Conquering Sheer Fabrics

Archive for the ‘Sweater Knits’ Category

Tulip Sweater

Long time since I worked with sheers, almost a year.  I’m back because I still have a few sweater knits that should have been sold as sheer or tissue-knits.  I don’t understand why these fabrics were even considered “sweater”.  Including today’s project, I think I have 3 left.

I was lucky enough to find a 1+yard remnant on the fabric site where I bought the original. I hoped it would be enough to make a self-lining. I’m using my dartless block created in November 2016. I love the darted knit block but I always think of sweaters being slightly shapeless or boxy.

I cut the fabric as I was using it. I cut 2 fronts, shaped the tulip hem. Took both fronts to the serger and serged all the raw edges. Serging was the only way to control the curling. I did try spray starch. A starch dipping would have been necessary. I had cut the two front necklines at different depths. I finished them now with clear elastic and the 3-step zig zag. It’s a nice finish. I turned the hems up and fused them in place. I top stitched the hem at 1″ and 1-1/4″ — almost looking like a cover stitch. Then edge stitched along the hem fold. It creates a firm edge. Not really crisp. It’s still a fold rather than a sharp crease. But it looks really nice and has some body. I stacked the two fronts one on top of the other and stitched the shoulders together.


My only criticism of the front neckline is that it doesn’t really show all that well. I mean you look at it and then look a 2nd time to see that the necklines are stacked.  I think this design feature would show better on a solid color or if I had trimmed the necklines with a contrast. Maybe white FOE?

I used a Burda procedure for the backs. Oh I serged all the edges first. It was just too big of a hassle to leave the edges unfinished even at this early stage. I laid one back down on the cutting table face up. Placed the tops face down on the first back i.e back and both fronts are now RST. Placed the 2nd back on top also face down. Then I basted the shoulders together. Stopped and checked that the all the pieces were firmly enclosed in the shoulder seam before serging from one shoulder, across the back necklines and all the way across the other shoulder. Didn’t quite do that right. The back and front shoulders didn’t meet exactly at the neckline. At the SM, I stitched and then trimmed until the shoulder line and back neckline looked nice. Except that back neckline was wimpy. The front with its turn and stitch, clear elastic application was really nice. I decided to press the back neckline towards the piece that would be on the inside and then stitch clear elastic along the seam allowance. That did it. Both back and front necklines were firm but stretchy; shoulders meeting perfectly. I turned the back over and pressed along the shoulders and necklines, then basted the back’s side seams and armscyes. From this point on I can treat the back and fronts and 2 pieces instead of 4.  I hemmed the back and set the unit aside.


Did not have enough fabric to make 4 sleeves i.e. self-lined sleeves. I dug through the stash and found a white tricot that I’ve used for lining fabrics before.  I think it was manufactured to be slip/underwear type garments but works wonderfully as knit lining too.  I cut the sleeves with hem . Cut their linings without. I thought I would be able to turn up the hem and create a nice crisp edging. Jumping forward– this idea didn’t work. To my surprise when I stitched the linings to the sleeves, the linings were not exactly 1-1/4″ shorter than the sleeves. I didn’t fight the issue or cut new linings.  (I have little hope that this fabric will survive more than one winter. It just doesn’t look durable.)  I inserted the sleeves. Then stitched that long seam from hem, to underarm to cuff.  Finally I top stitched the cuff similarly to the body i.e. 1 row looks like cover stitch with edge stitch along the fold. It looks nice.

I thought that the knit block still needed some tweaking even before I converted it to a dartless block. This soft knit really displays the fitting issues.

side_resize side2_resize

The sides have those big drapes I’m always struggling with and thought I had nearly fixed. Those big U’s result from a combination of my shoulder slope and rounding back.  I’ll probably wear a vest with this ‘sweater’ because a vest covers the worst of the drapes and drag lines.  Interesting note, I’ve purchased 2 sweaters from WM this year. Both are worsted weight sweaters. So medium weight. One is a stocking knit stitch the other, deeply cabled. Neither show the big drag lines.  Note to self:  soft, light weight, draping fabrics reveal all. DO NOT BUY any more.

I’d also say this particular tulip hem is not all that slimming:


I was thinking that the diagonal of the tulip hem which was cut to end just above my waist would totally disguise my tummy and make me look slimmer. I don’t look like Santa, exactly, but ….



I think the biggest issue I have with these sheer sweater knits, is I want to use them as sweaters.  I want a light-weight sweater top. The fabrics won’t do that without help and then they become less sweater like.  I think when these fabrics were manufactured, the designers were using them in wraps, cocoons, shrugs, ponchos i.e. garments I don’t wear or make a lot of.  I’m stuck in a mind-set of wanting to use the fabrics in one way.  If I could get past that mind-set, I might make something really creative. Sigh….


Sheer Sweater Knits

I’m not sure if this is finished or not. I’ll explain that in a minute.  It is a muslin. A trial garment. I’ve been fussing for several weeks over the sheer knits I purchased on-line that were described as “semi-opaque sweater knits”. I’ve discovered that semi-opaque means the same as ‘burn out’ which means there are sheer portions which should you choose to sew with this fabric, will mostly likely fall on the worst possible places.   I fuss because ‘sweater knit’ , for me, invokes a cushy knit fabric that will keep you warm. As a matter of fact will make you sweat because it is so heat retaining. In my mind a ‘sweater knit’ may have a small gauge that drapes close to the body (think 50’s sweater girls and twin sets) but is not transparent. Anywhere. E-v-e-r.  So I groused about these.  Made excuses for not immediately returning.  Until it hit me that my whining was rather embarrassing.   I’d just declared myself a Sheers Expert.  Not more than 2 months ago, even as I’m complaining about my sweater knits, I had insisted that I was the master of sheer fabrics because I had made and followed through on my goal to find techniques that control sheer fabrics.

So I’m not complaining anymore. This shouldn’t be hard. The easiest thing to do with sheers to is to make 3rd layers. Except, I really wanted pull over sweaters to wear in the house or outside under 3rd layers. I selected my first fabric, a teal knit with alternating opaque and sheer strips.  The easy solution, to turn this into a pull over that can be worn alone, is lining. I didn’t want to use a polyester or other woven lining fabric.  I don’t want to lose the stretch of the fabric only the transparency.  I have Knit Tricot but in white. I didn’t really want the white to grin through. I found a very thin, rayon knit ribbing in a close shade.  It’s a sister fabric to another which disappointed me greatly.  It is too drapey.  Ribbings will not hold their own but flop around in a disgusting manner. But would it be thin enough to act as a lining?  Don’t know. So this very first semi-opaque, sweater knit garment becomes a test of what I can use for lining the same type fabrics.

I’m using See And Sew 5803 again because it’s already fit. I don’t want to struggle with fit.  I wanted the asymmetrical hem but alas there was not enough fabric to both match stripes, cut long sleeves and keep the asymmetrical hem.  I folded up the hem so the back (and front( would be 26″ from shoulder to raw edge.    Because of the sheer stripes I didn’t need full size pattern pieces.  I was able to fold the fabric in half and line up the strips.  I carefully place the pattern side notches for matching stripes.  The times this doesn’t work has been because the fabric shifted and became unaligned.   I did not shape the hem but cut straight across.  Kind of a mini shark-bite hem. My ‘lining’ lacked enough yardage for the sleeves.  So this will be a great garment for restaurants and in-house but not for snowball fights.

I opted to treat the lining and fashion fabric as one piece.  Started by serging the neckline edges of front and back and then carefully pinning while adding the sleeves.  Immediately it became apparent this was going to be heavy. I measured the pattern; cut clear elastic to that length; reinforced the armscyes with clear elastic.  On the front  I serged the armscyes and then zig zagged the clear elastic on top.   I tried serging all layers (back fashion fabric, back lining, sleeve, elastic) at once. It worked but was pretty miserable to control.  It was a good test and lets me know that I prefer to reinforce with elastic, after the  layers are sewn together.  I also reinforced the neckline. I measured the neckline and subtracted seam allowances. Cut the elastic to that measurement so it was a 1:1 application.  The neckline shape, formed by itself.  I like it but didn’t expect the squared front corners.  The neckline is perfect for showcasing necklaces but probably not practical for snowball fights.

I finished the sleeves with 3/4″ elastic inserted in a casing formed by serging the raw edge and then turning it up 1″.  I used the same length as for the Rayon Challis blouse, 10″.

I had an issue with the elastic. My usual elastic is white and showed through horribly.  In my stash of FOE was a matching teal/turquoise or at least seems to disappear behind the fabric. But it is FOE.  Hope it’s durable enough for this type application.  I did the same for the hem:

however I was able to use my normal white elastic because of the lining.

So why may this not be finished? I mean I was successful.  This is a garment I can wear most places (snowball fights excepted).  You can see from above that it is pretty.  My issue is with the hem.  The hem is 68″ wide and flares further just because it’s a soft, loosely knit fabric.  I used  58″ of 3/4″ elastic which snugs the hem to me just slightly:

I like the front view but not so sure about the side and back.  The hems.  I like everything  else; neckline sleeves body of the garment.. I’m concerned about the look at the hem.  I’ve seen a number of RTW sweaters which flare this much and more.  I’m just not sure I care for it.

Without any elastic the hem appears like this:

I’ve seen RTW like this but again, not sure I like it.  I cut my elastic the same width as my hips thinking that the garment would hang straight down but it cups:

and I really don’t like that.   I haven’t decided yet.  I may leave it alone as in the first pics.  Sometimes I have to get used to style changes.  Alternatively   I could trim some ease at the hem or adjust the elastic length a few more inches.  As always, would love for you to look at the 3 sets of pics and offer your opinion.

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