Category Archives: Uncategorized

Building a practical wardrobe

Time has been flying by, but I’ve been trying to keep up the sewing and knitting. I’ve taken a bit of a break from knitting, after a knitting marathon to produce the Waterfall Cardigan in March/ April. However, I did start on the Loftus shawl while on a family vacation recently. I’m using Llyr yarn, from A Hundred Ravens, which is a beautiful fingering-weight silk/ wool blend. Pink seems to be the color of the year for me (or maybe 2 years!), and this yarn features lovely tonal variations from light pink to dusty rose (but more on the dusty rose side).

Loftus_pattAsmall

In other news, the jacket for my mom’s birthday was a major success. She loved it! Here she is:

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I have to give a shout-out to the McCall’s pattern company. I contacted them about a seam that was off by about 0.5” in this pattern, and they responded promptly with a promise to fix it. Fantastic customer service!

On to more recent stuff—I’ve decided to be a bit more practical with my sewing and make things for every-day wear, rather than cocktail dresses for special events. I’m a fabric magpie, I’m always drawn to pretty dresses in shiny fabrics. But I need pants, and tops, and dresses for work/ daytime wear. I’ve recently been working on the Flint pants from Megan Nielsen, using a linen from fabrics-store.com (it’s from the IL032 line, in color “raisin,” which is an apt description for the brownish-purple). I’ve attached the waistband since taking this picture, but still have to place a hook and eye closure at the front, and hem the bottom (ignore the bulge at my left hip, that’s where the closure will be. I didn’t get the pin in quite the right spot). The pants fit just fine (I took out about 1.5” from the circumference), but they’re a little high-waisted for my liking. Nothing wrong with the pattern, it’s just that I wasn’t expecting them to fits as they do. Nevertheless, I’m expecting to get a lot of wear out of these. I’m aiming to have finished pictures for next time!

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More recently, I finished the Ansa Dress from Named Patterns. The dress was a pleasure to sew, and went very quickly. I used a rayon challis that I had purchased during a Craftsy sale this winter. I’m thrilled with the fabric/ pattern combo. The rayon was very slippery to work with, but the end result was worth the trouble. The pattern has 6 small pleats at the waist for shaping, and large butterfly sleeves that drape beautifully in the rayon. This one also needs a hook and eye closure (in back), and lots of loose threads finished off.

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Up next might be some home-dec, which I’ve never done before. I’m hoping to have curtains, and perhaps linen bedsheets, for our upcoming 5-year wedding anniversary!

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Waterfall Cardigan release, and other knitting and sewing

My latest knit design, Waterfall Cardigan, was released this week in the summer issue of Cast On magazine!

It is currently available only to members of The Knitting Guild of America, but will be available to the general public soon. This sweater is worked in Lady Godiva yarn—a beautiful silk wool blend– from Handmaiden Yarns. The yarn was a delight to work with, and showed off both lace and cable designs beautifully. After wet blocking, it developed a lovely drape that allows the fronts of the cardigan to fall gracefully. The stitch patterns are from Annie Maloney’s book “Lace Cables.” I love this collection, and want to design something with every single stitch pattern in there—so far I’ve used 4!

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on more utilitarian knitting. My winter socks have been mended many times over, so I decided to replace them with Anastacia Zittel’s “Cable Look Socks,” which I tested before the pattern release. (The pair I’m replacing is the original test knit). I’m making this pair in Ella Rae Classic, a workhorse worsted-weight wool that’s available in a wide range of colors.

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This yarn is on the lighter side of worsted weight, which means that I can make the socks slightly longer than the originals. I’ve finished one sock, and am about a third of the way through the second one. They make for great knitting on the bus.

My sewing plans, as often happens, have gotten waylaid by holidays—Mother’s day and my mom’s birthday a week later. I decided to try something different for her this time, and picked a style that neither of us would typically reach for. I chose V9035 from Marcy Tilton.

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When I was at the fabric store with my mom last weekend, I asked her to pick from the selection of silk dupioni fabrics, without telling her the intended use. She chose a lovely sage green, which unfortunately looks a bit sallow in the photos below.

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I purchased 2.25 yards, as called for on the pattern envelope for a 60” fabric, but realized after I got home that the fabric was more like 53.” I barely managed to fit the pattern pieces. The construction is highly unusual, but the directions are clear enough, and the sewing itself is straightforward. I finished it in record time, and even did mock-French seams to enclose the seam allowances, which frayed badly. I gave it to my mom today, with only the sleeve hems and buttons/ buttonholes remaining. She loved it! (I was afraid she wouldn’t, since it’s not her “normal” style). My only complaint about the design is how wide the back is. I’m not exactly thrilled with the flappy thing across the back either, but I don’t mind it.

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It may work better in a drapier fabric, rather than the stiff fabrics recommended (pattern envelope calls for taffeta, poplin, or broadcloth). I finished the sleeve hems after she left, and now only the buttonholes remain. These are the buttons I plan to use:

Details of the pattern and construction next week!

 

Hemming a velvet skirt

My first “epic” project of the year is complete, the Burda 105 Godet Skirt. It wasn’t meant to be an epic project, but the slippery, slinky fabric turned it into one. Here it is, a winter skirt ready for the first warm day of spring.

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I had left off at the hem last time. I followed the directions in this Threads Magazine article, except that instead of using bias-strips of flannel (which I didn’t have), I used 1” self-fabric strips cut along the cross-grain, as advised by an online sewing friend. The fabric was stretchy enough along that I didn’t need the strips to be bias cut. When I turned up the hem, I discovered why Threads recommended a strip of fabric in the hem—the velvet did not want to make a crisp fold, and there was a gap between fabric layers right above the fold line. This gap is taken up by the fabric strip.

I trimmed the hem of the skirt to 0.5”. I then aligned the right side of the strip of fabric facing the wrong side of the fabric, so that one edge of the fabric strip was right against the hem line, and the other edge extended beyond the edge of the skirt (by about 0.5”). I decided to use schematic drawings here, because the velvet wasn’t photographing clearly enough for instructional purposes. The skirt is shown in purple, and the fabric strip in grey.

I stitched the edge of the strip to the skirt, just below the hemline:

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On the right side, I stitched the edge of the skirt hem to the strip of fabric, using a zig-zag stitch:

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I then turned everything up at the hem line, so that the strip of fabric was between the skirt body and hem allowance. I catch-stitched the strip of fabric to the skirt body by hand. It took forever because the hem was well over 100” long, and I’m slow at hand-sewing (but fairly meticulous).

hem_catch-stitch

I did lose some of the nice drape and flow of the unhemmed skirt. I always seem to have this problem when hemming a curved piece (unless the fabric is thin enough for a tiny narrow rolled hem). Nevertheless, I’m quite pleased with the end result, and looking forward to wearing this out and about. But first I might have to make the accompanying Burda 102 jacket, which I’d like to do in a ponte knit.

There’s been some debate in my household about the ideal color for the jacket. We’re having a déjà vu moment of the black/ gold/ blue/ white dress optical illusion that was all over social media a couple of years ago. I think the velvet has clear purple undertones, and that the jacket should be a dark purple. My mom and husband don’t see any purple at all, and vote for a grey to black color for the jacket. Two coworkers called the skirt “dark grey” in color, but noted purple when prompted. What color(s) do you see in the skirt, and what are your suggestions for jacket color? Post in the comments below. Meanwhile, here’s another picture of the finished skirt (my shirts in both pictures are pure black, for comparison).

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And just in case anyone is wondering about my activities on the knitting front—I’m hard at work on a piece for a 3rd-party publisher. It’s top-secret, but here’s a preview of the swatch, in the beautiful silk/ wool Lady Godiva yarn from Handmaiden Yarns :

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The publication is due out in May, so watch for it here, on Facebook, and/ or on Ravelry!