Sunday, March 26, 2017

More of that paisley (and miscellaneous projects)

Oh, did I say I was going to sew something from a stable woven? Honestly I don't know what I was thinking. I used the rest of the slippery knit to make another knit top. I finally got out the coverstitch machine to do the hems.

It's Jalie 2804 which I've owned for a while. I notice that I crossed it over the wrong way. It'll be our little secret.

I traced my size per the chart but then cut with about 1cm extra on all vertical edges because Jalie tends to fit skin tight, and I thought this thin knit would do better if allowed to drape. I basted before deciding, keeping only some of the extra width in the sleeves and side seams.

Given that I was suffering from fabric shortage, I am pretty happy that I was able to centre the print on the body and cut mirror-image sleeves!

Katharine commented on my last project that I should consider a sway back adjustment. I didn't do one on this project. Frankly I'm not sure how it can be truly successful if there is no seaming in the middle of the back and no darts. This top is closer fitting so the pooling is less obvious (and I may have pulled the back hem down for this photo).

I have cut out a skirt but it languishes while I do this and that.

"This" was altering a beautiful hand-knit sweater for a friend by ripping back the ruffled hems and re-casting off more conventionally. I decided on the "Icelandic bind off" because it is stretchy and looks pretty good with the twisted knit rib texture.

"That" was replacing the extremely ratty "faux fur" strip on the hood of my (RTW) down winter coat. I bought a winter coat ($5 at Value Village) with a fur-trimmed hood, and promptly donated the coat (sans hood) back to the store. It is definitely not the greatest fur, but about 1000 times nicer looking than the fake stuff. I am satisfied!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

From before and for later

I could have called yesterday's post "During". Here are the bookends.

In January (before broken wrist) I made another version of McCalls 7351 for my son's girlfriend. She had tried on my dress and loved it and I was so happy to make one for her. I had a few cotton print lengths in stash and offered them up. She chose a light and crisp cotton print.

What a busy print! Could benefit
from a solid dark belt...
So far so good but after I started thinking about how the fabric would translate into the dress, I had doubts. The original dress was made from beefy quilting cotton and the chosen cotton is definitely in blouse-weight category (think cotton lawn). If I had been making this for myself, I probably would have gone with a fuller skirt or switched to McCalls 6996. However I had a commission and I had to "make it work" as some TV sewing personality or other has apparently said.

Mulling it over I found a solution - when you need your fashion fabric to have a different hand, underline it for heaven's sake! I had lots and lots of this fabric. The upper portion of this dress is structured, as is the front band. My only concern was the skirt. So I cut it out twice.

Inside view of side & waist seams
I used the doubled skirt as an opportunity to do a completely clean finish at the waist seam. Order of construction was as follows:

  • Make bodice (yoke, collar etc) without sewing side seams. 
  • Sew right side (RS) skirt pieces to corresponding bodice pieces, RS together as usual.
  • Sew wrong side (WS, underlining) skirt pieces to corresponding bodice pieces, RS skirt to WS bodice. Sew along stitching line established at step 2.
  • Press skirt pieces down with waist seam allowances encased between the layers below the waist seam.
  • Trim lower edge of WS skirt pieces to hem fold line.
  • Baste corresponding skirt layers together (ensuring no rippling or unevenness), WS together, at side edges and CF. The WS skirt is shorter.
  • Then treat skirt pieces as a single unit when constructing front band and side seams.
  • Sew the hem as instructed in the pattern, but folding the RS skirt at hem line so it completely encases the WS skirt. 
Mission accomplished. The dress awaits warmer weather and I hope it will be a comfy but stylish summer dress for the recipient.

At Christmas, I started another hand knitting project but its completion will now have to wait until after the cast is off. So far at least, hand knitting is completely unworkable with an immobilized wrist.

Upper back and collar
Colour is pretty accurate
This is an incredibly complex top down cardigan made in a fingering weight yarn. The pattern is Woodfords by Elizabeth Doherty. It has tons of short rows, tons of broken rib, and you dare not stop concentrating for even a minute while knitting. I got mixed up in counting and suddenly had the wrong size worth of stitches on my needle after doing the decreasing below the sleeve openings. I'm not too worried as this sort of yarn can be blocked to shape. 

The pattern was designed for a yarn that seems to have qualities similar to Shetland yarn (not smooth or soft, woollen spun, lots of loft). I had a sweater quantity of yarn that I thought would work (vintage stuff in an amazing colour that is predominantly turquoise but has vivid purple aspects) and set to it. 

Aaaand I got down to about an inch into the "skirt" part of the pattern before abruptly having to stop. Now my timing is off for this to be finished in time to wear in late winter/early spring 2017. 

Stay tuned - I am pretty sure that knitting will be excellent physiotherapy once this blasted cast is gone. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

An excuse

So I broke my wrist. Unless you have done this yourself, you likely are not completely aware of how very useful your wrists are. I wasn't either. Luckily it's my left wrist and I am right handed. However, that left hand? It's also extremely useful. It is a very good helper to that dominant hand. 

All those things I like to do: sewing, knitting, skiing, curling, swimming? All off the agenda for 6 weeks. My timing? Impeccably bad: the first day of my annual 5 weeks of leave from my office job. During which I planned to do what, you might ask? Answer: sew, knit, ski, curl and swim. 


I BEGGED to go back to work, believe me. I will take my time off after I heal, thank you very much! (At least I can still think; and my typing while awkward is improving.)

So, I'm three weeks in. My wrist is definitely getting stronger. I thought, perhaps I could sew something. And I did. I made this top. It took me at least three times as long as it would if I had two fully functional wrists, but I did it. 
#111, December 2005

This is a pattern from an ancient Burda World of Fashion magazine (December, 2005, #111) that I've been meaning to make for ... 11.5 years apparently. I finally got around to it. 

As Burda conceived this top, it was made from a woven (front cut on bias) and it had a waist band/tie affair. I made it from a knit (thin, drapey) and lengthened it to be a regular hemmed knit top. 

As is usual, I ignored Burda's actual instructions and improved the garment. I doubled the shoulder/sleeve pieces instead of making them as Burda instructs (fold edges and topstitch). I used some white power mesh for the second layer rather than self fabric since I wanted them to be firm and stable but didn't want any show through. I used a strip of self fabric (cut lengthwise from the selvedge) to create a firm edge at the back neck and under the arms (Burda called for bias strips here). 

And I extended the self facing at the cowl edge to make it deeper/more weighty and to allow for a clean finish at the junction with the front edge of the shoulder/sleeve piece. At left is a view of the front shoulder area (wrong side). 

I need a white evening glove
for my right arm...
The fabric is a miscellaneous knit print which wasn't really a very good choice for a sewer with only one fully functional wrist. Its slipperiness augmented the degree of difficulty. However I am satisfied. I managed to cut the garment with the pattern centred, both front and back. I remembered to think about what bits of the pattern would be hitting what bits of my anatomy. I managed the tricky bits to produce an acceptable (not perfect) outcome. I did it more or less one handed. And I have enough of this fabric left (which I really love) to make another top!

For my next trick, however, I plan to work with a stable woven. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

A cat and a hat

I could not resist that title, which came to me while I was out skiing today - in my new hat (proof at left).

These are both machine knitting projects made on my LK 150, a mid-gauge machine.

I made the cat (Ravelry link) for a friend, who sadly lost her black and white friend very suddenly in early December. I used a free hand knitting pattern found on Ravelry (The Window Cat). "Using" the pattern means figuring out the shaping and adapting it for my gauge.

I knitted the back first since it is plain black, to check the general shape and size. The front is identical shaping but with intarsia to match the colouration of the inspiration cat. The paws and tail were straight knitting on just a few stitches, and his base is essentially a rectangle. Yellow button eyes give him that baleful look cats so often have. I was very pleased that he came together so well.

My friend was able to find a real kitten to fill the hole left by Albert. He was not very curious about his knitted predecessor, but did consent to be photographed with him.

For quite a long time I've been thinking I should really use some of my (ahem) extensive yarn stash to knit myself a ski hat as the one I was using did not compliment my jacket at all. With the machine this very simple hat was (or should have been) a super fast project as it is just a rectangle (Ravelry link). I used the chart from this pattern, calculated size based on the circumference (21" more or less) and height (8" more or less) of my commercially knit hat, and started to knit. But I had to make it 3 times since I was doing the planning on the fly.

My first attempt, I used the hem and patterning dimensions from the pattern. Too much white. I decided to knit a narrower band of white and start the stranded pattern inside the doubled hem (which is knitted on every other needle).

My second attempt was going swimmingly until I managed to drop 75% of the stitches in a single pass. Oops. (This sort of thing happens fairly regularly in maching knitting.)

Third time was the charm.

I still finished by bedtime, having purchased the white yarn that afternoon.

The consensus among my skiing buddies is that I should make tassels and attach them to the corners (which want to turn down anyway). So it is still technically a WIP even though I have already worn it twice. It's lovely and warm and looks pretty good with my jacket.