One of my favorite things about the Morgana Zip-Up/Cover-Up is that the block I used to draft it is meant for minimal stretch fabrics. That means it is perfect for using Cloud Cuddle©: the newest double-sided minky from Shannon Fabrics. Below I’ll give you some tips for sewing a Morgana with this super lush fabric.
The Morgana Zip-Up/Cover-Up pattern has sizes newborn through 16 years and six different views. All six views work using Cloud Cuddle©, but my favorite might be view d which you can see in the above pic. The soft, gathered layers billow out like a cloud when she twirls which is fun because Kitty is firmly in the twirl all day every day phase of being four years old.
The ruffled tiers of views A, B, D, and E may seem intimidating when using a thicker fabric like the Cloud Cuddle©, but using the right tools and following a few tips will make it a breeze. First you’ll want to be sure to use a walking foot, 100% polyester thread, and a 90/14 stretch needle which is true of sewing with any type of Shannon Fabrics Cuddle©. Even these three things alone will help to prevent any skipped stitches and allow the fabric to glide right through your machine.
More specifically when it comes to the gathering, I have found that basting THREE lines of stitching which are then pulled at the same time creates the most consistent and even gathers and makes the act of gathering so much easier, even with a thicker fabric.
I did a quick gathering demonstration using one line of basting stitches, two lines, and three lines, which you can see in the pic above. The first line is about 1/8″ away from the edge, the second is about 1/4″ away from the edge, and the third line of basting stitches is 1/2″ away from the edge.
For this demo I used red thread in bobbin so it would stand out in the pictures, but I find it also helps to remind you which thread to pull for the gathers, since it’s always better (and easier) to pull the bobbin threads. Since the Morgana Zip-Up has a seam allowance of 3/8″, the example with the three lines of basting threads has the third line outside the seam allowance, which is actually super helpful. This extra row of stitching helps to hold the gathers in place when stitching the seam and keeps them from wanting to push out, flatten, or move to the sides as the fabric is pulled through the sewing machine. The 3/8″ seamline lands right between rows two and three, which means the basted stitches are not stitched across by the final stitches, so all of the basting rows are easy to remove by simply continuing to pull the bobbin threads once the seam has been properly sewn.
You can see in the pic above where the samples are numbered according to the number of basting lines how number three has side edges that naturally want to sit at the perpendicular, vs the other two samples with vary degrees of angled edges. The third line really does help keep everything in control.
Once sewn together, all of the samples look fine, but the one with the third line of basting definitely stands out with more even and tidy gathers. I find that more than just the end result matters to me though. The ease of pulling the three threads and having it gather so smoothly and without any twisting is what really draws me to this method. That extra line of stitching takes more time initially, but especially when gathering long rows or using thicker fabric like this cloud cuddle©, it’s worth it to eliminate frustration down the line.
Another area that can be trickier with a Cuddle© fabric is when sewing the optional pockets for views A, B, or C. The pockets are designed to have the center front edge and the bottom edge sewn right into the seam allowances, so only the top, side, and curved edges need to be finished. The original “finish” means there are several layers of fabric that converge at the seamlines. Using a pressing cloth with a low heat steam setting on your iron can definitely help keep the seam flat and make it easier to sew through those layers, but with the double sided Cloud Cuddle© I like to use just one layer for the pockets, especially because it’s almost a shame to cover up the wrong side when it is so cozy on your hands.
Above is a demo of four pocket options. Number 1 is the original option from the pattern. At the lower left corner of number 1 there are three layers of fabric. Numbers 2-4 have only two layers at the corners which can be a significant reduction in bulk.
I’ll skip to style 2 since the first pocket option can be found in the pattern itself. For this option use only one layer of the pocket pattern, with the top, curved, and small side edges trimmed of the 3/8″ seam allowance (1.) We’ll take advantage of the fact that Cloud Cuddle© like all of Shannon Fabrics’ Cuddle© fabrics is a knit fabric that does fray from its raw edge. Once the initial bit of fluff or “dust” comes off the edge, there’s no additional mess and the edges can be left raw without unraveling (2.) Simply use a small zigzag or a lightning bolt stretch stitch to stitch across the top and side edge to secure the pattern piece in place (3.) The curved seam is left unstitched (4) and the rest of the pattern instructions can be followed as is, just with one less layer of fabric in the pocket areas.
Style 3 is a little more involved, but does produce a more “finished” look. Using a binding to cover the raw edges is a nice way to add an additional pop of color as well. First select a fabric for binding. I chose another Cuddle© fabric because it’s so easy to use as a binding (1.) Don’t look too closely at this example as I was rushing through and the binding edges aren’t as perfect as they’d be if I were making an actual article of clothing, hehe. Simply trim the 3/8″ seam allowance from the top, curved, and small side edges and bind those three same edges, using your favorite binding method (2.) Place the pocket with the bound edges where it goes (3) and stitch in place using a narrow zigzag or lightning bolt stretch stitch (4.) This pocket option has a small area in each of the seam edges where there are multiple layers (where the binding edges meet the seam), but most of those seam edges are only two layers thick at the pocket, so this is another good choice (5.)
The final option that I tried for this demonstration also used only one pocket layer (1), but instead of trimming the seam allowance, I used an iron on the low (wool) setting with a pressing cloth and steam to fold the seam allowance to the wrong side (2.) Then I unfolded the top and side edges and topstitched just the curved seam (3.) Using the memory folds from pressing, I refolded the top and side seam allowances over and stitch the pocket in place (4.) This ends with a nicely finished pocket edge (5) and the lower pocket corner again has only two layers of fabric (6.)
Whether you’re looking for perfect gathers or want to eliminate a layer from the pocket seams, these tips will lead you in the right direction. I’ll also be over on Shannon Fabrics’ Sew Together Tuesday live show on August 15th to talk through some other Cloud Cuddle© tips for sewing the Morgana Zip-Up/Cover-Up (psst there’s a coupon code over there.) The live event is recorded so you can follow that link to watch the video anytime after the initial recording.