Friday, March 13, 2015

Knitted Six-Point Tee - A Not-So-Spring Sweater

This was a super easy and very well-written knit pattern by Cathy Carron. I read from another reviewer on Ravelry that it only took her three days to complete the project. I'm a slow knitter, so it took me closer to two weeks. This was also my first top-down knit sweater. Surprisingly, I didn't make any mistakes! I was attracted to this pattern because I'm going through a Raglan sleeve phase. I also thought this design had a bit of Asian flare.

If you are interested in the pattern, you can get it HERE on Ravelry. I used the exact same yarn that the author recommended. It's a bulky cotton Rowan Yarn which might be discontinued now. I ordered my supply from an online store in the UK called Deramones. I don't know if I can wear this in a California Spring. The weight of the sweater felt suffocating. Even though I really love the design, I dislike wearing the yarn. I might make it again using wool.

I considered making a matching skirt, but gave up the idea because the only style I felt would work was some sort of ballerina-esque, gathered full skirt in light cotton. Wouldn't that look just fabulous? Except for one thing...I look horrible in gathered, pleated, or dirndl skirts. They all make me look 20 pounds heavier. So for now, it's going to sit indefinitely on my sweater shelf. Sigh.

Here are photos of the sweater in Interweave's Knit Wear, where the original pattern was published. The little eyelets on my sweater were smaller. I think my tension ended up tighter even though I tested the gauge beforehand. Don't you think the sample sweater looks much lighter?

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rowe's Tunic Dress - StyleArc

Northern California weather is erratic. We can switch between wearing flip flops and fleece-lined shoes in the same week. The only thing we don't wear these days are rain boots. This teeter tottering of temperature (ranging from freezing to 75 degrees fahrenheit) has allowed me to sew garments covering three seasons: late Winter, Spring, and early Summer.

This new dress is another StyleArc number. I didn't bother with a muslin (tricky I know), especially since the last pant pattern came out a couple sizes too small. It's not really the fault of the pattern or designer. It was my choice to not use the recommended stretch fabrics and thus lose all the ease. I'll report on those pants a little later.

So here's the pattern... It doesn't look like a lot of ease, and my fabric of choice doesn't have a lot of stretch... But I am darn set on using it.

Now look at my dress... It came out pretty close to the pattern style, and this is after I added quite a bit of ease to the dress (see bottom pictures for pattern adjustments).

I used a combination of four types of fabric: a lovely fleece meshed lace...yes, you heard me correctly. Let me repeat: fleece meshed with lace! It is freaking gorgeous. There's some stretch, but not nearly as much as a jersey. For the sleeve and neck and arm trim, I used a silver-speckled stretch cotton I picked up at Gorgeous Fabrics. The other fabric can't be seen until I turn the dress around to the back.

No...this is not the front, although, in a pinch, I guess it could's the back with a silk organza backed ivory lace insert (another Gorgeous Fabrics find). The back image is a little wonky... Here's a close-up.

When a pattern says it wants a stretch fabric it means using a semi-woven isn't going to work...elementary. I knew this going into the project, but trying to figure out the exact ease is a bit tricky. All I can say is measure, measure, measure! Treating this fleece like a woven was best, but it's really bulky.  I decided two inches for bulk, and then another three inches in the front piece for my tummy. I know it sounds like a lot, but we're converting a fit for jersey into a thick woven fabric here.

Here's how I modified the pattern... I added side ease, and then the front panel.

Creating ease in the front might have turned it into an A-line...I was a bit worried about that. I took the lazy route and decided against making any drastic style changed to the neck line or side seams by slashing up to the very edge of the neckline, but not cutting it through. This is a common slash and spread method for creating A-line styles. But I didn't do it to the back, since my weight sits in the front. I knew the bulkiness of the fabric was going to hide any issues. Perhaps this was not the best design choice, and adding more to the side seams would have been best...but I still wanted a semi-fitted look.

If anyone else decides to make a change to side seams, make sure you "true" any changes by matching the sides against each other.
See here...

Stack the two paper pattern pieces together as if you were going to pin them for sewing, and match the edges. This is how you true patterns. This a pretty vital step that I have forgotten to do in the past when I'm altering patterns. I have started "trueing" all my patterns these days, whether I make changes or not. I have found that errors abound and it's better to know beforehand that piece A is not matched up to piece B. I recently had this happen with a collar. It's a painful realization.

For once I had a lot of fabric choices for this pattern. I don't condone buying fabric unnecessarily...I mean, just buying on a whim without a project in mind. It can be a waste of money...but I know we ALL do it right? As embarrassed as I am as of late of my stash size, I love going into it and finding gems to create something unique. Sigh...

Happy sewing!

Monday, March 9, 2015

My $200 Sweatshirt

You're probably wondering why this simple velour top costs $200. You see...when I finished sewing the main pieces, I decided I wanted some bias binding for the neck, and I was too impatient to make my own using the same fabric, especially since it curled like no one's business. This meant I would need to use fusible interfacing to control the curl before I could measure and create the binding. It was entirely too much work for a little neckline. Soooo....long story short, I set out to order some binding online. In case you're wondering, I have not been able to find a source for velour or velvet binding in the US.

After a couple of Google searches, McCulloch and Wallis, a fabric store from the UK popped up. They were having a blowout sale on trim because they're moving shop, and I went a little nuts when I realized the sale binding was about 25 cents a meter. Six Kilos later, I forgot how much shipping could run after the exchange rate. I think the shipping was actually more than the cost of the binding. Shush...don't tell my husband. I could have NOT ordered it, but they didn't quote my shipping cost at checkout. So I was clueless. (Yoda voice), emailed they did...two days later. Shocked by the cost was I.

The irony of course is that the binding was not even a close match. But it's passable I guess.
I know...after looking at all this money spent, I could have gone out and bought all kinds of fabric to make this binding. Well...yes and no. Yes...yes...yes...I could have. But in reality, probably wouldn't have unless I was under some major sewing pressure. It's not my favorite project. I rather cut corners here than in the actual sewing. So what did I get for all that money (mostly the cost of shipping)? Here's my smorgasbord of trim...satins, linens, cottons, velvets, velour, polyester, organza, and other stuff mixed in for good measure... There are several hundred meters of delectable trim here.
A mixture of bias binding, zippers, and lacy elastics (for future knickers project).
Pretty binding from China...not silk, but it's okay. 
Close-up of my grab-bag binding. 
Oh...I almost forgot. I used a McCall's Pattern for the sweatshirt, which was really a t-shirt with narrow sleeves, and fairly fitted. Of course I butchered the pattern, because I wanted shorter true raglan sleeves, and a looser fit. See the pattern...

Even though my rendition looks nothing like it...I made the model's version E, sans the cuff and neck trim. 
Onto other stuff...

You know that bit that Ellen Degeneres does on her show about Epic or Fail home videos? Today I'm showing two sewing room gadgets...



My bobbins always run matter how much time I spend winding up the threads back and popping them into the bobbin box, nothing helps. This little bobbin gadget solves two problems...matching my thread and keeping these little guys intact. I bought them from Sewing Machine Plus Online when I picked up some extra feet for my new Juki F600. They are very reasonably priced. You can also get a pack of 18 for $7.95 from Amazon on Prime (free shipping if you're a Prime member). See them HERE.



This is the Sidewinder...another bobbin-related gadget. The spring broke off after one use. I repaired it, and then it snapped off at record speed across the room. It's hard to believe the whole machine's usability is based on a wire the size of a paper clip. This piece of plastic costs $30 at Joann's. I got it cheaper with a coupon, and lost the receipt so I couldn't return it. I could have gotten four spools of thread for what I wasted on this. Someone recommend me one that works...please! Don't write me and say..."I have a SideWinder and it works great." That will just make me hate this one more. Maybe it was produced on a Friday or a Monday...whatever day, it was junk.

Happy sewing!