Sewing with Bamboo {Happy Birthday, Julia!}

One of my most recent projects was making a shirt to give to my sister for her birthday. I had no idea what to get her, so I thought making something might be a good option. I also decided that if I was going to make her a shirt or dress, it would probably be best if it was made in a knit fabric. This would ensure that even if her measurements were off a little bit, the fabric would be stretchy enough to be forgiving.

With these ideas in mind, I went to find the perfect fabric for the job. While browsing a local fabric store, I discovered a beautiful indigo polkadot bamboo knit in the bargain bin! “What a find!” I thought to myself. Between the colour, the print, and the environmentally-friendly fibre, it seemed perfect. Little did I realize then what a struggle this fabric would turn out to be, but I’ll get to that later.

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I decided to use the Vogue Pattern 8880 – View C. I really like the v-neck and the peplum detail. One of the fantastic aspects of this pattern is how the sleeves are attached. Typically, sleeves have to be fitted into the armhole and this can be incredibly challenging, especially on unstable fabrics. However, on this pattern, the sleeves and the bodice pieces are combined, so all you have to do is sew a straight seam up under the armpits! So easy, and so fast!

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Now, back to the fabric. Bamboo is a fantastic eco alternative to traditional knit fabrics, but it is very lightweight, and it doesn’t like to stay still. This can prove to be especially challenging when tracing pattern pieces, cutting them out, and sewing them together (so, it is basically challenging throughout the entire process). I was far too naive in assuming that this knit would be comparable to other heavier knits I have used in the past, because it most definitely was not.

Working with this fabric was very frustrating at times, and it required a lot of pins and patience. I also had to use a stabilizer (‘Steam-A-Seam’) to keep the hem from moving when I started sewing. For the record, I tried to sew the hem without the stabilizer THREE times. Yeah, three. Not a good time. Save yourself the heartache and your seam-ripper the workout, and just buy some stabilizer.

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I also learned that bamboo does not like to be ironed! I found this out the hard way by scorching a few fabric pieces (*sigh*). Be sure to use a pressing cloth when ironing/pressing this fabric to protect it!

Long story short, bamboo fabric is not for the faint of heart, or for sewers who are new to knits. If you are a newbie, definitely start with a heavier knit fabric because it is less likely to have a mind of its own. However, bamboo does have its perks, as it is super soft, and you can feel good about using it because it is eco-friendly!

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In the end, my sister loved the top, and I can officially say that I have survived my first project with bamboo! Not too shabby. 😉

Happy Birthday, Julia!

J

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