I have always loved the classic combination of black and white. When this timeless duo is paired with a contemporary abstract print, it creates a striking look that never goes out of style. Syreeta has taken this classic pairing to the next level by creating a beautiful two-piece ensemble using the Black/White Graphic Rayon Jersey Knit from the Opposites Attract Collection. This fashion-forward design is not only eye-catching but also a versatile addition to her wardrobe for years to come! I decided to do a Q & A with Syreeta about her new make. If you have any additional questions about the fabric or the process, leave them in the comment section below and we’ll be sure to answer.
Have you ever sewn with MauPatterns before?
I haven’t! I happened upon MauPatterns while searching Etsy. I liked the style, it had positive reviews, and I felt it was worth a shot!
As a designer, how did you decide this type of knit would work best for the pattern?
A 4-way stretch with at least 50% crosswise stretch was a must due to the bodycon fit. This would allow movement in the skirt, especially walking & sitting, because you’ll notice the style doesn’t have a slit so the length and taper would be impossible without enough stretch. This is also important for the top as it allows me to have a slim fitting sleeve without fear of damaging the shirt when moving and achieve a nice tight-fitting turtleneck. The turtleneck needs to be able to stretch over the head but recover to fit nicely around the neck. And I love turtlenecks (part of what drew me to the pattern!) but really dislike baggy ones. Jersey knit comes in a variety of fibers and can have different weights. I focused on a weight I could layer (or unlayer) for fall because this weather has been CRAZY!
Is this fabric easy to sew for a beginner?
I would say it’s relatively easy due to its forgiving fit nature. It doesn’t require immense tailoring. However, it’s important to construct the knit properly and understand how sewing stretch and knit fabrics are different from non-stretch.
Did you prewash the fabric?
I didn’t 😅 but you can and should if it’s difficult for you to anticipate how fibers will behave over time or if you prefer to not have the anxiety. I try to remain honest in these blogs and I’m honestly notorious for not prewashing except for some client work with natural textiles or I’m noticing a dye transfer issue. With my own stuff, I can be more passive. However, I have wisdom and a lot of experience with rayon/viscose, etc. I always wash it in cold water and very rarely tumble dry it. Fabric care is also important to prevent shrinkage, fading, fabric depreciation, etc.
What were the inspirations and modifications to the original pattern?
I loved most of this pattern as is! Modifications were minimal. For the top, I removed the thumb hole because it gave an athletic feel I preferred not to have. These are pieces I plan to restyle both separately and together and I want the opportunity to dress them up or down. I did keep the extra long sleeve length because I loved that… just stitched right through where the hole would be.
I also lengthened the top slightly so instead of a super crop, it hits more at the natural waist. I liked the idea of the top and skirt touching to appear more like one piece with a cutout. Additionally, I wear a lot of high-rise bottoms (similar to the skirt) and wanted the top to transition into my wardrobe as a piece I can pair with bottoms with a minimal gap.
Changes I made to the skirt included hemming shorter. I wanted an ankle play moment vs. awkward maxi.
Also, adding a lining (I really do not like unlined bottoms, especially on thinner fabrics). For this, I simply cut the front and back patterns out of the lining and trimmed that layer an additional inch or so at the hem so it doesn’t peek out.
Lastly, the front cinch was achieved with elastic in the pattern instructions. I stitched and edited it a couple times but it never maintained the more dramatic shaped waistline I imagined. So I ditched it in the end for a piece of twill tape. This kept the cinch nice and tight to give the V dip shape I liked!
How did you decide on the amount of ease for this pattern?
I didn’t have to adjust for ease since this pattern was created for a stretch knit. The garment ease was noted upfront on the pattern.
What adjustments did you make to the pattern to get such a great fit?
I didn’t tailor anything besides the skirt hem! I didn’t have to take in or let out. However, I use size charts strategically. I did want this to be more fitted than loose so I chose the size that corresponded with my waist. It was pretty much the exact measurement. I knew this was about 1 size down for bust and hip but I didn’t mind a little snugness there. If this was a non-stretch or more than 1 size off, I would have fit using the fuller points and sized down the smaller points.
What kind of needle and stitch length did you use?
A stretch is essential! They have a more rounded point, a shorter eye, and a special coating that helps the needle glide between the fabric threads rather than pierce them. It minimizes skipped stitches and prevents weird tension and tangling issues. I sew on a slightly smaller stitch length (around 2) so the stitches are closer together for a stronger seam that needs to keep up with the fabric’s elasticity.
What is an important construction tip you used when sewing with this knit fabric?
Change your needle but also swap your thread! I sew a lot of stretch projects with bulky nylon (or wooly nylon) in my bobbin. This type of thread offers more elasticity and pairs well with stretchy fabrics. It will prevent your seams from popping when they’re stretched (especially around the neck edge and hem.) Be aware that you may have to adjust your tension to keep things balanced.
Another tip is stretching your seams a tiny bit as you feed it under the needle. But be careful not to warp your fabric or stitch line. You have to keep this consistent throughout the seam. If you use this tip, a smaller stitch length is particularly important so there’s no gapping.
I also like to press hem allowances prior to stitching so I’m confident everything is even.
When working with elastic, having a zig-zag stitch is good. (My main Juki is technically a quilter so it only performs a straight stitch. Admittedly, I was too lazy to pull out a second machine to apply 5″ of elastic so it may have affected that application. However, I ended up scrapping that elastic altogether.)
Do follow any written instructions for interfacing and use the proper weight of knit interfacing. It will make a difference!
Lastly, use a serger or overlock if you have one!
I didn’t have any obstacles other than swapping out the elastic on the skirt. This sewed up pretty smoothly!