8 months, 2 days to make the simplest sweater ever

First off, woo hoo to finishing a knitting project! Knitting is by definition not instant gratification, but this project ended up taking too long. So thank heavens it’s done.

Wispydone

This is the Wispy Cardigan from Knitbot Essentials. In a stunning burst of creativity, I made it out of the exact same yarn, Quince & Co. Finch, in the exact same colorway, Glacier, as shown in the book. I really stretched myself here. The color is just a little paler than I would normally choose, but I like it.

Wispyback
Wow, look at those wrinkles!

This project was not especially difficult other than getting bored with the endless amounts of stockinette stitch,  and I love that the directions were very clear. I’m a novice at knitting, so having a pattern tell me to definitely pick up two out of every three stitches is very helpful. Projects that tell me to just pick up X number of stitches usually end up looking bad because I suck at distributing those stitches properly and evenly over the area supposed to be used. What I find frustrating about that is I’ve looked at reference books, Ravelry, and such and still have no better of an idea what a pattern designer means than when I started. So I appreciate a pattern being unequivocal on the matter.

Alas, now time to put my sewist hat on. This pattern consists of a tube surrounded by ribbing for the arms and collar with a bottom draped section. Cool if your arms/upper back are a straight cylinder, but mine aren’t and neither are anyone else’s. If you look at the back right below my neck you can see where the excess fabric stands away from the body. This is exacerbated by the fact I made a medium for a 38″ bust (my measurement). It’s too big.

Wispyside

I washed it upon finishing, and I think I stretched the wool both in the sink and getting it to the towel for removing the excess water. It’s bigger now that it was coming off the needles. I don’t know if wool stays stretched out or if the next time it gets washed it will spring back. Guess that’s for Future Me to worry about. What I do know is it was too big to start with and is worse now. It wants to slouch off the shoulder and the ribbing no longer hugs. Looking at the picture in the book, it seems that the ribbing is supposed to be that way, but I liked it better when it snugged the top up a bit around the front of my arms. Live and learn and all of that.

The yarn was lovely to work with so I’ll definitely use it again, especially as it’s American made and dyed, which my local yarn shop doesn’t offer me. The fact that it’s not superwash initially concerned me, but something like this isn’t getting washed every time I wear it and I have enough hand wash cashmere sweaters now that it is less of a big deal to do a whole bunch of hand wash at the same time. Not everything needs to go in the washing machine, right?

The best part of finishing this project? Now I get to pick out something else to finish eight to nine months from now. I got three different summer-y yarns at the LYS earlier this month and now I’m just trying to find the right pattern for one of them. This will be my first foray into cotton yarns, exciting!

Summeryarns
Look at all the pretty blues! (l-r) Berroco Linsey, Berroco Modern Cotton, Knit One Crochet Too Cozette

Changing patterns scares me

Confession time here. I don’t ever change patterns beyond fitting. Ever. End of story. My idea of wild and crazy pattern changes is messing with sleeve length. Some people use a tried and true (TNT) pattern as a base and just add details, change silhouettes, never buy new patterns, etc. Yeah, not this girl ::pointing thumbs at self::

I love new patterns. I get enough challenge trying to make the pattern fit me while still matching the tech drawing on the envelope. Beyond that, I have little interest in messing around with patterns. Naturally, I’m sort of having to do that. Not exactly big changes here, but still…

NewLookTops
Can I make View C on the right look just like View C on the left?

Last week I saw New Look 6892 reviewed at Patternreview.com and I knew I needed to have this style top in my life. I do not have this pattern in stash nor anything even remotely like it. My friend mentioned she had a similar one and offered it to me, saving me a trip to Hancock/Jo-Ann, hence the OOP New Look 6809 ending up in my hands. Are there a huge number of changes, no, not really. However, I realized something about myself as prepping this for cutting. I don’t want to figure out how to change a pattern for however many infinite iterations of garments that can be made from one pattern. I respect people who do this, but I’m never going to be that person.

And really, these are basically the same pattern, except I’m trying to make the one I have look exactly like the one I don’t. Good idea? I don’t know, but I won’t know until I try.

Stepping out of my comfort zone

For warm weather, I have two modes of outfits, dresses or t-shirts with skirts or shorts. I prefer wearing dresses because I find them cooler. T-shirts have been driving me crazy for a year since I realized that I seem to sweat more when wearing them and half of them are too clingy and the other half too long for my torso making me look a bit dumpy. So the quest to find a lighter weight breezy top suitable for hot summer days began.

6604envelopepose

I found McCall’s 6604 in my pattern stash and couldn’t remember why I bought it. However, the recommended fabrics are madras, interlock, georgette and cotton lawn and it’s a pullover top that’s like a t-shirt. Well, I guess if you make in interlock, it would be; but for this I pulled out a piece of cotton lawn that I’ve been struggling to find a use for. So score one for using a fabric that’s been aging in stash since Thanksgiving 2011, and I had enough of it that if this were a total bust, I could try something different with the same fabric.

First, I had to fix the fit. The size 14 measurements were going to be fine for the waist and hips, but the bust was not quite right. Besides, I really need a 10 in the shoulders to have this not fall off my shoulders. For the back I cut a 10 and did a pivot and slide with an extra inch on the side seams. Feeling good so far, I noticed that the sleeve piece had a bicep measurement. I have never bothered adjusting a sleeve for width before, but this sleeve had less than an inch of ease and I was worried about it being too uncomfortable. So I used pivot and slide for another half-inch. Can you tell I’m having fun with my latest and greatest pattern adjusting method? However, the front, that’s where I got tripped up. With no dart, there was no easy way to adjust for the inch FBA I needed, and so I traced off the pattern piece and started hacking it apart. One thing I wanted to do was preserve the lack of darts in the front, so I rotated them into the neck pleats.

6604patternpiece
Look at how hacked up this piece ended up. Did it work out? You be the judge.

I’ve tried doing this same process before and not had it work so I felt like I was going out on a limb despite Fit for Real People assuring me otherwise. Laying out material, I was unhappy to realize that the print was off-grain. Ugh, I hate when that happens. There is a pretty obvious horizontal pattern and it was drifting lower to the right. I cut the back piece before seeing just how much so, but oh well. I cut the front and sleeves to the fabric pattern and not the grainline. I hope I don’t regret that after washing it.

Construction was easy, though I’m not 100% satisfied with the bias neck finish. First, the piece is totally missing the notches to align it with the front piece. The sleeve piece had all of the size 10 lines mislabeled as “11” so finding missing notches on the neckpiece upset me as if this pattern wasn’t edited at all. I’m not one to rag on the pattern companies as I think they generally do a good job given the number of patterns they generate each year, but this one not so much. And really, can a pattern fit the same for both a woven and a knit? This pattern has four inches of ease through the bust, which in a knit would not give a fitted top. Anyways, enough about that, I was also unhappy with the neckline because it seemed too long and I didn’t do as much stretching to fit it to the body of the top as I thought I should. It steamed into place well enough and I went with a stitch in the ditch for sewing it down as opposed to slipstitching on the interior. Well, it would be in the ditch except my needle is a bit left of the rudder in the foot, so I’m going to have to figure out how to fix that. I don’t do a great job on my own with a zigzag foot, and I love using machine feet to get a better finish and right now, this particular foot is working against my goals. What did go well was the rolled hems for the top. I started with the 6mm foot, but the fabric didn’t have enough heft and was stretching out into a thinner hem, so I tried the 4mm foot instead and got perfect hems.

6604wrinkly

A couple of concluding thoughts, this fabric wrinkles just looking at it; I took this photo within ten minutes of pressing it. I wanted casual, but the look is more rumpled than I would have liked. I didn’t petite it above the bust like I normally would and I think the fit suffers a bit. There’s no binding with those horizontal wrinkles, and the neckline wants to stand away from my body, so I’m reading it as there is too much fabric below the shoulder.  I wore it out for dinner on a humid evening and it was very comfortable, so I think I achieved my aim for a woven pullover top, but I won’t be revisiting this particular pattern.

6604 outtake
Good heavens, the envelope poses are goofy and impossible to copy. I almost fell over and still got the pose wrong.

New sundress!

Finally, I have conquered Vogue 8997. I started my first muslin on this dress a month ago, and I only finished it today. For an uncomplicated pattern, I took way too long to get this done.

8997done

I used a polyester/cotton broadcloth that Jo-Ann advertised as Easy Wash and Care, so we’ll see if that’s the case. It’s not the nicest feeling fabric that I have ever used, but it pressed pretty well and seems less inclined to wrinkle than some of the 100% cotton fabrics at the same price point.

This is one of the multiple cup size patterns, which does a full bust adjustment for you. Unfortunately for me, I’m so used to using the extra width from the Palmer/Pletsch slash and spread method to fit the waist, that when I used the D piece and then cut from a 10 at the bottom of the armhole to a 14 at the waist seam, it didn’t work out quite right and I was stuck for what to do. My seam lines weren’t matching up and it just seemed like I was not adjusting it properly. I ended up using Nancy Zieman’s pivot and slide to add width at the side seams and to raise the bottom of the armhole by a quarter-inch. Also, I adjusted for a narrow shoulder by bringing both sides in by a quarter-inch. I took out a half-inch in the bodice length for the rest of my adjustments. The second muslin revealed that I needed to remove a bit of fullness right at the bust point, though I only adjusted the side pattern piece. The final dress has some wrinkling at that same spot and I think I should have lowered the bust point as it is a touch too high in the dress as compared to me.

8997patternadjustment
Note the added height under the arm and the line for removing fullness. I think I should have used the C cup piece instead.

Construction was straight-forward, though my avoidance of any bulls-eye effect on my chest led to an unfortunate match up of the print at the center front bodice seam. Just to compound it, I did the same thing again with the upper back pieces. The entire bodice is interfaced and to prevent stretching along the neckline, I used stay tape both front and back. It worked out very well and I’m happy with how the neckline rests on my body with no gaping.

8997back

I used the 6mm rolled hemmer foot and the dress hits right at my knees for view B, and I’m only 5’2″. I am curious as to where the hemline is supposed to be, given that Vogue is drafted for someone four inches taller than me. Also, the foot makes a nicer hem than I can do with my multi-pass version as done on my last skirt. Too bad I don’t think I can get any wider of a width to work with for bulkier fabrics.

8997skirtshape

I ended up omitting the skirt lining at the last moment once I decided my fabric was opaque enough. The bodice lining is slipstitched to the seam allowance at the waist. I even felt ambitious with this and added a hook and eye at the top of the zipper. Normally I skip those, and this one is as such a height that I have some difficulty reaching it myself, but the neckline at the zipper top looks so much better than it did without that I don’t mind this time. This dress took so long to finish that what was another hour of hand sewing, right? I’m so relieved to have this project done, though I’m thinking of making some knit tops to cleanse the palette.

8997front
I feel like I’m wearing summer.

The sewing backlog gets shorter

My backlog is getting shorter, thankfully, thanks in part to clearing out a skirt I started on in January. Or was it February? No matter, it’s wool, and not terribly seasonably appropriate, but at least it’s done.

BS12011skirtdone

This is BurdaStyle 1-2011-114, a flared, gored skirt per the magazine. I had bought two yards of a dark taupe-y wool crepe and decided to make something that worked with the drapey-ness of the fabric. The picture on the model shows an upper calf length skirt, so it looked like a perfect match. Well, that model is an Amazon, folks, because the unaltered pieces on me were just grazing the top of my ankles. After taking six inches off, I think I should have taken off more. This is not a length that I have ever worn as I like my skirts right around knee-length. But hey, stepping out of one’s comfort zone can be good, and I don’t think I want to re-hem, so I’ll get over it.

BS12011skirtfront

When I picked out the pattern, I didn’t initially notice that it calls for finishing the waist with petersham ribbon, which I do not have; so I decided to cut a straight waistband piece. I did not start with my desired finished waistband size, so I think I went with a piece 2.5 inches by 40 inches with the intent to deal with it later. I cut the skirt panels out in a size 44, which ended up being a bit too big, so I took it in by an inch in total from the side skirt panels. There was no side seam as the sides are each made from three side pieces, but it worked out well enough.

BS12011skirtwaistbandinfo

I interfaced half of the waistband only because I didn’t think to make it as wide as the cut fabric. Then referring to my Reader’s Digest Sewing Guide, I decided to go with an underlap to the waistband as opposed to the overlap I was initially considering. I love the picture above with the tons of fasteners as I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than one row of fasteners used.  Looking at the back waist, I think I’ll add a small snap to stabilize the underlap, which looks to be wandering already.

BS12011skirtback

The hook and eye are the no sew, add to the waistband before closing it up variety as I’ve never been happy with the ones that are sewn on after the fact. I can never find these at Jo-Ann despite the fasteners being Dritz brand, but Hancock carries them, and I consider them well worth the hassle.

BS12011skirtwaistbandinterior
What’s sewing without having to raid the toolbox for a set of needle nose pliers?

BS12011skirthookandeye

I made a rolled hem using a technique that I read about years ago, I think in Threads, which is my go-to for fabrics too robust for the 6mm rolled hemmer foot. First I baste a line a quarter-inch from the edge, use that basting line as a roll line and baste close to the fold. Finally, I switch to my quarter-inch foot and from the right side of the garment roll the fabric under one more time and stitch at a quarter-inch. The raw edge ends up encased and with turn of cloth, I used my 5/8″ hem allowance. It’s a bit of a thread hog but I like it. I finished off the whole project by slip-stitching the waistband shut. Hand sewing, you say? But I hate hand sewing! I know, I know, but the stitches disappeared marvelously in the fabric, and I was tired of hunching over the sewing machine by that point. I’m sort of proud for making me do something I don’t like to do.

BS12011skirtslipstitching

Lastly, I am learning how hard taking your own picture can be, let alone on a routine basis. I have always felt awkward in front of the camera, and while it’s just me and the tripod these days, I still struggle with posing and not feeling silly. So I deliberately took ridiculous shots and was surprised with how much I ended up liking them.

BS12011skirtfinished
Woo hoo! I can balance on one foot!

BS12011skirtouttake
Jumping in heels is hard, dammit!