Choosing Fabric for Greenstyle’s Sundance Jacket

My jacket, in progress. I’ll use a solid color in class to make it easier to see details.

This is one of the topics we will discuss in class, but if you want to choose your material and cut strips for practice during class, I want to help you get ready!

The notes say that the pattern “…is suitable for medium to heavy weight stable knits like double knits, Ponte de Roma, scuba knit, medium-heavy weight Supplex.”

“Stable knit” is one of those terms that can scare you right off from choosing knits. Basically, it’s a knit fabric that has a little (not a lot) of stretch and a lot (not a little) recovery.

You want a fabric that has at least 25% stretch in the horizontal direction. To test this, fold a piece of your fabric along a top or bottom edge, line it up against a four-inch length of ruler or a gridded surface, and stretch it. It should easily stretch to 5 inches wide. If your fabric stretches a lot more than that, you may want to cut the next size down in the pattern.

In the vertical direction (along a selvedge edge), the fabric should stretch 25% or less.

Test recovery by poking your thumb or finger very firmly into the fabric near a selvedge edge. If, after a few minutes, you can still see where you poked the fabric, your fabric may not have enough recovery for this project.

I’m sewing my samples in Liverpool, which is a very easy-to-sew double knit fabric. (This is the exact fabric. Please note that we are not affiliated with Girl Charlee.) Another good option is Heavy Brushed Athletic Performance fabric from Greenstyle. (We are connected to Greenstyle, but this is not an affiliate link.)

I’ve seen lovely versions of this jacket in Supplex and in a reversible knit.

I also love the idea of making this jacket as my first scuba knit project. This one is so great!

Don’t forget that, whatever fabric you choose, you’ll probably want a lighter-weight fabric for your pockets. I’m using nylon tricot for mine. An athletic mesh would also be nice and very RTW.

For more background on sewing knit fabrics, check out this Threads Magazine article by Ann Person, a piece on Ponte Knits by Nancy Nix-Rice (subscription and login required), and Sourcing Scuba Knit by Stephani L. Miller.

Sundance Jacket Back and How to Add a Matching Notch to Any Sewing Pattern

I read over the directions for Greenstyle’s Sundance jacket and I felt like I knew where the sewing challenges would lie. I then proceeded to prove to myself that some issues only show up when you’re actually sewing!

Now, maybe some people won’t have trouble with this, but the first time I stitched the back yoke to the rest of the back, it ended up crooked. I picked out my stitching (and topstitching!) and redid it. Here are a few tips to avoid getting tripped up, as I did.

  • Instead of stitching from left to right on the yoke, stitch from the center back seam of the yoke to the outer edge of the back, then go back and stitch the other side from the center back seam to the other outer edge. This makes lining up the centers of the yoke and the back piece much simpler.
  • After stitching (before topstitching), lay out your back piece on a flat surface and check that it all looks good. If I had done this, I would have, at least, only had to take out the stitching and not both the stitching and topstitching to redo it.
  • Add a notch on the back yoke pieces where they should intersect with seam lines.

Adding a notch to make sure something matches is pretty easy. In this case, there’s a seam line I want to match up, so I started by marking out the seam allowances on the back center pattern piece and the yoke piece.

I then lined up the two seam allowances from the center-back seam out, pivoting to bring them into line with each other as they curved, until I found the place the yoke should intersect with the seam between the center back and side back pattern pieces. I then marked that spot.

The little cross you see there isn’t because I did this on Easter. It’s so that, when I cut the pattern again, I know to only cut my notch about halfway into the seam allowance. Sometimes when I see a longer line like the first one I drew, I overcut my notch and that creates a weak spot in the seam.

There you have it! Matching notches are a pretty easy way to see if you’re off track when sewing before you even finish stitching the entire seam.

Curious about sewing your own fantastic athleisurewear jacket? Check out our class coming up on May 22, 2021. If we have time in class, I’ll go over this, again!

Pattern Spotlight: Adding a Zipper to the Sweet Sixteen Bralette

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I suppose it turns out that, when I find a pattern I like, I still can’t leave well enough alone.

This is the Sweet Sixteen Bralette Pattern, with a few alterations:

– zipper in front (back still has hooks, so that the band size adjusts)

– no rings for front strap attachment, they’re just sewn on

– there are rings on the back at the strap attachment point

– bottom band changed from fold over elastic/lace treatment to allow for 1-inch-wide elastic (the elastic is narrowed under the cups)

One change I wish I had made: I could have used underwire channeling along the cup/band seam. I don’t want to add underwires, but if I added that, it would have made the elastic more secure where I cut it and provided even more stability to the band.

When you add a zipper to anything there are a lot of ways to do it. Do you want the zipper tape completely exposed? Do you want the back of the zipper tape covered, if it’s not exposed to the front? Do you want a zipper guard?

I’ve made, loved, and worn my Greenstyle Endurance Sports Bras for a long time, so I decided to basically use the zipper technique from that pattern. For it to work, the front edge of the bralette has to be finished (with fold over elastic, for example). So, here are the steps I used for making this alteration.

Step 1: Cut down the center front (maybe)

If you’re testing your bralette for size, you might want to baste the center front and try it on before removing anything for the zipper. In this case, I’d made this size before and it fit well, so I didn’t do that. I removed the seam allowance, plus half the total width of the zipper teeth on each side of the center front. For this zipper, that meant slicing off 1/2 an inch, total, from each side.

Step 1.5: Stabilize

If you’re worried that the slightly stretchy nature of the bralette fabric will make it hard to sew it to a non-stretchy zipper, you could stabilize those front edges with either a fusible or sewn-in stabilizer such as stay tape.

Step 2: Finish the edge

I used fold over elastic. You could also use a binding or anything else that doesn’t require the edge to turn down or over.

Step 3: Measure for your zipper length and zipper guard

If you are finicky, you may want to measure the pattern piece to get your zipper length, remembering to take into account if you have folded the bottom band edge or used fold over elastic for the bottom band edge. If you’re less finicky, measure the edge you just finished.

Most zippers will need to be shortened to work. Separating zippers have to be shortened from the top. I haven’t tried these amazing locking zippers from bra-makers supply, but I will as soon as I run out of zippers. If you want a front-closing bra without a zipper that separates, I don’t understand your life.

If I remember correctly, my zipper needed to be 9 inches long, so I cut my zipper guard 11 inches long. This is so that it has just enough room to wrap around the top and the bottom of the zipper. I cut my guard from a relatively thick knit fabric that doesn’t curl and doesn’t fray, so there were no edges to finish on the guard. I curved the edges of the guard by just cutting it freehand, but you can leave it straight across or cut it on the diagonal.

Step 4: Baste the zipper guard to one side of the zipper tape

Use either machine basting or washaway wonder tape. Important note: Don’t baste the guard into its final position, yet. Simply center the zipper on the guard and baste it, flat. Don’t fold the top and bottom edges over. They need to fold over later.

Step 5: Install the zipper

If you’re feeling confident, you can fold the ends of the zipper guard into their final position and get all of this stitching done in one fell swoop. If not, simply sew in the zipper and then stitch the zipper guard ends by hand or machine.

That’s it! Enjoy your zip-front bralette!

Extra note: As I was stuffing the bralette for this photo (my dress form is a  b cup and the bralette is really, really, not a b cup), I noticed that, when it wasn’t stuffed enough, the front seam looked very wavy and lumpy. So, if that’s happened when you’ve made a bralette, you may want to try sizing down on the cup.