striped stenzo shirt
This is, I am told, a “superhero move.”

I never buy the expensive Euro stuff. Except I did buy this orange-and-red striped Stenzo jersey from Banberry Place, which at $14.50/yard is a LOT for me.  But to say that my kid loves orange is a tremendous understatement.  In fact, I can guarantee you that you will see a GREAT DEAL OF ORANGE here if you return. And the price did get me to be less lazy and change to my twin needle for the hem, which always looks amazing when I bother to do it.

Anyway, the shirt turned out great and the kid loves it, so I suppose it may have been worth $14.50/yard.  Though I’m still not sure.  What I don’t get is why US producers can’t apparently make stripes this cool.  Just look at this amazing Campan stripe by Hilco – I mean, it’s just a damn stripe, but it’s a NICER stripe than we have here.  This is why Mini Boden is way cuter than our stuff.  I get all mad about this.

campan knit stripe
campan knit stripe at Banberry Place

Owl Lunch Bag & Pirate T-Shirt

Been busy working and making stuff, with not enough time left over to post the results here.  The woven romper pattern is still in the works and maybe I will just put up the knit version since that’s so much simpler for me.

In the meantime, I made Jasper a lunch bag based on this great tutorial at Lemon Squeezy Home.  It’s this Orange Woodgrain with a white flocked owl cut with my Silhouette on the outside (that I drew when we had a raptor presentation for his fourth birthday and I made a ton of t-shirts for the kids), and this fabric, which is supposed to be food safe and waterproof, as a lining.


And I’d made him a long-sleeve version of the below shirt for the fall, causing him to pitch a fit that he could not wear it right this very second, so of course we had to make a short-sleeve version.  Amusingly, he’s not really that into pirates, but he likes this fabric tremendously for some reason.  Another flocked Silhouette cutout of an anchor on the left sleeve.

The pattern originated as Ottobre’s 3/2011 short-sleeve t-shirt, but it’s been heavily, heavily modified over the past year.


The pirate rib is from The Fabric Fairy and I forget where I got the black interlock and the grey rib I used for binding.

Miscellany: Block Printing Fabric + a Kindle Cover

Amidst working on this endless romper pattern I am fiddling with other things.  Block printing some linen to use for one of said rompers, for instance, and making a Kindle cover based on this nice tutorial at Charm Stitch.

I added a flap closure rather than just a button-and-loop, so fluff wouldn’t get into the Kindle cozy thinger.  And I got to use some of my Spoonflower Pomegranate fabric, though it’s the older version of it – I’ve updated that design to be brighter.

Block Printing Fabric
Clouds printed on grey linen, and houses of ennui

Eventually I hope to put up some information on block printing on fabric – I’ve had a frustrating time of things with it and I’ve felt a bit let down by many of the tutorials out there that don’t cover what kinds of ink to use or what kinds of problems one might run into (of which there are many, it turns out.)  I think I’ve finally solved some ofthose problems, so when I get two minutes to rub together I’ll try to post something about it.

Kindle Cover
Kindle Cover/Cozy based on the Charm Stitch tutorial

The Charm Stitch tutorial was great.  I adapted it for different measurements, and I cut one piece of lining and one piece of the main fabric about two inches longer and curved the corners.  From there it’s more or less the same – sewing the pockets on, sewing the two pouches each together, then sewing all along the opening – pivoting to sew up around the flap – with right sides together, leaving the opening to turn.  Turn, press, topstitch; buttonhole, button.  The usual.  It came out nicely, I think.


The Knit Fabric Primer

Knit Fabric Primer at


So many people are apparently frightened of sewing with knits.  So much so that many, many fantastic bloggers have posted tons of information and tutorials on the subject.  That said, I never spotted anything that I felt really laid out the relevant specifics of the knit fabrics I see online.  There’s some good information out there, certainly, like this Threads magazine overview, but – and maybe this is because I work mainly with kid’s clothing? – it never quite hit the sweet spot for me.

And one quick thing before we move on to the show: one of the trickiest things about knits is that, yes, the fabric will pucker when you hem it.  There is an easy answer to this problem: a hot iron.  Hit your hems with a hot steamy iron right after you sew them and your puckers will all but disappear.

(Some people advise a walking foot.  I have one and I don’t like it, but that’s just me.)


Jersey is the most ubiquitous of the common knits, and you can usually get the broadest range of patterns in jersey.  I like jersey fine, but I find it to be incredibly difficult to gauge how heavy or light the fabric will be when buying online since most shops don’t bother to state.  I’ve gotten jersey so light it was transparent and far too light to be anything even my baby would wear, but I’ve also gotten quite robust, heavier weight jersey that I am happy to make t-shirts and rompers out of.

So: if you don’t know exactly what you’re getting – I’d say either don’t bother or ask the shop owner about the fabric. is pretty good about stating the weight of their fabrics, but I find their “lightweight” is often not as light as other places.  You can also always request/order samples/swatches, of course, but I’m usually not that patient.

Jersey fabric has a right and wrong side, and it curls – some more, some less, but all of it curls some – at the edge.  The curliest can be quite tricky.

I’ve also found that some jersey with spandex will pill up badly.  These days I try to stick with 100% cotton or, if necessary, a very small amount of polyester or lycra.

Jersey Pros:

  • Ubiquitous: easy to find in most fabric shops in a wide variety of patterns, colors, price ranges, and fiber content
  • Definitely the knit with the most available cute kid patterns in this country
  • Comes in various weights for several purposes

Jersey Cons:

  • Often very curly at the cut edge
  • Difficult to hem nicely
  • Can be hard to pinpoint weight online

Jersey Uses:

  • T-shirts
  • Dresses
  • Skirts (depends on the pattern and the wearer and the weight of the jersey, though)
  • Babywear, especially if lined, particularly pre-mobile babies
  • Linings of knit garments (this is very common in Ottobre magazine, for example.)


As far as I can tell – answers vary a little bit – interlock is, essentially, two pieces of rib (I’ve also heard jersey) fabric knitted together such that it is heavier than a standard jersey and has two right sides. This Threads article says:

“Description: Compound fabric made by “inter-knitting,” or interlocking, two simple ribbed fabrics, each made with single yarn. Has fine ribs running lengthwise. Fabric’s face and reverse look same, making it reversible.”

Interlock is, by a fair margin, my favorite fabric to sew with for my boys.  It’s heavy enough for a solid t-shirt or long-sleeve shirt, it can be used to bind sleeves, cuffs, necklines, etc., and it can be used for baby pants, rompers, hats, etc.

There are tons of fantastic prints on interlock…in Europe.  Here in the U.S. we can either pay through the nose for those fabrics or make do with what we’ve got, which is mainly solids, some stripes, and Michael Miller prints.  I do like many of the MM prints but be forewarned: they shrink a lot. Prewashing is a must with Michael Miller fabrics (well, I pre-wash everything now, having been burned one too many times, but I’ve seen MM interlock lose up to 10% or so!)

Interlock Pros:

  • Great hand, strength, and drape
  • Far less stretch than jersey (can be a con too)
  • Many uses
  • Does not curl!
  • One of the easiest knits to sew

Interlock Cons:

  • Difficult to find affordable good prints in the US
  • Shrinks a lot

Interlock Uses:

  • T-shirts – long and short-sleeve, either gender
  • Light use pants or shorts (it’s not really a bottomweight but I’ve done it) – for adult women it probably wouldn’t be a problem, but it’s not the best choice for, say, an active boy’s pants.
  • Dresses & Skirts
  • Babywear of all kinds – rompers, hats, pants, shirts…
  • Light pullovers
  • Binding (I use interlock for binding regularly)
  • As a heavier lining for a warm garment


Rib knit is another favorite of mine.  It’s great for t-shirts, especially with a slim fit – in my opinion often better than jersey.  It does have a right and wrong side, and it has a lot of stretch horizontally.  It’s lighter than interlock, but it can still be used for a great binding.  I’ve done summer rompers in rib knit successfully, though I think it would be a little light for fall or winter wear. I buy more rib than I buy jersey, because I find its weight to be much more consistent.

One of the trickiest things about rib knit is how many variations it comes in.  1×1, 2×1, poor boy, baby rib, microrib…etc.  1×1 is a very narrow rib, though not as narrow as baby or micro.  2×1 rib you’ll often see on the neckline binding of t-shirts for women and children – I personally prefer 1×1 for binding but I have some 2×1 as well. 2×1 is incredibly stretchy.  Poor boy is too light for anything other than lady t-shirts & dresses, in my opinion. Baby rib and microrib are both great for baby wear and shirts. (It is possible that my mystery fabric described below is actually “baby rib,” but I have no confirmation of that.)  There is also some heavy duty ribbing often referred to specifically as cuff ribbing, or sweatshirt cuffing, or something similar, which is very heavy and not what you’d be sewing garments out of.

You will see hem puckers on a rib knit.  See above about the hot iron.  You can also try the walking foot, as mentioned, or a twin needle, which I use sometimes but usually I’m too lazy.  I have a serger so I serge everything I can, but that doesn’t help on a hemline.  Someday I’ll get that coverhem machine, but until then, the hot iron it is.

Rib Knit Pros:

  • Can be very form-fitting if desired
  • Soft hand, nice drape (in between jersey and interlock, often)
  • Many uses, great for binding
  • Does not curl
  • Fair number of cute prints at good prices on rib

Rib Knit Cons:

  • Very stretchy – can be tricky to sew
  • Several variations of rib knit/ribbing available and can be confusing

Rib Knit Uses:

  • Binding – rib knit is the best and easiest-to-use knit binding
  • Leggings
  • T-shirts
  • Dresses & Skirts
  • Baby tops, light rompers, hats
  • As a (very stretchy) lining for a warm garment

French Terry

French terry is super for bottoms.  I keep only buying one or two yards at a time and then bemoaning myself when I run out.  It makes great shorts and pants for big and little kids, and I’ve made rompers and long-sleeve shirts from it as well.  Not nearly as stretchy as other knits, and fairly heavy, it’s sturdy and an easy knit to start out with if you are nervous.  You could do a great french terry pullover, too.

French terry has a smooth front and a looped back, which is sometimes brushed for softness. I’ve been seeing more prints and stripes in french terry, too.  It’s also usually very reasonable – one can easily find 100% cotton french terry for around $5/yard.

It makes lousy waistbands, though, if you’re doing an attached waistband, since it doesn’t stretch enough.  Found that out the hard way.  Not a good binding choice, either, but it takes interlock or rib binding just fine.

French Terry Pros:

  • Not especially stretchy
  • Very strong/tough
  • Affordable
  • Fairly easy to sew

French Terry Cons:

  • Edge will curl
  • Not a lot of variations out there – mainly solids – though people do seem to be starting to make more of this fabric

French Terry Uses:

  • Pants and Shorts
  • Heavy shirts/pullovers
  • Heavier skirts/winter dresses
  • Baby pants & shorts
  • Hoodies

Stretch Terry

I like stretch terry for cheap shorts, pullovers, and beach coverups.  It’s looped on the front side (as opposed to French terry, which is looped on the back, and is a little like a soft, thin, stretchy towel.

It also makes an enormous mess when you cut it.  Not tons of this fabric around, but every once in a while I find a cute cut and it’s always a cheap fabric.

Stretch Terry Pros:

  • Fairly tough
  • Very affordable
  • Good for beach/pool stuff

Stretch Terry Cons:

  • Makes a huge mess
  • Edge will curl
  • Tends to look “homemade” and not in the good way

Stretch Terry Uses:

  • Pants and Shorts
  • Beach cover-ups
  • Baby pants & shorts


Velour is growing on me, especially for long-sleeve shirts and baby wear.  It tends to be very soft, so my kids like it.  Definitely on the warm side, and with a fuzzy nap. It has the bonus of looking a little bit like velvet, so you can use it for something more formal without having to use velvet.

Not a ton of stretch and hard to find in 100% cotton, but I like it for winter wear, and it’s fairly reasonable in price ($8/yard or so.)  Easy for a new-to-knits person to sew, for the most part, and Ottobre has many velour-oriented patterns.

Velour Pros:

  • Somewhat tough
  • Fairly affordable
  • Warm and soft

Velour Cons:

  • Edge will curl
  • Not many prints/patterns/variations

Velour Uses:

  • Loungewear/track suits
  • Rompers/coveralls
  • Pullovers & hoodies

Sweatshirt Fleece

Sweatshirt fleece is probably fairly familiar to you already – it’s what sweatshirts are made of (surprise!) It tends to be smooth on one side and have a looped back that is often brushed or fleecy but not always.  Lots of name-brand activewear pants and shorts are made from sweatshirt fleece or French terry.

It’s good stuff for exactly what it’s for!

Sweatshirt Fleece Pros:

  • Super tough
  • Often quite affordable
  • Very warm, often very soft

Sweatshirt Fleece Cons:

  • Edge will curl
  • Not many prints/patterns/variations
  • Very heavy (not really a con per se)

Sweatshirt Fleece Uses:

  • …..Sweatshirts.
  • Pullovers & hoodies
  • Pants and shorts

Mystery Fabric

There is a magical mystery knit fabric that I can’t figure out the name of, but that I adore.  I’ve seen it called interlock and I’ve seen it called rib – especially baby rib – and maybe even other stuff too.  The fabric is…fuzzier, a bit, and the knit seems to be very, very marginally looser than that of a more standard interlock or rib.  It feels much more “knitted” and cozy than what one usually gets.  I sure wish I knew exactly how to call it because I would then be better able to buy it.

Ixat has some, and I’ve gotten it other places as well.  It’s the absolute best for baby pants.  This grey stripe, the blue and oatmeal stripe here,and this navy stripe at Banberry Place are all the kind of fabric I mean, and I have some of each of them.

See Also

Here are some links to other sites with good knits info:

Kitschy Coo: “Know Your Knits. Or My Knits. Either. Both.

Threads Magazine: Samplings of Weft Knit and Warp Knit Fabrics

Made By Rae has a whole Knits category with tons of info

Tutorial: Turn & Topstitch an Easy Vented (Split) Hem

How To Sew a Simple Vented Hem


While working on the pattern for this romper, I looked online for various vented hem or split hem tutorials.  I found a couple, but I was surprised that there were not more.  There are several ways to create a vented hem, including using a hem facing, a kind of funnel-hem dealie (hard to explain) or leaving tabs hanging off at the vent to fold in.  I personally find this to be simpler while still creating a very finished look. Continue reading Tutorial: Turn & Topstitch an Easy Vented (Split) Hem

The baby actually wearing the Irish linen romper

The baby in his romper
The baby in his romper

Got the baby into the Irish linen romper today, and it fits really pretty well for a baby romper in a woven.  It looks super-stylish even with the edits I’ll make, so I’m very happy about that. Continue reading The baby actually wearing the Irish linen romper

Irish Linen Romper (now with gusset)

I’ve gotten the knit version of this romper pattern pretty well nailed, I think, and I’ve been working on a woven version now. I know everybody thinks knits are scary and hard and wovens are so much easier, but man, stretch really can do wonders for you, especially on fat babies with funny shapes and enormous bottoms (and thighs.)

Continue reading Irish Linen Romper (now with gusset)

Romper / Jon-jon / Shortalls

This is a pattern I’ve been working on for a bit, in a couple of variations.  This is the nearly-final 12m version – it needs a little more length in the body and I want to make a gusseted version, but otherwise I’m happy with the proportions.

I love the fabric.  It’s not a typical rib knit – it’s a little heavier and softer, and…knittier-feeling, for lack of a better term.  I wish I knew the technical term for it, but even if I did I don’t think I’d be able to find it more easily since I’ve never seen any seller refer to it as anything unusual.  One person calls it interlock while another says rib knit and as far as I can tell it’s kind of neither, but who knows?  Anyway, I’ve been able to find at least three stripes in this kind of fabric and I use them like mad.

It took me a few tries to figure out all the construction details.  Binding the neckline was no good, or at least not for me, with those narrow tabs.  It looked awful and bulky.  Perhaps a more experienced sewer could manage it, but while I still put the bound version on him, I cross my eyes at the binding every time.  Finally I settled on facing the top down to about two or three inches under the armpit, and interfacing just at the closure spots – interfacing the whole facing was a mistake on a small knit like this.

Eventually I’ll post the pattern here and more progress pictures.  It’s just marker on drawing paper, and I’d have to figure out how to scan it, but if anyone wants it I’ll put it on up.