Forgive my pun but the most beautiful Scuba knits came in recently, a large scale floral print in vibrant pinks and blues – very striking! And having never sewn Scuba before, I really was diving in!
After taking Basics in Lycra Class with Loralee, I learned some very practical ways to approach knit fabrics and it was time to give sewing Scuba knits a try. ( I recommend signing up for this class next time we offer it)
The first stop is always the pattern catalog for ideas, and the new eveningwear separates from Simplicity seemed a perfect choice. From Simplicity patterns 8597 and 8598 I chose top A, a basic top with bust darts and raised waistline, and skirt C, a trumpet style skirt which would suit the scuba knit’s firm texture.
I chose the blue floral scuba knit and four yards of fabric, the extra yardage allows for pattern matching. For the pattern layout, I decided to run the pattern through the largest blue flower, using the printed pattern grainlines to align the fabric pattern horizontally and vertically.
This method also allows each pattern piece to end up at the same place along the hem, but you must know your hem length beforehand and leave room for your hem allowance as well. Since I was attaching horsehair braid I had a very small hem allowance and ended each pattern piece about an inch below the large blue flower.
Pattern matching is entirely up to the sewer, it is not necessary but is a fun custom touch that adds something special to the garment.
I saved all the fabric leftovers to test seams, iron settings, etc. Testing on scraps is a good way to find out what works when constructing with a fabric for the first time. As it turns out, Scuba sews very nicely with a regular 90 needle and poly thread, and it takes heat and steam very nicely.
Once the skirt was completed, it seemed a little horsehair might be necessary to define the hem, and an interlock knit lining was added as the Scuba is somewhat see through. Although it was not necessary since the skirt had a lining, I did serge the seams to reduce bulk of the seam allowances.
Below you can see the hem hangs a little limp.
A three inch white horsehair braid makes the hem flare out nicely.
To begin constructing the bodice, I underlined each pattern piece with stretch mesh from the Lycra room. Later, this will allow the top of the bodice to be cut away along the floral lines and leave the top of the bodice with only a layer of sheer mesh to show the skin of the wearer. No lining was added to the bodice but the mesh does add a layer of opacity. Use a very sharp pair of scissors when cutting the floral outline to avoid jagged edges. Practice on a few scrap pieces if necessary. To keep the cut floral edge from falling away from the mesh, a combination of machine and hand stitching was applied after glue basting the cut edge to the mesh on a flat surface. It is better to complete this step before darts and seams are put in as the pattern pieces lie perfectly flat and allow the two layers to be joined smoothly.
Once this was done, the front and back of the bodice will have an uninterrupted line of flowers that will have crystals applied. From a construction point of view this presents a few problems as l did not want a zipper running through the center back. To avoid this, a side seam separating zipper was used but another closure must be added to the shoulder seam to allow the wearer to pass the garment over their head. Traditionally this is done through buttons or hook and eye, but with zippers being very popular as embellishments, I decided to add a zipper to the shoulder seam, keeping all the closures of the same type. The neckline was finished with a binding made from the mesh and a small hook and thread chain were also added above the zipper in the shoulder seam. Once installed the zipper is barely noticeable. To shorten the separating zipper simply cut it the length needed at the side seam and add zipper stops at the top. The armhole facing hides the top of the zipper tape nicely. To hem the bodice, I used double sided fusible tape followed by a flat catchstitch, this leaves no visible stitching on the hem which makes the spot where the floral pattern meets at the waist more attractive.
Once all garment construction is completed, it is time for the Swarovski rhinestones!
Color choice and pattern are entirely up to the sewer! It is best to take a swatch of your fabric up to the front counter of The Sewing Studio and decide what colors to choose from the chart. After the rhinestones are purchased, take them home and try out different patterns on a piece of scrap fabric, -don’t use glue! Just lay them out on the fabric and rearrange until a pleasing pattern is achieved.
This is sometimes called “auditioning” and there is no right or wrong way, but using different sizes does tend to give the best effect.
Take your time when stoning, I like to use toothpicks to grab a bit of glue and then pick up the stone by the back with the glue, then place it on the fabric glue side down, lay your other finger over the stone and pull the toothpick away. If you don’t care for that method, the Sewing Studio also carries some very handy tools for stoning in the notions section. Allow plenty of time for drying, overnight at least.
I hope this inspires you to give Scuba a try, it is delightful to sew and can shine in garments from a simple sheath dress with cold shoulders to a more formal gown like the one I made.
Please post your finished garments on our Facebook site so everyone at the Sewing Studio can enjoy them.
To purchase Scuba Fabric, Click Here