Even though my costume brain has running rampant lately, working on Butterick 5522 was a good “Rebound Project”.
You know the type. When you aren’t looking for a long relationship with a flashy costume; you use fabric from your stash, and a comfortable looking, easy pattern that’s been sitting in Cthulu Bag biding its time since it was purchased over a year ago. Rebound Projects always seem simple at the beginning, but take way longer than you imagined. Unexpected silly things go wrong that make you feel like your sewing skills have regressed two years. You find yourself cursing a lot. This Rebound Project met all of those criteria for me for sure! And honestly… January seems like an excellent time for a Rebound Project.
I had a couple of goals when I chose this particular Rebound Project:
- Use fabric from the stash. I chose an orange and black striped knit and some scraps of black knit. Huzzah for using scraps and the stash!
- Learn better methods of preventing wavy seam syndrome. I’ve used tissue paper in the past, and think it’s time I took off those training wheels.
To accomplish my learning goal, I actually wound up trying two new things.
1. I used double stitching in all of my seams. The first row of stitching I did at a stitch length of about 4.0, this is the line closer to the edge of the fabric. The second line I did at about 3.0 stitch length, and about 1/4″ to the left of the first line (assuming your fabric edge is to the right). This was a very effective method of preventing wavy seam syndrome.
2. When I got ready to hem the tunic dress, I installed the twin needle that came with my sewing machine for the first time. I had read that it could produce overcasting results similar to that of a serger, which is supposed to be really useful for hemming knit fabric. I selected stitch type 08 after testing out several other stitches that worked with the twin needle. This was what my machine looked like after I threaded it for the twin needle.
Apparently there was an extra spool holder that came with my machine, and a hole in the top of my machine to place said spool holder. Both spools get threaded as usual. The first one goes in the left needle, and behind the thread bar. The second one goes in the right needle and stays in front of the thread bar. After hemming, the stitches looked like this:
The white thread was on the inside of the dress, so only I have to see it 🙂 My only other note that I have for you on the twin needle is that it is a bit of a mess when the thread seizes up. Then you have to rethread multiple times, etc. I set my stitch speed a little slower than usual so that it would hopefully prevent that more.
So the twin needle thing turned out well. But I did encounter a lot of frustrations with this project. Perhaps most annoying was the pinning conundrum that occurred with the sleeves of this dress. Each sleeve had 5 pieces, alternating fabrics. The upper ‘U’ of each piece got a row of stay stitching. Then I would pin the non-stay-stitched bottom ‘U’ of the higher piece to the upper ‘U’ of the lower piece. It’s one of those pinning processes that forces you to think in weird spatial puzzles and bend the fabric in every which way. I did my best below to try to show you how I did it. Final pic on right is after stitching.
EVERY TIME I would wind up with something like the middle picture, where the stay stitched side would not reach the appropriate length of the non-stay-stitched piece. To compensate (and because I am lazy and said fuck it), I left them pinned so that they didn’t match, and I always placed the non-stay-stitched piece on the bottom as it went through the sewing machine. Then while I stitched, I tugged on the top stay-stitched piece, like below. Except for one piece, this resulted in successfully evening out the pieces I was stitching.
The one unsuccessful piece meant I spent some quality time with Fred. Have I mentioned I hate seam ripping? Especially with knits? I will count myself lucky that Fred didn’t get angry and rip his usual random hole in my fabric somewhere.
I’m sorry to say that the sleeves were not the only time I had to call on Fred during this project. After I finally got the sleeves pieced together, I noticed some thread tension problems when I was connecting the bottom seam of a sleeve into a circle. Loops on the bottom like below meant I had a thread tension issue. Luckily, this was a much easier thing to seam rip!
My bobbin thread was quite loose, despite not having any issues with thread tension earlier in the project. I was boggled. I texted my sewing buddies Elizabeth and Amanda. I was puzzled. I had my thread tension dial up to 9 and the bobbin thread was still easy to pull. I was this close to trying to adjust my bobbin tension (which scares me and I have heard you should not do), when I took Amanda’s advice and rewound a new bobbin with different thread, and tried again. Tension seemed to fix itself. I’m blaming the orange thread and the bobbin. /Grumble. That was another good time sink.
All in all, I think I spent about 9-10 hours on this project (over the course of a few days since I have a day job), including the cutting part. I still think it could’ve been done in 6ish. The sleeves were really the meat of the pattern. Oh, and I did make one modification to the pattern! It called for a zipper on the back. However, I left the zipper out since knits are stretchy and wouldn’t require it. If I did this pattern again with a knit, I would use the front pattern piece for both the front and back (rather than stitching up the back center if I’m not installing a zipper). Also, I’d consider lengthening the bottom sleeve piece to a full sleeve – I’m not really a fan of the 3/4 length ones. Regardless, here is the finished product.
Excuse the silly pictures. I wanted to try to show the sleeves, hence the left picture. I really need to come up with a better way of posing for final pictures of the things I make. Maybe something where I don’t look at the camera. Or cropping my head out. I’ll come up with something, bear with me.
In the end, my Rebound Project was successful, particularly the part where I learned some new things. But I could’ve lived without some of the frustrations that came along with this one. By the way, if I ever decide to learn how to make something as awesome as fleece-lined leggings (like I’m wearing with this tunic dress), the world is in trouble!!!