Making samples, a polo neck top.

Polo neck top and flared trousers from vintage 70’s patterns, photo by Bejoy Sanjeev, samples made by me. Everything created by KellyDawn Riot

I recently finished sewing garments for a textile designer. I had to use one of the images from Kelly’s look book in this blog because I think they’re fab! You can see the entire collection “formication” by KellyDawn Riot here. I usually stick to pattern cutting for others, or pattern cutting and sewing toiles, or pattern cutting, sewing toiles and finished garments, or cutting patterns to be graded and manufactured industrially. And then for myself I re-sew virtually anything that inspires me! When you make up sample garments for someone else you cannot hide from the “bits” you let yourself avoid!! So what did I learn or relearn from this!?
I was working from vintage 70’s menswear patterns. Oh dear does the 70’s count as vintage, unfortunately I think it does!? And I must confess that it’s my first time using patterns not made by myself. What I found I liked was the decent amount of seam allowance they used – 1.5cm. I felt this allowed for any fabric fraying (which is often an unknown factor) and just in case any dreaded unpicking was necessary. I did read the construction instructions but found myself using my own methods, as a double check they were useful, but I was reminded of how tricky it is when explaining “how to do” sewing techniques.

I started working on the polo neck tops. They were all made in single jersey fabric, some printed, some plain. In industry the very fast way of manufacturing garments of this type is with a 4 thread machine, which is similar to an overlocker but the extra thread produces a far more secure finish for the seam. I have an ancient 3 thread overlocker which I use on everything but I wanted a good sewing machine stitch to allow for the stretch in the stretch fabric. My baby is a Bernina activa 240. It has so many types of stitches that I haven’t even tried yet? An excellent test to find out if a stitch type will endure wear and tear on a jersey fabric is simply to sew it as a straight line on an off cut of the fabric – and pull – if you hear the stitches “crack” then it’s the wrong stitch and try another! If it “cracks” on a finished seam on the garment it will leave a hole? I tried no.9 – the super stretch stitch, it worked well, didn’t crack, but took a long time to sew and used a lot of thread. Next I tried  no.20 – jersey stitch, no, then no.25 – lycra stitch, no, then no.26 – stretch stitch, yes, perfect. This stitch passed all my requirements and pressed very nicely too. The hems were easy. I used my twin needle to imitate a coverstitch finish for the sleeve edges and hems. This needle stitches the two rows of stitching 4mm apart.


2 thoughts on “Making samples, a polo neck top.

  1. Clicked through to the look book, fabulous stuff. I am particularly envious of the pattern matching across the front of those jackets. Who would have thought my Dad’s matching tie and shirt would ever be in vogue again, but it looks like my Mum was right on the money when she made them!


    1. I remember them too, sometimes with a matching sleeveless knitted v-neck! And, of course, the side burns?
      These were exactly the type of samples I like to make, great print and good stable fabrics. Although I did have the sweats sometimes with the matching up of the prints!!!


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