Glad you asked that: How do I make my garments look more professional; more unique?

One of the main reasons why we sew our own garments is the desire to have something different from the masses. It’s a terrific creative outlet with never-ending choices of beautiful fabrics, trims, and threads in more colours than you can imagine. Most of us turn to use a commercial pattern as the designer has already done much of the hard work for us, but there’s still some opportunities to inject a little of your own designer touches to make something uniquely yours. This is what I did recently while making a super-comfy hoodie – perfect for spring weather!

All of us Educators enjoy working with Jalie patterns, which, as a bonus, is a Canadian company from Montreal. It’s great to celebrate and support our own home-grown artisans. The Frederic hoodie pattern #3884 was my first time using Jalie patterns and I immediately realized the appeal.

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27 sizes! Yes, you will definitely find the size you need, be it kids or adults; all sizes are included in ONE pattern. Jalie also has a great website with tons of tips, tutorials – lots of information at your fingertips! As the only guy on the Education team, I was thrilled to see that Jalie has many MENSWEAR patterns in their collection. I’ve since bought and made many which I proudly show during my presentations of our Janome Education Event “The Dynamic Duo”, which focuses on our sergers and coverhem machines. Ask your Janome dealer if they have one of us booked at their store for this presentation.

The hoodie was great fun to make, especially out of the buttery-soft grey knit I was given to make it.

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I used the fabulous new Janome AT2000D air-thread serger for most of the construction, but you could use a different model serger to make this. I also used my equally fabulous Janome MC 15000 Quiltmaker to sew the details like the zippers and edge-stitching.

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The pattern suggested using a few pieces of contrasting fabric and a contrasting front zipper, but I further customized to make this my own by contrasting everything, even the zippers in the hidden side pockets,

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and the thread colour. Who says we always have to match our thread colour to our fabric? Red is my favourite colour – and Janome’s colour – so of course it seemed the logical choice.

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When I was in college studying Fashion Design, my sewing instructor stressed that seams be pressed crisp and lay FLAT. No one needs or wants extra bulk, do they? I understood what she meant and 20 plus years later I still remember those two words every time I pick up the iron. Crisp and flat also mean a professional finish, and professional is what we want from the sewing room.

To permanently keep those seams flat I edgestitch and/or topstitch whenever I can. This will definitely give your garments a more professional, polished finish and will also help improve it’s wearability and longevity. The Jalie pattern didn’t say to do this, but it’s easily done throughout the construction of the garment. This was yet another time I appreciated using the Acufeed Flex feet, which come with many of our Janome machines, and are also available from your Janome dealer.

I use the AcuFeed Flex feet A LOT! The new AcuFeed Flex HP2 foot has become my new favourite foot for piecing my quilt blocks! When edge-stitching my hoodie there was no bunching or stretching of the knit fabric; it fed smoothly and evenly through the machine using Acufeed. I lengthened my stitch from the default of 2.4 to a 3 and used the Janome Blue Tip needle SZ11, which has a slight ball-point tip, so it’s ideal for sewing with knits and delicate fabrics. Not a skipped stitch to be found!

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Another tip my college sewing teacher imparted, was to make our garments look as beautiful on the inside as the outside, and you can see in the above photos how clean and neat; how professional that seams looks by using our Janome serger and by edge-stitching to keep it laying flat.

When seams cross at an intersection and I want a perfect match, I borrow a technique I use when piecing my quilt blocks:  and that is to “lock”, “kiss”, “nest” the seams (whatever you want to call it, lol!). Simply put, one seam goes one way, and the other seam goes the opposite way so they “lock” together. This also helps distribute the bulk, which again, is always a goal in garment construction.

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To borrow another tip from piecing and pressing quilt blocks; let the bulk lay where it wants to, even if it’s not where it “should”lay.  In quilting, we try to press the seams behind the darker fabrics so they don’t shadow through the lighter fabrics. Ideally this is how it “should” be, but, depending on the pattern and construction, this isn’t always possible. It’s more of a guideline than a rule and this also applies to garment sewing as well.

The perfect example of this was when I wanted to edgestitch the hem band seam after I serged it onto the bottom of the hoodie. Again, the pattern did not say to edgestitch, but this seemed (no pun, I swear!) an appropriate place to help reduce some of the bulk by keeping that seam flat. However, in an earlier step I had used longer zippers in the side pockets than what the pattern recommended, so the nylon coil extended into that seam. I was able to serge over it no problem (do not cut the zipper coil with the knife blade of the serger, trim with scissors before serging). But it was near to impossible to fold the nylon coil back on itself to lay flat, even with edge-stitching over it. The edge-stitching would have been crooked, and it would have been a lot of bulk to wrestle under the needle, even with AcuFeed Flex in play. Instead, I elected to just leave that section of the seam down, in the direction it wanted to lay, and just edge-stitched right across as if it were in line with the majority of the seam, which was up.

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From the right side, you can’t really tell, can you? The inside really doesn’t look all that bad, either, especially since it’s finished beautifully on the serger and the seam lays flat.

To further add a unique touch, I choose to use regular knit fabric in red for my hoodie’s cuff and hem band, as opposed to using “ribbing”, which is what’s commonly used. Ribbing has more pronounced wales of the knit and has a great deal of stretch, but I didn’t want or need that much in the hem or cuff, so using a regular t-shirt knit was fine. I prefer the look. You’re the designer – so use what works for you.

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Since it’s often the little details which give things a more professional, commercially-made finish, I added the little stoppers to the hood drawstring.

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These inexpensive findings are readily available at most sewing stores and even some quilt shops, so think of what you may add to your next garment to give it that unique designer touch.

What will be YOUR next sewing project?

About janomeman

SO many creative possibilities, SEW little time!! I'm so excited to share my love of sewing, quilting and creating with the world! Have fabric, will travel. : )
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