Saturday, March 18, 2023

New Look 6511 and Toaster, First Tries

Since the two tops from Vogue 8922 were successful, I have tried out a couple of others. New Look 6511 is a pattern for a trendy top, one that is fitted on top but breaks into a full gathered skirt above the waist. My "muslin" shopping in the end of season sale fabrics this fall turned up a gorgeous batik, 100% cotton, black and tan/gold, 44" wide, $12.99 regular price, $5/yard on sale, Since it wasn't really "muslin" type material or price, I did constrain myself to 2 yards, keeping it to $10 total.

I furthered the frugalness by using sheermist batiste in black for a lining. That was a modification, since this pattern does not call for lining. Rather, it uses single fold bias binding at the neck and armholes. The back slit at the neckline is just folded in and stitched. None of that seemed nice enough for this pretty fabric. I cut the lining out first, in a size 14, grading to 16 at the waist, a size 12 at the front neck and a size 18 at the back neck. The back neck height is probably ok in the size 14, but the seam allowances at the neck and the armholes are only 3/8" to allow for the bias binding attachment. Adding that bit extra from the size 18 allowed me to sew a 5/8" seam at the neck. The darts are good where they are; the side seams are actually ok at the size 14, but the back rides up and out a little. Adding 1/4" to the back shoulders has helped. Once the skirt was sewn on, it weighed down the back enough to make make everything sit properly. The pattern is now adjusted based on how the lining fit. So the lining was actually the toile, because I love this batik too much to consider it a toile.

The pattern recommends 4.5" of ease, meaning that my size was between 14 and 16. Cutting the 14 puts it at 3" of ease at the bust. The pattern photo looks like it has less ease than that. Although it is very cute that tight, reducing the ease in this fabric is probably not a good idea. That would make the top difficult to put on and to move around in, since this fabric has no stretch. Nontheless, the top baloons out in back and fits well in the front only because the shoulders (either its or mine) make it sit forward. It fits from the armholes to the bust because of the darts, then boom, fullness, an effect that is problematic for this fabric which has no drape. While the fullness could disquise bulges, the waist is not fitted enough to compensate for it. The fullness would be eliminated by adding darts or by tapering in the side and back seams for a better fit at the bodice below the bust.

Adding darts will correct it but would change the original design. The pattern intends an A-line shape that widens from the armholes to the end of the bodice. I intend for it to be more fitted, like the photo on the pattern envelope. A second version should have less ease, either through tapering the side seams or adding two 3/4" darts in the back, one on each side of the center seam, about 2.5" from the seam and shortening the skirt by a proportionate amount. (i.e. several inches)
The top is long on me, more a tunic length. The skirt I plan to wear with it is below knee length and looks good enough with the longer top. The means of making the button loop or fastening needs work, but first I must shop for an alternative elastic or other material. In the meantime, the elastic loop can stay fastened when I pull it on.

The Toaster Sweater from Sew House 7, Version #1 is an older popular indie pattern. There are hundreds of versions blogged, reviewed, youtubed, etc. My only hesitation about sewing it is that I do not have cotton sweatshirt-style fleece that has the recommended amount of stretch. I'm sure a Toaster will make a great sweatshirt, once I find that stretchy cotton fleece. In the meantime, I used the 1/2 yard of the brown ITY knit that remained after my Lodo Dress, along with another yard of the same fabric in Ponderosa green. It worked well. Since the fabric specs are in my post on the dress, I won't repeat them here, other than the price of the green fabric--$6.52. I cut a size 10, tracing the cut lines on the fabric with chalk and cutting with a rotary cutter to see if it is true that using a rotary cutter on knits makes them nicer to sew. My conclusion is: a little.

In an excess of caution, I cut the bottom band to a size 12. Once I basted the raglan and side seams together, I felt it was made for a decent fit, maybe a bit loose. Even with a thicker fabric, the size 10 will work for those pieces. The final seam uses a knit stitch at 3/8" seam allowance, but since the needle sits over to the left for that stitch, it is closer to a 1/2" seam. That should tighten the fit about a half an inch, making it between an 8 and a 10 and allowing for more shrinking when machine washed and dried. The fit is good, the collar stands up in this ITY, as it certainly will in a fleece. The optional top stitching with a twin needle looks good on the raglan seams, but made them pucker a bit. Since most of the top stitching is on the body, which is brown, omitting the top stitching on the green makes for an intentional look. The only omissions of top stitching are at the neckline and sleeve cuff. The neckline doesn't need it and the cuff, the cuffs are a problem.

The sleeves are too long for me. The sleeve itself should be shortened by at least 1 1/2". Since it is already cut out (that's the purpose of a toile, after all, to find and correct issues with the pattern), the cuff had to be reverse engineered to work this out. Taking 3/4" off both the sleeve and cuff meant that both had to be reshaped. After sewing the cuffs to the sleeve with a 1/2" seam, the sleeves are almost the right length--long, but not too long. Additionally, since there wouldn't be top stitching to hold the seam allowance in place, I changed it to a cuff with a facing and enclosed seam by hand stitching the inside cuff to the turned down seam. The end result is comfortable to wear but has a bulge at the seam from the thickness of the seam allowances.

The body length is ok. The size 12 band fit the size 10 body. It could all be smaller. Unless a repeat of this pattern is in a fleece or otherwise thicker fabric, a size 8 with a size 10 band would be the correct choice. The top stitching ripples the fabric. Based on another top, even using the walking foot does not stop that. The sewing is a bit difficult in this medium weight fabric. A thicker fabric might require a different approach, such as sewing the cuffs on before sewing the side seams and sewing the seam allowance down on the outside (for comfort) with a visible hem stitch. Or--just buy a serger?
I have been wearing it all day and liking it a lot, even the colorblocking. The fit of the raglan is the best of the several raglan patterns I have tried. Raglans are my favorite sleeve design so it is confounding that the raglan dresses I have sewn so far fit so poorly. This one is super. I need to compare it to the others and see what is different.

My toile of the Toaster #2 used a 1 yard Shao White Waffle Knit remnant, 75% poly/23% rayon/2% spandex, $2.12. The fabric can be machine washed, gentle, cold, line dry, cool iron. It was originally 16.99/yard. This top also used an additional 3/4 yard of the same fabric (60% off, $5.19). The total cost of fabric was $7.31.

I used the stretch zig zag to sew it, set on a narrow and short stitch, maybe 2 (or 3) and 1. For hemming, I used the visible hem stitch, set to 5 and 1.5. That sits on the fabric around the waffle pattern so that it resembles the twin needle stitch that is recommended. I find the visible hem stretches better than the twin needle stitch. Unfortunately, even with the walking foot, the hem did not avoid that stretched out effect the twin needle top stitching created on the muslin of Toaster Sweater #1.

The only problem I had with this top was in distinguishing the right side of the fabric from the wrong side. I misplaced the seam tape on the front, ironing it onto the right side. (Note: The double stick seam tape recommended to secure the folded neck facing does not stick well on this fabric.) I was going to cut off the facing a bit and put it on correctly, but had so much difficulting in telling which was the right side and which was the wrong side that I decided that it didn't matter. The front is on the other side from the sleeves and the back.

I really can't tell any difference in the fabric now. As far as fit goes, I cut the size 10, expecting it to be big. It is a bit oversize, not much. I did make the seams a little wider than the 3/8" specified. I shortened the sleeve by 1 1/2". That's a 1/4" or so too much, so I should change the pattern adjustment I made.
Finally, I finished my annual sweater. Ha, I only knit one sweater a year now, and this beauty is it for this winter. It is the Aava Sweater modifed from pullover to cardigan and it looks great with the Toaster Sweater and a 2022 knit skirt, the Snapping Turtle Skirt from Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Not Clothes, Instead Bags

I used to be a serious devotee of the Fringe Association blog. In those posts I saw, I thought, a like-minded knitter. That was a rare event. Early on in my knitting "career" as my friends termed it, I realized that just because someone else knitted, I should not assume that we had anything other traits or thoughts in common. Nonetheless, I bit once again when I found the writings and the products of the now-defunct company. I even purchased a few items from the shop, dealing with the predictable disappointment when I received them. Ah, the internet is that place where things look so pretty but are usually useless. I watched, bemused, as the frenzy for some products grew. I stared, appalled, as other knitters posted walls of products I would never buy. I just couldn't believe they would pay what I considered an unreasonable price for a commonly available item and repeat that same purchase multiple times. But I shrugged it off. That's them, not me.

Then, this fall, I received a message, from beyond the grave as it seemed. The dead blog spoke. I bit. I bought the Field Bag pattern and a swath of painted canvas. That was my Christmas present. I only just opened it last week. Life intervened.
This is my toile, made in duck cloth.  I will make one in the kit fabric later.
However, now I dream of owning a wall of bags, similar to that I saw posted years ago. The only difference is that I will make them for what I hope will be a fraction of the price. Maybe I will actually use and enjoy them. If nothing else, the pattern and a few additional yards of fabric and notions will provide me with entertainment this Spring, when my closet is full, my dance card is empty, and I seek inspiration. Gotta keep the brain cells circulating.

To start, one pattern, with notions, as a kit from Grainline Studios. A bit of fabric. My short acquaintance with canvas. Things I am learning: canvas is different from duck cloth. Canvas is about twice as heavy and stiff. The bag relies on the stiffness of the canvas to stand up. To aid the stiffness of the duck cloth, I am lining it. The wrong side of the printed cloth I chose is not particularly attractive. Lining will hide the wrong side. In addition, I am interfacing the lining with Pellon Decor Bond, a fusible interfacing product. It isn't fusing very well, but the stitching of the pockets, side seams and drawstring casing will hold it in place.

The pockets went in well, even with my one modification; I added a zipper to the grommet pocket and omitted the grommets. I have the grommets in my kit and may add them to another version. However, I am not sure I would use them to separate yarn as I knit. Once threaded through, the yarn would have to be cut to remove the project from the bag. That's not a big problem, but it will create a couple of ends to weave in, possibly in the middle of my project if I am changing what I'm carrying in the bag. Since the grommets will keep yarns straight when I am knitting with two strands, I want to try them at some point to see how I like using them--but not in this bag. This bag will be used immediately to carry my sock-knitting and reading supplies, supplies I want to use during rather long wait times. The zipper will keep my kindle in place without the on/off button being constantly pushed, as is happening in my purse. I realize a kindle isn't a required knitting accessory, but I get tired of knitting and need to read a little during long waits.

The next bag will be plain on the outside, with pockets that are made to better fit the items I want to carry. Once I have used the first one, I will know how to outfit the second one. The third one will likely use the painted canvas and may have grommets. After that, I may be tired of this pattern and have moved on.

The technical details are that this bag used most of 1 yard of printed duck cloth (100% cotton) from Hobby Lobby, a bit of Pellon Decor Bond, and the strap and drawstrings from the Grainline Studios kit. The duck cloth was on sale for $4.79/yd., the Pellon products were $2.39/yd., and the accessories in the kit, including the grommets, can be purchased for $11.00--without the grommets, it might be $7.00. A little dirty math puts the total cost around $12.00. It took about three days for this first bag, an hour or so a day. The next ones should go faster. The zipper isn't included in that, but it is a used zipper. It was 9" and was cut off shorter. If I need another zipper I will buy a 9" zipper and cut it a bit longer than this one. It isn't quite as long as the pocket. The ends are covered by bits of the fabric selvedge, making a neat edge that doesn't have to be topstitched or overcast.

This toile was successful, creating a cute and useful bag. Other than the zipper in place of the grommets, there are no changes to the pattern. It is a small bag, basically 9" x 5". In the bag is a sock project and the tools to finish the remaining sock. It fills the bag. If the project is larger than socks or other accessories, the bag would need to be larger. Since I also have the Stowe bag pattern from Grainline, I see the larger version of that pattern, which makes a bag 14" x 7", might be something to try.