Ballard Sewalong: Part 1
Have you checked out The Ballard by Straight Stitch Designs? It's Indiesew's newest exclusive pattern and it has totally rocked our socks off. This knit 3/4 sleeve top is casual in the front, and a total party in the back with a peek-a-boo design. With cuffed sleeves, a banded waist and a knit bound neckline, the Ballard is the perfect wearable top for fall. In fact, I've already made two!
We love this sewing pattern so much that we're bringing you a four part Ballard sewalong to lead you through each and every step of sewing this top. If you've never sewn with knits before, this pattern is a great place to start, especially since you'll be able to follow along and ask questions! Today, I'm talking a bit about fabric selection and prepping your Ballard for sewing.
Fabric SelectionThe Ballard sewing pattern is designed for mid-weight knits with a great drape. Kimberly advises using the following:
- Cotton Lycra: a super stretchy, often lightweight knit
- Ponte de Roma: a medium to heavyweight knit with moderate stretch (for reference, my version of the My Dress is sewn in Ponte de Roma)
- French Terry: a medium weight knit with a low pile on the wrong side
- Sweater Knit: a usually lightweight knit with a very loose weave
Both of my Ballard tops were sewn in the sweater knits you see below. The turquoise sweater knit on the left is a very lightweight knit, with a soft and smooth texture and a ton of stretch. The greyish green sweater knit you see on the right is considerably more heavyweight, has larger loops and a much looser weave.
If you’re brand new to sewing with knits I recommend starting with French Terry or Ponte de Roma. The raw edges of both of these fabrics roll only minimally or not at all. If you’re ready to venture into a bit more complex fabric, Cotton Lycra and Sweater Knits should be your next step. I will admit that as a seasoned sewist, even I had a bit of trouble with the thick sweater knit I used in this tutorial.
Be sure that whatever fabric you choose has at least 10% strech for this pattern. I recommend even more stretch for brand new sewists, and especially someone who has never sewn a knit-bound neckline or sleeve cuffs.
Okay, we’ve had the fabric discussion, now let’s get into the fun stuff!
Pattern Printing, Taping, and TracingKimberly, the mastermind behind Straight Stitch Designs, has formatted this pattern so that is super easy to print, tile and cut out. She gives you the option to print only your size, so you don't have to constantly check which dotted line you should be cutting or tracing. To enable this feature, simple unclick the eye symbol next to every size you don’t wish to print. Make sure to keep the “Draw Here” and “Tiling” layers visible.
Proceed in printing out and cutting or tracing your pattern like you normally would. If you’ve never used a digital sewing pattern, we suggest you read our How to Use a Digital Sewing Pattern blog post. For this pattern, the pattern pieces are contained in pages 8 through 30 of the PDF file, if you wish to print only those pages.
Cutting Out Your Pattern PiecesBecause you’ll be sewing with moderately stretchy fabric, you’ll want to take extra care when cutting out your fabric pieces. With knits, it’s important to make sure that none of your fabric is hanging over the edge of your cutting surface when cutting out your pattern pieces. Fabric hanging over the edge can stretch the fabric lying on your table under your pattern piece, and thus make the pattern pieces your cutting out misshapen, and much smaller than necessary. To avoid this, I simply roll up the opposite side and bottom of my fabric so that’s all lying on top of my cutting table. If you’re working with a ton of fabric, you might consider cutting it into a smaller piece to make this process easier.
Use a rotary cutter and ruler, if you have one, to cut along the straight lines of this pattern for all pattern pieces. If you don't have a rotary cutter, a pair of fabric scissors will work just fine.
And use your fabric scissors to cut along the curved portions for all pattern pieces.
When complete, you should have used all of the pattern pieces to cut the following:
- One front pieces, cut on the fold
- Two back pieces, cut mirror image
- Two sleeves, both cut on the fold
- Two sleeve cuff bands
- One neckband
- Two shirt bands
Marking Your Pattern PiecesThe Ballard only has one place in which you’ll need to make a marking with your tailor’s chalk or fabric marker. Mark the circle located on the neckline of the front piece by snipping a small x into the circle on the pattern piece only (not the fabric!), like so:
And then mark the circle with a small x with your tailor’s chalk on the right side of the fabric.
Next, place your pattern piece on the opposite side of your shirt front (but on the same side of the fabric) and mark that spot a second time. Your pattern piece will be positioned upside down to do this.
That’s it! You’re ready to start sewing your Ballard. On Friday, October 24th we’ll show you how to start getting getting your Ballard ready for assembly. By Halloween your Ballard will be finished and ready for cool autumn weather!
Please feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments of this blog post! If you want to receive more content like this, straight to your email box, make sure you sign up below.
Ready to move on?
Ballard Sewalong Part II: Front and Back Bodice
Ballard Sewalong Part III: Shoulders, Armscyes, and Side Seams
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