Friday, December 31, 2021

Last Sweaters of 2021

How about a sweater recap? There's a couple of sweaters just finished and others finished during the year but not posted on this blog, just in my Ravelry projects. First is my newly knit Flaum, from a pattern by Justyna Lorkowska. It is a very good pattern, fairly simple but fashionable and comfy. Admittedly, it is a bit avant-garde due to its bubble shape, hi-low profile and tiny but functional pockets. The Fisherman's Rib stitch, which is an ever so slightly fluffier form of brioche stitch, combined with the lofty wool, makes for a smushy, squeezable fabric that is very satisfying to wear. The ochre color is on-trend, being almost brown, a bit camel and pretty bright. The yarn is Bennoto by Cloud9 Fibers. It is wool with a bit of alpaca and has a bouncy and fluffy softness, perfect for the fisherman rib stitch that is the central stitch pattern in Flaum. The yarn is still available at Webs--on sale!

Next finished was an idea that was been in my mind for years. I saw a sweater in a shop through the window (the shop was closed) and became obsessed with the look of it. It was reverse stockinette in a thick and thin cotton yarn, probably sport weight. A few months later I found some coned yarn that was a cotton/linen/rayon blend. I bought several cones of it because I had no idea of the yardage on the cone. Turns out that there are hundreds of yards, maybe even a thousand or more yards on each cone. Since then, I have used the yarn in three sweaters, but none resemble the one I saw in the shop. Once I became determined enough, I produced the replica I wanted in just three weeks during this past month. It is simple, it is quick, it requires no pattern. The yarn is probably discontinued, so it is good that I have thousands of yards of it left--I suppose.

I can end a fairly successful knitting year with those sweaters, since I worked my way through the year making a sweater every couple of months. The other sweaters that I knit are are in the collage below.

These are, from the top left, the Newsprint Top by Marianne Isager, a Graphic Elements by Tamy Gore, a Graerup Slipover by Camilla Vad, and from the bottom left, the Chevron Cardigan by Vanessa Ewing with a stitch pattern substituted for the chevrons from Tea Time, both in Vogue Knitting Magazine, a Karatachi by Kineko Uki, and above, on the middle row on the right, a Deep V-Neck Cardigan by Christy Kay Morse, and finally, nestled in the bottom right, two that I don't really like, the Hooded Pullover by Debra Newton and a vest I winged based on a photo of a designer vest. I wear the vest now and then, but the pullover is going to be frogged. Interestingly (for me), these last two sweaters are also both from Vogue Knitting Magazine. That's a surprising number of patterns from a source that offers patterns that have been above my knitting skills for years. For more info on the sweaters in the above collage, see my Ravelry progect page.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

About that Sweater...

It was nearly a year ago, but it seems much longer. I knit a new popular free design, one inspired by a photo of someone wearing a pair of mittens on a cold day. That is all I say about the person or the day. This blog is only about sewing or knitting or weaving. However, the sweater is still relatively new and deserves some attention. It is a really nice, albiet a bit strange, sweater, in that it is patterned after a pair of mittens.

The pattern by one of my favorite knitwear designers, Caitlyn Hunter, is Feel the Bern. I actually ordered yarn for it rather than trying to use something I had or something on sale, in my usual frugal manner. I even ordered more black yarn when I ran short, needing additional yarn when I modified the sleeves to full length. I also changed the bottom edging to just black to de-emphasize the original design's emphasis on the hips. I finished the sleeves with black from mid-forearm to the cuffs, but only because I had the additional black and did not know if I had enough of the other shades.

The yarn is Canapa, a wool/hemp blend by Lana Grossa. Other than it being superwash, it is a lovely and comfortable yarn. (I am not crazy about the stretchiness and chemical-ness of superwash.) The Ravelry project page has a few more details and the link to the pattern. In case you are not a Ravelry member, here is the link to the pattern. Although it is free, the designer asks that you donate to an organization that supports ending hunger. That I have done, repeatedly, and I hope you do too.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

McCalls 7981, Front-buttoned Skirts

This is View A, with an additional 6" in length. That makes it between View A and B. It will be size XL, even though L would be large enough. Those are the only two sizes in the size block I purchased. It makes sense to use the larger size for this wearable toile since the fabric is a very soft and light flannel that will drape well. It could even be considered "limp". This length used the full complement of 7 buttons, plain off white ones that are leftover from a sweater project.

The fabric was purchased at JoAnn and is 3 1/4 yard of cotton flannel in a printed plaid, 44" wide, $11.90. After machine washing and drying, it shrank to 40" wide and 3 yards long. There is at least a yard left over, so the actual cost is nearer $8. The contrast fabric is a brown Buffalo plaid flannel remnant from JoAnn (161008103, 3/4 yard, 86 cents).

All pieces were cut out with the fabric flat, except for the back which was cut on the fold, folded along a vertical stripe. Nonetheless, the plaid matching was difficult and is not as good as it should be. Matching the pockets to the exterior fabric, which meant cutting two of each fabric, did work well, since the side seams sit at an angle and the pocket and side plaid pattern can not be matched the full length of the seam. Front button bands must be matched to the front panels and to each other. It was difficult and did not work well, but is close--the horizontal lines of the plaid match and the vertical lines would match if I were happy with leaving the seam of the band that the buttons are sewn to exposed. I am not, so the plaid misses matching vertically by 3/8".

The hem method is simple, blind hemmed with a 1 1/4" hem (adjusted to 1 1/2" for easier machine hemming) in the skirt and sewing the button band around it. There are tailor tacks in the button bands to mark button and buttonhole placement. However, the 1 1/4" buttonholes were adjusted to the button size to 1 1/8" by the machine and the placement is 3" apart. The tailor tacks, which took some time, might not be necessary, especially in a small plaid like this one, where the buttons can be placed along the lines of the plaid.

There is a little extra fabric in back waistband that is taken up by 14" of elastic which is sewn down at the sides (where a side seam would be). The elastic could have been a little shorter, but not any longer than that. It is a 32" waistband.
The buttonholes were very quick and easy on the Janome. I will be looking for more patterns with buttonholes now. The buttonholes in the beige thread that I used for the skirt are quite obvious on the plaid. Black would have been a better choice since they run down the black/gray stripe. It is a relief that they are even and tidy, since uneven buttonholes would have been noticeable.


Even with the difficulty of plaid matching and button bands, it is very likely that I will make this pattern again. I have just the right amount of tan linen to make View D, no matching required.


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

New Look 6572, Couture Sewing Version

My third version of this pattern is view B, with two pockets and square neckline. It calls for only one pocket but I think that looks odd so I used two pockets as in the other versions. This version is in Pladitudes brushed cotton gray and black herringbone cotton flannel from JoAnn. The fabric is not a print--the herringbone is woven in, making it a heavy fabric (9 oz/sq. yd). Reviewers complain that it pills after washing and drying and that it becomes scratchy. Washed and dried carefully, it shrank several inches lengthwise but remained soft(PLF201 166424236). Since this was on deep discount last Spring, the total cost was $5.99.

Following the method used by Susan Khalje in her Craftsy class on couture sewing, I am underlining the jumper with Kona cotton that I had bought as a remnant. (Kona Khaki, 1 yd. $2.70) It is not a good fabric for apparel on its own but should serve well as an underlining to prevent the herringbone from stretching too much and to help anchor the facings and seam allowances. Additionally, it is washable and will make this winter-wear jumper warmer. Otherwise, this fabric does not need underlining to add weight or provide a more comfortable feel. However, the facings in this pattern flip out so much that an underlining would help if the edges of the facings and seam allowances are sewn to it. Couture sewing!

Having made this pattern twice, I know that the armhole fit is still an issue. For this version, I cut the shoulders down to a size 10 and cut the armholes to a 12. This pattern has different facing pieces for each size, so the facings for the armholes are a size 12, and the front neck facing is a size 10.

I drafted a facing for the underside of the kick pleat at the hem. It was not "couture sewn"(i.e. hand stitched), just machine sewn in place since the stitching on the bottom portion of the pleat is hidden by the top section.

The neck facing went smoothly, thanks to the methods I learned from Susan Khalje. This pattern is not the best use of those methods, being a very casual jumper, but using them here allowed me to practice what I learned in Susan's classes on Craftsy.

Here is how to put it together:
First, stay stitch the neckline on the flannel and the Kona underlining. Second, machine baste the underlining to the flannel at the shoulder seams with a 1/2" seam and trim the underlining back to 1/4". Third, machine baste the flannel and underlining together at the neckline. Fourth, sew the shoulder seams. Fifth, hand stitch the seam allowances to the underlining with a "catch stitch". Khalje uses silk thread for this, but I used what I had on hand, hand quilting thread. Matching the thread to the flannel and using a single strand really made it less noticeable. That is the preparation of the jumper. For the facing, which is interfaced with fusible woven interfacing, all that is needed is to sew the shoulder seams, trim them, and edge finish with a zig zag stitch.

Once the facing is sewn on to the jumper and understitched, it is stitched down to the underlining by hand with the catch stitch, then topstitched 1/4" away from the neckline edge. That facing is not going to flip out or fray. It is totally secured.

The armhole facings are attached in the same manner. My choice of armhole facing size was not perfect, but reducing the seams in the facings from 5/8" to 3/8" made them fit. Then the seam allowances are checked to make sure they are all stitched to the underlining where there is underlining. After the underlining ends, the seam allowances are zig zag stitched to finish the raw edges and prevent fraying. There was not enough of the Kona cotton for a full underlining, but there is just a few inches between the end of the underlining and the hem that is not underlined.

The pockets are folded over and top stitched at the top and gathered at the corners to round them nicely. Button reinforcement patch made of doubled interfacing was added below the top stitching. Pocket flaps were rounded more at the corners and topstitched per pattern.

After sewing the pockets and pocket flaps to the dress, I would suggest a couple of modifications. First, the edges of the pocket that are turned under could be trimmed. The easiest way to do this would be to sew them down 1/4" in from the edge and trim them close to the stitching. That would eliminate the need to sew the second line of top stitching as well as securing the edges for sewing. While this step is not necessary, it would reduce the raw edges inside the pocket. Second, secure the pocket flap so that it does not flip up at the edges. The pattern suggests velcro. However, knitters avoid velcro. What if I wanted to carry a ball of yarn in the pocket, or stick my hand in the pocket while wearing hand-knitted gloves or mittens? That would result in the velcro catching on the yarn or knitting. It should be buttons, snaps, or even a zipper. In this case, buttonholes and maybe even snaps will be added to the flaps as soon as I get to my Janome machine. It makes better buttonholes than my Singer. (The old Singer can handle this heavy fabric well.)

This one is finished with a 2" blind hem, as was the linen version. All raw edges are now controlled and no raveling, fraying, or flipping will occur.

One final observation: the sewing took 4 days. That is extensive, especially for a dress with no darts, no waist, and no sleeves. However, it is a much better dress than the others that did not include an underlining and catch stitches. The control over the fabric that couture sewing offers makes the process and the end result much more satisfying.

For my other versions of this pattern, see this post.

Monday, October 4, 2021

#03 Deep V-neck Cardigan

The year is 2014. I bought a Vogue Knitting magazine in the Fall of the year and decided to knit a cardigan from it. I bought the yarn for the size small.
That's the cardigan in the magazine on the left, and the back as I was knitting it on the right in that photo. However, this photo was not taken in 2014, it was taken this summer. What happened in the last 7 years? Brooklyn Tweed, that's what happened. I started reading Jared Flood's blog back when he posted about knitting Elizabeth Zimmerman's Saddle Shouldered Aran Cardigan. I kept reading as he developed a pattern business, then a yarn company. I had knit a few of Jared's/Wool People designs, notably Galloway (Jared Flood) and Gehry (Ann McCauley)--twice for each of those. Then when Truss (Melissa Wehrle) came out in Volume Nine of Wool People in 2015, and the Deep V-Neck hadn't been knit yet, I repurposed the yarn and knit Truss.
That didn't take all of the yarn I had purchased for the Deep V-neck. With the leftovers, I knit a Rug sweater (Junko Okamoto) in 2018.
Of course, Rug required other yarn leftovers and additional yarn purchases. Then, on assessing these two sweaters last Winter, I saw that they were showing signs of wear, even though they weren't getting worn all that often. I looked at the Deep V-neck pattern again, and could not remember why I postponed knitting it. Thankfully, with knitting, once you re-think your choices, you can re-knit. I ripped out those two sweaters and knit the Deep V-neck.
Now I have a new sweater that is more on-trend with current fashions. The funny thing is that no one would ever think that this yarn had been used before. In case this hasn't been a long enough knitting discussion for you and you would like to continue wandering down old knitting pattern lane, follow the links below to the patterns and blog posts I have mentioned:

Brooklyn Tweed post on the Saddle Shouldered Aran

Volume 9 of Wool People, with Truss, Gehry, and other patterns

Galloway--this is a fun knit!

Friday, September 24, 2021

Rug, Handwoven, Churro

Last year, in the thick of the lockdowns, I bought a used 25" tapestry loom for 25 bucks. Now, this was not an impulse purchase, it was actually the fifth loom I had purchased. However, the others were all small frame looms, some with heddles, some not. Frame looms are just the thing for wall hangings--I had made several of those. I wanted a larger loom and thought the local yarn mill would have a few used looms. After all, they used to be a weaving center and had conducted classes at one time. Happily, they have about three rooms full of used looms. Unhappily, most are huge, as looms should be. That is why I jumped at the chance to buy this one, even though it was missing the dowels that hold the heddles and the warp dowel. No problem--I bought dowels at the hardware store. Then I bought wire covers at the auto parts store to wrap the round bars that cross the loom at top and bottom. These serve as spacers.
With cotton knitting yarn as warp and dk weight cvm wool yarn from the mill and handspun alpaca from a nearby farm as weft, I started a rug. As I wove, struggling with tension and technique, a small wildfire was growing to the south, actually in a canyon between me and the mill. Once the mayor asked anyone who could evacuate to do so, progress on this first rug was halted . I stored it in the closet and left it there until this summer.
When my family came for a visit, I pulled it out to show them how to weave. After they left, there it sat. Rather than being confronted with the sad looking thing, I finished the rug that was on it. It is more of a blanket weight than rug weight, but it covers a spot on my stone entry floor.


That is it on the bottom left, the dark brown and tan one. It sits next to my new one. All the others are rugs that I have purchased.

Then, with the loom empty, it was time for a trip to the mill. What could be more appropriate than a rug woven with wool from Churro sheep, scoured, carded, spun and dyed at the local mill? As I picked out the yarn, I found a small group of warp yarns, wool from J. S. Clasgens, in one of the cubbyholes. They were all partial spools, probably left over from local weavers. It was not enough to warp their standard size looms, but it was more than enough for my small tapestry loom. I had been wanting to try Clasgens yarn, having read that it was ideal for Chimayo style rugs, but I hesitated to order a full spool from them. Finding this bit at the mill was a relief, relieving me of ordering, paying for shipping and waiting for delivery.

After using the Clasgens, I have turned against it, in spite of the strong recommendation. It sheds tremendously and is very sticky, making packing the weft down around it an arduous task. I have since bought some warp yarn milled by Jagger Yarns. It is smoother and is waxed.

Considering all the improvements to my second rug, wool warp, Churro weft, and a little experience, of course the weaving was quicker and the result better. It did not go smoothly, since the sticky warp and a probably too close epi (I wanted 4 warp strings per inch, but ended up with 5.3 due to the spacers not stretching out as much as I hoped.), but I finished it in less than a month.

My technique improved as I wove. The end of this rug is tighter and smoother than the beginning. That is encouraging.

It is nearly 23" wide, a couple of inches wider than the first rug I wove, but due to my using a large piece of cardboard at the start, not realizing that it would take up weaving space, it is only 34" long.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

McCalls 8192, Wearable Toile in View A and Flannel in View B

My wearable toile for McCalls 8192 is a combination of view A and view C. It is a size 16 that is large for me most everywhere except the shoulders.  A second make could be taken in a little at the side seams between 1/2" to maybe 1" (meaning 2 to 4" smaller, a wide range). The open back has been eliminated, replaced with a drafted pattern piece to fill in the back.  The fabric is from JoAnn, a cotton print named Green Brown Leaves, Keepsake Calico Cotton fabric, 42" wide.  My initial purchase was a 3/4 yard remnant, (17912213  100% cotton, machine wash gentle cold, tumble dry low, warm iron).  It is quilting cotton, but once machine washed and dried, it looked like it would be good for apparel.  I ordered 2 yards more from JoAnn. (I should have ordered 3 at least, especially since the entire order was refunded because it arrived 3 weeks late.)  As a result, there was not enough fabric for sleeves, so this muslin was only good for the bodice shape.  The skirt was made before, as a drawstring dirndl skirt.  The notes on that project are at the end of this post.  

Once sewn up, I found that the change to the back requires cutting two neck bindings instead of just one, so that there is a piece for the front and the (non-existent in the pattern) back--that worked well.  However, the binding needs to be stretched more so that it will lay flatter.  The fit is roomy, especially in the front.  It does pull a little across the back.  It almost fits ok with a bra under, but a flattering fit would require several inches removed from the front.  At the same time, the armholes and the back should not be smaller.  The fit is just supposed to be roomy, as is apparent from the envelope photo.  It might be that the backless design would never fit tightly so they went with a body skimming fit.  Using a tutorial on adjusting princess seam bodices on the Seamwork Magazine website, the pattern was adjusted for a smaller bust.  Basically, the princess seam itself is shorter, meaning the length of the seam is reduced, changing the curve.  If that change does not resolve the fit issues, the bodice sides could be wider with the front reduced accordingly.

The skirt is fine, but even though I lengthened it by 1" from the shortest version it could be longer.  This is made worse by the bodice shortening.  However, the shorter bodice (1 1/2" shorter, or 3/4" folded up) is good.  If anything, the skirt could be narrower, but it is cute the way it is.  There was not enough fabric for 4 pocket pieces, so the front pocket pieces are from the cotton/hemp denim-type fabric from Fancy Tiger.  It is not a great contrast, but having them in the front, they are not normally visible and do not show through the main fabric because it is not sheer at all. The print is a little off on the wrong side in spots, but that imperfection does not seem to come through to the right side.  This fabric is soft to the touch.  

The non-fusible interfacing, all that is left, is in the armhole facings.  They are tacked down to the multiple seams, no topstitching, although that is an option.  All the seams are pinked to prevent fraying.  This fabric does not fray much, so pinking should be enough.
When I pinked it, I cut into the bodice by the princess seam in the front! However, since the bodice on this version was too large, I moved the seam over 1/4" to cover the cut, improving the fit while repairing my goof.  I really like this version, even though the fabric now reminds me of camo material.


The second version is cut from 3 1/4 yds. of cotton flannel in a gray flowered print. After washing, this measures only 40" wide and lost 1/4 yard in length, but it is very soft now. This fabric is also from JoAnn, on sale for $2.99/yd. so was only $7.48 (161640546). It is a difficult cut due to all the changes in the pattern and the shorter length of fabric. For future reference, the long sleeves took a yard of fabric, with some left around the cut for the binding. The skirt is cut 4" shorter than the longer length, since that is the longest that could be managed. The pockets are cut from the narrow pieces of Taos Texture quilting cotton leftover from the at-home dress. It is not a disappointment to cut the pockets from contrasting material because the smoother cotton will make the pockets a little easier to use than ones made with the fuzzy flannel. It is so fuzzy that things would stick to them.
This version is actually a second muslin that will be useful to perfect the fit of the princess seams in the bodice as well as the waist. Since I am stuck with cutting a size 16, the smallest size in this size block, the pattern pieces are large on me. With the revised pattern pieces and sewing the princess seams in front in by 1/4" below the notch, the fit is good.
I tried applying the bias binding to the neck on the wrong side and top stitching it down on the right side. That was a little simpler than the opposite way, but still rather difficult. This pattern calls for the binding to be sewn on with a 1/2" seam. The extra width made it hard to turn the binding under. Trimming the seam back 1/8" helped. However, the additional width does look good in this thicker fabric.
The sleeves were quite difficult, requiring hand stitching of the cuff binding. Then setting them into the bodice was more difficult, especially since the adjustment I made to the princess seams may have resulted in unevenness in the top join that is part of the armhole. Since the seam extended into the armhole rather than tapering out at the armhole, and the seam is to be pressed to the center, the princess seam allowance was caught up in the armhole seam. It took me at least three tries to get that bit straight, but once the allowances were clipped, they lie flat and to the center.
It was interesting that this pattern calls for trimming the entire armhole seam close to the second stitching. Other patterns call for just trimming between the lower notches, i.e. the underarm. Although the second stitching caught up a bit of excess fabric, it lies flat enough. (Need to be more careful on that second stitching, especially with bulky fabrics.)
However, in spite of all the trouble, the sleeves are delightful. They resemble the currently trendy full "balloon" sleeves in designer dresses, notably the more bohemian brands such as Reformation, Chloe, and Sea. At the same time, the narrow sleeve top eases smoothly into the armhole, making a nice contrast to the fullness at the cuff.

My first use of this pattern was with a 100% polyester fabric, a 1 yard, 58" wide remnant from JoAnn, bought on impulse for $3.84.  It combines the skirt from McCalls 8192 and the waistband from Butterick 6457.  There are pockets in the McCalls pattern that would attach to the waistband and the side seams, but there was not enough fabric for them, especially since there was a drawstring that took up a couple of inches of fabric.  There was a 4-inch section of fabric added to the waistband, making it over 40" overall in length, long enough to fit over my hips.  Two 34" lengths of elastic in the waistband bring the total waistband measurement to 33".  This and all the skirts from this pattern are really too big for me, but the fit in a full skirt is a preference, not a mandate.

The rolled hem foot made a nice neat hem, except for at the side seams.  In future, the cut hem needs to be very straight, and maybe a little longer at the side seams to allow for a little more fabric in the hem there.  It is not necessary to prep the skirt for hemming, other than to hand fold an inch or so and place it under the foot with the threads to the back.  Sew a couple of stitches, then hold the threads (and later the fabric) to the back and feed the edge in at the front.  Keep the back and front straight once feeding is established and do not let the fabric go over the concave portion of the foot.  This fabric, which is like iron, does not fray much initially and is quite thin.  It works well in the rolled hem foot.  It is an acceptable skirt, but I actually do not wear it much because skirts with waistbands ride up too much on me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

McCalls 7831, Pinafores x 3

This make is a "pinafore" using McCalls 7831 and a cotton twill from Hobby Lobby. Although this fabric was intended for a skirt to wear with my teal/beige knit top, I found a nicer, darker teal linen blend at JoAnn and made a skirt with it. This fabric, which is quite heavy, will be a muslin for the overalls pattern.  There are 1 1/2 yards of 58" wide cotton twill.  The pattern only calls for 1 3/8 yards, but the skirt is quite short.  This pattern is not lined, it has facing.  This was cut to a size 14 at the top, graded to a size 16 at the armholes.

Although the instructions called for a turned seam with one line of topstitching, I changed that to a full centered (nearly) flat felled seam in the front and back and used the turned seam for the side seams to make it more true to overalls.  Here is how to do the flat felled seam when there is a 5/8" seam allowance:

1. Lay fabric right sides together, raw edges to the seamed to the right.

2. Trim 1/4" - 3/8" from the raw edge of the top piece. (See more on the amount to trim below in the discussion of my second make of this pattern.)

3. Lay this piece on the bottom piece again, but leave 3/8" of the raw edge of the bottom piece exposed.

4. Fold this 3/8" over the top piece and pin.

5. Sew 1/4" from the folded edge.

6. Turn the stranding seam to the left to cover the raw edge.

7. Top stitch on the right side close to the seam edge.

8. Top stitch on the wrong side along the folded edge, try to keep it 1/4" from the last top stitching.

In most cases, it will not matter that much whether the seam is perfectly centered. It does matter in this pattern because the back is quite narrow at the top and needs to fit the 1 1/4" straps exactly.  As it is, the center is actually the top stitching on the left side, meaning that the seam is definitely off 1/8".  The straps are actually 1 1/8" wide, making it possible to fit them into the limited space at the back.  They are off position at the top edge but in position at the seam line. Overall, it came out looking centered.  Punning is not deliberate here!

The pockets are only top stitched once.  An option is two rows of top stitching, something to think about for another version where it needs a little more of a traditional look, especially if there is contrasting top stitching.  The bibs are not top stitched at the edge but the sides are.  The instructions say top stitch 1/4" from the edge of the sides, but I made it 1/8" to match the straps.  It is tempting to put two rows of top stitching, but that would be more appropriate for a denim version.

Fits.  Cute. 

 

I so wanted to use some mystery linen stuff from JoAnn for another version of this pattern, but that fabric is a little too sheer. Sheer does not work for overalls. Instead, this second version is pieced together from remnant quilting cotton. The main fabric is a hunter green remnant from JoAnn (177846539) that is probably quilting cotton and was $1.75. There was not quite enough fabric, so the facings and straps are cut from a navy print remnant from Taos Adobe Quilting that I purchased last year for $4. This second remnant has tiny green flowers that coordinate with the main fabric. The central pocket on the bib is not very useful but is a nice design element. Incorporating a simple weaving from my little tapestry loom into it boosted the impact. The fit of the first version is good; this one is cut the same. However, in this lighter fabric it is a bit large in the hips.

The flat felled seams here are centered. However, they do not take up the full 1 1/4" seam allowance (2 x 5/8"). It was simple enough to compensate for that by adjusting the facing seams at the top of the bibs and just leaving the excess in below. This may be why the fit over the hips is larger.

This one has button loops sewn into the bib and buttons on the straps instead of the traditional metal overall buckle. It is much quieter that the metal fastener and easier to wash, but it is not adjustable. Since this one was shorter, only an inch longer than the pattern, the buttons are sewn so that the bib sits lower, making up for the shorter skirt. This is more flattering than the first one because the bib looks narrower when it sits lower on my chest and the sides scoop in over my waist. Probably the buckles on the first one should be adjusted to be a little lower--not this low, which was done to compensate for the shorter length.

For reference, here are my notes on the flat felled seam: 

1. Proceed as above, but trim 1/8" off seam edge of top piece, move top piece over 3/8". 

2. Follow above procedure but top stitch on RS, first by seam line and second 1/4" over. 

3. This method makes both sides the same size, but each is between 1/8" and 3/16" larger than they would be with a standard 5/8" seam, adding about 1/2" to the total width. Obviously, it is difficult to get exact sizing when dealing with to 1/16" to 1/8" differences. I tried trimming a little more off both sides but it resulted in the bib being too small. It is simpler to have it be too large and adjust the side seam.

A third one of these follows the first version of View D using a pinwale corduroy, 3 1/3 yards, 44" wide from Hobby Lobby. The fabric is very lightweight for corduroy. It was $4 per yard, about $14 total. This was the first fabric I selected on a shopping trip last spring. It was on the sale table and was reduced as it was the end of the season. It might be cotton, but is more likely a blend since it has a lot of drape. The front and back seams of the bib and the skirt were sewn as an easy flat felled seam, just turned under and top stitched on the wrong side. Maybe this will reduce puckering and will certainly reduce fraying and improve the look of the seams on the outside. If a seam is pressed open on this fabric, it leaves an impression of the seam allowance on the right side. The side seams of the bib and the skirt are just zig zag stitched together and trimmed. One is pressed to the front, one to the back to reduce bulk at the seam between the bib and skirt. However, in actual wearing they will just hang free of the fabric, avoiding those impressions they would make if pressed flat. Even though the bib is lengthened by 1" and the skirt by 2", the overall length could be a couple of inches longer. Another version might have the cut line for the bib lower by several inches, enough to make it possible to place the pockets at their appropriate spots. The pockets on this first version sit just above the seam between the bib and skirt, meaning they sit just below the waist. That is too high, but the pocket at the top of the bib, the only pocket allowed for in View D, is non-functional for most items. It is too high and too wide. There's not a bib pocket in this version--the two smaller pockets were substituted. If the bib is cut longer, these smaller pockets would look fine. They are still quite cute, even though the print doesn't match exactly. The rest of the construction was the same as earlier versions, except for straps in the front that will tie on the shoulders with the straps in the back. There was a pinafore in velvet I saw somewhere on line that had a similar strap treatment that gave me the idea. This pinwale is quite velvety and soft enough to tie easily. The big difference was in the skirt hem. Like any circle skirt, it is difficult to hem because the skirt gets wider. The instructions call for a narrow hem that is gathered to ease in the fullness. That worked well enough.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Jumpers! New Look 6572

My first attempt at this pattern was with some brownish black fabric, 85% rayon, 15% linen, from Fancy Tiger Crafts.  I paid $12 per yard for 3 yards.  This fabric, Brussels Washer Linen by Robert Kaufman, is now $10 per yard.  It sews well, but left a lot of black fuzz in the dryer lint catcher.  The fabric is a bit fuzzy, but light with a little drape.  The finished jumper still leaves a little fuzz in the dryer, needs ironing and frays (more comments on the fraying later).  The teal skirt I just made is a viscose/linen blend that has a more expensive feel to it.  JoAnn Fabrics sells that in lots of colors, so I would buy that over this.

In the size 14 in the New Look pattern 6572, adding a fraction of an inch on each side along the hip, since the body measurement for 14 is 38",  this first version is big in the top and generous in the hips. However, laying the body pieces out side by side in this 52" fabric, only used 2 yards of it, with enough left for a skirt! The fusible interfacing, which, though featherweight, seems too stiff.  It may soften up after washing.  Note:  the inside is a disaster after washing.  The facings fray terribly even after zig zag stitching the edge and they flip forward even after under stitching and after sewing the facings to the shoulder and armhole seams.

The side patch pockets with flaps require more effort than in-seam pockets, but they do add a cargo pocket look to the dress. It is a plain jumper, so it needs a little something.  The pockets were placed a little higher than the pattern specs, about 13" below the armhole.  That puts them below the widest part of the hip but high enough to reach the bottom easily.  The pattern has the top of the pocket stitched on the sides and folded over, standard construction for a patch pocket.  Instead, it should be top stitched down--just turning it down is not enough to keep it straight.  The flaps work ok, though.

This first jumper is blind hemmed at maxi length, ending just above my ankle. It is quite warm and comfortable.  After washing, it has more drape and looks good.  I wish there was some way to hide the frayed edges of the facings.  A fully lined top would work, but maybe a serger would help.

Although the 14 top fits well, the armholes are a bit too big.  If the fabric is more than 45" wide, I could probably do it with 1 1/2 yards.  Side seam pockets would be nice, if fabric allows.  Possibilities are the flannel, the corduroy, the linens, the cottons. 

The second version of this pattern was made with 1 1/3 yards of 55" Tan Leaf Print linen, (179215869) purchased at the Santa Fe JoAnn for $11.  Again, it is a size 14 in the top and graded to between the 14 and 16 in the hips.  Cut at mid-length B, it is plenty long enough and allows for a back vent.  In cutting the armholes I followed the size 16 cutting lines to try to make them smaller but all that did was make the shoulders too wide.  It took the reducing the shoulder seams by 1/2" (1" total) and recutting the armholes to a size that looked good without a seam allowance and adding darts to the armhole to get close to fitting.

The seam allowance needed to be eliminated  because the neck and armholes were bound with bias binding cut from the Elizabeth Suzann black cotton poplin.  The poplin made a lousy skirt but is great for bias binding.  There was just enough fabric left to cut slightly smaller side pockets but not enough for flaps.  To compensate, the tops of the pockets were bound with the contrasting bias binding.  There was enough length for a 2".  This is a big success.

 

Since I made this, I have made a silk top that looks good with it and shows off the contrasting binding better. Yesterday, I wore the jumper without a shirt on a shopping trip to Taos and was happy when a shop clerk complemented it. I was especially pleased by her surprised reaction when I told her I made it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Simplicity 8910, Final Version and Wearable Toile

Simplicity 8910 again, this time a size 16, larger than my first version of this pattern.  Fabric is apparently, again, quilting cotton, this time from Hobby Lobby.  The muslin for this dress, the black/white striped fabric from JoAnn, cost $17.  This, the green chevron fabric, is prettier and smoother to the touch.  There was 3 3/4 yards, only 43" wide, but still plenty. It must be cut with nap because the chevron print is directional.  Total cost $18.  The skirt was cut 2" longer than the pattern for view C and the v-neck was cut a little narrower--not as high and narrow as the first version but narrow enough to have normal width shoulders.  

After the problem I had with the pocket piece not fitting in the first version, that piece is missing now.  I had to draft a new piece that fits well.

The 16 worked well, except for the darts.  They are simply too long, so were shortened by 1" and brought in a little.  However, shorter darts means narrower darts.  The larger front waist that results from narrower darts required a few minor changes in the front pleats, keeping all except the two middle ones under 1" and adjusting the side seams in both the bodice and the skirt.  The back worked out fine.  Sleeves were sewn in with a slightly (1/4") smaller seam allowance in the shoulder, just to make sure the shoulders have enough ease. For full length sleeves, they should be lengthened by 3".  With the longer skirt, the hem was 2".  Length is good, just below knee. 

This one is overall nicer than most of the less costly items but I managed to cut three tiny holes in the skirt when I was trimming the seam allowance with the pinking rotary cutter.  There is a small patch behind the holes that hides it. Hopefully, the adhesive strip and fray check will make it last.

Before this dress there was a first draft. The fabric for the first version is a little too stiff, just a 100% cotton from JoAnn, 4001829099403, 2 1/2 yards at $7 per yard. It is a yarn dyed stripe that was cut without nap.  With the 20% off, the total cost was $17.  

This first version was a Size 14 pattern throughout, with contrast bias binding from the black Elizabeth Suzann cotton poplin I bought from Fancy Tiger.  Pattern mods: The v-neck on the bodice is very wide with narrow shoulders, so I widened them to normal width shoulders (2 1/2") and a higher v, lowered the bust darts by narrowing them by 1/4", and sewed the side seams 5/8" at the armhole tapering to 3/8" at the waist.  This means the skirt must be widened, a difficult task since the pockets account for a few inches of the skirt width in the front.  

The shoulders were too tight and were adjusted by sewing a 3/8" seam at the top of the shoulder only in the bodice portion.  The sleeves are very wide at the bottom and narrow over the bicep.  A more comfortable fit could easily be achieved by widening the bicep portion.  

The pleats as drawn are too large, especially in the front.  They do not fit the bodice.  It may be possible to use a size or two larger body with the smaller bodice.  However, the narrower darts explain some of the mismatch.  The pockets don not match the front either.  I cut the pocket curve deeper to get it to match the front curve and the binding longer, although it might have been long enough.  I made narrower pleats on each side, keeping the two in the middle unchanged.

The pocket binding does pucker a bit, so a longer pocket binding would be nice.  There is no need to stretch it along the straight portion, which is most of the pocket edge.  Fitting the skirt to the bodice required a little easing, but not much since I spent a good bit of time adjusting the pleats to fit.  For some reason, the front is about an inch longer than the back at the hem.  However, the length looks even, so it may just be that they did not draw the curve in properly.  The next version needs a longer hem, no more than 2" longer, but definitely longer. ETA:  the discrepancy in the front v. back hem length was probably due to a sewing problem.  I was not aware at the time that I need to watch the feed and avoid letting one length of fabric stretch more that the other.

Last here is my third version of Simplicity 8910, using "good" fabric and choosing View B, modifying it to the sleeveless version (view A) so that it can be worn as a "jumper" with a shirt. The fabric is an indigo color cross stitch yarn dyed cotton from Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, CA., 4 yards in length, 45" wide (machine wash cold, tumble dry low), made in India, for $56.00. The hand is exceptionally soft for a cotton. The cross stitch pattern is created by two threads that are woven across the fabric lengthwise and crosswise, forming a tiny cross at the intersections on the right side. It is an attractive finish on that side, but on the wrong side, the threads are carried across for nearly 1/2", making it possible to snag them and pull the stitching. On the cut edges, the threads can pull out altogether. Seams and seam finishes may help stabilize the fabric. Definitely, pinking will not be enough. Even though a Hong Kong finish means sewing each seam 5 times (once to stitch the pieces together and twice more on each seam allowance to attach the binding), it was a fairly good solution.  French seams would have worked as well but would have been bulkier.

The photo above shows the bound seam allowances and the wrong side of the fabric. The bit of dark blue binding with green spots is the binding in the bodice, the lighter blue is the binding in the skirt.

Since I have sewn this pattern twice before, I made permanent changes to it. View B is a longer option. The longest option, view A, is so long that it would sweep the floor on me. I cut that length away from the pattern since I would never use it. I also cut away the modifications I made to the neckline to make the shoulders normal width and raise the neckline. Since I may wear a shirt under it, I decided to try the more flattering wider neckline. I lowered the dart point by 1" but kept the width in an attempt to make the pattern pieces match. Additionally, I cut the front skirt 1/4" away from the fold so that there will be extra fabric for the pleats. (Clearly, after fitting the bodice and skirt together, my pleating precision is just not enough for this pattern, or as I noted earlier about the pockets, the front pattern piece does not fit the bodice.)

Reviewers of this pattern have written that the armholes gape. This is not a noticeable problem if there are sleeves, but if not, less gaping is better. Cutting the sleeve opening larger under the arm and in front and taking in the side seam by 1/4" improved the fit. Armhole bindings (which had to be a bit longer after my mods) and hong kong finishes on the side seams completed the bodice. The gaping was reduced but I was not satisfied. The binding should have been tighter. As a quick fix, running a thread through the binding around the armhole, pulling it in slightly, did the trick. Another approach, one that I used on the linen jumper I completed last summer, would be to put a small dart from the armhole to the bust. However, that works for my figure and may not for the average.

The front skirt was pleated and pocketed according to instructions, interrupted to add a Hong Kong finish to the pocket edges before basting them down. After pleating the back skirt, the side seams were sewn and finished. At this point, I ran out of the matching navy fabric I was using for bias tape and had to resort to some thrifted fabric in a light blue. It took a lot of adjusting to make the waist of the skirt the same size as the waist of the bodice. Taking the bodice in an additional 1/4" at the side seams and letting the skirt out an additional 3/8" (leaving only a 1/4" seam allowance that was difficult to finish) made it possible to sew the waist seam. That, too received a Hong Kong finish. Finally, it was hemmed up 2". The length is perfect, about 6" above my ankle.


Now that all the raveling is controlled, I can like this fabric. It is very soft and washes without excessive wrinkling. However, one cross has already pulled out. I put that on the lower back of the skirt and pulled some light blue threads from a fabric scrap to sew it back in. How this fabric will handle being worn and washed repeatedly remains to be seen. Nonetheless, it will get washed and worn frequently. The drape and weight of this cotton adds a lot to the look of the dress. I like it. Now that this make is completed, I will take a break from sewing to warp my loom. I need to wait for my fabric order to arrive before I decide on my next project.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Burgundy Vines Circle Skirt

The first version of this skirt was made with a remnant and McCalls 8205.  The fabric, from JoAnns, (916773228) 108" wide 100% cotton, two pieces a little over 3/4 of a yard long, total cost $9.25, was cut cross grain because it gave me more length.  It would probably be a little easier to sew the curved seams cut properly.  This is obviously quilting cotton because it was 108" wide, therefore wide enough to use for quilt backing.  It is a modified circle skirt with a shaped waistband and back zipper.  Although a wearable toile, it is about 2" too big in size XL and a little short. The pockets are a little different from the usual side pockets in that they are sewn into the waistband.  They are also large and sewn into the side seam for a couple of inches top and bottom.  Things should stay in them without the usual falling out when I sit.  The directions omit the instruction to sew the pockets to the back and front, but that is what is needed before sewing the side seam.  There should be a 1/4" seam in the seam allowance, four pocket pieces sewn to front and back on each side.

The interfacing I used was fusible because this waistband needs to be sturdy--it supports the skirt but still will ride up and down. I followed the instructions for hemming, first making sure the hem was cut as correctly on the pattern curve as possible.  It took a long time to pin and sew such a long hem but it wasn't difficult.

By far, this is the cutest thing I have made.  I will definitely make it again, probably with another quilting cotton.  It needs to be either a size L or somewhere in between L and XL, and long enough to hem easily. 

The unexpected success of that first version spurred me to a second in a linen/cotton beige
stripe fabric that I bought early on in my fabric shopping.  The piece was from JoAnns and was 1 1/2 yards long and 56" wide.  It sold for $14.99/yd. for a total of  $22.49.  It is a little fancy with a shiny stripe through it, Lurex.  (179310724 56" 56% cotton, 43% linen 1% lurex.  Hand wash, line dry, cool iron. 4.
6 oz/sq yd.)  This version is Size L, View A, with an added 1" in length.  There was enough fabric for the slightly longer shortest length option and the yoke and facings, but only 2 pockets.  The other 2 pockets were cut out of the brown (Potting Soil) linen blend that I consider too stiff for apparel.  Getting all 4 yoke/facing pieces was difficult; one was cut on wrong side as a result.  Managed a more matching one out of the scraps.  This size works well, but future versions will need more than 1 1/2 yards unless it is actually 60" wide fabric. 

In sewing and fitting, I modified all four waistband seams to be less than 5/8" at the top, so simply less tapered.  This may have added a little to the finished band, but it still measures 34" on the inside at the top.  If I make this again, I would add 1/2" to the center back and front, (all pieces) then adjust to fit as I like.  That would put it between the L and XL.  This version is too short for my taste.  The next version should be cut 3-4" longer.