Hi friends of Britex! Sophie here from Ada Spragg, with a brand-spankin' new outfit made from this glorious Chinese dragon & Lotus scuba knit from Britex. You might have seen this scuba fabric trend making an appearance lately, perhaps even considered buying into it yourself? Well, don't buy...DIY! If, like me, you are scuba-curious, I'm here to shed some light on this somewhat mysterious fabric & hopefully inspire you into sewing action. In short, Scuba fabric is a knit (stretch) fabric and not unlike wetsuit material, it comes in many different weights and thickness. As you would expect, it has a body and fullness to it, which lends itself to fun experiments with voluminous silhouettes---think peplums and circle skirts! For the skirt, I decided Vogue 9031 (version A/C) would make the perfect canvas for this pretty printed scuba with its snug fit through the hips and giant flounces around the sides. For the top, I started with Simplicity 1366, aka, the perfect boxy crop pattern, which I made a couple of mods to, including the addition of a chunky statement exposed zipper (tutorial below). Okay, so like this revival of two-piece matching sets we're seeing, maybe scuba fabric is destined to become one of those trends we all look back and wince at but for now Scuba is HERE... and here and here and here!
I wasn't sure what to expect sewing with scuba but it was an absolute dream to work with. Similar to sewing ponte knit, scuba is wonderfully stable and meaty. Yes, I did just say meaty! Sometimes it can be refreshing to sew with something you can afford to man-handle a little. The cutting, well, the cutting took close to 3 hours but no fault of the scuba's, just an epic feat of pattern matching. Instead of cutting the pieces out with the fabric doubled over, right sides together, I cut the entire top and skirt out with the fabric laid out flat. For the pieces on the fold, this meant cutting around one side, flipping the pattern piece over and scanning every little part of the print to make sure it matched the half of the piece before cutting. The skirt is made up of intersecting pieces and panels, 12 to be exact (hard to see in this print) and the top has 5 pattern pieces...hence the three hours.
Still, despite the labour, it was worth it in the end, and thankfully, the sewing time took half the cutting time. All because scuba LOVES the serger! Even though I knew it was possible, I've not been tempted to sew knits purely on the serger until now. Being pressed for time, more than anything, I decided to give it a go for the top and it serged up like the dreamboat fabric it is and in less than half an hour. Now if that's not incentive to try your hand at some scuba then I'll just casually slip it in that you actually don't have to finish seams / hem it at all! In fact, this skirt pattern, while not specifically designed for scuba, calls for the hem to be left raw. Otherwise, if you do want a more finished look on your hems, you can use a twin needle or coverstitch, which I decided to do for the top, but only for aesthetics...scuba is a fray-free zone.
The nice thing about scuba, is it can go either way. You can make a statement piece or something a little more tame, depending on the kind of print you go for (this one is wild!) and what you do with it. Since this outfit clearly falls into the dramatic category, I figured it was only right to add some statement zippers in the back. For the skirt, I followed this tutorial, which explains how to insert an exposed zipper when it runs along the seam. However, for the top, because I was literally just placing a zipper in the middle of no-where I had to play around a bit to figure it out and came up with this easy how-to (tutorial below).
EXPOSED ZIPPER TUTORIAL (for scuba knit)
1// Find and mark the centre back then place zipper on top with the edge of the fabric lined up with the start of the zipper pull. Normally with zipper insertion, you begin with the zipper sitting below the line of fabric but for this particular top, the neckline is already finished so we will be tucking that zipper tape in with a neat little trick at the end!
2// On the fabric, place a pin (slightly camouflaged here...spot the red pin head) at a point immediately above the zipper stop.
3// Lift off the zipper but leave in the pin. This marks the end of our cutting point.
4// Cut through until you reach said pin. Don't be shy!
5// At the end of the cut, carefully make two diagonal snips. Start off small, between 1/8" and 1/4", as the length of the snip determines how much of the zipper tape is visible on either side of the zipper coil at the end. The further you cut, the more zipper tape will be exposed.
6// Place a pin across the base between the ends of the two cuts you've just made. With right side of zipper flipped over and facing the fabric, place on top with the zipper stop just above the pin.
7// Holding zipper in place, carefully remove pin and re-insert through the end of zipper tape, catching fabric underneath.
8// Using a zipper foot, stitch across the end of the zipper tape, immediately below zipper stop. I'm using orange thread in this example! Basically we are securing the zipper to the fabric, with a line of stitching that goes between the two diagonal cuts.
9// Flip the zipper the right way up.
10// These next few steps take a bit of manoeuvring but all we are doing is taking hold of the far edge of the zipper...
11// Turning it over towards you....
12// So that it lines up with the raw edge of the fabric, on the side closest to you.
13// Pin it in place.
14// Sew down the length of the zipper to meet the stitching at the base of the zipper stop. You may want to start with the zipper pull half way down (see step 13) as this allows you to sew to a point, lift the foot, move the zipper pull out the way and continue to the end.
15// Repeat for the other side of zipper. You may need to sew half way down, move the zipper pull out of the way and continue on your merry way.
16// This is the view from the back before stitching.
17 // After stitching, your zipper should hopefully look like this from the back...
18// And this from the front! Now to sort that zipper tape out.
19// Open out zipper. Take hold of extra zipper tape.
20// Fold it over to the inside.
21 // Fold zipper back around, sandwiching the zipper tape.
22// Pin in place.
23// Hand-stitch top of zipper to neckline. Repeat for other side. Optional: to further secure the zipper tape in place, stitch in the ditch across the tape (from the right side).
24// And there you have an exposed zipper! Now sit back and admire your handiwork.