Friday, October 25, 2013

Baby's First Pattern Hack

I finally sewed something that's not a quilt!  (There's been a lot of quilt-sewing going on around here lately - I've already started a new one.)

A couple months ago I was reorganizing my fabric stash, and came across a lovely floral knit I'd completely forgotten about!  I bought it in spring during a sale, but it's really more appropriate for fall so I set it aside.  After I found it, I spent some time thinking about what it should become, and I finally settled on a scoop-neck tee with medium-full sleeves gathered at the wrist. 

So out came the Renfrew, and I gave the sleeve the ol' slash and spread.  And I took pictures along the way in case you'd like to try it too.

After tracing my sleeve pattern, I drew some lines parallel to the grain line, about 1.5" apart.

I also drew in the seam allowance on the sleeve head.

Then I cut up all the lines except the center one, almost up to the seam allowance line.  It looks like an octopus, doesn't it?!  There are 7 strips though, so I guess it's a heptopus . . .

I cut in from the outer edge almost to the seam allowance line, to create a little hinge at the top of each strip.

I order to get everything lined up nicely, I decided to tape my original pattern to my mat, and then tape the slashed pattern on top of that.  Then I decided how wide I wanted my sleeve to be at the wrist.  I didn't want it to be too full; the original sleeve measures about 10" across at the wrist.  I went for 19", just under twice the width.  I measured out from the center to get that width, then lined up my outer strips and taped them down.  Then I distributed the rest of the strips as evenly as possible.

Once I had everything positioned the way I liked it, I traced over the whole thing again.  I felt that was easier and quicker than taping pieces of paper into the spaces.

Here are my two sleeve patterns:  hacked sleeve on the left, original sleeve on the right.  It was a very easy piece to draft, but I'm still super proud of myself for doing it because usually I'm too lazy to do this sort of thing!

Then I went about constructing the top in the normal way.  Once I had the shoulder seams sewn and the sleeves attached, it was time to gather the bottoms.  I thought of getting out my sewing machine, but then decided to try out gathering on the serger.  It's one of those things I knew you could do on a serger, but had never actually done.  And it's really easy!

I did a few samples with different settings on the differential.  I started out with the dial all the way up, and then worked my way down, notch by notch.  It was interesting to see the samples get incrementally less gathered.

What I didn't do though is to measure my beginning and ending width, so I didn't know the percentage of gathering on any of the pieces!  I decided to gather my sleeves like the middle piece, but once I'd done it I felt it was still too wide, so I went back over it with the setting turned up as high as it goes. 

And then I continued with construction as usual.  For this look, I wanted a narrower wrist binding, so I cut the pattern piece in half. 

And here's the whole top:

I think it's really pretty.  I love this fuller sleeve.  The only thing I wish were different is the wrist binding:  my fabric doesn't have a lot of stretch, so the binding doesn't hug the wrist as much as I'd hoped.  Next time I will probably add in a little elastic there.  But still, I'm very happy with this make!

I had a terrible time getting a good picture to show the puff of the sleeve while wearing it.  Here are three mediocre snaps, because it's all I have time for!

Trust me, it's blousy :-)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Beginning of the End

Ooooooh!  Dramatic!

Really it just means that I've begun to finish my quilt ;-)

My backing fabric came lickety-split, and yesterday I washed it up and made my quilt sandwich.  I was just able to cover the back of my top with a single, 2-yard cut of 54" wide voile.  I won't have the normal 1" - 2" extra buffer around the edges, so I'm going to have to be super careful with my quilting.  To that end, I pinned the heck out of that sandwich!

And then I did my first little foray into hand quilting.  It's really not that hard.  Maybe a little straining on the hand holding the needle, but manageable.

I decided to go all the way around each feather, about 1/4" from the edge, and then down the middle of each vane.  (Yes, I googled "parts of a feather" to find the correct word.  Once a Montessorian, always a Montessorian!  We're obsessed with nomenclature!)  I used a piece of dried bar soap to mark the line down the vane to keep things nice and neat, but the outline is freehand.


You can kind of see the dimples down the center of the rachis (ha!) where I tested out how I liked stitching on that.  I didn't, so I took it out.

My quilting thread matches the saffron color of the backing.  My plan is to do all the outlining of the feathers first, and then go back and do some quilting on the background in ivory.

It looks pretty cool from the back too:

The hand quilting isn't as slow or tedious as I'd thought it would be, but this certainly isn't going to be quick.  And that's OK with me.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Weak Afternoon Sun

We're heading out to our local jazz club to catch a matinee, and I'm wearing my newly finished Honey Kara.  I thought to have Hubby take a few pictures at the concert, then realized it would be too dark in the club to get anything worthwhile.  So back to the Grey Wall, and the weak afternoon sun.  I actually quite like the shadows it produced on the wall.

I dreamed about making this sweater all summer long.  I'd wanted to make it last fall and never got to it, so it was top of my list this fall.  The pattern was a gift from the lovely Jo, after we'd completed our Miette Knitalong.  Thanks, Jo!

I really enjoyed knitting this pattern.  The lace is a short, easily memorized repeat - enough to add some interest without being too "thinky."  This is the sweater I was blocking in my steam blocking videos, and one of the things I loved about the pattern is that all the shaping is based on pattern repeats:  e.g. work 7 repeats of the back, then 6 repeats for the sleeves, then another 7 for the fronts.  So aside from keeping track of the lace pattern, you don't have to count rows.

I was the teensiest bit disappointed in the fit once I tried it on.  I made the second size, for a 34" bust.  I knew it wouldn't close at the front even over my 33" bust, but I wasn't expecting it to be so close to the shoulder.  The sleeves are also very close-fitting, so for me, I can only wear this one over something sleeveless like the grey dress I've got on today.  So if you make this one, depending on what kind of fit you like, consider going up a size.

The yarn is Quince & Co. Chickadee in Honey.  This is my first time using this yarn, and it won't be the last.  It's a delight to work with - soft and springy.  It's definitely got a "wool" feel, but I have pretty sensitive skin and don't mind wearing it on my bare arms.  I had literally knit only a few rows of this sweater after I cast on, and then went to my computer to search Ravelry for other patterns that use it!

this photo shows the true color - at least on my screen

I used mattress stitch to close up the seams.  For some reason, I let the sweater sit for a week after finishing the knitting and blocking and before seaming.  Silly me!

A couple more pix before I run off:

The whole outfit:  Ponte dress from Land's End about 5 years ago, Swarovski necklace and earrings, boots from Born, also old.  

Heading out the door!  See ya!

Me and my Shadow :-)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Comfy Cozy

Remember my Feather Bed Quilt?

I worked on it here and there over the summer, a feather at a time.  Last week I started looking at it again, thinking, "I really should get back to that."  And since the last few days were cold and rainy here, all I wanted to do was things that make me feel warm and cozy:  knitting and quilting.

I had half the feathers done, and decided that things would go faster if, rather than doing each feather individually, I did the remaining feathers assembly-line style:

So Wednesday evening, I attached all the B pieces to the A pieces.  Yesterday morning I was back at it.  It didn't take me long to sew the A/B units to the C piece (the stem), so I went ahead with D.

And once I had D on, I felt like I might as well go ahead and attach E.  And since that didn't take long either, I went ahead with piece F - which finishes out the block!

Well, of course, having all my feathers put together, there was no way I could resist arranging them on the floor to see what my finished top would look like:

And once they were down there in an arrangement I liked, I figured I might as well just go ahead and sew them together so I didn't have to worry about keeping them in that order.  So, although I didn't mean to do it, I spent ALL day yesterday working on it, and finished the top!  Here it is with the first few rays of sunshine this morning:

When I started this project, I planned to make the twin size from the pattern, which requires 38 feathers.  But each feather is surprisingly large, and I realized that 38 feathers would produce a much larger quilt than what I wanted.  So I scaled my pattern back to 22 feathers.  As it is, this top almost completely covers the top of my queen-sized guest bed, at 54" x 71":

My background fabric is Essex Linen, which I'd never used before this project.  It is a lot heavier than I realized, so for the back I'm going to use voile - another print from this line, Anna Maria Horner's Field Study Coordinates in Saffron.  I've been thinking about how best to quilt it so as not to interfere with the design, and I'm thinking it's going to be hand-quilted.

So while last week I was wondering if I would get this quilt done before the end of the year, now it's looking like I will.  I'm very excited about that, and am already planning out the next quilting project . . .

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Few Anna Pictures

I did indeed get to wear my new dress yesterday morning for our breakfast date with friends, and it was a lovely day.  I got Hubby to snap a bunch of pictures.  But first, a few more details about this dress that didn't go under construction notes:

*  My muslin was a size 6 bust, size 8 waist and hip with a 1" swayback adjustment, and as you know, I felt it was a little large.  So for this dress I made a new, size 4 bust/size 6 waist bodice muslin.  The fit was great - as long as I didn't need to move.  At all.  And I do tend to move quite a bit.  So I made a second muslin in a straight size 6 with 3/4" swayback adjustment, and that's the size I've landed on.  Obviously, I didn't bother to muslin the skirt.  I could probably go back up to the 1" swayback adjustment, but it's OK this way too.

*  On the day I finished this dress, the fit was really great, but I guess I was having a "skinny day" yesterday - it felt a little loose!  Can't win for losing!  But I really like it, and it's good to know I can fill up my tummy while wearing it :-)

**EDIT**  I forgot to mention for those of you who have yet to try this pattern:  according to the envelope, my waist falls into the size 8, but this size 6 waist feels fine on me, and I abhor any tightness around my waist. Granted, the waistline seam hits a tiny bit above my natural waist.  I wanted to include this to give you guys an idea of the fit.  I still struggle with knowing what size to make when I'm trying a pattern for the first time, and always look for this kind of information online before making my muslin.

*  While the skirt felt like A Lot Of Fabric when I was making the dress, it felt very light and floaty while wearing it yesterday - to the point of me wondering whether it was hanging correctly.  And I even had a slip on underneath!  I felt a tiny bit exposed.  But I always seem to feel this way in my home-made dresses and skirts - I wonder why?

OK - pictures!  These were all taken in the Lurie Garden next to the Art Institute.


from the back so you can see where it hits the calf

action shot!

and a closer look at the print

Even though this fabric is cheap (and I mean that in both senses), I really love the print.  The background is a very pale yellow-green, with feathers and roses in dark blue-grey, dark and light olive green, pink and fuchsia.  When I bought it I had no idea what to do with it, but at $3 a yard, I couldn't pass it up.  This dress ended up being a great match, because the structure of the bodice doesn't break up the print.  There's a big rose on my right shoulder (which I put there on purpose) - but sadly, my hair is covering it up in every single picture!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Finishing the Hat, part 1

Here's the penultimate video in this hat series.  I made two this morning, but to avoid frustration, I'll post the second one tomorrow!

One thing I'm not sure I made clear is that depending on the number of stitches in your project, after a decrease round or two you may have to rearrange your stitches so that you again have an even number of stitches on each needle.  I find it easier to do this before working a round, but you can do it as you go along too.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Winter Sport Fashions

A couple weeks ago, my mom told me she found an old knitting magazine from 1957 while doing some deep cleaning, and asked if I would like it.  Would I?!  I think you all know the answer to that!

A week later I had it in my hot little hands, and the other day I took some pictures of all the designs to share with you all, because I think this magazine has some really neat stuff!  There are lots of sweaters in this one I could consider making.  This magazine is also different from a lot of my vintage knittng magazines in that each design has a name, like modern patterns tend to.  Most of my older magazines just have numbers for the patterns.

So without further adieu, I give you "Winter Sport Fashions . . ."

Lake Placid

I really love the cover design, especially in this vivid red.  It's hard to see here, but this sweater has a zippered front closure.

St. Moritz

I really like this one too, although not for a man.  I could see this with a tartan skirt . . .


Muahahaha!  A pun!  I love you, vintage knitting magazine!

Ski Train

Those toggles are hiding another front zipper - what a great idea!


The hood zips open to lay flat, AND there's a little zippered pocket at the bottom of the front placket!

Snow Queen

This one is crocheted, side to side, in an interesting textured stitch.


Deep raglan brioche stitch sweater with oversized turtleneck that doubles as a hood.  Yes, please!!


Cuff to cuff construction again, this time in knit.

Fair Isle

Well, that's an original name!

Ski Tow

"Quiet down!  I'm on the phone!"  I think it's interesting that the bottom hem is turned back the way you would do on sleeve cuffs.  Doesn't seem very practical!


Oh boy, dolman sleeves.  One of my biggest weaknesses!


More dolman sleeves!



Snow-Ball (skirt)

OK, I went ice skating just about every day after school when I was a kid, because we lived across the street from a pond.  I'm certain I never looked this cute!


Somehow these motifs have a tiki feel to me . . .  not very conducive to skiing.  Or sweater-wearing.  But I like it!


So classic in black and white.  But would you get a load of those eyebrows?!  What's going on here?!


You can't see it here, but the contrasting insets down the outside of the leg and at the shoulder have a leaf lace pattern.  I think this is pretty slick, although I don't see myself ever knitting it.


And of course you have to have hats and mittens.

So what do you think?  As I write this, it's 70 degrees and sunny - a little hard to think about winter.  But I love looking through vintage knitting magazines no matter what time of year!