While attending Sewing Summit, I had the opportunity to attend a class by Miranda Anderson of the One Little Minute blog who taught us how to draft our own leggings. I learned enormously about knits about during these two hours but first and foremost I learned that drafting results in a great fit. I have made so many garment that looked good but fit horribly that I had all but given up on the idea. That will change I think, as I would like to draft a T-shirt next and some more flattering pajama pants. What is certain is that many more pairs of leggings will come out of this drafted pattern but I will never ever subject my legs and bum to such close photographic scrutiny, absolutely horrible! still here they are as they appear un-retouched ( mostly because I don't have the skills!):
During the Summit Weekend I set camp at the back of the Bernina 700 series class room (in part to help attendants exchange presser feet) and familiarized myself with the top of the line Bernina 780. It was a revelation. The machine is so advanced you could call it a sewing computer but really what did it for me is the dual feed. When using foot 4D a little "finger" pulls the top fabric for you as the feed dog pulls/advances it from bellow. A lot like a walking foot but much more streamlined.
After selecting the light knit fabric from the menu and setting stretch stitch #3 (Miranda also recommends #10, which is very durable), I sewed directly on the edge, without a seam allowance. I was blown away by the quality of the stitch, the dual feed eliminated the lettuce edge that often occurs when sewing knits on a sewing machine. The seam is flat and regular, completely clean.
At the crotch and waistband I used stitch #10, which is similar to a serger overlock stitch for more strength, and a simple zigzag at the bottom to hem the legs turned under 1/2" once as per Miranda's instructions. She also made sure that we didn't stretch the leg around the arm but rather sewed it from the inside as it came (slowly). This also eliminate the potential for a lettuce edge.
Miranda gave us the option to skip the elastic in favor of a yoga fold top. Because I have large scars on my abdomen I went for it and think I might retrofit quite a few wool tights with that non binding option. It is really comfortable and easier than the elastic to sew on surprisingly!
Now it's time to try reproducing these results with the Bernina 580, I wonder if using a walking foot would be a practical option with knit?