Sewing Clothes,  Uncategorized

Knit Challenge: Charley Harper Knit Syrah Skirt and Layer Me Up Tank

Phew, I finished my Fabricworm Knit Challenge in time.  It was a great chance to tackle the terrifying beast that is knit fabric.

I was so happy to have the opportunity to play with this beautiful fabric! I experimented with two patterns. First up: the skirt!

Charley Harper Barn Swallows Knit Fabric
I covered my first two rounds with the Syrah Skirt pattern here. It’s a great basic skirt pattern and it can be used as a maxi skirt or a shorter version. I looked at about a million patterns before choosing it, but it’s probably going to become a serious percentage of my summer wardrobe.

I was sure I was going to do a wrap dress – I have been wanting a summer dress I can also nurse in. However the week the fabric came it was about 98 degrees – at least that’s what my car said when I was stuck in traffic with a broken air conditioner – and this fabric seemed too heavy for a summer dress. I decided to make a “just below the knee” or maybe a “shin skimmer” skirt using the Syrah pattern.

There was less hemming (get it!) and hawing over the fabric for the challenge – I love this Charley Harper print and chose it in a second. The pattern called for 2.5 yards, but I didn’t actually need all of it – I had some leftover fabric I was able to cobble into a tank top.

Syrah Skirt

For the length on this one I measured the length of my favorite Eddie Bauer hiking skirt – I love hiking in skirts – and added that length to the knee length version of the Syrah Skirt.

This knit is so pretty and soft. It is a much heavier weight than the previous knits I’ve used, and I worried it would be too hot – but it wasn’t! I wore it hiking over ten miles in 90+ degree heat and it was fine. It was a bit thick to sew. The waistband of this skirt has a lot of layers going on, and the thick fabric made my serger skip some stitches. At least, I think that’s what was causing it. I tightened my serger foot down a lot and that helped some.

I have now washed this skirt three times (plus pre-washing) and it is holding up great! I think the weight was really easy to work with too – a perfect fabric for someone new to knits.

Syrah Skirt

I think I might shorten the hem an inch or two. This length is super practical for hiking and mowing the lawn and crawling around on the ground after a baby and still keeping some modesty, but it’s a little awkward looking.  The hiking boots and baby carrier really suit it, no?

Syrah Skirt

Ok, fast forward a few days, and here it is hemmed up an inch shorter. I used a double needle to hem it, which was the first time I ever used one, and I keep thinking how metal it was – like a double bass pedal, but stitchier. Though, actually, it kind of puckered in the hem, which I’m not as happy with.

Charley Harper Barn Swallows Knit Fabric

Ugh, this post has so many awkward pictures of me. I’m being brave here, though, so I’m just going to force myself to add a few more. Time for the tank top! I used the Patterns for Pirates Layer Me Up Tank Top – this is a great design that looks awesome on all of her testers – who are all different sizes – so I felt confident with it. Since it has options from tank to long sleeve it seemed like a great value.

Instead of using a muslin, I made a practice tank by hacking up a horrible failed dress I made last summer. Confident I had the right size, I took my extra knit and got to cutting.

Charley Harper Barn Swallows Knit Fabric

I could have probably squeezed a slightly shorter tank front and back from the Charley Harper knit, but I decided not to push it. I’m tall and like long shirts. I like this with the front panel in black and the back in the print. Also please note my hand-tooled leather belt with my name in it! I missed that belt so much when I was pregnant! As a side story, I kept my name when I got married, and whenever people ask me why, I always say it’s because I didn’t want to get a new belt.

Charley Harper Barn Swallows Knit Fabric

The way this pattern is put together, you could actually do a top panel in one fabric and the bottom part different. I would like to do another one with lace for the top bit of the back, maybe?

Charley Harper Barn Swallows Knit Fabric


The expression on my face here is hilarious. I’m probably thinking about how tricky I found finishing the neckline and the armholes of this tank top. The neckline isn’t too stretchy or puckery, but I’m still struggling to get a finish that’s not wonky.

Overall, I had a lot of fun and I think I’ve developed a new sewing obsession! I haven’t sewed garments since I was in high school (I made my prom dress) but I think it’s time to start again. And how cute is it that I can use the scraps leftover to make matching clothes for my baby?!?! As a quilter, using every last scrap definitely appeals to me. I might just have enough of this knit to make something for her…if she’s good.

Update: Of course she was good! Here she is in her matching Tank Dress. Read all about it here:



  • Beth

    hi! Wow, you did really well on your challenge. I haven’t tried to sew garments yet but I might try that skirt someday. I really love how it fits – not too bunchy and not too slender. I’m also way impressed with the tank top. The back matching the skirt is awesome. And, of course, Miss Goody Too Cute for Words modeled her tank dress elegantly, making Charley Harper THE go to knit of the season!

  • Dana

    Thank you! I put off sewing with knits for so long but they really are forgiving – a great place to start as long as you have a good stretch stitch. I think the independent pdf designers are also easier to start with since they add in extra details

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