Polishing off the TBD pile, and new pattern release

Week 1 of New Year’s resolution-keeping is off to a good start. First of all, I’m writing this post, so that satisfies my “blog regularly” goal.

My excitement for this week was the publication of one of my patterns by Valley Yarns Designs! Here’s Sabine Pullover, made in Valley Yarns Colrain (a merino/ tencel yarn). The sweater features a stitch pattern by Annie Maloney, who designs beautiful patterns. I’m in love with all her patterns from the Lace Cables volume.


Secondly, the goal this week was to clear my backlog of unfinished projects or those needing repair (the “TBD” or “to be done” pile). I did pretty well. I finished the Adiri sweater, a few days late, but within the intended week. I’m beyond thrilled with it. Here’s a picture taken in bad lighting, but hopefully the beautiful stitch pattern is clear.



My sewing to-do list grew a bit since I last posted. I fixed the sleeve caps on my cowl-neck tunic. It’s hard to see in the before and after pictures, but the tucks are gone now.

Setting in sleeve caps is always an anxiety-inducing event for me (I imagine this is how I’d feel trying to, say, steer an airplane). I follow the directions in this Craftsy tutorial for setting in sleeves. The conventional directions of running a line of gathering stitches only seems to solidify the tucks in my hands, not eliminate them. Here’s a picture of my pinned sleeve cap. I didn’t eliminate all tucks on this first attempt, and had to unstitch a small section again and retry. I used even more densely-spaced pins on the second attempt.


I also decided to peg the hem of a pencil skirt I made about 5 years ago. It’s in a beautiful wool fabric I got on sale for $5. After my unexpected success with the Marfy dress, I realized that the reason I don’t wear the pencil skirt more often is that I don’t like the shape of the hem line. So I pegged the hem by 1” at the bottom, tapered over the course of 11”. I didn’t even try to trim the seam allowances of the skirt or lining (particularly because I’d finished the lining seams with mock-French seams, and didn’t want to undo those). I wasn’t going for couture here, I just wanted something I’d be happy to wear. Nobody else is going to see the inside of this thing, and I’ll just avoid looking when I take the skirt on and off!

I also had my mom’s and husband’s Christmas gifts to wrap up. My mom’s had been 4 years in the making. I purchased the pattern (Burda 2964) and a lovely ponte knit at Britex Fabrics on my last trip to San Francisco in 2012. The lady who helped me with my selections even went so far as to match the fabric to my complexion, when I told her that the garment would be for my mom (she asked if we had similar skin tones first, which I assured her of). I had made a muslin of view B in a cheap knit fabric purchased locally when I returned from the trip. My mom is about a size 10/12 according to the sizing info. I cut a 12, thinking I might have to take it in a tad, but the tunic was far too enormous around the neck and shoulders. Stumped, I spent the next 4 years contemplating the fitting issues at intervals. The stars aligned to retry it this Christmas, and I decided to cut a size 12 below the bust point, and taper to a size 8 in all pieces above the bust point. This fixed the original problem of having too much fabric between the full bust and shoulder seam (in the vertical direction). However, the neckline was still far too wide. I pinched in the front and back princess seams (0.75” and 0.5”, respectively) when I fit my mom over Christmas, but was still stumped by how to take it in properly.


The side front and side back pieces form the side edges of the neckline, and I didn’t want to narrow the shoulder seams any. I had an epiphany last week and decided to keep the seam allowance of the side front and side back pieces the same, and take all the extra fabric out of the center front and back pieces. I drew a new point on the center front piece 1.5” from the original seam line, along the self facing fold line. I then drew a tapered line from just above the bust point to the new point at the facing fold line, and aligned the seam allowance of the side front piece to this line, and stitched it. I repeated for the back piece, taking in the center back section by 1.” (the photo shows the back piece, with the new seam line drawn on the right side).


It now fits me much better, and since my mom and I are about the same shoulder/ neck size, I think it will be ok for her. I’ve lost the graceful curve of the princess seam into the side neck edge, but oh well. At least it’s wearable now (and I swear there are no tucks in the sleeve caps, despite appearances!).


My husband’s gift was a lot easier to finish. I had made a winter-weight pyjama set (using a stable knit fabric from Mercer’s Fabrics), and McCall’s 4320. I’m used this pattern for lightweight pyjamas in quilting cotton and seersucker, and it did great with the heavier knit as well. I finished all the hemming today, using a twin needle that Santa (aka mom) got me for Christmas.


Learning to use it was a bit harder than it should have been, because it took me a while to realize there’s a thread guide for the right hand needle on my machine. One tutorial I found online said not to run the right-hand needle’s thread through a thread guide at all (I think the demo machine had only a left-hand thread guide), but on my machine this caused all sorts of clunky noises and jamming. Once I discovered the right-hand thread guide, everything went smoothly. I also used the twin needle to hem my mom’s ponte knit tunic.

Now the only task is to fix the sleeve caps on the blazer. This one will require some fortitude. Meanwhile, now that I’ve mostly cleared my “TBD” pile, I’m allowing myself to embark on new projects for the new year. First off will be this skirt from Burda, in this velvet fabric I picked up at Mood while in NYC last week. The fabric is a dark grey with  purple undertones, and a subtle burnout pattern.

As my new year’s resolutions seem to be sticking, I’ll be back next week!

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