Just In: Silk, soy, bamboo, organic cotton, Alison Glass and more!

We are excited to offer a variety of colors of silk noil and habotai. These will go up on our online store soon, promise! You should check our Instagram image for the beautiful habotai colors, below is our noil selection.

We are constantly restocking our solid soy blend knits and have started to build out our bamboo blend knit selection lately. I suppose I was thinking of a fall when I placed the last order....you're not seeing double, I just liked the oranges, reds and blues. If you haven't sewn with these yet, treat yourself, you won't be sorry. The soy blend washes beautifully, time and time again, making perfectly cozy tees and dresses!

Bamboo, organic cotton and spandex

Bamboo, organic cotton and spandex

soy, organic cotton and spandex

soy, organic cotton and spandex

Some of the latest collection of organic cotton knits from Birch Fabrics featuring artwork by the iconic Charley Harper.

A new, fresh color of Robert Kaufman's stretch twill--a gorgeous bottom or coat weight, in dusty peach. Aqua and curry colored denim! And an organic cotton canvas, a la Charley Harper.

A new, fresh color of Robert Kaufman's stretch twill--a gorgeous bottom or coat weight, in dusty peach. Aqua and curry colored denim! And an organic cotton canvas, a la Charley Harper.

Alison Glass's newest collection, Adorn, for Adover includes these super cool, botanical double border silhouette prints on cotton lawn. The drape is luxurious and the bold design encourages creativity! Check out this maxi skirt from her look book.

A pair of lively floral double gauze prints on the left and three bright floral cotton lawns on the right.

A pair of lively floral double gauze prints on the left and three bright floral cotton lawns on the right.

Lastly, a few novelty and floral prints from Alexander Henry. Please check out our Instagram feed (@boltfabricpdx) for the absolute latest! We've been bringing in new pattern lines as well, so be sure to take a look when you're in or on our online store. Hope to see you soon, and happy sewing!

Stitching Knits using a Plain Ol' Sewing Machine

By Sarah

I've been sewing with knits for years, even before I had a serger. I think one of the first things I made with this delightful and forgiving fabric was a baby blue interlock knit tank top with brown and white striped bias tape, also made from an interlock knit, that trimmed both neck and arm holes. I wore that thing for years! Offered on my family's Kenmore sewing machine, purchased at our local Sears, the humble zigzag stitch option was the key to my shirts' longevity. I could make a joke here, about how 'it definitely wasn't the quality of the machine that made it last so long', but that would be lie. That Kenmore was a darn good machine and bought for a very reasonable price- a steal compared to some machines on the market. Never feel inferior about your machine's capabilities even if you sew with Hello Kittys' help. But, I digress. If you are scared to sew with knits because you don't have a serger or for whatever reason, follow these tips below for sewing knits on a regular sewing machine, no serger required! 

Ballpoint needles are pretty important when sewing knits. Hard to see with the naked eye and not truly a ball in shape these rounded tip needles are designed to slide through knit fabric without tearing or splitting any of the yarns, as they likely would with a sharp needle. Furthermore, neglecting to use a ballpoint needle may cause the dreaded skipped stitches we all loath. Another important thing to remember is to use polyester thread, not cotton. It is much stronger and with all the stretching a knit garment endures, the sturdier the better. Now, on to the zigzag stitch.  

Most newer model machines, post 1960's?, have the zigzag option. If your machine only has a straight stitch then sewing with knits may be a challenge. Stretchy thread isn't a thing so unless you are making a knit garment that is looser in fit, where the seams won't be stretched, straight stitches risk popping or breaking because the stitch is stationary and doesn't have the flexibility of a zigzag stitch. If your only choice is to use a straight stitch, consider stitching two lines, side by side, to help reinforce the seam and maybe hem or finish neck and armholes by hand. 

When I use my zigzag stitch I like to adjust the stitch width so that the zigzag isn't so zigzagy, it's more wavy-like. Play around with different widths until you get your desired stitch. On my machine I like to set the zigzag stitch width to 3.5, which I've found works great. I didn't touch the default stitch length at all. It doesn't look too much like a zigzag stitch and it stretches nicely with the jersey I am using here. That being said, every fabric is different, so take a scrap of the fabric you will be working with and before you start sewing run some test stitches to see what works best and make a note of it. 

I allow a little more for seam allowance than what most knit patterns call for, because I think most assume you have a serger and their seam allowances can be as little as 3/8". (note: this does not mean I added seam allowance when cutting my pattern out) I also went ahead and stitched two rows, for a stronger seam. Sergers overlock raw edges making a super secure stitch and finish, something a regular sewing machine cannot do. So, for piece of mind, I like to stitch in a little bit more from the raw edge for better durability. It is also very hard to stitch that close to the edge with jersey, it stars to get a mind of its' own. Scary!

knit6.jpg

The seam from the outside looks pretty darn good, huh? Think about were the garment will experience the most stress and reinforce those areas with a second row of stitching, if you like. Knits do not fray, they ravel and the majority of jerseys and interlocks will be fine if left not overlocked, because they are knitted very tight. The closer a fabric is woven or or the tighter a fabric is knitted, the less it will fray or ravel. The knit garments I have made with my regular old machine have not raveled at all. It's OK to leave those raw edges raw. Really! If you decide to work with a looser, sweater knit, then you need to think about binding those raw edges somehow because they will eventually ravel.

knit9.jpg

The pattern used here is the Lark by Grainline and is the boatneck version. The instructions have you turn in the raw edge of the neckline and stitch it down, so there's no fussy bands to mess with. I used the same zigzag width setting for this, the hem and the sleeve hem. Voila! That is how you can sew with knits using your sewing machine. It really is a breeze!

*This post is dedicated to all the naysayers out there who shun knits because of the misguided notion that one needs a serger to sew them. Come all ye sewists! Try your hand at a garment made of knit. We have a gorgeous selection of solids and prints in jersey, interlock, ponte and sweater knits! Many are available through our online shop as well. Thanks for reading!!!

New Online (and In The Store!) - Patterns Galore

by Cameron

Summer is officially here (and unbelievably almost over!) and we're loving meeting so many of our out of town customers. For those of you who haven't been able to make the trip to Portland this year, we have some exciting updates to the online store to share today - lots of new patterns!

First up, we're very excited to be carrying Papercut Patterns from New Zealand. Their polished designs are perfect for intermediate sewists. I particularly like the coats and pants patterns.

Friday Pattern Co. offers knitwear patterns that are comfortable and elegant. If you like sewing and wearing knits, these will be workhorses. Stylish and simple, you can really fill in some holes in your wardrobe.

We've also added some of our favorite patterns lines to the online store this week. Wiksten makes beautiful patterns for children (and women!). We're big fans and our local customers are, too. We're very pleased to have them available online now.

We've also added Made by Rae patterns, including the brand new Cleo skirt. If you're not familiar with Made by Rae yet, they're excellent patterns, beginner friendly, and so wearable. Rae's customers are devoted and make her patterns over and over.