Yesterday when both kids took naps at the same (!) time for a couple hours (!?!?!) I decided it was time to conduct a little knit experiment with the Charlie Tunic Sewing pattern. The whale pajamas I made for Elliot last winter were an early knit version of what would later become the Charlie Tunic, but as I had redrawn the pattern for woven fabrics like quilting cotton and linens I wasn’t sure the NEW pattern would work with knits, you know what I mean? Would it be way too big? Would the knit fabric pucker like crazy when sewn to the quilters cotton?
As you can see, it worked. I had a tiny pucker at the neckline, but I am really happy with the result. It’s worth noting that I did this without my serger or walking foot or any other fancy magical knit equipment, so you can too!
Now I just have to brag a little. This fabric is also a Rae Hoekstra Design Original. I drew those whales myself and ordered this print from Spoonflower. I know it’s nothing special, but I’m really proud of how it turned out. Bet you didn’t know that I’m a closet amateur fabric designer. I’ve been putting together prints for fabric for a few years now actually and occasionally get them printed up at Spoonflower. I had a really cute baby boy collection designed that I wanted to enter in the Spoonflower Project Selvage contest but we were moving so I had to skip it (not that I would have won, the winner’s collection was fantastic). I ordered a full yard but really for just this top I used less than a fat quarter, so I’ve got plenty left for a pair of shorts or something else.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS FOR SEWING THE CHARLIE TUNIC IN KNIT:
- Use a knit that is at LEAST as heavy as a t-shirt. Using drapey thin jersey is just not going to work here. I used a plain white jersey.
- I trimmed the side of the tunic front and back so that it was straight instead of A-line shaped. You don’t have to do this, but since knit stretches you don’t need really need that extra room on the side.
- Use a quilter’s cotton or something with less stretch for the facings (I used the whale fabric). Using two knits would be a little loosey goosey, and unless you have a walking foot for your machine I think that might end badly, with lots of swears.
- Sew the neck facing pieces (the ones with the whales here) together at the shoulders with a smaller seam allowance to account for the fact that the knit will stretch. I used a 3/8″ and that worked just fine.
- Always sew with the WOVEN fabric on top of the knit fabric, and stretch the woven fabric out a little as you go.
- Use a longer stitch length (something between the regular 2.5 on most machines and basting length: for me that is a 3.5)
- Pin the bajonkers out of the facing when you flip it over to sew to the top. If you have double sided stick tape this is the place to use it, but I also found that copious amounts of pinning worked fine too.
- You will get a better result with the sleeve facings if you sew them to the sleeve before you sew the side seams as shown below. Unfortunately this can only be done if you want the facings INSIDE the sleeve, but you can always fold them to face out and tack them down like I did with this top.
- And one other thing I changed this time in case you’re interested: I cut the angle lower at the bottom of the front neck facing. I think it looks better this way.
Elliot is very happy with this top, as he is Whale Crazy right now and has been demanding that I sew him whale garments left right and center. All the books we have out from the library are about whales. When we swim at Grandma’s pool he pretends to be a humpback whale, “with barnacles.” Yesterday when we were outside riding bikes he looked into the sky and exclaimed “That cloud is shaped like a SPERM WHALE! See the DORSAL FIN!?” The kid loves whales.
It is raining and he wanted to wear his Super Grover shirt today so I do not have any pictures of it on him yet, but it does fit very nicely. Just to show you that the size came out right, above is a picture of it hiding underneath another t-shirt. A little long perhaps but as I don’t plan to hem it, I should probably cut off the 1″ hem allowance.