I for one am never at a shortage for little scraps of knit fabrics. I have a special bin in my sewing room specifically dedicated to bizarre chunks of knits leftover from other projects. I'm constantly going to that bin, looking for knits that I can combine together in unusual ways. My favorite projects are the ones where I can mix prints.
One of my favorite online fabric stores recently closed, but before they did, I picked up this fun peach thermal cotton knit with brown ponies. There was limited yardage, but I really wanted to make a pair of pajamas out of this fabric. So I went looking in my knit scraps bin to see if there was anything that I could pair. What I came up with was a lovely cotton spandex stripe and some lavender ITY (interlock twist yarn knit fabric). My plan was to add the print mixing element on the sleeves. I also had a lavender french terry almost the same color as the ITY that I decided to use for the leggings in combination with the ITY and the peach ponies.
Mixed Print Lane Raglan
The Lane Raglan is a great raglan tee. Raglans are so easy to adapt for print and color blocking, and the pattern itself suggests the option of using a lace overlay for the front and back. There are sleeve and hem bands on this pattern, with an option to add a hood instead of the binding and sporty thumb holes in the sleeve bands. The hood and the thumbholes make this the perfect top for a good run on breezy days. I initially shortened the sleeves by 1 5/8" to make them a little more reasonable on my short arms, but if I were making the thumbhole variation, I would have kept the length. I also love that this pattern includes 1/4" seam allowances. I know a lot of people prefer wider seam allowances, but I love 1/4" seam allowances on knit patterns because they allow you to serge the entire project without having to cut off the excess seam allowance with the blade.
To prepare your sleeve for pattern mixing, you'll need:
- Washable marker or extra paper and tape
- Draw two lines on the sleeve pattern like this**:**This was how my first sleeve pattern looked, but I realized that when I went to sew the sleeves together, the blocks of the printed fabric cannot match at the sleeve seam because they are different widths on each side of the sleeve. This is not a critical error, but if you prefer to have sleeves that can be matched at the sleeve seam, you might want to draw your lines more like this:Here's the first sleeve's underarm seam next to the second one. Choose your own adventure!
- Next, draw two hash marks along each line. These will be notches to help you match the pieces as you sew them together.
- Cut apart the pattern along the lines and add 1/4" seam allowances, adding extra paper and tape as needed. If you prefer to add seam allowances on the fabric, simply add a plus sign on each cut edge to remind yourself. When you lay out your fabric, draw on the extra 1/4" seam allowance with a ruler and the washable marker.
- Write "top" at the top edge of the middle pattern piece. Also decide how you want to order your prints and label each piece accordingly. For me that meant adding the labels "stripe," pony", "ITY" on my pieces.
- When you cut your fabrics, make a tiny clip into the fabric at the notches.
When you create the seams on a pattern mixed sleeve, it's perfectly fine to match the notches and serge away, but the bulk of the seam can rub against your skin in an irritating fashion. If you are making this Lane Raglan as any kind of activewear, where your physical motion will aggravate that seam rubbing even more, it might be a better idea to employ a flatlocked stitch. To flatlock your seams on your serger:
- Take out your right needle and corresponding thread.
- Turn the needle tension dial down to zero and the lower looper as high as it will go, or at least higher than normal. Leave your upper looper tension untouched.
- Place your fabric WRONG sides together and serge each seam.
- When you've finished each seam, pull on it slightly to flatten the stitch. You will see a series of ladders on the right side of the fabric, and the regular bulky serged seam on the wrong side will lie flat. You can help flatten the seam more with a good shot of steam from your iron.
- If you do not have a serger, simply overlap your pieces by 1/4" and zigzag across both pieces. This won't be as strong as a serged seam, but it will lie 100% flat.
- That's it! Proceed as usual with the directions for the top.
As for my leggings, I used a Burdastyle pattern I've used many many times before (Burdastyle 1-2011-130). It has no side seams, so it sews up lightning fast. I followed the same process as I did for cutting apart the sleeve pattern above, but along these lines:Because the french terry has a looped and a smooth side, and I was already mixing textures and prints, I used the smooth side for the front and the looped side for the back of the leggings. I cut the bottom ITY portion on the fold to make cuffs for the each leg. I also added extra ease of 1/2" along the inseams since french terry and the pony fabric don't have as much stretch as the spandex the pattern was intended for.
Overall, I'm loving these cozy pajamas, and looking forward to lounging around in them when our weather starts to turn cooler.
Before I go, here are some ideas for adding pattern mixing to your next project:
Pattern Mixing tips
When you go to think about mixing prints, here's a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Scale: Think about the scale of your prints. Stripes will mix with most prints, but a really large stripe might look silly with a tiny floral pattern. But also, a similar print in two different scales can be a great combination.
- Style: Try to pick prints with styles that harmonize with one another. A bold mid-century style geometric might look strange with a highly ornamental damask print but perfect with a polka dot.
- Color: It's great if one of your prints picks up the colors in your other choices. On this project, my striped fabric has similar peaches and browns to the pony fabric as well as a tiny stripe of lavender close to the color of the ITY. Keeping your prints in the same color family, or choosing prints that are similar in different color ways (think pink polka dot on white paired with a pink polka dot on black) are also good choices for mixing colors.
- Add some solid color: As fun as it is to mix a whole variety of prints, some solid color can go a long way in bringing the whole picture together. Solids need not be boring either. Think about texture as another element in your solids (like in the french terry).
Whatever you do, have fun when you approach a pattern mixing project. Rules are meant to be broken, and as long as you like the fabrics that you're combining, and they seem to go together, you'll be happy with your project.
We'd love to see what you make with this tutorial. Show us your Lane Raglan or any pattern you've mixed fabrics using this tutorial. Tag us on Instagram to share @UpCraftClub. #laneraglan #mixpatterns