Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

CO-bound!

I need to ask: where should go when I’m in Denver tomorrow and Boulder on Monday? I have a couple of hours to kill in the City Center area in Denver tomorrow afternoon and all Sunday evening and most of Monday in Boulder. Any suggestions–yarn, fabric, food, sights? Thanks!

Burda 7890, already paying for itself!

A new craft means a new set of blogs, and one of my sewing favorites is Dawn at Two On, Two Off. Not only is she incredibly prolific, but she’s got great taste and she has similar shaping to me (similar, not the same–don’t expect any bikini shots here folks! You can thank me for that if you wish). So when she makes something, I pay attention.

She made a wrap top from BWoF that made it to the top of my list, and I was pleased to discover that the pattern sold in the envelope–Burda 7890–also had a jacket. When we were in the northeast this December I found myself stealing my husband’s Northface fleece jacket, in spite of my rather deep-seated prejudice against fleece (the pills, oh the pills!). But can you even imagine me paying $70 or whatever for any clothing item? Me neither. Enter Burda 7890.

I did the full review at PR here, if you are interested in the details: http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/patterns/sewingpatterns.pl?patternid=16217

I’ll just tell you all that it is supposed to be made with a sweatshirt or stretch terry, and I subbed a non-stretchy fleece in one size larger than I’d usually make. It worked out great, except for the forearms (you can see the wrinkles below). Must be those years of piano practice!

I also just sewed the zipper to the inside and skipped all the ribbon stuff. I will say the self-facing was very cool!

So the jacket has great lines, is comfy, and collects cat hair like it’s gold.

From sewing
From sewing

Then today, I finally made the shirt! PR review here

Also a success, with a 1″ tuck above the bust on all pieces. And I conquered the twin needle! It’s been a good day.

From sewing

Next time I might bring the shoulders in just a hair. Then again, it might be the fabric.

From sewing
From sewing

Twillish jacket, revisited

From knits

Ain’t it just the way it goes that when you finally do something right you don’t take good notes?? When I made my “Not Alpaca but Twillish” (rav link) jacket a year and a half ago (blog link), I made a lot of modifications to the pattern (a Norah Gaughan pattern “Alpaca Twill,” from Knitter’s Magazine 84, Fall 2006). I started out making good notes for myself, but by the time I got through my fourth and final version, I was just riffing and I can’t really tell you what I did. I’m still not sure how much help this post will be to anyone who wants to try something like it, but it’s the best I’ve got!

Three sets of notes, upside down, backwards…and totally useless. I didn’t mark which ones I ended up using, or even which ones didn’t work!

From knits

At that point, I started getting requests via Ravelry for my mods. Doh! But I’m actually grateful for those requests, because I started to put down my thoughts when they were still somewhat fresh in my head, or at least more so than now. So I’m going to do my best for those of you who have asked for help, and ask you for patience in return. I’ll be happy to clarify whatever points I can, just drop me a line.

First let me say I take great pleasure in wearing this coat. I wore it to my field’s big society meeting in Nashville (go AMS!) this November, and it was perfect for both the beautiful southern fall weather and the unpredictable climes of hotel conference centers. I could wear it running back and forth from the hotel, and even in the chillier conference rooms, without looking like I was in fact running around the city like crazy. I like that I can wear it with jeans or dressier pants, and layer it over simple knit shirts. I guess that, like all my favorite clothes, the point is that it is easy to wear.

Ok, on to some initial thoughts in no particular order…

1: Beware of hip ease. This note is for me as much as everyone else: be generous with hip ease! I’m used to using negative or sparse positive ease in sweaters, but that doesn’t fly for hips. Anyone know what kind of rules there are for ease in jackets?

My  jacket closes at the hip but doesn’t hang there naturally, a circumstance I’ve convinced myself is the look I wanted–but really? if I were making this again I’d add much more ease, please. Part of my mistake was that I changed the way the fronts of the original jacket met, without compensating for the loss of inches at the hips. I didn’t follow the schematics for this hardly at all, and this was one place I should have at least noted the measurements.

From knits

2: Reduced sleeve puff. This is a personal preference, since I just can’t bring myself to do QB-sized sleeves. So I just skipped the last four increases of the sleeves (I made the smallest size, so I had eight less sts in the middle section to be bound off), and that was a really easy way to solve the problem of the puff.

the magazine photo, check out those sleeves!

From knits

3: Knit from the top down. The best thing I did was to make the fronts and back from the top down–which I recommend purely so you can determine a happy finished length, but also because then you can try on the collar section as you go, and rip out from the beginning if you need to do so. I personally abhor trying to figure out where I should be in the pattern when I have to rip a lot. Then again, looking at my revised schematic (below), you might think better going the other way!!

To knit it top down, I just reversed the instructions- CO where it said to BO, increased where it said to decrease, etc. For the sides, I cast on 3 sts and did increases when the pattern called for decreases, and vice versa (see specific notes section below). Oh, and if it matters to you, I did my M1 increases two stitches in from the edge–just where I thought it looked best.

4: Major collar reduction. Here was my major change: I made the collar about one third of the original size, and I also skipped the “work even” rows on the collar sides to make a sharper angle at the front. The original pattern shows a pretty good overlap and a tie under the bust, but I made mine to just meet at the front, and since my Ravelry pictures I’ve added a decorative clasp in the front center.

I also slipped the first st. of the collar side on each WS row to give it a nice defined edge. (See below for some of my specific measurements on the collar, if you think that will help you out!)

collar knitted as written (you have GOT to be kidding, I say!!), plus an initial attempt to understand how to fix it, and finally the finished result:

From knits
From knits
From knits

5: Made both front panels at the same time, in exactly the same way. I did this because then when I turned one around the rib pattern spiraled in opposite directions on the front. (Ok, and because by the fourth time I knit this collar I wasn’t being as careful with notes as I should have been and knitting two at a time takes care of that laziness!) This is just a personal preference, though. It made seaming a bit harder on one side, but I really like the effect on the front when the sides swirl away from each other rather than going in the same direction.

From knits
From knits

6: A question for you: I’m curious about yarn choice for this coat. I used a chunky wool single (not doubled), and although I’ve gotten some pillage under the arms it turned out to be a great choice. It has enough body to it that it doesn’t hang or cling too much, an important consideration for me in the rear view with a longer coat like this. I’m sure the alpaca blend recommended (Berroco Ultra Alpaca) has a great drape, but alpaca is so heavy and hot I can’t imagine it in a full coat–not to mention doubled. So I’m interested to know what thoughts people are having about yarn.

On to some specifics:

Just for your own guidelines, my bust is about 32″, and I wanted less ease than I would have had with the XS of 37″ given in the pattern. So my jacket is about 34″ at the bust.

Here’s a schematic I drew off of the original pattern piece to show you how simple my collar mod ended up being. The red line is about where I think my collar ended up, with the mark “collar point” where I stopped increasing and started decreasing on that side.

The 9″ mark is at the collar point, and the 10″ mark is at the fold line.

From knits

Here are some other shots to try and show the shape:

From knits
From knits

Good luck! As my dissertation adviser is wont to say as I leave his office, “Couragio!”

I’m two!

I just discovered that Sulala is two years old today! What a perfect day to dive into my sewing habit with full force.

It’s a little hard to explain my relationship with the Singer.
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My entire sewing career is linked to this machine (minus a few brief flings, notably a one-night stand with my 4-H leader’s machine and a continuing affair with my mom’s Bernina), so it stands to reason that I can use her as the foundation for my sewing back story. My mom sewed a great deal for me on this machine when I was younger, happily stitching pants for me when I refused to wear jeans or any store bought pants, for example, or crafting the entire wardrobe for my Am*rican G*rls doll. In junior high, I made bags of varying quality, but never really got into sewing. During high school I golfed. In college when Mom upgraded I inherited the Singer. I made a few blankets for DH (imagine the domesticity of your RA sewing in her dorm room!! Wouldn’t you want to turn to her with all of your problems?) and my grandma, and then of course whenever I moved I made curtains and other household-y things for our various dwellings.

I think I had to wait until I understood patience a little more to really get into sewing, though, and patience is a lesson that knitting has never stopped teaching me. I wonder if anyone else has had this experience: until I started knitting–or maybe more accurately, reading blogs about knitting–it never really occurred to me that the fault of poorly fitting clothes was not mine! Until I was able to make decisions about how I wanted a sweater to fit, I did not understand how my body shape really affected what I bought. I simply thought that I could not wear the majority of styles that were on the store shelves because I wasn’t shaped right. (Well, and then there’s the fact that I am cheaper than dirt and never really put much effort into anything regarding looks.) For example, I have a really hard time buying dresses that fit upper and lower halves together, so in my head for years I’ve just thought I can’t wear dresses.

Why all of this self-reflection is relevant is that watching all of you have such tremendous success clothing your own beautiful selves, not as a chore or to hide anything but as a fun challenge, inspired me to try. And that meant turning to my faithful Singer. So last June with my trip to Ireland and Switzerland as my motivation I began to capital-S Sew. (I just realized that really it all started with making a dress for a wedding, but I don’t have a picture of it!!).

From sewing
This is probably the best outfit I made for the trip. The top is in a clearance sale burn-out knit modified from view A of Simplicity 3536, and the pants are modified from view B of Simplicity 4135 in a linen-look fabric from JoAnn’s (this is the second time I made these pants; the first taught me to always wash fashion fabric before you sew!!). I say “modified” with no explanations because I’m still learning how to make adjustments and most of the time there is more rhyme and less reason to my sewing decisions. The pants mostly fit well, although I need to learn to finish seams and I still have no idea how to determine length in cropped pants.

From sewing

Dancing in Atlanta’s airport: Ok, so I did make these pants (highly modified) from Butterick 5101 and a JoAnn’s knit, but the picture is showing my travel purse. I had such a rough time finding the perfect bag to take along, and finally just a day or two before I left I threw this one together. It ended up being…not perfect by any means but certainly functional. The funny part about the purse is that it is made from a pair of pants that were headed to the wadder pile. Can anyone guess where (hint: the straps were cut from the legs…)? I can’t recount the state of mind that led to this revelation that pants would give me the purse shape I was looking for, but ain’t that the state of creativity sometimes?

From sewing

Next is another Butterick 5101 top, view A, made from a nice Ponte knit. Well, nice for this top but not so nice for the pants shown above because it has pilled like crazy (Rats–just realized I made this top twice too, and only have a picture of one version!). Wrap tops can be trouble, but this one a) actually covers a little bit on top and b) doesn’t cling and cut in all the wrong places in the middle.  Oh, and c) was very easy to sew! This picture is obviously not from Swizterland, by the way!! I know there are some WI’ers out there cheering right now!

From sewing

Here’s that top again with a dress I made to go with it. I’m really hoping that I’m just standing at an awkward angle in this picture, and that my bottom half is not actually attached to my top half like this. I love the fabric, though, a Moda cotton I got on sale in Tennessee. The dress is New Look 6788, view B, and I had to make some major modifications to it so it ended up being a little “meh” without the top over it. Turns out that this “dress” when made according to the pattern is really a “sack” with no shaping at all. I took in the front, added front and back darts, and took in the center back seam to get some semblance of a dress shape to it. There’s no zipper, which is what really should have clued me in that something was wrong here! I’d make it again, with shaping and a zipper though. But look–the final result is me in a dress!

From sewing

And a skirt!! Simplicity 5524, in another Jo-Ann linen look (gotta learn to finish seams!!). If ever there was a skirt to convince me that I can wear skirts, this is it. It was easy to make, is easy to wear, and I daresay even looks decent. You can tell I did a fabulous job accessorizing it with the daring choice of a white T-shirt!

Ok, I’m out of patience with looking at myself for today. More to come!