Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Sewing Lawyer's latest lawyer's suit

It's not so much that a sewing slump has hit The Sewing Lawyer; but the output has slowed to a crawl as she compulsively knits away the evenings.

So, I am thrilled to announce that the skirt to match my jacket is now finished.  As predicted, with temperatures in the low 20's (C) during the day, this outfit will have to wait until fall to be really enjoyed.   But I put it on to take some low-light pictures.

Does this look like a lawyer's suit to you?

I need some interesting tops to wear with it.  I like the red colour with the suit, but this top is pretty old.

I've already given you all the interesting construction details.  There's not much more to say about this skirt.  It is straightforwardly lined to the top edge.  I did not do anything fancy to justify the extreme amount of time it took to finish it.  There is no inner corset, and no boning.  This fabric is so soft and cushy and I didn't want to interfere with that.  Besides, it's a little stretchy, always a good quality in a pencil skirt with a high waist.  The skirt should be very comfortable.

I also got lazy in relation to the back walking vent.  Instead of making a concealed vent, properly lined (as per my tutorial here - the most-visited page on this blog, by far), I just folded the vent facings back at the seam line and tacked it invisibly by hand to the facing, leaving a little extra length for ease above the top of the vent.  I mitered the hem and facings for a clean finish but it's practically invisible in this fabric.    

And that is that.

Friday, May 17, 2013


See-through stockinette
Here is another finished object - it's a wispy knitted top.  It's made from 100% cotton yarn, 2 ply, quite slubby, lace weight.  In 150g of this (from ColourMart), there are 1,500 yards of yarn.  Needless to say, this little number barely made a dent in my two cones (3,000 yards) of this stuff, even though it took me about two months to knit it with tiny little 3mm needles.

Between the lace panels and the inherent thinness of the knitted fabric, this top is so airy as to hardly be there.

The pattern is from a free online knitting magazine, Knitty.  It's called "Etherial" (mis-spelled, yes).

As usual, I was incapable of slavishly following the pattern.  The designer had envisaged it in a lace weight alpaca, which would have a completely different character from my cotton.  The cotton is drapier and even though it is knit at the correct gauge (28 stitches and 42 rows per 10cm or 4"), so that the garment has the finished dimensions called for, it fits far more loosely.  Finished, it has about 4cm (1.5") of negative ease at the bust.

Knitty schematic
As I was knitting I was scheming how to change the way the design fits at the arm openings.  To the right is the schematic provided on the Knitty website.  You start at the hem, and continue in the round to knit a straight tube, which has a double panel of lace at each side.  The arm openings are created by simply splitting these two lace panels and decreasing.  I think it looks uncomfortable in the pattern photo on the Knitty page.

Knitty's version
Besides, in my looser fabric, the tightness below the arm would not look right with the relative looseness elsewhere.

Gusset - in progress
My solution was to insert a knitted gusset between the two side lace panels which allowed me to cast off a number of stitches below the arm, creating a looser, rounder opening.  As I added stitches under the arm, I decreased in the centre panels on the other side of the lace, keeping the stitch count the same.  This means the lace starts moving towards the centre more gradually, but it doesn't change the overall look of the top.

I made the back a little longer than the front, and a tiny bit wider, for fit.  I also firmed the finished arm edges up a little bit with an invisible edge of single crochet.  I think my modifications worked really well.

I'm going to love this top on the hottest days of summer, but it's kind of revealing.  While I'm waiting for the weather to really change, I've already started a coordinating cardigan, worked with the same yarn, but held double.  It's coming along nicely.

Check out my Ravelry project page for the top and cardigan.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ta. Da.

I finished the jacket, just in the nick of time as temperatures plummeted (frost warnings three nights in a row) so I could actually wear it.  The entire suit, alas, will have to wait until fall, since I will be lucky to finish it this coming weekend and surely it will be unsuitably wintry garb after the long weekend in May (Canadian tradition demands that one shift mentally to spring after this holiday which nominally celebrates the Queen's birthday).

Anyway, here it is.  The photo of the front  is pretty bad due to bright light conditions and camera operator ineptitude.  I darkened it but unfortunately, the jacket looks kind of drab.  It isn't, in real life.  I'm wearing it with these pants. The fabric leftover from making them supplied the contrast for the piping and buttonholes.  Therefore they must "go with" this jacket perfectly.

Speaking of those details, here's a closeup of the jacket front.  As I said in my last post, I was very pleasantly surprised by how smoothly the piping insertion went.  Shortage of fabric meant that the bias strips were pieced.  The piping is therefore marginally thicker in a couple of spots, which are however functionally invisible if you follow the 6 foot rule.*

Buttons are plastic with silver metallic inserts.  The lining is Bemberg which, as you can see, has a woven-in pattern.  All materials - every last bit - came from stash.

I really am going to finish the skirt very soon, after which I'll record it here, put it lovingly in my closet, and switch to writing about sewing lightweight, airy cotton items.  I have such a thing already cut out, in fact, and am dreaming of white linen jeans...

* If a sewing mistake cannot be seen by the average viewer standing a reasonable distance away, it doesn't exist.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I'm still heeeeeeeere!

Hello.  You may remember me.  I'm The Sewing Lawyer.

Again, I have been busy, in what passes for real life around here.  I have this full time job which takes me away from sewing, knitting and blogging.  Nevertheless I have slowly been making progress on a few fronts, though not blogging, evidently.

Easter sunrise socks
I made some more socks.  I know, yaaawwwn.  But for posterity, they are precisely the same as the last ones; the blue pair (finished in Halifax).  Except obviously they are a very different colour.

On Ravelry, there is a free pattern for a stitch pattern to disguise ugly sock yarn (the Ugly Duckling Socks, if you are on Ravelry).  I kind of wish I had started these socks with a sober solid colour for contrast.  They are (ahem) very bright.  My sole innovation was instead to try to start sock #2 at the same point in the colour progression as sock #1.  This was very unscientific and it only almost worked.  However I consider it close enough.

I'm also knitting another little summer top.  It's a free pattern from Knitty called "Etherial".  I'll save my review for the next post.  For now, This will have to suffice:  Lace weight.  Oy!

I have been sewing too (Yay!).  The suit is somewhat closer to being wearable, and The Sewing Lawyer has done it again folks.  The wool suit will be unwearable once complete, due to a very predictable break out of warmer weather, expected to last for months.  I console myself with the thought of the delightful surprise I will have, come September or so, on rediscovering its pristine, probably unworn newness in my closet.

Sorry for having to feed you with more progress shots.  But the jacket has really taken shape.  It does actually have sleeves, and a (partially completed) lining, but it seems I'm going to make you wait until the thing is completely finished with arms in it.

You can see I inserted piping at CF, around the lapels and collar. I'm really pleased at how easy this turned out to be, and how good it looks.  I thought of using two pieces which would end/overlap at the notch, but then thought I'd first try a single pass, and to my amazement it worked really well.  Much trimming of the bulky fabric, along with strategic clipping and much steam and pressure, was required to get it all to lay flat enough.

BTW, if you haven't already, get a really good iron (I love my Consew gravity feed iron and Reliable board).

Finishing the inside of the bound buttonholes required some mental preparation.  Given how much my fabric ravels (and that I had not used any fusible on the jacket facing), I decided to use silk organza squares to make no-bulk windows in the facing.  I located the corners of the buttonholes by jabbing pins straight through all layers, then double- and triple-checked these by measuring, before using a small stitch length to sew the organza via buttonhole shaped rectangles, clipping and turning.  I have now sewn the facing to the buttonholes from the back, by hand.  And all I can say is that it's a good thing my fabric is all black, and that hand stitches virtually disappear in the fabric of both the jacket and the buttonholes themselves, because it is not all that wonderful a hand-sewing job.

However, onward!

Next I am going to complete the jacket lining, and the jacket will be all done but for the sewing on the buttons.

The skirt is also almost in the home stretch.  I have to assemble the lining, and do the hem.

Maybe I can finish them both today, while there is still some chill in the air?