Mittens and upcoming sewing projects

After the whirlwind of productivity and the excitement of a new pattern release last week, this past week was much more calm. The good news is that my alterations to the tunic for my mom worked for her, and I was able to present her with a fully finished piece, ready to wear. Unfortunately, I don’t have a modeled picture. Wrapping up my Christmas gifts so early in January is a bit of a record for me. I think last year’s Christmas gift for my husband wasn’t completed til late spring!

Now that the TBD pile is resolved, I’m making a concerted effort to decrease my yarn and fabric stash. I’ve had this skein of yarn since last March, earmarked for mittens. The yarn is basically an enormous strand of roving, definitely not my cup of tea. It is labeled “100% super soft wool,” for what that’s worth (my first time seeing a subjective descriptor in the fiber content info).
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In any case, the only use of this yarn to me was in the form of mittens, and I found the perfect pattern during the Ravelry-hosted Indie Design Gift-Along in December. Daisy Bulky Mittens, by Triona Murphy, turned out to be the perfect thing for this yarn. I had to adjust the cuff pattern a bit because my stitch gauge was a tad looser than called for, and I started with fewer stitches to compensate. However, the adjustment was quite straightforward to make. I had to adjust again for the top of the mitten, which again was straightforward working in stockinette stitch. Each mitten took at most 2.5 hours. Even though I was less-than-excited about the yarn, I was thrilled with the instant gratification the yarn/ pattern combo provided. Here are the mittens.
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In keeping with my stash-reduction efforts, I’ve decided to embark on two projects to use leftover fabrics. Both projects are from the 2016 Great British Sewing Bee book “From Stitch to Style.” The first is a “Chinese-inspired Top,” which is a Qipao-style tank top with a mandarin collar and diagonal opening across one shoulder. The opening closes with an invisible zipper, but is embellished with decorative frog closures. I have quite a bit of leftover brocade from my earlier bomber jacket adventure (I’d purchased enough fabric to make the entire jacket in brocade, but then made the sleeves and trim in a plain satin). The second project is a “1960s color-blocked top,” based on the Yves St. Laurent Mondrian Dress. I’ll be using a brown hemp-backed satin that made an appearance in a tie for my husband, and a tiger-print charmeuse that was used for a wrap top. Ideally the back will be solid brown and the front window-pane panels will be tiger-print (separated by brown stripes), but I haven’t laid out the pattern pieces to make sure I have enough of each fabric. If not, I can change how I color block the piece, and facings can be a different fabric altogether if needed.

This week I only got so far as tracing the patterns. The patterns are printed in color in an overlapping fashion, which I suppose is a necessary evil when you’re trying to provide as many patterns as this book does. The book implies that it’s a great starting point for beginners, but I have to say that some knowledge of how sewing patterns are drafted goes a long way in tracing off the convoluted map of patterns on the printed sheets. I suppose that such knowledge is not essential, but it definitely made things easier.
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Secondly, I thought the labeling was a bit inadequate. There are often rows of notches, with no indication of which notch corresponds to which size.
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Otherwise the patterns appear straightforward, with the expected elements (darts, zippers etc.) in the expected places. Overall I think the patterns are not tricky, and the book gives good instructions in what they call “Core Skills,” such as inserting a zipper or sewing a hem. I wouldn’t recommend this as a starting point for learning to sew.

My plan is to make a muslin for the Chinese-inspired top, since the fit through the neck and shoulders needs to be precise for the design to work. When it comes to the color-blocked top, however, i’ll throw caution to the wind and go for it. The color-blocking introduces enough seams hat any adjustments can be made after the fact. And I’ll also make a muslin of the skirt pattern that’s intended for the lovely grey velvet I posted about last week. Hoping that at least one of these is finished by next time!

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