Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Course Review: Thread Den Sewing With Stretch

Since beginning sewing I've been fairly hesitant to sew with stretch fabrics. For my first attempt I made up the Skirt as Top Free Scoop Tee pattern. It fitted great but the hem is a shocker and I left the sleeves unfinished to reduce further mistakes. 

I decided to attend a Thread Den Sewing With Stretch Class to hopefully improve my skills in this area. It was quite affordable, especially as it included 6.5 lesson hours over 2 nights. What particularly attracted me to this class was that it covered sewing with stretch on your usual sewing machine as well as using overlocker machines. Thus, I could learn some 'in the mean time skills' and try out an overlocker! Here's a quick review of the class in case anyone is thinking about attending one. FYI, I have no affiliation with Thread Den and these are all my own words and opinions. 

The class was rated at a 3/5 difficulty level and it was suggested that you should have some experience with zips buttonholes and perhaps have used paper patterns. However, I think as long long as you can thread a machine and trace a paper pattern you'll be fine. 

The first night involved a bit of a speech around the history of stretch fabric and the different types on offer. Also covered was how to pre-wash, dry and cut stretch fabrics. Most of this information was super basic but occasionally there was a good tip. For example, when cutting stretch fabric don't let it slip and stretch over the edge of the cutting table as it will distort the fabric you are cutting. 

Spots and stripes. Excuse the clothes horse in the background. 

Afterwards each participants (four in the class) was provided with a one size fits all kimono sleeve slash neck t-shirt pattern to trace and then sew up in fabric which you were asked to bring along. You are asked to thread your machine, taught which stitch is best for use with stretch fabric and then asked to stitch the shoulder seams and up each side. In this class you don't finish the hem, neckline or sleeves at all. The size and unfinished look means the top was destined to be paired with pyjama bottoms imo. 

For the second class you're asked to bring along a 2 way stretch (which you are taught how to identify) for a more fitted top. A pattern is provided based only on your bust size. I would have like to be able to grade out the pattern to make it a little looser around my hips. Even with the super two way stretch I find it a little unflattering.

In this class we had the option of using the sewing machine or the overlocker. I put my hand up for the overlocker and I'm a changed women! It whizzed up the side seams and arms so fast. And boy are flat sleeve insertions quick and easy to sew (another benefit of sewing with stretch fabrics). We were taught how to draft our own neck ribbing by measuring around the neckline, multiplying by .75  and adding seam allowance. This is a good tip but I found my ribbing a little tight for my neckline (measurement error I guess).

Unfortunately I had to leave the class a little early so I didn't get the chance to finish the hem or sleeves. I bought a twin needle to finish them at home but my sewing machine has refused to obey me! I re-threaded them, adjusted the tension and the thread length but gave up in the end. The left needle just wont play nice. Also, my machine doesn't have the lightening bolt stretch stitch which does a neater job of sewing with stitch than a tiny zig zag stitch. More than anything this class really just showed me how badly I need an overlocker and how wonderful they are. I would recommend this class for a beginner sewer who has never sewn with stretch fabric before. 

Perhaps it's more flattering tucked in?


  1. Great that you are getting into sewing with knits Liz - it's just like anything else with sewing, you get better with practice and the right tools certainly make things a lot easier :)

    1. Thanks Renee. I'm actually not too afraid with sewing with knits, especially after trying on more suitable sewing machines and overlockers. Unfortunately, my sewing machine just isn't up for it. Need to start an overlocker piggy bank.

  2. I've always wondered what the classes were like at Thread Den. I might have to look into this myself, as I've been wanting to learn how to sew with knits.

    p.s. I recently came across your blog and am enjoying the sewing inspiration!

    1. Hi Diane,
      I'm glad you found this helpful. It's tricky deciding on which class provider to go with. I'd really like to try some Tessuti classes in the near future too.

      Thanks for popping by :)