertical stitching and then serged it for extra strength. If something has to stretch a lot, like a waist band, you need to use a zig zag or stretch stitch. This is important. I hear the most complaints about skipped stitches on knit fabric. The best thing I can say is if you have tried all the jersey/ball point needle sizes and you are still having skipped stitches try a stabilizer. They make wash away stabilizers that work well for hemlines.






















Setting in sleeves on knit are much easier than woven. You do not need to ease stitch or gather those sleeve cap curves for a flat sleeve. Match up your dots and notches first and then simply evenly distribute the ease (extra fabric). Last, when you sew, put that bulky side down against your feed dogs and they will usually do all the work of easing them in flat for you.























Here is the fun part! All of my buttons are at my Rosewood studio and I wasn’t so decisions were easy. (very limited) I also wanted to add a vintage zipper. Always test the zipper a few times before putting it in.


Do you ever wonder why stretchy fabric gets those bulky waves where the zipper is? When you add a zipper to any stretch fabric it is a good idea to add stabilizer in between the fabric folds so that it can’t stretch. Again, I did not press the hem tape in because my fabric was not to be pressed. I pinned it in after I took this photo.






















Here is a zipper in a dress I made before I knew about stabilizing the zipper in knits. Can you see that wavering down my back? It’s such a great dress, too. Bummer.






















Last check the garment for fit. I may, once again, take the top in a little and let the bottom out.


























Behind the scenes~

We do not celebrate Valentine’s Day nor boycott it. I feel any occasion to make a dress is alright with me. These are Valentines day dresses of the past


I’m teaching my Insta Dress class at the very cool Pendleton Art Center in Middletown, 3-3-18.
If you want to get back into sewing, make your first garment or just have some fun this class is for you.
The Insta Dress is an easy fit for all sizes, has pockets and sleeves you do not have to set in.
Contact Glenda Miles to preregister you and your friends.

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it, Sew it!












Tracy McElfresh
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