FO: Breton Plantain – sewing with fine knits

SAM_5190 This is my fourth plantain top this year, I’m absolutely addicted to this pattern. You’d think with it being my fourth iteration, everything would be plain sailing, but no, my machine had other ideas. It did not like my fabric one bit.


I used a lightweight jersey, which had a similar weight to the fabric I used for my first plantain, which sewed just fine. However, I soon learnt this fabric had a silky handle, like bamboo knit. I bought it from Belle Fabrics last summer and it’s slightly pricier than the jersey I usually buy from the market. But I soon learnt that price does not necessarily make for an easy sew.


The fabric had a tendency to get chewed by the feed dog at the beginning of a seam and my machine did not want to sew a zig zag. I kept getting skipped stitches, which I rectified by sewing over the section again. The guts of this top aren’t pretty.


The real headache started when it came to finishing my hems with a twin needle. I had a bit of material left to play with, and hoped to save some of it for pockets or trims on another project. But I ended up using every last scrap, trying to get my machine to play ball.


Pinned like crazy to get the stripes to match up!

My machine would not sew more than an inch of stitching without skipping stitches. I changed the stitch length, tension dial and foot pressure without success. So after a bit of googling, I decided to replace my twin stretch needle with a ball point and stabilise my hem with Wondertape. I searched all over London – it seems ball point twins are rare and eventually found some in Borrovicks on Berwick Street. I got the Wondertape in John Lewis.


It did not work immediately and there was more frustration to come before BINGO, my holy grail of two evenly stitched parallel lines appeared. I think it was the Wondertape that made the real difference rather than the change of needle.

Here are my tips on sewing and finishing knits:

  • Silky lightweight jersey may need stabilising. Practise first on a piece of the fabric you are using and try Wondertape
  • Apply Wondertape on top of your overlocking stitches and use your twin needle to stitch on top of this. This adds another layer for the needles to get stuck into and ensures a neat edge on the underside
  • Use your fly wheel when twin stitching over a bump e.g. where lots of seams meet at the neckline
  • Slow your stitching down
  • Use a longer stitch length and loosen the thread tension

Although this top was a complete faff to make, I learnt a lot about how to deal with fine knits. Sewing with knits is usually a breeze but they can be a bit temperamental. However, knits are so comfy to wear, easy to fit and come together so quickly that it’s worth putting in the extra time. I adore Breton stripes and I love this top.

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