Mixing Metaphors….or fabric types…that works too!

This month for #PheeJuly,I made for you the Stitch Upon a Time Spoxxy Tank! I used Phee Fabrics Tricot in Pinkalicious nylon/spandex tricot and white stretch lace. It’s freaking awesome! (I made an XL graded out to a 2X in the hips)

My tips today are on working with two types of fabrics! This can be a daunting task. I’m here to let you know that, you’re right to be terrified….. just kidding! It’s actually easy! Very rarely does it require fear. Unlike dating in this day and age, sewing with multiple fabrics just takes a little prep.

First and foremost – GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!!!


As you can see, I have my printed pattern (obviously THIS is super important!), my 2 fabrics (prewashed), my tape, the directions to my pattern printed out (I’m old school and need it printed out – I lose my place if it is on the computer), and most importantly – my entertainment!!! For this project, I knew I was going to be working in two locations, my house and my mom’s house, so I chose a more portable activity than my usual binged television shows. I chose my absolute favorite podcast – Small Town Murder. Now, my boys, Jimmie and James, know how to keep me laughing and tell a murder story. If you have an irreverent, inappropriate sense of humor like me, I recommend checking it out. If you don’t, I never told you about it. Like my boys say (I lay claim like I know them personally…) if you don’t think true crime and comedy go together, it was nice knowing you.

Ok…the important stuff outta the way – This week I listened to “I Think I’ll Read It Again” about a murder in Alabama. Alabama murder in a trailer park and tricot sewing! Almost as amazing a swimsuit sewing and the Wire!! Now, a Small Town Murder episode lasts like an hour 45. I got everything but topstitching done before the episode was over. (I measure sewing time in episodes, so what?)

This was SUCH a quick sew. And a PERFECT pattern to mix fabrics with. The first thing to do when using two stretch fabrics, is make sure your highest level of stretch is going the same direction. This makes for a less wonky seam. That is TOTALLY a technical term.

If you are sewing a stretch fabric with a woven fabric, you can sew with or against the stretch. What I usually do is sew with the stretch with the grain and against the stretch against the grain. The grain “slides” more in my experience. Other seamstresses my do the opposite! If your woven is on the bias, that’s a whole other ball of wax and you may want to play with some scrap and see what moves best. If you’re using prints…..godspeed.

The top dial is my stitch width. That means how wide the needle zigs out. The stitch length is the top knob. That means how tall that “Z” shape is.

The second thing to do when using two types of fabric is to choose your stitch. As I am using a stretch fabrics, I need a stretch friendly stitch. My machine does nothave a stretch stitch. I use a zig zag stitch. These are the settings I place my machine at. I use these specific settings because I have used them before and these work best for me.

I like to run a few test stitches on a scrap piece of fabric if I am using a new variety or a new combination. A little prep work works wonders.

Just as I got around to doing my test stitches, I was learning all about how Irvington, Alabama is NOT somewhere I want to live…. And the demographics of small town is one of my favorite things to learn about. #YesIAMAHugeDork #ButILoveSewing&MurderStories

Now I know that mixing fabrics and sewing with weird new fabric types sometimes makes your sewing machine act possessed by demons. It’s not, I promise. Well, I’m pretty sure it’s not. So put away the holy water and get out the tape and tissue paper. No we are not wrapping it up and sending it to your nan. These are the simplest ways to deal with asshole fabrics!

The tape – scotch brand tape works best (the purple one actually I prefer for this, but the green one works too!) goes on the underside of your sewing machine foot. It makes the fabric slide through! It also works if you ever sew with vinyl. The tissue paper goes under the fabric. This makes the fabric go over the feed dogs (those jagged teeth that walk your fabric through the needle plate) nice and smooth. You tear the paper away, easy peasy! These two simple tools make life a little easier when using wonky fabrics, especially if one if sticking worse than the other.

Now the next step is preparing to sew. We’re meeting our murderer on the podcast now. Apparently his mom and dad were too closely related, so he was adopted by his aunt and uncle…..cliche? #ThanksMomAndDadForNOTMovingToAlabama #CaliforniaForever

I have 2 ways I pin. Zero pins or a million pins. I don’t know why, but that’s how I roll. Tricot is an a million and a half pin game. It’s slippery and the ends roll like a Stone. This pattern also has a gather at the base of the yoke, so a pin my gathers like they are gonna


run away. This is not required. This is straight up a crazy Alyssa thing. I often use clips for piecing, but for gathers like this, I get pin crazy.

The lace also has a gathering stitch. I use a textbook straight stitch opened up as wide as my machine goes. No extra special tip there. It works! Why reinvent the wheel?

Now for piecing the straps together at the shoulders – This is a stress point. I double stitch that seam. I prefer to double stitch stress points, especially in a knit!!!!!!!! These are places that stitches pop, fabric tears, and embarrassment happens. This is shoulder straps, crotch gussets, etc. 20180729_22482820180729_224734

When I piece together the body pieces, I use just one stitch. I used the pink thread. I felt that it was unnecessary to use a white bobbin. You can barely see the thread.

I of course, pin like it is going out of style.

BTW – I have just learned from Small Town Murder that crack makes a drunk person less drunk. At least I think that’s what I just learned…. less drunk seeming….but annoying as hell….Yeh….nope. Always a nope for crack. And Meth.

Moving on.

Bands. Bands seem WAY scarier than they are. B20180730_221827Basically it works like this. Quarter, pin, quarter, stretch, sew. Just take your time. See I took my time, then realized my waist band was inside out. Was I going to unpick? Nope – design choice!!!!

This is something I learned from what I refer to as “the goddess of the needle”. If you read my Phee Swim blog, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

If not – I worked in professional theatre for, like, half of forever. I worked with some AMAZING seamstresses and learned some amazing things. Sometimes those were conventional, handy sewing things. Sometimes they were spectacular life things. For example – things don’t go your way, its not a fuck up, it’s a design choice!! Both in life and sewing! So this is a design choice. Also – if you ever trip while walking in pretty much any setting, blame it on the choreography  Call it a dance break. Life is better with some theatre in it!!  So just as the really gnarly murdery stuff was happening, I was finishing up with making the bands. I started stitching them on and all the crazy legal stuff went down. I won’t spoil it for you

My bands are not perfect. I admit it. They should have been a smidgeon shorter. But this shirt is bomb. This pattern is truly the best for this fabric. The drape and the stretch are amazing. Now for some super dorky finished project pictures. Pardon the hair – I was at the nursing home/rehab facility with my dad most of the day, and I have to fend off the old dudes (I’m kidding, obviously the old guys prefer blondes. It’s the toddlers that like redheads!)

Horrible face photo, But AWESOME example of the fabric combo!


I hope you enjoyed my ramblings! If you have any questions about this blog or other ramblings, drop me a line at thirteenstardesigns@gmail.com

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