Hi everyone! I hope Sunday’s post on the best fabric for your Nettie was helpful. Sewing with knits is a breeze when you have the right choice for your project!
Today I want to talk about the various bits and bobs you may need to gather. Many of these are totally optional – it would be entirely possible to make a Nettie dress or bodysuit with nothing but your fabric and some thread, but sometimes the extra details make your garments extra special.
BALL POINT NEEDLES
If you are sewing a Nettie on a regular machine, you absolutely (no ifs ands or buts!) need a needle designed for knits. Sharp needles are designed to pierce woven fabric; ball point needles slide in between the knit fibers and help your machine catch the bobbin thread.
You may see ballpoint needles called “Stretch” or “Jersey” needles. If you are using ballpoint needles and still having issues with skipped stitches, it may be the kind of ball-point needle. I remember having issues sewing my first Bombshells with “jersey” needles. I switched to a different brand “stretch” needle, and bingo, problem solved.
TWIN NEEDLES (OPTIONAL)
I recently started working a lot with twin needles. I had it in my head that they were a pain in the butt to thread and was finishing all my seams with a zigzag stitch out of pure laziness. And then I actually looked at my instruction manual and realized threading a twin needle was easy as pie. And the result is SO much more professional looking! When you sew with a twin needle, the top side will look like two parallel rows of neat straight stitches – the underside will be zigzagged. It mimics a coverstitch and takes your knit garments from the homemade zone to the “YOU MADE THAT?” stratosphere.
Again, it’s important to get a twin needle designed for stretch fabrics. They come in different widths, but for Nettie, I prefer a very narrow stitch. A distance of 2-3mm between the needles makes a nice, small stitch detail. Marie at A Stitching Odyssey wrote a great post explaining how double needles work. There are also some gems of advice in the comments section if you are having trouble getting a nice stitch on your machine. Don’t be intimidated by the double needle! It is your friend!
MARKING TOOL AND MEASURING TAPE
A nice chalk marking tool is indispensable for marking notches! I’m in love with these Clover ones. A flexible measuring tape is also great for measuring your curved seams.
SNAPS FOR THE BODYSUIT (OPTIONAL)
If you’re like me with baskets of random sewing equipment everywhere, chances are you already have some snaps somewhere in your stash. You want metal snaps, not plastic. They grip much better – plastic ones are a little flimsy and tend to pop open which is not ideal (unless that is the effect you’re going for!) I’ve used a variety of sizes, although I would avoid anything too tiny. The size is less important than the strength of the snap – you’ll be sewing 3 down which is surprisingly strong.
You may also choose to use hammer-on snaps. This is totally up to you! They can be a pain in the caboose to install sometimes, but if you’re not down with watching Downton Abbey while hand sewing 6 individual snaps down, you can choose your own adventure.
LINING FOR THE SNAP CROTCH (OPTIONAL)
You really only need a few small scraps for the snap crotch lining. It can be any material, as long as it’s lightweight (your crotch area is not really the place you want a lot of bulk!) I like using crepe de chine, rayon bemberg, or lightweight cotton. Whatever you have laying around will work.
WOOLY NYLON THREAD
If you’ll be making Nettie with your serger, you may want to pick up some wooly nylon thread. You can use it in both loopers, although I use it just in the upper looper since I don’t have more than one in any colour. It makes a much softer, stretchier seam. I definitely notice a difference in seam stretchiness if I just use poly serger thread. It’s a little pricey but a great investment!
You want to stabilize those shoulder seams! The Nettie needs the structure – it’s such a stretchy design, your shoulder seams will look terrible in the long run without something helping them to stay put.
Almost anything can be used for stabilizer. Twill tape, bias tape, clear elastic, heavy ribbon, a piece of selvedge, stay tape. My preferred stabilizer is clear elastic – it’s nice and thin and doesn’t bulk up your seams.
ELASTIC FOR THE SHELF BRA (OPTIONAL)
If you’re going to be adding a shelf bra, I recommend 1/2″ wide elastic. However, I recently used 3/8″ swimwear elastic (the beige cotton stuff) and it had GREAT support, so that works too if you’ve got some in the stash.
ELASTICS FOR HACKING YOUR NETTIE! (OPTIONAL)
The Nettie’s neck and leg openings are bound using the same fabric you’re making it with. It’s a clean finish (and cheap)! Some of you mavericks may want to play around with different finishes though.
You can substitute your Nettie fabric binding with lace elastic, lingerie elastic or fold over elastic – all have different effects. Lace is soft and romantic (and will look completely invisible under clothing). Lingerie elastic will let you make the bottom a little tighter and maybe add a little detail if you have one with pretty trim. Fold over elastic is super clean and let’s you play with contrasting colour effects. PLEASE keep in mind that if you use FOE or lingerie elastic you will have to add a little to the seam allowances at your leg openings since you won’t be adding a binding. Your crotch panel will be too narrow as is.
HEATHER’S BONUS LIST OF SUPER AWESOME KNIT MIRACLE-MAKERS
If you like sewing with knits, I have a few tools I would like to recommend. We all know sewing can be an expensive hobby once you get going (SO MANY BERNINA FEET, SO LITTLE TIME) but the following tools will make your life so much easier. And your knit garments so much prettier.
Depending in your machine, this may be a bit of an investment. My Bernina one was quite pricey, but worth every penny. Fear not though; you can get generic walking feet for your Singer or Janome or what-have-you on the internet or at any good sewing machine service centre. I picked one up for my old machine for around $25.
Why the hard sell? These little marvels of engineering feed the top and bottom fabric through your machine at an even speed, preventing rippled or stretched seams. They make matching stripes a joy. A JOY I SAY. There is a great post here that shows how these work. A walking foot is not a requirement for making Nettie, but it certainly helps!
QUILTING RULER, ROTARY CUTTER, CUTTING MAT & PATTERN WEIGHTS
I used to despise cutting patterns out. The pins and the scissors and the slippery fabric and the tediousness of it… oy vey. And then I discovered rotary cutters. And life was forever changed.
Now, it takes me mere minutes to cut out a Nettie (or anything for that matter). I picked up a box of heavy flat washers from Home Depot for around $10 and use those to weigh my patterns down on top of a large self-healing cutting mat (I paid approximately $30 for mine – I like one that is at least 24″ x 36″). With a good quality rotary cutter, it takes hardly anytime at all to cut out your pieces! Your edges are much cleaner and your back hurts less. I have a few rotary cutters in different sizes because I am a gadget monster but you can get a small 28mm Olfa (the best brand I’ve found) for under $20. Like this one here. The smaller blade makes it easy to get around the tight corners of the Nettie neckline.
I recently picked up a quilting ruler and they, ahem, rule. If you are using fabric binding, a nice strong grid ruler is a big help to cut them out.
Ooookay. I think that about covers anything you might want to gather before we start the sewalong! Again, a lot of this stuff is optional (but will make your life just a little easier).
Mark your calenders for May 19th. We’ll start the official Nettie sewalong then. I am hoping to include some hacking tutorials as well. I have an idea for a Nettie swimsuit that could be killer.
I have started a flickr group where folks can upload their finished makes. I would like to host a giveaway at the end for a Girl Charlee gift certificate (hence why I’ve been asking you to make first time purchases through this link – someone is going to get a big ol’ bag of internet loot in June!)
Have a great week friends! I’m super excited to share a By Hand London tutorial this Thursday for Sewing Indie Month!