Monday, June 25, 2012

Pleating stretchy knits

Hello again! 

First I want to show you the green polka dot dress that our first time smocker made. I am so impressed and I think she is happy as well because she is starting another dress from the same pattern for her other granddaughter. 

Next on the list of things I wanted to show you is a series of samples I did up of a fine knit fabric which contained Lycra - so you know it was really stretchy - not just in the cross grain but also in the lengthwise grain! So there was no chance of pulling this fabric to keep it on grain as it was pleated. 
A lady from B.C. had written and asked if she could use a knit fabric to smock a nightgown for her daughter. The answer is yes if you take the proper care and precautions.

Here you see the knit fabric from the back with a piece of stabilizer quickly basted to it along all four edges. Remember this is only a test.
What you need to keep in mind is that the right side of a knit fabric of this type has courses running the length of the fabric. 
You can not straighten a knit fabric. You will have to work with it as it is as it has been heat set before leaving the factory and you can not tear it or pull a thread.
The stabilizer I am using is called "H2O-Gone". It is a non woven light weight product that came on a bolt and is used for machine embroidery. It is water soluble and shrinks noticeably if it comes in contact with steam! Do be careful; use a dry iron only.

So it went into the pleater beautifully and formed good neat pleats.
I could gently adjust the fabric if it started to go off but this had to be done carefully. However part way through I knew I was running into trouble. the layers were starting to feed at a different rate. When I was finished there was a bubble       which proved more basting was required to keep the layers together across the fabric. Below you can see bubbles that I pleated through at the end of the fabric.

For the next test I machine basted the two layers together at the top edge, and every inch below just to be sure. Here I have used a dark thread so it will show up in the photo and used a long stitch with the tension loosened so the stitching would pull out easily.
You can see in the photo first from the wrong side, how it looks with the pleats slightly flared as for a bishop and the basting threads are removed for half of the width. The second photo is the same piece but from the right side.

And how does it smock? Perfectly! The however is, no instructions came with the piece I purchased. I was simply to remove it with water. So I dipped it in tepid water and left it to dry. Not so great. It was so stiff and scratchy you would never put it on a child like that. So I poured another basin of tepid water and washed it. Much better but it would need machine washing or a lot more effort if done by hand. 

There must be many other water soluble stabilizers on the market that will pleat just as well and come out a little easier. I just wanted to try one of the new ones.
If I were doing this for a real garment I would remove as much of this stabilizer as possible before putting it in water. And, if I were sure it would not stretch, I would go back to one of the Sulky brand products.

If you have used one of these water soluble stabilizers, perhaps you would like to tell us the name of what you successfully used!
So until next time, keep stitching.....

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