Anniversary jumper

Hoo boy this one is another one that was a long time coming!

This knit started with the yarn. I wanted an affordable, thinner than 8 ply yarn, in nice colours. I can’t tell you much more about what started me wanting that because I bought this yarn almost three years ago! It’s Charlemont from valley yarns. I bought two hanks of Burgundy and three of Evergreen. The yarn is merino/silk/poly. The silk gives it a luscious sheen, and the colour is totally gorgeous (very hard to get an accurate photo of though it’s much less orange than it looks in these photos). But there’s enough poly in it to make it feel a bit odd to knit with, which definitely contributed to how long this knit took me. It’s also very fine – I mean OBVIOUSLY, it’s a fingering weight/4ply. The site calls it sock/fingering weight but it’s definitely fingering.

Because it was so fine I couldn’t get gauge for any of the patterns I liked. And anyway, I wanted something very plain and simple – they aren’t very exciting to knit but they’re the kind of garment I reach for over and over, and miss when I don’t have them in my wardrobe. I think I was swatching at craft camp and someone (Suse maybe?) suggested I try CustomFit. So I did! There wasn’t a design that was exactly what I wanted but the design it yourself bit was so easy. The design notes on this one are:

  • Hourglass close fit
  • Hourglass silhouette
  • Style: pullover
  • Length: High-hip length [which I then cropped]
  • Sleeves: Full-length sleeve
  • Neck style: Crew neck
  • The pattern called for 1×1 ribbing but I made it 2×2 because that retains its shape better

There’s no option for a cropped jumper, which I knew I wanted, so I just found where the waist would be and knit from there up. Essentially I took 4″ off the length. Details are on my ravelry page.

I really loved using  Custom Fit! I always have to add in bust darts and sometimes back shaping – generally I use the method in the Knit to Flatter book (by Amy Herzog who also runs Custom Fit). But honestly it was real nice to not have to do the maths myself. I am perfectly capable of designing this jumper my own self, but really it was worth $10 or so to not have to. Absolutely worth it.

I think I might need to start adding shaping for my upper back though

I did hit a major snag when I finished it and basted it all together. The sleeve caps were just laughably too short. Just not even close. I emailed the Custom Fit support and Amy was incredibly helpful. The measurements I’d put in were outside of what the algorithm could cope with, so she recalculated the sleeve caps for me! This involved some very nifty shaping and I am very impressed, both with her understanding of knit shapes, and the customer service. To be frank, I was a very irritating customer – I wrote long waffly emails, and then took months to reply back with crucial details like measurements. Amy was just wonderful throughout the whole process. I would recommend the Custom Fit service on this alone, PLUS the shaping  in the jumper is exactly perfect.

The remaining major flaw is my own fault. As I said, I cropped this jumper, because I wanted it to wear over dresses. However, it’s… short. I think really I should have another inch on it, although it does sit nicely over dresses – which was the intention. So I guess it’s a win – except that I don’t really have any dresses at the moment that this would sit nicely over! The ones I had in mind when I designed it have been retired due to wear or poor fit. Plus I really should have designed it with a Vneck to be useful over shirtdresses. I considered ripping back and redoing the neck – it’s not a hard adjustment to make – but this is the total amount of yarn I have left:

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So yeah, I’m not risking it! This is the result of some serious yarn chicken on the sleeves. I initially measured them too short because I measured a bought jumper where the sleeves were exactly 2″ too long, but I neglected to notice that the shoulder of said jumper hung off my shoulder by 2″! And so I had to knit them another 2″ longer than the pattern called for – which turned out to be a good thing because I knit the sleeves at a particularly stressful time and my gauge was noticeably tighter, and the sleeves were too narrow! So with all of that, I’ve knit those dang sleeve caps maybe five times? I had to rip back and weight each sleeve and work out how much yarn each row took in order to get sleeves that matched and were long enough. Yeesh! I did a lot of that on our recent trip to Broken Hill, while listening to the latest arc of The Adventure Zone (it’s the BEST you guys), so now every time I look at this jumper I think of those things, which is really nice.

So as you can see, the jumper isn’t quite right for any of my dresses, and it’s also not right for skirts! The pattern as written/generated, an extra 4″ longer, would probably be perfect.

Nope!

So I have enough of the green yarn to knit the pattern in its original form, and the colour would be more versatile in my wardrobe than this one. But honestly I’m not sure if I’m up for it! This has been on the needles for almost two whole years – mostly sitting idle but even when it was actively being knit on it took forever. That said… I really really like it. The shape is exactly what I had in mind. User error aside, I’m so incredibly impressed by how this turned out. I would 100% recommend the Custom Fit platform and I’ll definitely be using it again. And maybe I’ll even be knitting this pattern again… once I’ve had some time to get over the dramas!

Chuck sweater

You guys, I finished a knit!

This is Chuck by Andi Satterlund. I’ve seen Andi’s knits a lot on the blogosphere, and admired them, but I’d never bit the bullet on starting one because they are mostly in 10ply which is kind of hard to get here in Aus and also, I don’t honestly have that much call for 10ply jumpers. Until recently, that is! When we moved offices and the new office is basically refridgerated year round. In winter I end up wearing my outdoors jacket to sit at my desk sometimes, so I figured a 10ply jumper might be useful after all.

The yarn is from my stash. I had some leftover Cascade 220 from knitting a Rogue hoodie many years ago. I don’t actually have a single proper picture of that jumper because I never really wore it. The sleeves were about an inch too short, as was the body. It looked ok-ish but I never felt comfortable in it. In December 2014 I pulled it out to see if I could re-knit the sleeves, to find it had been moth eaten in some… significant spots. Nipple holes aren’t really the kind of thing I look for in a jumper, ya know? So I frogged the whole dang thing, planning to reknit it from scratch. A few months of slow progress in, however, I realised I just wasn’t that keen on it any more. I liked the idea of it but a knit hoodie doesn’t really fit in my life or wardrobe anymore. So I frogged it and skeined the yarn up and put it all back in the stash.

Obligatory cat pic

Then in winter last year I got the itch to knit again, and I was cross with the other thing I was knitting, which is quite fine yarn. I remembered Roisin’s version(s) and decided I’d give it a go! The yarn was sitting unused and unloved already, so if I didn’t love it I hadn’t lost much, and I was dying for the feel of chunky, wooly yarn in my hands.

Me, explaining it’s many hours yet until dinner time

Friends, I HATED knitting this sweater. I found the pattern really hard to navigate – I don’t know what it is but just something about how it was laid out made it hard for me to see what was happening as I read it. I had thought maybe I was exaggerating this in my head but as I was re-reading it to check my ravelry notes were up to date I got so frustrated trying to work out what the heck was going on that I accidentally tore a page in half as I was flipping it back and forth. Oops.

I made a bunch of adjustments. The details are on my ravelry page but the broad overview is:

  • Went down a needle size for the ribbing
  • Knit size L for shoulders and increased to the 1X size at the bust.
  • Added bust dart increases
  • Moved the side decreases to the back, which is where I need the shaping
  • Chucked in a couple of short row sections at the back to make up for my swayback
  • Knit an extra repeat
  • Knit the sleeves before I finished knitting the body because I was pretty sure they’d change how it fit (they did)
  • Picked up the number of stitches for the L sleeves and then didn’t decrease at the end of the armhole, leaving me with enough stitches for the 1X sleeve
  • Made the sleeves full length (see rav notes for how)
Bust increases

I initially knit the two repeats in the pattern and was going to just knit the ribbing long but the cables hit in an odd place and made me look really foreshortened. I check the hive mind via instagram and everyone agreed that it looked no good. So I ripped the ribbing back and did another repeat. I was concerned this would leave me with either a too-long jumper, or not enough ribbing. In the end it worked out ok. I wish the ribbing were 1/2″ longer, for proportion, but it sits neatly on my waistband at this length so I’m happy with it.

To be honest with you, I would not recommend this pattern to anyone above the size M, or with boobs bigger than say a C cup. I knew going in that it was a risk, making a chunky knit in negative ease, because I just don’t think that knits like that play well with larger figures. I think the risk paid off but I wouldn’t knit this again. And also the bust darts were VERY necessary, even though from the armpit down I knit the size that should fit my bust. Even with the darts you can see it folding and pulling at the side of my bust and I suspect it will wear badly in that area. I also think the cable and the negative ease makes my bust look droopy and frumpy. Not enough to not wear it, but it’s not really ideal.

Also look at the weird shape of that sleevecap! It’s a nice round shape when flat so idk what pulling is making it do that. I think I should have knit a size 1X sleeve but there honestly wasn’t that much difference in terms of stitch count.

Yup that pulling is definitely coming from the sleeve. Ugh.

I also really REALLY hated the way the sleeves were done. You pick up stitches around the armhole and knit it down, using shortrows to shape the cap. You are instructed to pick up less than half of the stitches that would fill out the armhole, and that + short rows immediately after pickup meant that row was really loose for me. I did a better job with the second armhole but even so I had to go back and stitch it closed so it wasn’t all gapey and weird.

ugly join on the first sleeve
Second sleeve is better

I also couldn’t find a way to make the short rows work without showing the wrap. I tried several techniques and all of them worked for me in thinner yarn but in this bulk, with negative ease? Nope. You can really see it in the back short rows I did.

The back shortrows do make it bubble a bit if I stand a certain way, but they also mean it doesn’t pull up at the back waistband. I’m very pleased with how that worked out.

I used this technique for the bindoff, and I’m really happy with it. I think this will be my regular bindoff now.

I did like the way the top down construction helped me try it on and add adjustments on the fly. And I do like the finished product – more than I thought I would when I first finished it! But boy. It was rough going.

I actually knit it with my Malmaison skirt in mind but I’m not sure I love them together. The Cascade is ‘Aporto’ and it’s a dark blue with flecks of green in it. It reads as almost navy but next to a true navy is much more petrol-coloured. And I love to match… I’ll probably wear them together, but I like it more with the demin skirt.

So there we have it! A very ambivalent FO. But however mixed my feelings are towards the pattern itself, I am THRILLED to have finished a knit. I haven’t knit very much the last few years, due to wrist issues and also really struggling with mental health in winter, which is when I knit most, and not wanting to do anything at all. It feels so good to be back to knitting – it’s my very first craft, and what made me start this blog, through which I have met so many of you wonderful people. I hope the bug sticks!

Jennifer dress

Hello! Here is my second iteration of Vogue 8811.

Gosh look how nice and even that waist is sitting! I get a gold star

I’m sorry these photos are so shocking. I went out two separate times to get them but still didn’t end up with good ones so I’m calling these good enough. I’m getting closer to figuring out appropriate times for good lighting, however, so hopefully they’ll improve.

I tend to like to make a pattern more than once. Partly this is because I always have to do so much fitting work that it feels like wasted effort if I just make a once-off. Also that you can never really be sure how something fits until you wear it, so I like to t ake a second crack at it – and I find I learn a lot about fitting that way, too. In this case I loved my first version so much that I was planning to make a second V8811 before I even blogged the first one.

I earmarked this blue broadcloth from my stash for it. It’s just from spotters, and I think I bought it intending to make a shirtdress. But it’s a bright enough blue that I thought it would probably come out a bit uniform-y so it was looking for the right project and I knew this simple bodice would avoid the uniform issue. But then… it’s a bit boring, right? It’s a nice colour but not in my usual palette so I wanted to do something to spiff it up.

I thought about adding some trim, as in view A, but honestly I’m not really a lace and ribbon kinda gal. Then I thought, that pocket has some opportunities! I have a pinterest board of embroidery ideas, many of which are vintage transfers, so I picked one I thought would work well with the fabric and started on it.

I mostly worked on it on my train commute and it went very quickly. I used machine embroidery stabiliser because my local stores didn’t have any proper hand embroidery stuff, and it didn’t 100% wash away which is why it looks a bit odd and stiff still. I think it will eventually dissipate and it’s not obvious except very close up. I used random colours I liked from my collection. The stems are stem stitch, the centres satin stitch, the leaves feather stitch and the petals grain stitch. Oh and the little cluster of french knots – I think I’ve FINALLY learnt how to do a consistent french knot, but I still don’t like doing them. I am now a bit addicted to embroidery – I forgot how fun it is! Except I need to find more useful and interesting things to stitch.

I did not, however, do a good job of sewing the pocket on. Oh, well. It’s not so obvious when worn so I’ll just live with it, although it does annoy me. Part of the issue is that the pocket is two pieces, sewn together and turned. The embroidered piece is on the bias since that’s what the pattern tells you to do but then I realised that’s only because if you’re using a plaid it’s a contrast. So I cut the backing on the straight grain but that was probably a mistake. Also the pattern has you turn it in a weird way – I was planning to leave the whole top unturned since that’s topstitched anyhow but the pattern has you turn it from the bottom which means you have to leave the opening quite small, so I couldn’t really do much about wonky edges. If I were doing this again I’d just do it my way.

I sewed the same size as last time (which started as a size 12). Changes I’d already made to the paper pattern included:

  • 2″ FBA
  • Added 3/4″ to side seams of bodice (so it was essentially a size 14 bodice).
  • Took up waist about 1″, losing a total of 2″ length from both the bodice and skirt
  • Lowered neckline 1″ at front neck tapering to nothing at front shoulders

I’d made the front 1″ larger last time but forgot to this time as I hadn’t made the extra addition to the pattern and I was cutting this out while sick. I also didn’t cut the skirt wider as the fabric was too narrow. I sewed the side seams at 1cm instead of 1.5cm to compensate for this.

This time I also:

  • Lowered the neckline a further 1/2″ all the way around, for a total of 1.5″ at front and 1/2″ at shoulder and back neck.
  • Sewed the armhole seam about 1cm higher so the armholes aren’t so gapey
  • Took 1cm off the top of the sleeves, tapering to nothing at the mid sleeve
  • Sorted out where the waistline should be.
  • Added a full lining instead of using facings.
  • Added pockets

Figuring out the waistline took a lot of basting and swearing but in the end what it amounted to was taking off 1″ from the centre front, tapering to nothing at the dart. This was pretty much what the FBA added that I had not dealt with properly. Naughty. I got my consequences though! I then took a further 1″ off the entire waist, front to back. I have read a few people saying it seemed long in the waist so perhaps it’s the pattern. I do have a long waist and it’s quite rare that I have to shorten a bodice unless I want it to hit above my natural waist. I must say I didn’t mind how it looked when it was a bit longer – it definitely had more of the 40’s long and lanky look (not that I will ever look lanky but you know what I mean… it had that feel to it) but it bunched up when I moved so it got taken up.

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This is before the last 1″ was taken out. It looks ok but you can just see it bubbling up. It was super obvious when I moved. Also note paint swatches on the boring grey wall behind me!

I also took the skirt up 1″ to make the waist wider, to compensate for not having cut it out wider. Consequently I only did a 1″ hem. I didn’t have to adjust the hem at all so I think my issues with the last one were the rayon stretching out after all. The broadcloth is pretty firm and hasn’t shifted on the bias but there’s still time! 😛

I lopped off 1cm from the top of the sleeve and straightened out the sleeve curve – the FBA had involved shifting that seam about a bit and I essentially just put it back as drafted. Again, should have already done that, very sloppy. I added pockets from B6285, which are my go-to pockets now – they’re an excellent shape and sit well in the side seams of a skirt. I also find they give a nice volume to a skirt, puffing it up a bit exactly where I want the volume. When I tried on my basted together version it hung quite limply, but with the pockets and the lining it fluffs up very nicely. Pleasing!

I fully lined it, and I really like how it is with a lining. I would definitely do this again next time. The bodice is bemsilk I think – it was from my stash – and the skirt is poly taffeta from Lincraft. This is now my favourite skirt lining, it gives a nice volume and is hefty enough not to try to sneak in between my legs when I walk. Plus it rustles nicely as I move, always a plus. The lining is my trusty self drafted 3/4 circle skirt/lining pattern but I probably could have just used the skirt pattern as it’s also a 3/4 ish circle. (A bigger circle will work it’s way between one’s legs in a very annoying way). The front waistline of the pattern is bigger than the back so I just very dodgily sewed the front lining up higher at centre front and didn’t bother evening out the hem. It hangs more or less right when worn, though. Good enough for a lining anyway!

I really love the colour of the lining taffeta. Trying to think of an excuse to make and wear a whole dress out of it…

I serged everything to finish before sewing it together. Lining hem is just serged, skirt hem is turned up and hand stitched. Sleeves and neck are understitched. The button is a loner from my stash – I thought I’d taken a better picture, it’s got swirls on it like a boiled sweet. I did the thread loop like the last one but I’ve made it too long and it keeps coming undone so I need to go back and fix that. The lining is tacked to the outer shell at the waist with the same thread loops.

I also am contemplating belt loops but it sits pretty nicely without them so we’ll see.

I don’t think you can really see it here but the only issue I have with this make is that it sits a little forward at the shoulder. I think I need to take another 1/2″ from the front neckline, for a total of 2″ off of it. If I pull it so that it sits where it would with a lower neck, it’s perfect – but the broadcloth is firm enough to prevent it sitting there whereas my last version the rayon sits there but just sits out from my collarbone.

I also want to put back the extra at the back neckline – I freehanded trimming that off and it was hard to taper to nothing because it’s quite a short seam so I’ll go back and adjust the pattern properly. I don’t think I’ll be making another of these immediately but I think it’s simple enough and it fits well enough that I see it becoming a TNT pattern, so I’ll retrace everything to have a proper, adjusted pattern ready to go.

When I’m wearing it without a belt, the dress feels like it’s pulling forward because of the too-high neckline. I could go back and take more out I suppose, but with a belt it sits ok. We’ll see how it wears. I do want to go back and take extra out of my Clarissa version because I have avoided wearing it a couple of times because the neck isn’t super comfortable. It’s fine but not great. A relatively easy fix, however!

I’m really thrilled with this one! It came out just like I had hoped. A rare treat! Despite having had a bit of trouble with this pattern, it was all self-induced, and the results were worth it!

Clarissa dress

Hello lovelies! I’ve missed you! I have miraculously managed to sew something in the last month, and I’m so keen to share it with you.

This is Vogue 8811, in the rayon I bought in Bali.

Description: Pullover dress has shoulder pads, semi-fitted bodice, French darts, bias, flared skirt, back keyhole closure with button/thread loop, side snap/extension or zipper closing, cap sleeves, and belt. A: Purchased trim. B: Bust pocket. Circa 1940

Recommended fabrics: Linen, Crepe de Chine, Lightweight Broadcloth

 

This one was a bit of a journey. I thought up this pattern and fabric combo while lying in bed desperately trying to stop thinking about work long enough that I could go to sleep (it’s been a BUSY month. I don’t usually think about work outside of work hours – one of the perks of my job is it stays at work). It was prompted by how much I love my Dorothy Lara dresses. I needed another dress that was weather appropriate for the late summer, and given how busy and stressful things have been I needed it to be easy to wear. I love those 50s and 60s silhouettes but it’s hard to beat the comfortable, functional ease of a ’40s dress. When I know I’ve got a rough day ahead and I want to feel and look good without having to put any thought into what I’m wearing throughout the day, I reach for my two DLs every time. I wanted more of that in my wardrobe!

I also wanted to use this fabric soon. It’s very on-trend, and I love it, but I was worried that if I left it in the stash too long it would look and feel dated and I wouldn’t want to sew it any more. So I wanted to figure out what to do with it soon.

I’ve had this pattern in my stash for some time, but I’d bought the wrong size. I had the size 4-12 size nest not the 12-18. Going by my measurements I would normally sew the size 14 , grading to a size 12 at the shoulders, with a 2″ FBA. I didn’t realise my size snafu until I was partway through cutting out the tissue pattern pieces. I figured it was a pretty simple shape, given that I would normally cut size 12 shoulders anyway perhaps I could just add on some width to the sides and do that FBA and call it good.

Pardon my mystery bruise. Looking pretty impressive though!

This sort of worked. The trouble is it has this cool waist dart – it’s angled and one side is curved and you ease it together to create extra shape. It’s REALLY interesting, and makes the bodice sit really nicely, and it’s also quite hard to do an FBA on! I’m not at all sure I did it right and I probably should have sewn it up without the FBA first so I knew what it was meant to be like. However, after the FBA and cheaters grading up, I had a muslined bodice that looked pretty good and sat right, so I cut out the fashion fabric.

The ‘grading’ involved adding 1″ to the front and 3/4″ to the back of both bodice and skirt. I also lowered the front neckline by 1″ at the neck tapering to nothing at the shoulder seam.

By the way, my lovely blue wall now has a bed in front of it so I’m auditioning new photo locations. The best options were this boring grey-blue wall in my craft room with one million powerpoints on it, or outside. Outside worked well but I think it would have been better if I’d waited an hour because I had trouble finding a good spot in regards to the sun and so I only got a few good photos. I’ll work on it.

Anyhow. The dress. So I sewed it all up and tried it on and it was HORRID.

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Noooooo I was not trying to sew a caftan! Or a mumu

The FBA had added length in a weird way, and the rayon was quite droopy and the waist was totally uneven and also way lower than it should be and dipped drastically at the front. Ack! I unpicked it and laid out the bodice and just hacked it off even at the bottom. I’d say there was about 4″ extra at the centre front! Then there was some back and forth of basting and unpicking of seams in a totally unscientific way that will come back to bite me if I ever make it again because I didn’t really write down what I was doing because I did it in bits and pieces over a couple of weeks in a period where I was very stressed and frazzled.

What I ended up with was a dress where (after said hacking off evenly) I took about 1″ off the waist seam – I just sewed that seam at a larger width so it ended up taking the skirt up too. I also took almost all of the width I’d added in at the side seams back out again although I did keep most of it in the seam allowances so that I can let it out if the rayon shrinks up. I think in a firmer fabric I might still need the width, but in the rayon and with such a busy print, it just looked frumpy and saggy. The pattern had instructions for either a hand picked zipper or an extension with snaps, but I found that I could just pull it over my head quite comfortably so I just sewed up the sides. Again, probably wouldn’t be possible in a firmer fabric but works really well for this.

I was going to add pockets in but with all the adjusting I ended up serging one of the skirt side seams shut and I couldn’t be bothered unpicking it. I really would like pockets because the neck is so high I can’t access my alterna-pocket (aka my bra). But then pockets in rayon are a bit less functional anyway, so dunno.

The waist seam is still a bit wonky, and I’m not sure if it’s my terrible hacking of the pattern, or just the way the rayon is hanging. The bra I’m wearing also really changes how this hangs – I guess because it’s such full coverage, the position of my bust point totally changes the drape of the bodice. Yet another lesson in wearing my good bras to sew in.

Those issues are lost in the busy print though so I’m not too fussed. Also I’ll probably always wear this with a belt anyway which covers some sins, although it would benefit from some belt carries to keep it in place. The pattern has pattern pieces for a belt and I was going to make a black one but I don’t have an appropriate buckle so for now it’s this white one or nothing. I like the way the white lightens it up though.

The sleeves have facings and I HATE them. Hate. They’re flippy and chunky and terrible. I also think I need to take 1cm off the top of the sleeves and that would reduce the amount they stick up. If/when I make this again I’ll either line it like Tanya did, or bias bind them. The pattern includes pieces for shoulderpads, so perhaps that would change the angle of the sleeves? I chose not to make them although I would like to have a go some time just to see how it’s done.

Hateful

This pattern has a bunch of nice vintage touches that I really appreciated – it’s one of the reasons that I rarely buy newly drafted patterns. I have or can hack most things from my existing pattern stash, but I always learn a lot about technique or elegant drafting from vintage (repro) patterns. That said, the instructions did have you press down the seam allowance on the waist and then top stitch it to the bodice from the right side, which I tried but found totally bizarre and almost impossible to keep straight. Is there a reason for doing it this way? When I was making my adjustments I unpicked it and did it the regular way.

The neck facing I like though. It’s really neat and well drafted, even if I did also have to hand tack it down.

If I make this again I’ll take an extra 1/2″ off the neck all the way round (but not at the back neck). I like how it sits at the back of my neck but it’s sitting too high up otherwise, and in a stiffer fabric would be uncomfortable. It’s ok in this but it does bunch a little and in wearing it sits away from my collarbone a little bit.

I also sewed the side seam/armholes up higher, because they were pretty gapey under my arms. I probably should adjust the pattern to take them up even higher next time, I think. I liked that the pattern had quite an angular curve for the sleeve – a mod I usually have to make myself for cut on sleeves. The sides do pull a little but that’s the tradeoff you make for a cut on sleeve.

The sides pulling make the back hem look like it’s hanging too low in a lot of these photos. It’s even on the hanger – I hung it for a week and the hem didn’t seem to grow but then once I hemmed it it was way lower front and back. I liked the length though so I went back and hemmed the sides shorter so it is now even. However when i move around it pulls up an inch or so on the sides, making the back in particular look low.

I think I’ll give it some time to see if it grows any more and then take it up again at the back. Even if it is technically even when I’m standing totally still, the reality is that it will always hike up, so I may as well account for that from the get go.

The back neckline has a button and loop. I did a thread loop using this method, although it’s a little thin and hard to loop behind my head, next time I would use a double thickness. The button is from my stash and you can sort of almost kind of see it below. I do forget to unhook the button before trying to take it off 100% of the time. Because I am a fast learner…

I am so totally thrilled with this dress. I debuted it at work on Monday and it was so comfortable all day, and I felt so elegant and put together. I had several compliments and one person asked if I had ‘had it made’ and was blown away when I said I’d made it myself! (Side note, I am starting to feel more comfortable telling people I make all my own clothes. It feels nice, and I’ve never had anything but a positive reaction, and very little of the sort of bewildered or condescending praise I have been used to. Just people genuinely interested and impressed. It’s so lovely.)

I will definitely be making this pattern again. I’d love to find a good plaid to play with the grainlines – and the skirt is cut on the cross grain which means that even though it’s quite full you can cut it out of a narrow piece of fabric.

TL;DR What I made:

  • Vogue 8811 in size 12
  • 2″ FBA
  • went back and chopped the bodice to be even (ish)
  • Added 1″ to side seams of front bodice and skirt, 3/4″ to side seams of back bodice and skirt (most of which was taken out again but which I would keep for a firmer fabric)
  • Took up waist about 1″, losing a total of 2″ length from both the bodice and skirt
  • Lowered neckline 1″ at front neck tapering to nothing at front shoulders

What I would do next time:

  • Line the bodice to eliminate sleeve facings
  • drop neckline a further 1/2″ all round tapering to nothing at the back neck
  • POCKETS!
  • Would probably be worthwhile muslining the bodice with no mods so I could see how the waist seam is supposed to look and what the curve should be so I can adjust my pattern and not have to keep fiddling with it to get it right.
I especially like these photos with the soft light that looks like a film photo on a cheap family camera. It reminds me of so many family photos taken in the garden.

I also thought a lot about the ‘dress like your grandma‘ challenge while sewing this. I won’t claim this for the challenge because this dress wasn’t inspired by the challenge so that would feel like cheating. But I couldn’t help thinking that probably the reason I like the fabric so much is that it’s very similar to the curtains in the ‘back room’ at my grandma’s house – the room which was a playroom and where we all slept when we slept over there. Lots of fond memories of that room, although I can’t seem to find a photo of the curtains.

In fact I don’t have a lot of photos of my grandma. There’s a family album somewhere but it never seems to be brought out even when I ask. In the last decade my grandma has lost her husband, two children and all her siblings so I get the impression she’s not keen to reminisce, so I haven’t pushed it. But all the photos I have of her she is wearing a dress in a similar cut to this – cut on sleeves, high neck, circle skirt, some kind of botanical print, and which she would have made herself.

Here she is with all her kids (if you include the youngest who she was pregnant with at the time so does that count?). She would have made her own dress and almost certainly all the clothes in this photo. My dad is the one in the front in the overalls with the excellent pout. He and his sister next to him on Grandma’s lap are both dead now. Judging by the ages this would be late ’60s.

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And here is my grandma with my cousin (the daughter of my aunt to the left of my Gma in the above pic) and I in about 1984.

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I’m the one awkwardly sliding off my cousin’s lap… I just realised that less time passed between those two photos than between the latest one and now. Wild!

As she and I get older I’m starting to have a deeper but also more complicated relationship with my grandma – I’m realising the ways in which she and I are very different, have different values and priorities. Not in a bad way, but in a way that complicates what has always been a relatively simple relationship for me. I get the impression she never really ‘got’ either my father or myself. But she didn’t have to to love us, and love us she did. I dunno, I’ve typed out and erased various comments several times, I don’t know that I can articulate what my grandma means to me as a person and as a relation. I do know it’s important.

I think a lot of (although not all) that draws me to vintage shapes and patterns is my association of them with her, with her elegance and class and sewing skills and love. Sometimes it feels very retrograde to like these clothes, and I worry about it and what it says about me, and what the world sees when they see me in these outfits which happen to be what I feel emotionally comfortable in. Especially in the recent political climate. And why IS it that I happen to be comfortable in them? I fluctuate between feeling tired of my own navel gazing and feeling it’s important to interrogate these things even if there’s never a final conclusion because it’s complex.

“All this could be perceived as nostalgia for an age of innocent exuberance. Indeed, this may be part of the story, but there is also the natural process of reappraising past etas, searching for inspiration, tracing social patterns and making sense of our origins” – Peter Cuffley ‘Australian Houses of the Forties & Fifties’

Still here

Hi guys! I’m still here, but crafting isn’t – my craft room is currently housing half the bedroom furniture, since we just painted that room. Plus it’s busy time at work and this week is the transition from ‘come home from a regular full day totally exhausted’ to ‘working extra hours and weekends’. We get paid for extra duties, plus good overtime, and I like my team and my job and it’ll be over in two weeks, so I don’t mind. But it doesn’t leave much time for crafting, let alone taking photographs and blogging… even if i had anything to photograph!

Mostly I just wanted to say I started another blog for my garden stuff – I have enough readers now that I was feeling a bit odd mixing sewing and everything else. It’s all garden for now, but I anticipate other house stuff ending up there. Who knows! It’s called ‘Under my own vine’ and I just did a short post about my tamarillo tree if that’s the kind of thing you’re interested in. I’d love to see you over there too!

Acton shirt

This shirt has been many months in the making! Fair warning, this is a very long, very picture heavy post because I’m just so pleased with this shirt that I took a squillion photos and had trouble paring them down as much as I usually do.

The pattern is the Sewaholic Granville shirt http://www.sewaholicpatterns.com/granville-shirt/ A lot of things came together to make this a slow project. It had its frustrating moments but in the end I am really pleased I took my time on this one.

Never work with kids or animals

I started muslining this in August, and although I took good notes that’s long enough ago that the details have started to fade so I hope I can get everything I did down. I have to say, by the way, how grateful I am that I have gotten into habits of taking notes as I go along. So useful.

Anyways, I muslined this at the very start of August. I muslined a size 16 which is for a 41″ bust, and did an initial FBA of 1.5″. This is what it looked like:

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Thank goodness for Instagram too, because it is helping keep track of what muslin is which. I ‘grammed this noting that I had done the 1” FBA but needed another 0.5”. I had been reasonably sure I would but wanted to do it by increments since I wanted a close fit. Also the sleeve is SO long and SO SO tight, to the point where it was actually cutting off the blood to my hand in this photo. I had read everywhere over the internet that the sleeves on this shirt are tight and long but just forgot to do anything about it.

An Opinion

Here’s my second muslin – the green side is the same as muslin #1 and the white side is the adjusted side:

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I added an inch to the sleeve and it’s still way too tight. I noted on this muslin that I should try a narrow shoulder adjustment (as suggested by Andie on my insta post of the first muslin), and perhaps add room at the hips.

My sewing machine then went in for a service which slowed me down. When it was back I made a THIRD muslin. This one is a size 16 graded to an 18 from the waist down, with a 1.5″ FBA. It also has had the yoke slashed and spread to add an extra couple of cm in it, and the back princess seams bumped out at the top too, to give me more room in the upper back. I didn’t note it exactly but I think there’s a total of 1cm added across the back.Here it is, in brown bedsheet this time:

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This one has a darted sleeve, which I drafted using this tutorial from iconic patterns. I muslined the darted sleeve in my 2015 Christmas dressand really liked the way it sat, and have been wanting to try it in an actual garment ever since, since I went with no sleeves for that dress. Drafting it was really fun! I forget how much of a thrill I get from drafting, I really need to get my moulage finished and do more of it from scratch. I also did a bit of fiddling around and experimenting with sleeve cap height and width and shape. I didn’t take super great notes about this, unfortunately, but it was really interesting how drastic the difference was even with quite small changes.

For ages I’ve been widening and flattening my sleevecaps, as per LiEr’s advice in this post  – and also I know I’ve seen other people mention that it gives more movement room. However when doing this I found that there was definitely a sweet spot. If it was too low and wide I got the same sort of pulling at the armpit that I get with a too-tall sleeve cap.

I have always found it hard to fit the area around my armhole and bust – I end up with fabric pulling one way or the other, no matter what I do. Even with an armhole dart, like in my teal M6696, I end up with pulling – that make now is coming apart at that seam in fact, so there’s clearly stress at that point. That sleeve was quite tall and thin, I guess the point where it’s straining is exactly where a wider cap would have more fabric. Maybe I am making slow progress on understanding sleeves. Maybe.

You can see that there is still a small amount of pulling, as well as some pooling of fabric when my arm is down. I think I would benefit from taking a dart at the armpit and rotating it out into the bust dart but then again, that curve is already quite sharp from my large FBA so I’m not sure how practical that is.

Trying vainly to show off elbow darts
Elbow daaaaarts (they’re on the inside of the elbow so… yeah you can’t see them here at all)

The final sleeve is a size 16, darted + a full bicep adjustment of 1″ made + an extra 1cm added to the seam allowances at the end as it was still a little too tight. I also shortened it further because the darts mean that it doesn’t pull up as I move, so it can actually be exactly wrist length without looking like it doesn’t fit me when I move. I neglected to note how much I shortened it by, whoops.

Anyway, that third muslin was still a little bit tight but I thought that since the sheet I made it from had zero give, and all my intended fashion fabrics had give, that I could probably go ahead and make it up.

Fully bent wrist and cuff is still exactly in the same spot. <3_<3 elbow darts!

I have a bunch of shirting fabrics that I bought from the Fabric Store probably about a year ago, intending to make a few plain white shirts. I was only going to buy one shirt’s worth but ended up buying four because when they sent out the samples I kind of fell for all of them. I’m a sucker and I can’t resist a good shirting. The one I used for this is a bit heftier, and I didn’t keep the swatch so I don’t know the exact composition but from memory it was a small percent of lycra in it, so it’s a bit stretchy.

When it came it was a bit more ivory than white, which I hadn’t noticed in the swatch – you can’t really tell in artificial light but in daylight I can definitely see it’s more yellow than the white thread. This meant I was feeling a bit less enamoured of it, so if I arsed it up I wouldn’t be too sad. I also figured the stretch would cover some fitting sins so I could launch in to it without more (frickin’) muslins and anyway at a certain point the only way to fit something further is to make it up and wear it in real life.

Anyway, I totally burnt myself out on all those muslins, and wanted to sew quick and fun things for my Bali trip instead, so I shoved all the muslin pieces into a box and folded up the adjusted pattern pieces and put it all away, until right at the end of last year (literally December 31) when I wanted to sew something and I didn’t know what. I figured this was all muslined and ready to go, and I was feeling guilty about having put in all that work and then left it right at the end. So off I went.

I went slooooow because, honestly, I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to sew but every time I got this (or any other) project out I just felt ‘ehn’ about it. Also I was coming off the Connie blouse and trying to learn my lesson from that about not rushing things. I wanted to be happy with the job I did of this shirt, whether or not the fit ended up turning out. And I was hopeful that since what I wanted was the process of sewing, I could enjoy that part if nothing else, and practice some skills (including patience!) in the meantime.

Channeling the Rock.

It’s not perfect, but I’m proud of the work I did on this. I flat felled the back seams – they’re a bit wonky, next time I won’t clip the notches because that meant I had to tuck those areas a bit deeper in than the rest.

The sides are French seamed and everything else is finished in another seam. I initially put the collar together per the instruction order before getting confused and reverting to Andrea’s order. much better. I slip stitched the collar closed, so everything is lovely and near on the inside.

The fabric stretched a little as I sewed it, I probably should have used a walking foot. Most places it came good with a wash and a steam but it has meant that the sleeves are a little but puckery where they are set in. Just enough to annoy me but not enough to be bothered redoing.

Innards

I could probably have taken a slice out at the back for my swayback, as you can see it bunching – it’s worse when tucked in to something because it sort of bunches on top of the waistband.  Something to think about for next time.

I don’t have any nice iron in interfacing and I had read about interfacing with silk organza, so I did that. I basted the organza to both pieces – i.e. both the under and upper collar, rather than just the under – for extra oomph. I was worried it would be less crisp than regular interfacing but actually it’s perfect. Crisp without being heavy. I’m not sure how it would go on a lighter fabric, though.

I’m in love with the darted sleeve. I feel so proud of it! It does make the sleeve very irritating to iron though, because it’s an odd shape – although I realised afterwards that I have a sleeve board now and that probably would have made it easier! Initially I was thinking that I could stand to lose another ½” off the sleeve length, but now I’ve worn it a few times I’ve decided it’s perfect.

It’s only the second or third time I’ve done a tower placket and for some reason I just could NOT make my brain understand it. The first one I did came out really well but the second one is a bit wonky. I was sewing and ironing this thinking ‘I just have to keep practicing, and one day I’ll be able to do a tower placket without even looking at the instructions!’ One day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought about putting the pockets on this but I can’t find my paper pattern, only the pieces I traced, and I didn’t trace that piece. So no go, which I think was the right decision anyway. I’m honestly not sure where the pattern could be – I remember putting it with the envelope of traced pieces and now I just can’t find it. Luckily I put the instructions in with the traced pieces! I hope it turns up because I would like to compare it with the Oakridge blouse which I also have, because I’d like to make that up but don’t want to do a bunch of muslins if I don’t have to, so if they’re similar I can mash up the Oakridge with my adjusted pattern.

I also neglected to mark the cuff and collar stand buttonholes on the pattern pieces I traced, so I had to guess where to put them. I don’t think I did a good job with the collar stand one! It’s right at the edge. The buttons are from my stash – I have a huge tub of white buttons I got at an op shop, all sorted out. Thank you to whoever’s stash this came from. I had seven of the ones I liked so I used those for the front and some similar-ish ones for the cuffs. They look close enough that I won’t notice.

I did cut the wrong side for the button placket though! I didn’t have quite enough fabric to cut it out again, so I just went with it. I thought I would find it confusing to button because it’s the opposite to what I’m used to but actually I don’t notice, so therefore I don’t care!. I can’t tell if I cut the placket slightly off grain or just sewed it wonky, but I had to do a bit of manipulating to get it to sit right. I will be extra extra careful with it next time, because that IS annoying. I place dthe buttons by finding my bust point and putting a button there, and then using the set spacing on the pattern piece to mark the others.

I also wish I hadn’t added to the sides, because now they stick out a bit oddly. I don’t think I’ll go back and take it in but I really wish I could find that dang pattern so I could revert it back to a straight size 16 at the sides.

 

I really like how it looks buttoned all the way up, however I don’t wear it that way because it feels a bit chokey. I also notice myself tugging at the front and pulling it forwards. Having watched how it sits, I think this is because of where the collar is. I have a forward neck, and so the collar sits back off my neck – see the extreme version above – and therefore sits back further on the front of my neck than is comfortable. When I tug it so the collar is comfortable, the shoulder seam sits a 1/2″ too far forward.

I can see various other ways that the collar is pulling the rest of the shirt off, too. When the top button is undone you can see drag lines from the second button. When I tug it forward it sits nicely, and if I arrange the collar so it’s not being pulled by my neck it sits nicely. So I think it’s coming from that issue.

I can’t find much information about adjusting for this, though. I did just buy ‘Fit for Real People’, finally, and am waiting for it to be delivered, so perhaps that will enlighten me? I have thought about how I would adjust this and cut out another shirt with my made-up adjustment so I guess we’ll see!

I don’t feel it pulling across the back but it is stretchy fabric – for the next version I’ve given myself a little extra room at the top there. Just an extra 1/2cm or so.

So yes, it’s just short of perfect. But the fabric feels so lush and I’m so pleased with how well put together it is, and the fit is pretty dang close. I learnt a lot making this and am proud of how I did keeping myself patient and doing little bits at a time until it was done. I feel pretty great when I’m wearing this one – and the first day I wore it five people told me I was looking very fancy, so I’m taking that as a good sign!

Connie blouse and Tilil skirt

Hello all and happy new year! I hope 2017 is treating you all well so far. Mine is ok, although the last few days have been stinking hot – yesterday it got to 40C, which means we’re stuck in the living room as it’s the only room in the house with air con. I took it as a prompt to edit photos for a couple of FOs. We did make it to the beach yesterday, and the water was delightful to swim in. We saw two dolphins right up near us (after a moment’s panic after seeing the fin that it might be a shark) and a large jellyfish, the latter of which prompted us to get out of the water right quick, but was still beautiful. We don’t get deadly ones down here but they still hurt very much if you get stung by them!

Anyhow, on to the actual sewing content! First up is the skirt, which I finished last year. It’s another Simplicity 1166

I made this one back in October so I don’t remember all of the details but it was made pretty much exactly as the last one, which means that it’s the largest size with an extra 2″ added to the waistband at the back, and the length shortened 3″. I didn’t change the pleats at all – I was even more careful marking them this time because I wanted to see if my problems with the last one was user error, however they fit into my enlarged waistband perfectly!  I feel like there is a pleat missing or a drafting error for the larger sizes, maybe. Anyway it worked in my favour I guess.

The fabric is some Ikat that I bought at Spotlight a while ago. It was on their clearance table for months and I kept coming back to it so in the end I bought it, despite it being just a little bright for my usual comfort zone. I made this in the leadup to our October Bali holiday because I thought I might wear it there and I figured the colours would fit in there better than here! In the end it was too warm to wear this skirt there, it’s too much fabric, although the denim version was the perfect plane outfit.

I really like how the stripes in the Ikat show off the different angles in the skirt. The fabric is a bit heavier than the last make, and hangs really nicely. It took me ages to take photos because when I bought the buttons I ended up with one too few and couldn’t sew the last one on until I went back and bought another, which I was very lazy about doing. I did wear the skirt in the meantime though! Initially it felt really bright and garish which seems so strange to me now – it’s become a real favourite and I get a lot of compliments on it.

I elasticised the back again and I was thinking I might need to go back and make it tighter, or take back out some of the extra I added, because the skirt is a bit loose. However last time I wore it I noticed that it pulls at the front where the waistband meets the skirt. You’re supposed to add a large snap there and I never bothered, but because the placket sits on one of the stripes of the Ikat I can see the skirt is pulling right where the snap should be. That pulls the buttonholes on the waist right to the edge and distorts the waistband, which makes the skirt sit loose. So I’ll add the snap and I think that will fix the issue, or at least minimise it.

I really love this pattern. It’s so comfortable and easy to wear, and it feels elegantly casual. I probably don’t need another at this stage but I can definitely see myself making it again as the others wear out. The Turnstone version needs to be re-hemmed, because the back stretched out on the bias and is now quite ridiculous. I’m being very slack about my mending and fixing pile, so it’s been there a while and I really notice its absence in my wardrobe. Must get on it and get it back in rotation!

Now for the blouse! This is the bodice of Butterick 6055, which I have made three times now, lengthened into a blouse. I was pretty ad hoc about it, and I’m not sure I’m happy with how it turned out.

To make the bodice into a blouse, I added 4″ and followed the curve of the sideseams out. I experimented with the darts and ended up sewing the top part of the dart as marked on the pattern, and then tapering very quickly to nothing below.  I also ended up sewing the centre front seam below the facing with a smaller seam allowance, because my stomach needed extra room there.

The back is a bit too tight and I noticed on wearing it that the fabric has pulled around the back darts, so I think I might take them out altogether. You can see in the above photo that it’s bunching up.

I sewed this is an attempt to get out of my sewing slump, and because I really could use some shirts in my wardrobe. However, I just wasn’t feeling it I was not very careful with it. the hems are terrible (I should go back and fix them), and I think I need to reshape the curve of the top armseam to be smoother because they are sitting funny. I think this is an issue with my traced-off pattern, so I’ll go back and fix that too.

I did add a gusset to this one as well, as per my Christmas dress, but I had a lot of trouble with it this time!

The fabric for this blouse is cotton linen from Spotlight and, frankly, it’s awful. The weave is incredibly loose, and you can see the threads pulling away from each other even when it’s not being worn and the seams aren’t under pressure at all. It also pulls off grain if you so much as look at it, which made doing the gussets really hard. They are not neat at ALL but at least I eventually managed to get them in with minimal puckering at the points.

I made my first to B6055’s in the same linen, but the white is the worst of the bunch. The other dresses haven’t worn very well either – they’re ok, but I will probably need to retire the navy one at the end of this summer, as it’s looking a bit sad. I wouldn’t buy this linen again. You get what you pay for, I guess!

It also, of course, wrinkles like nobody’s business! The above photo is after ironing it and then wearing it only for photos. That’s linen for you! I put an invisible zipper in the side, upside down so that the opening is at the bottom, but I forgot to take a photo of it. You can sort of see it in the above photo where I’m lifting my arm up to show the gussets. To be honest, it’s annoying to zip and unzip and mostly I just struggle into this shirt without using the zip, which I can just do.

As wonky as the gussets are, they worked in that I can comfortably do this:

And even this!

Not bad for cut on sleeves. However, there’s some weirdness going on with how the sleeves are sitting, and some odd pulling and folding above the bust, which you can see below and in the first picture. I think in the photos it looks about the same as any cut-on sleeve issue but it does move a bit strangely and look odd in real life.  I’m not sure if this is due to the too-tight back, or the gussets being incorrectly placed, or maybe I pulled things off grain while putting in the gussets, or maybe it’s just that the fabric is light enough that the heavier gussets are pulling it strangely. It’s not a massive problem but I do notice it while wearing it and it makes me feel a bit less put together.

I used mid-weight sew in interfacing for the collar facing. I like how it sits – it’s been washed once more since these photos and those points have calmed down a little, but I do like a collar with a bit of weight to it. However another problem of the linen is it’s a bit sheer, and the facing at the front shows through. You can only just see it in these photos because they’re a bit overexposed (honestly I feel like I have totally forgotten how to take blog photos! I hope I’ll get back into the swing of it soon!) but it’s quite obvious in real life, and I’m not sure I’m ok with it. It looks… odd.

I tried it with my Malmaison skirt which is the other skirt I can see it going with and I’m nor sure I like it. The issues with it makes me feel like it’s more casual, because it’s not as neat, so I like it better with a skirt I feel is more casual. Also, without the skirt of a dress to hold it down it rides up. I think I might like this shirt better in a heavier fabric, with the side seams tapered out further at my hips, and maybe and extra inch added. As it is, I see it getting some wear because it does fill a gap in my wardrobe, but honestly I’m hoping to replace it with something better before long. At least the linen is out of my stash?