Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kwik Sew 2881 - 6th time's a charm...

Thanks so much to everyone for your sweet comments about my dress and for all of the congratulations.  It was such a departure from my usual mommy wardrobe and what I usually sew.  I really enjoyed making and wearing it.  I'm glad that all of you liked it, too!
Really, I have made these shorts 6 times, and Mitch loves everything about them, so I'm pretty sure there will be more.
Here are the 5 that he can still wear.  The first pair was a muslin of sorts, since I had never sewn anything like this before.  I used cheap spandex and whatever elastic I had lying around.  Despite that, Mitch wore them so much that he put holes in them.  Literal holes in the fabric.  So, I bought better spandex, nice elastic and made some more.  This post is mostly to document what I have learned as I've made them, so that I can remember for the next pair(s).  But if you skim down to the end, I'm adding a photo tutorial for attaching gripper elastic, so hey, it's not all about me.
So, first of all, I really love the instructions in this pattern, and I follow them.  There are a few places I deviate, and that is all I'm documenting here.
Supplies: Kwik Sew 2881
Heavyweight, slick spandex.  I like the Moleskin Matte from Spandex World.  It is an 8 oz. weight and has a nice feel.
Poly thread.  I use Mettler Metrosene.
Stretch 70/10 needles.  Jersey needles will work in a pinch, but I get a more consistent seam with stretch.
3/4 inch knitted elastic for the waistband
gripper elastic for the legs
Machine settings:
For seams: triple stretch stitch
For attaching elastic and topstitching: triple zigzag
Here is Janome, showing you her triple stretch stitch (15).  Next to it (16) is the triple zigzag.  Of note, since these stitches are self-locking, you don't have to backstitch, which is nice, since 1/4 inch seam allowances+slippery fabric=a meal for your feed dogs.
Construction notes:
Be sure to double check each seam as you go to make sure that the fabric didn't slip.  Just stretch the seam open and look for gaps in the seamline.
These work up quickly, but the inner leg panel is tricky to attach.  Here's what worked best for me:
Pin the CF/CB notches first, then stretch out the pieces together and pin 1 inch on either side.  Be sure to sew with the panel facing down so that you can see the CB/CF panel as you sew, as that side has the sharpest curve, and you want to keep an eye on it as you sew it.  Go slow and readjust at each pin.
For the waistband, I like to give myself about a 1/8 inch "header" over the top of the elastic,
then sew it with an overcast foot.
The foot turns under the "header" and gives a really nice finish to the waistband with no elastic showing.
(This picture is before I turned under the waistband the second time.  In the finished product, the elastic doesn't show at all.)

OK, now on the the Gripper Elastic Tutorial...  The pattern calls for a traditional elastic finish on the legs, but that tends to ride up, so I used gripper elastic instead, which is what you'll find on RTW biking shorts.  Installing it isn't hard, but I've picked up a few tricks along the way that have made it easier for me.  Here is how I do it.
First, construct your garment.  Installing the elastic will be in the round and should be pretty much your last step.  Now, you need to decide how much elastic you need.  Gripper elastic is very "stretchy" and doesn't have quite the same recovery as regular knitted elastic, so you want to use a slightly shorter piece, as it will stretch out a little as you sew it.  Pull it quite snugly around the body part it will eventually be on, and don't allow for any overlap.  To join the ends of the elastic, I found that it was more comfortable to seam it, rather than overlapping and stitching.
Here you can see the elastic for the waistband (on the left) which has been overlapped and zigzagged together, and the gripper elastic on the right, which was seamed (you're looking at the right side, with the seam allowances behind the elastic).  This way once the elastic is installed there is no raw edge to rub.
Once you have a loop of elastic, place it wrong side down on the right side of your garment.
The edge of the elastic should land at the "hemline" ie wherever you want your garment to end.  You'll be flipping it under in a bit and so that line will be the bottom, finished edge of your garment.  Now, using the triple zigzag, you want to stitch the elastic to the garment along that "hemline".
I like to sew it with the elastic up so that I can stitch right along the edge of the elastic, which gives it a very clean finish.  Stitch it around, then flip the elastic to the wrong side of the garment, so the the elastic and the garment are now wrong sides together.  If there is any fabric sticking out below the elastic, trim it off.  You want to encase the raw edge with the elastic.
Like so.  Pull it taut and pin around the circumference.  I like to pin at each seam and then again anywhere there is a longish gap.  Lots of pins are really helpful at this point, since you don't want this to end up baggy.  Notice I didn't do any sort of seam finish.  We found that this was the most comfortable, as it had the least bulk and was the least likely to chafe while Mitch ran.  I do try to sew the seams open, although this can be tricky with a narrow SA like this.  OK, next stitch along the unsewn edge of the elastic.
Try to keep the fabric as tight against the elastic as possible to get as smooth a finish as you can.  Again, I like the triple zigzag for this, but it does show on the outside, so if you want a very RTW look, the triple straight stitch or a coverstitch would work.  I wouldn't use a twin needle, as I don't think it would stretch enough.
And that is it!  No riding up for you!


Pam said...

I love them - I've got to make some now!! I'm in Seattle in a few weeks and I'm going to go over to that shop that has all kinds of sports materials for sewing:)

Great job, AGAIN!!

Sascha said...

I just had to comment. I used to cycle back in the day before life took over and I am amazed that you sew these... multiple pair. You freak me out. Is there anything you won't sew? Good for you 'cause they are very expensive to buy. Especially if you buy 6! Did you seriously make 6 of these?

Eugenia said...

Great post - thanks so much for the excellent tutorial.

Michelle said...

Great job! I am glad he is getting so much wear out of them!

Beth said...

"6th time is a charm"
What a beautiful concept. It reveals my impatience to me.

I had a couple of "aha" moments when reading this . . . beginning with polyester thread, for example. "Of course, why didn't I think of that?" I thought in my head.

Dr. Fun (AKA Sister) said...

See, you are the queen of elastic, so it's time to mix it up with a bathing suit!

amber said...

I'm still impressed that you're not only sewing technical activewear, but that you're so proficient with it!

Katharine Cunningham-Carlot said...

Thanks for the very informative review, more like a tutorial on how to sew it than just a standard review. I have this pattern on the left of the computer, and my husband is on my right :) He'll be happy. I wasn't even considering really to sew the shorts since I can't source gripper elastic easily here in Brussels, but now will take a serious hack at trying to find it at the specialized haberdashery stores around. Merci beaucoup! Hartelijk bedankt!

Kelsey Dunlevy said...

I just stumbled on your blog post after Google searching for Kwik Sew pattern 2881. I'm not having any luck finding the pattern to buy it, so I was wondering if you still had this pattern and if you'd be willing to sell it to me? I've been wanting to sew together a pair of speedo-like swim bottoms, but I'm not able to find a pattern for it! Please let me know if you'd be interested in selling your pattern. Thanks in advance!