Despite a hefty backlog of projects awaiting their time to shine on the blog, I think we should pause and look at some pretty pictures of flowers. How can we say good-bye to spring without doing that? Here are some photos of the outside in May and June.
Looking at these from the end of June makes me realize how much changes from the beginning of May until now. May is a flower explosion around here, which is very welcome after the long, grey winter.
June had some surprises in store. Look what I found in our fenced-in garden.
Oh, boy, do I have a backlog of projects to blog! I need to take about a million pictures, so I’m starting with a few of the projects that I don’t have to model. Then when I can rope a family member into taking pictures for me, I’ll try to catch up on the rest.
This particular project is one of the simpler ones I have made, but actually took me forever to finish! Sometime between 2020 and 2021, I cut three camisoles out of some of my larger scraps. I used Simplicity 8545, View B.
I used View A previously to make some brightly colored slips in cotton lawn (you can see them here). I thought a few camisoles to go under transparent or low-cut tops would be a good idea and a useful way to use up some of my offcuts, so a year or two ago (I think) I made a cream colored camisole from a silk lining fabric that a friend had given me.
Around that time (maybe?), I also cut out two more camisoles from some old Cotton + Steel cotton lawn, so I could have some colorful options. Those two lawn camisoles sat on my “to sew” rack for…a year? Two years?
They became my only UFO’s (unfinished objects). I don’t like UFO’s in sewing, but I didn’t want these badly enough to carry me through to finishing them, so they just sat there. This year I decided enough was enough and tacked them on to one of my big sewing batches. I wasn’t even sure if they would fit when they were finished, but I figured if they didn’t fit me, they would fit someone else. If I never made them, though, the fabric probably wouldn’t get used at all.
For these, I changed the pattern up a little to make them easier to make and nicer to wear. I found with the slips that I really didn’t need the zipper to get them on and off, so I eliminated that and just sewed the back up. I also eliminated the facings, which constantly flip out on my slips and drive me nuts. Eventually I hope to sew them down, but I really hate going back into old projects, so I haven’t gotten to that yet.
Once I finally decided to sew up the lawn camisoles, the goal was to get them done as quickly as possible, while still sewing quality(ish) garments. I picked one thread color for both (pink), serged my seam allowances, and used whatever bias binding I had on hand to save time and use up materials. (You have no idea how much random bias binding I have!) I had made bias binding for the silk camisole and used beautiful French seams and a tiny rolled hem on that one, but these two just needed to get DONE! For a little extra insurance, I also sewed a 3/8″ seam in the back and on the sides instead of the 5/8″ seam allowance the pattern called for.
I’ll spare you the details of exactly how I sewed the bias on, but my goal was to sew it so that I could try the camisoles on before finalizing the length of the shoulder straps. That meant making the final attachments in the front. Those joins got a little ugly, but it didn’t matter–these are meant to go under other clothes and I wanted them done.
Happily, they do fit ok, and I love how bright and fun the two lawn ones are and how practical the cream one is. Have I worn them? Maybe the cream one a few times, but not the lawn ones yet. I hope I end up wearing them, but even if I don’t, someone else could. I’m definitely happy with the modifications I made. And I’m happy that I didn’t give up on these and throw them in the scrap bin. This is a good, basic yet versatile pattern with some fun options, and even though I haven’t made the dresses or shirts, I’m glad I tried the slip and camisole views.
Today I have something fun to share with you! It’s not my normal type of sewing, but it ended up being pretty cute. It’s a humpback whale stuffed animal!
I got the Crafty Kooka Humpback Whale pattern as a birthday gift from one of my kids. I had seen it online and I really wanted to try it. I was so curious about how it came together, and I love whales as a decorative element (real whales are pretty cool, too).
I tacked this project onto the end of my winter sewing batch, so that I would be sure to get it done, even if it did take me until spring. I found some fabric (blue wool/cashmere, I think, and cream cotton twill), batting, and stuffing in my stash, and then bought some safety eyes at Joann’s. I couldn’t find the exact size, but I got something close. Then I dove in, and out came this fabulous whale, that REALLY looks like a humpback whale. I was so impressed. This is a quality pattern from someone who really knows their stuff.
Unfortunately…I hated the process of sewing this whale. It was probably a combination of wanting to move on to spring sewing and the need for precise sewing on some very curvy and pointy shapes. If you are someone who loves a sewing challenge, precision sewing, or trying out really interesting pattern shapes, you will probably love this. If you want a quick and easy sew, are a beginner, or don’t love super careful sewing, you will not like this project. I found it harder than sewing an underwire bra (which actually isn’t super hard, but does require focus and care). On the upside, this is a great pattern with terrific instructions, and it produced an excellent outcome. I recommend this if you are really into sewing stuffed animals and you have or want to develop the aforementioned precision sewing skills.
Despite not loving the process of sewing this whale, I do love the finished product, and so does everyone in my family. My husband predicts I’ll sew another someday. I won’t say never, but it will have to be awhile. We discussed names for a long time, with one Jane Austen-loving family member pushing hard for “Fitzwhalliam Darcy” after Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride & Prejudice, but in the end, I pulled rank as the creator and went for something Hawaiian, since there are humpback whales in the Pacific. It was between Duke Kahanamoku, famous waterman, Olympic swimmer, surfer, etc., etc. and King Kamehameha, the first king to unite the Hawaiian Islands. I went with King Kamehameha as the name for the whale, but after doing further research, I switched back to Duke Kahanamoku. They both seem amazing, but I liked Duke’s selflessness and standout character.
Now we have a great whale that lives on our couch, and gets lots of snuggles from the family. And with that, I closed the book on winter sewing and checked off one of my craft goals for 2022.
What about you? Would you sew a complex stuffed animal? Any tips for me if I try another in the future?
Last Friday I went to the Brimfield antique fair in Brimfield, Massachusetts after a few years off. Like so many things that we didn’t do during the last few years, the time off made it feel a bit strange and outside the realm of my normal routine, like I had to break the ice all over again. But with the company of my best Brimfield buddy, Jo-Alice, we travelled old roads again and went to this, one of our favorite events, and it was just as great as ever.
I took a few pictures for you so you could get a sense of the experience, too. Check it out!
There are always so many vintage clothes to see at Brimfield. You can find them scattered throughout the various fields, but there’s always a huge tent at the Mahogany Ridge field. (Here’s a link to a map of the fields I mention.)
I found some real treasures there. Vintage clothes rarely fit me, but I like to take pictures of ideas I could use in my own sewing, or just things that look interesting.
Brimfield Barn also has an area with some beautiful vintage clothes.
There were lots of other good finds scattered throughout Brimfield, too. Check out this wool jacket.
The pockets were pretty cool.
I always love to look at all the kitchen tools and dishes because so many of them are still useable in a modern kitchen, and my favorite things to find at Brimfield are the things I can use. Even those that are more display items are often really beautiful. For instance, check out this hand-crank whisk. It seems like an early version of a Kitchen-Aid.
There are a lot less sewing tools, patterns, and machines than I would have expected at Brimfield–I’m struck by this every year–but I suppose it’s not surprising. We live in a big country and while there are numerous devoted sewing people out there, it’s not a huge percentage of the population.
After years of sewing and antiquing, I have seen a lot of what is out there, but at J & J Promotions (another of the fields), I ran across a booth that had incredibly beautiful sewing tools, many of which I had never seen before. This booth, in a tent with several others, was run by The Freeman Family, and I had the best time talking to Vickie about what the different tools were used for. Many of them were for fine needlework beyond what I will probably ever do, but some of them were gorgeous versions of commonly used tools.
One of my favorite things about Brimfield is learning about tools and other things that I never knew existed. The dealers know so much, and while there have been times when I haven’t felt like chatting, I usually really enjoy asking questions about the unique and wonderful things they are selling. It adds so much to the experience of being at Brimfield.
Other Interesting Finds
Some stuff at Brimfield is just weird. And that’s part of the fun.
I came home with a few treasures. I always keep a list of things to look for for myself, the house, friends, and family. I really love finding gifts for antique-loving family members. This time I got those beautiful embroidery scissors I showed you above (a birthday gift for someone who doesn’t read my blog), the steel pennies above for my husband (one is also a gift for someone who doesn’t read this blog), as well as:
some small Wiss scissors and a brass (I think?) thimble–it’s the style of thimble with no end on it. You use the sides to push the needle through. I bought these together for $5 total. I really don’t need more scissors, but I do love good ones, and I seem to unintentionally be starting a collection of Wiss scissors. Whoops! Haha.
The thimble was great because it actually fit me, and as soon as I put it on, I could feel that there was a right way to wear it. Whoever had used it before had used it enough that it started to form to their finger, and you can feel that when you wear it. I love that.
I got this bag for my husband, but it wasn’t quite the right shape for him, so now it’s MIIINNNEEEE! Yay! It’s perfect for me.
And, here are my favorite things that I got:
A pair of turquoise earrings, and a turquoise ring. I got them at different places, but I have enjoyed wearing them together. One of my big goals was to find a silver ring with a big, semi-precious stone in it. This one is just right and fits several of my fingers depending on if it is humid or not outside. I really enjoy looking at turquoise jewelry, although I rarely buy any, so it was great to find two good deals on these.
It was so good to break the ice and get back to Brimfield, but what made it even better was spending the whole day with Jo-Alice. I have done Brimfield alone, and I love it, but it’s even better when you can go with a friend who is a good match for your pace and shopping style.
One of the things that I noticed at one point is how Brimfield really turns the normal ideas of what is valuable upside-down. We were in a booth looking at some completely torn up jeans, but they had been hung up like a work of art. Nearby, there were some jeans for sale that had been beautifully mended. There are a lot of things you can find at an antique fair that in normal daily life get forgotten or overlooked, but in that context are treated as treasures and valued for the work that went into their creation and the potential for work or beauty they still hold. As a maker and as a Christian, those themes of finding beauty in the broken and overlooked are ones that I hold dear, so it was cool to see them played out here, too. Sometimes the things that get cast aside have more value than we realize if we have eyes to see. I love that.
At the end of the day, we were sweaty and tired from walking on and off for nine hours, but we had a wonderful time, ate like Hobbits, and talked the day away. If you get the chance to go to Brimfield or a local antique fair, I highly recommend it.
Oh, boy, this was a big one! Today’s project is the Arrowhead Cardigan by Anna Cohen for Imperial Stock Ranch, and it took me a long time and a lot of head scratching to figure it out, but I did it!
This cardigan was definitely above my skill level, but I’m happy to say that perseverance paid off, I learned a ton, I conquered some fears (steeking!), and made it to the finish line. And it fits, which I have struggled with in the past.
Now for the details!
Sweaters are a big undertaking when it comes to finding and choosing yarn, especially if you want to watch your costs. Plainly put, it’s expensive to knit a sweater. Yarn cost is always a factor for me, especially on larger projects. Thankfully, there is a wide range of yarn and price points, if you are willing to dig a bit. And I love the digging–it’s like a treasure hunt.
I found what I was after online at WEBS (yarn.com) in the closeout section. Univeral Yarn Deluxe Worsted offered some bright colors in a 100% wool yarn (non-superwash, worsted spun) at a great price. Reviews were a bit mixed, but I decided to take the risk. My skin isn’t super sensitive to wool and I planned to wear this over a shirt.
I ordered three skeins of “Blushing Bride” (pink) and seven skeins of “Strip Light Yellow”. With shipping, my cost was around $50. That’s more than I like to spend on fabric for a sewing project, but for a sweater, that’s really economical. When the yarn came, it looked and felt great. Before ordering, I had done my best to determine if the colors were far enough apart in value (gray scale) that they would stand out distinctly, and they were. In person, they were just as good.
The Pattern + Knitting
I was really struck by this pattern when I saw it. The design was beautiful and it looked oversized and cozy in all the best ways. I looked at others’ projects on Ravelry and really liked the sweater in different colors as well. Also, I have to admit the original styling for the pattern was right up my alley, and it didn’t hurt that I knit most of this while watching the first 13 seasons of Heartland (a Canadian show set on a horse and cattle ranch) with my daughter. Sometimes I think of this as my “Heartland Cardigan”. All I need is a horse and a farm to go with it! Oh, and a lifetime supply of farming knowledge. You know, the little things. 😉
My gauge came out pretty close to correct at about 17 stitches and 16/16.5 rounds over 4″ x 4″ (the pattern calls for 17.5 stitches and 21 rounds over 4″ x 4″ (10 cm x 10 cm)). I never worry too much about row gauge since I can change the length of the sweater as I knit. I had already gone down from the suggested needle size of US 8 to a US 6, and since I am typically a loose knitter and this sweater has plenty of positive ease, I went down one size as well from the large to the medium. For my body ribbing, I used US 4’s. Since knitting smaller circumferences can tighten your knitting, for my sleeves I went up to US 7’s with US 5’s for the sleeve ribbing. And then I just hoped and prayed it would all work out.
I decided I wanted the pink to be my dominant color (the one that would stand out the most), and after looking through some notes on Ravelry, I decided to catch my floats every 7 stitches. I recolored all my charts so I wouldn’t get confused and knit the wrong color (like I did in one of my Sparks socks), and I made full, colored charts of the sleeves so that I wouldn’t make mistakes there. Those charts took me a long time to color and create, but it was so worth it!
When I tell you this pattern was above my skill level, I’m not kidding. I’ll admit that I am used to using patterns that hold my hand, and I love that. It gives me the confidence to dive into things I have never tried, knowing the help is there for me to figure it all out in the course of the project. There was a lot more assumed knowledge with this pattern, and occasionally I would have to think about a direction or next step for a few days or dig into some knitting books or the internet to figure out how I was supposed to proceed. It meant I made pretty slow progress, but the breaks to puzzle things out ended up paying off each time. I’ll skip the blow by blow description of what I did on each step, but if you could see my copy of this pattern, you would see margins filled with notes.
I have a theory that really, really wanting to make something can carry you through a big project, even if it’s beyond what you have done before. This sweater further solidified that idea in my mind.
If you take on this sweater, which is a good one, despite the complexity, you should note that there is an error in the medium size instructions. When you begin the body and have to join in the round, the part that says to knit 105 stitches should say 106 stitches. If you don’t change that, you will be short of the 220 stitches you are supposed to have after joining in the round. This will also impact your stitch counts as you go through the pattern. Sometimes you will have to add a stitch, sometimes two, at various points, so keep an eye on that. The charts were fine, by the way, it was just the written directions that were off.
Eek! A Steek!
This sweater is knit from the bottom up as one big tube, with panels of stitches in the areas you will have to open up for the front opening and the armholes.
You open these areas by sewing within that panel (I used my sewing machine) and then cutting down the middle.
Seems scary, right? And it was, but also exciting. I practiced on my swatch after doing lots of steek research on the internet, and that worked out well.
It’s such a crazy idea to cut your knitting, but it really works!
After doing that, whether at the front or sleeves, you pick up stitches to knit the sleeves and the ribbing around the front opening, and then later you knit facings to cover the raw edges and the sewing machine stitches. I worried that sewing down my facings would show from the outside, but it didn’t.
Since my row gauge was off, I decided to steek the front opening after finishing the body a little before the directions told me to. That way I could try the sweater on and see if my sleeves were at a length I liked before adding the final patterning and ribbing at the wrists and finishing them. Once I had steeked the front, I also blocked what I had to get a better sense of that sleeve length. And I was nervous, because I was not knitting quite as loosely as I had expected, so I just needed to see how things were going.
Doing all of this gave me a lot of helpful information, and I’m so glad I did it.
This is the project where the idea of using lifelines really solidified in my brain as well. I found the shoulder area especially confusing to knit, so before starting, I added some blue pearl cotton to my live stitches in case I messed up and had to rip back. Luckily, I didn’t have to rip back, but it was nice having that security. You can see a bunch of these blue lifelines three pictures up where I had just cut my front steek.
I began knitting in August of 2021 and I finally finished my sweater in March of 2022. Seven months! I didn’t work on this non-stop, and usually only put in time while watching TV on a lot of evenings. I’m really happy with how it came out and that it actually fits.
It’s very interesting, now that I have knit several sweaters that actually fit, to see what I reach for and what fits best in my current wardrobe. I don’t wear this quite as much as I thought I would since it can be a little hard to find pants and shirts to go under it, and I tend to reach for pullover styles more (my purple Wool & Honey sweater is my most-worn sweater by far). It’s very comfortable, though, and I like wearing it. It has pilled somewhat, but the pills are very easy to remove. It is not scratchy unless I am wearing a bag on my shoulder that presses it down, and then it is a little scratchy in that area. I feel like my yarn choice has paid off, however. I love how bright the sweater is, and the amazing designs in it. If you don’t look too closely, it sometimes looks like the sleeves match up with the pattern of the body. They don’t, of course, but it’s easy to think they do initially.
This sweater really stretched me, and taught me a lot. It helped me conquer the fear of steeking, and helped me realize that if I think long enough, and search hard enough, I can find the answers to a lot of knitting questions. This project made me feel like I levelled up, specifically in stranded colorwork, which is my current favorite area of knitting.
Today I’m bringing you a pretty popular pattern (and some alliteration, all for free!). Simplicity 9388, a unisex shirt jacket in three lengths, has been well-received in the sewing community since its release.
I like making button up shirts and jackets that aren’t too tricky, so this was on my radar. When I got some Shetland Flannel Speckle in the “Steel” color by Robert Kaufman, it seemed like an ideal match.
Fabric & Notions
This flannel is 95% cotton and 5% polyester. It’s 44″ wide and 6.4 oz/square yard. It’s listed on Robert Kaufman’s site as being 2-ply and therefore “stronger and loftier”. It really is a nice flannel, as all the flannels I have ever used from Robert Kaufman have been. It fluffs up a bit in the wash and, my favorite part, contains little flecks of colors–green, blue, pink, orange, and white.
Mine was a Christmas gift from my husband and came from Amazon. He bought me four yards, and after making this shirt jacket, I have 16″ full width left, plus some odd-shaped extra bits.
You only need a tiny bit of lining for the inside of the yoke, so I looked in my stash and chose a bit of gray cotton lawn by Cotton + Steel. I can’t remember for sure, but I probably bought it at Pintuck & Purl several years ago.
Other than that, I found thread, interfacing, and buttons at Joann’s. I really thought hard on the buttons, spending a lot of time online looking at options, but in the end, Joann’s had just what I wanted. While I had thought something neon or bright would be the ticket, it was this medium pink that looked the best.
My favorite detail on this shirt is the “L” patch from Wildflower and Company on Etsy.
This was also a gift, and went great with the shirt. It was easy to iron on and instructions were included to ensure success. After adhering it, I stitched around the outside with regular thread in my bobbin and clear nylon thread in my needle. If you haven’t used nylon thread before, it looks a lot like lightweight fishing line, but comes on a spool. I have a really old spool that was given to me by a friend. This stuff pretty much lasts forever, and is great extra insurance on something like this embroidered patch that will definitely go through the laundry on a regular basis.
I did have one tool failure–and this is something I have seen in several cases, unfortunately. Using a yellow Chaco liner on white/light material is probably a gamble that won’t end well.
I don’t know if this happens with all the Chaco liner colors, but I have used the yellow on cream fabric and it has never washed out. I helped with a class once where someone made white jeans and couldn’t get it out. Now I notice that I can still see my marks even on this medium gray, even though I have washed it since making it. I absolutely love my yellow Chaco liner for its ease of use, and I really don’t have problems with it on darker colors, but it just doesn’t seem to come out of lighter colors.
I chose to make View B in a large for the bust/chest and waist and an extra large for the hips.
I thought about trying the shortest view (View C), but I really wanted hip pockets, and View C omits those.
This pattern was nice to sew without any real surprises, and it felt like it came together fairly quickly. I like the front chest and hip pockets and love how the lining on the inside of the yoke looks.
One of the few things I didn’t like is that, at this length, the hip pockets finish just above the hem, so if you put your hands or something heavy in the pockets, they will hang down beneath the edge of the jacket. To fix that, I topstitched my pockets to the front, following the seam line from the inside. They aren’t perfectly even, but it’s not noticeable unless you are trying to notice it. While I prefer the look of the jacket without this topstitching, it doesn’t look bad and it completely solves the problem.
One thing that was a little different from a lot of shirts that I sew is that this pattern has a one-piece collar and the button plackets extend past the edge of the collar. It give the shirt jacket a slightly different look from a regular shirt. I also like the seam line over the chest pockets. It’s a good detail.
This shirt jacket has, in my opinion, the perfect amount of ease to wear over other shirts or a light sweater, and I could see making this in other cotton flannels or, even better, in wool.
If you look around on the internet, you can see a lot of versions of this pattern, including an amazing version in red faux fur by Yoga Byrd over on the Minerva.com website (hopefully that link works).
While I started this in the winter (And maybe finished it in the winter? I can’t remember…), it’s a great transitional piece for spring. I have worn it a lot, and am so glad I made it.
There’s nothing like a garment you have made yourself when it comes to the ideal fit. And if you find fitting difficult, persevere! You’ll get there! With practice, even if we can’t make everything fit perfectly, we can usually get things closer to what we want than store-bought clothes.
It’s funny how something can stick in your head for years, and then when the moment is right, you call it up for inspiration. Years ago, I was on the beach, talking to some other moms, and one of them was wearing a pair of shearling fleece sweatpants. They looked so cozy, and I thought what a great idea they were for a beach that is pretty much always either breezy or windy and which is usually significantly cooler than whatever town you are coming from.
Last year, as it got colder and my thoughts turned to winter sewing, I was looking through my main Polartec fabric source, Mill Yardage, and saw some neon pink shearling fleece. I love neon pink, I love shearling, and I love Polartec, so I kept it in mind. I had a few ideas of what I might want to make with it, but the strongest came in the form of that memory of the shearling fleece pants.
Mill Yardage has an inspiration board on their website, and I thought this would be an awesome addition. It said that if you sent in an idea they decided to make for the page, they would send you the same amount of fabric. These pants were a fun idea I wanted to see in the world, and if they also sent me fabric, I could make my own pants. After mulling it over for months, I e-mailed them and shared my idea.
In a short time, I received an e-mail back! They liked the idea, and asked if I would be willing to make the project. I already wanted to make this project, so I said yes! They generously offered any fabric and notions I needed from their site to make the pants, so I sent in my requests, and faster than I could have imagined, had a package of fabric at my door. I was thrilled.
Here was my plan.
I wanted to take the Seaforth Pants from Hey June Handmade, a pattern for elastic-waist, wide-leg pants drafted for woven fabrics, and use View B, which has a narrower leg as my base for this project, since I suspected the pattern could work well for knits as well as the wovens it was drafted for. I wanted to make these in fleece and add a cuff to the bottom for the coziest sweat pants ever. I didn’t want slim joggers. I wanted roomy sweat pants that would feel soft and wonderful when you put them on.
To attempt this, I chose three yards of the long-dreamed-of Polartec Thermal Pro large and small clump shearling in “hot pink” which is nice and wide at 62 inches. I liked the idea of pants with different shades of pink, but I wasn’t sure about the bulkiness of the fabrics I was choosing. I felt confident I could make the shearling work for the pants. Or maybe I just wanted the pants I envisioned so much that I was going to MAKE them work no matter what. You can form your own opinions on that. 😉 But which fabric was the right color for all the extra parts while also not being too thick? I poured over the website time and time again trying to decide. What helped me the most in the end was the box of swatches my husband got me a few years ago. I could feel the fabrics and layer them to see how thick everything would be. So, with a mix of trepidation and confidence, I requested half a yard of Polartec Classic 200 double velour/recycled fleece in “rose petal” because it was the perfect shade of pink for my vision (and 60 inches wide–yay!).
I have made View B of these pants before, so I already had the pattern pieces cut out. I tried on the pants I had made previously just to get a sense of whether or not I wanted to make any changes to the pattern, and to figure out how long I wanted them. The fit of the pattern seemed good as it was. I wanted the inseam to be about three and a half inches longer that what View B is drafted for with a cuff that was two and a half inches tall. If you were following the directions as written for View B, you would lose one and a half inches to the hem allowance, so if I didn’t fold the hem up, and used a half inch seam allowance as in the rest of the pattern, I would need a cuff that was three inches tall for a finished height of two and a half inches. I measured my ankles, did some sketching, and then made a little pattern piece out of tracing paper. I would have to see if this would work.
Putting the pants together was not hard, although the pockets required a bit of focus. I relied on my sewing machine for the pockets, using a straight stitch since I didn’t need a lot of stretch in those seams. My stitching was a little wobbly, but I knew that once I wasn’t staring at it up close, I wouldn’t notice it. I used sew-in interfacing where interfacing was necessary, because you can’t iron this fleece without melting it, and I basted and pinned things in place until I had sewn them down.
Once all the pockets were on and it was time to put the actual pants together, I got illogically nervous about whether or not they would fit. It didn’t matter that I had tried on the pair I had already made. What if I blew it and this idea didn’t work? So, to make myself feel better, I serged the inseams and crotch seam and then basted the outseams together just in case. Guess what? They were fine. The pattern hadn’t mysteriously morphed into something else. What a shock! My fears were unfounded!
It was coming out great.
So, I serged up those outseams, put on my waistband, and then got ready to figure out the cuffs.
The cuffs were about half as wide as the lower pant legs. Polartec 200 does stretch, but it was asking a lot of it to stretch so much that I could just sew those cuffs on to the bottom of the bulky Thermal Pro.
I thought about it for a few days, and then mulled over my options with my best problem solving friends. In the end, I machine stitched around the bottom of the pants with a basting stitch and then gathered them. I then hand basted the cuffs to the pants and tried them on.
They seemed good, so I used my sewing machine, which I’m more skillful with than my serger, to sew them together with a zigzag stitch.
Then I went around again with my serger to neaten everything up. And it worked! The pants were perfect!
That being said, if you decide to try this, you may have more luck making the cuffs from something really stretchy like a thinner Power Stretch or just skipping the cuffs altogether and binding the bottoms of the pants with binding or something. HOWEVER, if you are as stuck on an idea like this as I was, the old adage holds true that where there is a will, there is usually a way.
When I finished these, I was THRILLED. These pants were exactly what I was going for! Spring may be right around the corner, but at least where I live in New England, these pants will get more wear than just in winter (these will come to the beach with me). Here is what I can tell you about wearing these. They are extremely soft, and they are extremely warm. That Thermal Pro is no joke. As soon as I put these on, I felt the warmth.
In our area, as soon as there is a whiff of spring and a nice-ish day, people kind of lose it and race to the beach. Seriously. People do not waste nice weather here. So, naturally, I had to go too. 😀 The beach was probably twenty degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than our town and windy, which was perfect for testing the pants. The wind does come through a bit, but less so than, say, this sweatshirt I made.
If you were wearing this fabric in winter with a base layer, you would probably feel pretty good. For a cool, but not bitterly cold wind, it was just right. You can easily believe that I saved all my scraps in the hopes of more fun projects when the temperature dips again next fall/winter.
I think that all the things recommended on the website for this shearling fabric (coats, vests, heavy blankets) would be perfect applications. For instance, wouldn’t this be a fun lining for a winter-worthy jean jacket? Or a shearling vest? And, the Polartec 200 was not too bulky for all my accent pieces. In fact, it was just right. I would say it feels just a little bit thicker than a beefy t-shirt.
After sewing this pattern in fleece, I have a few tips on ways to reduce bulk if you try this yourself.
Increase the seam allowance on the pockets where they are topstitched to the pants just a bit to make them even easier to sew on. When folding those same seam allowances under, cut out a little square where they overlap right at the corner. Just don’t cut too far in. On your back pockets, just fold the tops over once and stitch down since the raw edge won’t fray. I would also probably eliminate the back darts on the pants. If you opt not to remove the darts, you can cut the dart folds open on the inside after sewing them rather than folding them to the side to make things a little less bulky in the back.
Anyone can have regular sweat pants, but it’s the people who make their own clothes who can have extraordinary sweat pants. 😉
Thanks again to Mill Yardage for providing this excellent fabric. As of this writing, both fabrics look like they are still available.
I’ll leave you with this song and dance from the Movie “Funny Face”. Think pink!
I like the idea of being able to make an entire outfit. Do I want to make all of my own clothes? Not really. But do I want to be able to make all the types of clothes I might wear on a given day? Yes!
I have ventured into most areas of clothes making. Socks are one area I don’t visit a lot. I made a few pairs back in my first knitting phase, and I have sewn socks, but since picking knitting back up, I have more or less avoided socks. Rather than making one thing, I would have to make a pair. I wasn’t too sure I wanted to or that I would have the will to make both socks.
After I got a few sweaters under my belt, though, I realized that if I can knit two sleeves, I can definitely knit two socks. They are typically even smaller than sleeves! I was also inspired by my Mom, who is one of my knitting buddies, and who has gotten really good at socks. I needed to give this a try.
This is a stranded colorwork sock pattern with two colors. We’re both big fans of Drea Renee Knits patterns, and stranded colorwork is my favorite type of knitting so far. I had some Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn from when I first discovered their yarn (and speckled, hand-dyed yarn in general) that I wanted to use. There was a white mini skein with speckles of green, blue, pink, and purple in it that I used at the top of my socks, and a larger white skein with pink, purple, and black speckles that I used for the rest of the sock. That skein was actually reclaimed from a cowl that I frogged (ripped out). I can’t find the colorway name of the mini skein, but the larger skein was called “Cheeky”. I paired these with some Cascade Heritage yarn (colorway: “Real Black“) from Wool & Co. because I love that high contrast. All yarn was superwash wool combined with nylon for strength. The Hedgehog Fibres Yarn originally came from Pintuck & Purl.
Making the socks was fun, and I learned a lot. The design is cool and interesting, and the heels and toes look pretty. I really like all the tips and support designer Andrea Mowry puts into her patterns because there are a lot of things to know in knitting, and those tips and YouTube videos make it easy to learn as you go, no matter your level.
In making these particular socks, I made a few…mistakes? Accidental design choices? I don’t know. I’m a loose knitter, so I sized down to some tiny needles (US 1 and US 0), but nevertheless, my socks came out a little too large…definitely too large to wear out and about every day. No matter. They could be sleep socks. I usually wear socks when I go to bed and then, as my feet warm up, I kick them off. Their looseness made them perfect for this.
The other thing I did was accidentally reverse the colors on the second sock. It’s hard to remember what I was thinking because it looks like I redrew the color chart like I usually do so that I wouldn’t get mixed up, but somewhere along the line, I spaced out, and they are opposites. When I realized what I had done, I had to laugh. There are definitely socks out there that are made this way on purpose, and they look cool, but this was 100% a mistake on my part. Haha.
Since they are superwash and already too big, I have thrown them in the washer and laid them out to dry, and they have done great. I think they may have even accidentally gone through the dryer once or twice. They are pretty pilly at this point, but that’s easy to fix. They’re holding up great.
I used these as a sort of slow-and-steady, easy project since a lot of the pattern is knit 2, purl 2 ribbing. They were the project I brought along when I was listening to a speaker or knitting in front of the TV or in the car, and I worked on them slowly little by little over several months.
Come to think of it, I have done a lot of knit 2, purl 2 ribbing over the last year across three different projects and I discovered a few things.
1. I like doing this kind of repetitive ribbing best when knitting Continental rather than English style.
2. I also find it a lot more fun if I am using an interesting (rather than a plain) yarn.
Two of my three ribbing-filled projects have used a plain yarn, but these socks were more fun because I was using this great speckled sock yarn (colorway: “Pixie on a Bender“) from Birch Dyeworks for most of it. For the rest, I used a mini skein that I had which was also from Birch Dyeworks (colorway: “Mom’s Hot Pants“). The speckled skein, which is a white and pink base filled with pink, green, black, purple, yellow, blue, and even the occasional trace of orange was a gift from Maggie at Pintuck & Purl. Back when I used to work there we made plans to knit socks together so I could learn two-at-a-time Magic Loop*, where you knit two socks at once. Well…we didn’t get beyond about an inch and a half and the two-at-a-time technique never cemented itself in my brain. Even though those socks never materialized, I got to keep the yarn, and have always wanted to put it to good use. And those speckles really kept it fun.
My knitting was tighter on these socks, which I was happy about, so they are only slightly loose, and work great as everyday socks in general. I have worn them a few times, and I’m not sure yet if I like them as much as store-bought socks or not. When I first put them on, I can feel the texture of the sock under the front part of my foot, and I don’t love it. As I go along, I stop noticing it, but the jury is still out on whether or not I love handmade socks for everyday wear. I do love them on cold days with slippers, though!
This pattern was fun, I learned some interesting new things, and while I like the look of the Afterthought Heel in the Sparks socks better, both were great to knit. I like being able to have contrasting toes, heels, and cuffs, and both patterns allow for that in different ways.
It was also interesting to see what a dramatic difference blocking made in the look of the finished socks. Even though they are not at all necessary, I bought some Bryspun sock blockers by Bryson from Pintuck & Purl before finishing these. You can get a sense of how the socks looked before blocking in this picture of them soaking.
After knitting both of these, I feel like I have a good handle on using Magic Loop to knit one sock at a time. *If you haven’t heard of it, Magic Loop is a technique wherein you use a long circular knitting needle to knit smaller-circumference things in the round rather than using double pointed needles (DPNs). I’m fine with double pointed needles, but I am really glad I learned to knit this way too. I never really thought I would like it better than using DPNs, but I think I may be starting to.
Now that my DRK Everyday Socks are done, I’m trying to finish up a cowl I started in a class I took as well as a sweater. After that? Probably some Speedy Selbu mittens…just time time for Spring! Haha.
Hey, everyone! Long time, no post! That was unexpected, but we’re all fine over here. One week Flickr (where I store my blog photos) was down when I needed to upload. Then our computer showed the blue screen of death and was out of commission for awhile–luckily that has been fixed. And then it was school vacation week. Life! What are you going to do? Oh, well. Thankfully I’m back, and while it’s been a surprisingly busy week, I really wanted to get this post out.
It’s been awhile since I had a real craft fail, but these tights are definitely that! And it’s not the fault of the pattern. Oh, no. It was a combination of user error in the form of a serious rookie mistake and a miscalculation on my part about how stretchy my fabric was and what that meant for the pattern.
So let’s dive in! I made tights! Yes, I actually MADE TIGHTS! You don’t see a lot of patterns for tights, although it’s not hard to imagine that you could combine a leggings and sock pattern or something, but as someone who loves sewing from a pattern more than drafting or hacking patterns, I wanted a tights pattern. After making my fun wedding guest outfit back in October, I realized that the cost of awesomely-colored tights could really add up. I started to wonder if there were any patterns out there to make your own. That’s when I stumbled on this blog post from Lauren Taylor’s blog, Lladybird. A long time ago, she had tried out the Rose Hip Tights by Seamster Patterns.
This is an “old” pattern as far as modern indie patterns go, and it came out before there were a lot of indie patterns on the market as we know them today. That made it a little hard to track down because Seamster Patterns seems to have disappeared in the mid-twenty-teens. I thought I had hit the jackpot when I found the pattern on Kollabora, so I bought it and tried to download it.
Here’s a PSA for any of you that think that is a good idea–don’t do it.
I couldn’t get the pattern to download on my computer. It seems the site had made me a mysterious login and password which I hadn’t chosen and couldn’t access. After searching the internet, I started to see forums and discussions pop up where other people had tried the same thing, paid money, and gotten no pattern and no response from Kollabora. I had also e-mailed both Kollabora and a blogger friend who had once made the pattern to try to find out what happened, but had gotten no response from Kollabora.
Then I remembered reading an article by the Craft Industry Alliance about the founder of Kollabora and her newest venture, CraftJam, so I e-mailed the help section of CraftJam to see if they could assist me, even though it seemed like a bit of a long shot. Around the same time, my blogger friend sent me a copy of the pattern, since I had paid for it and didn’t seem to be getting a response from Kollabora.
Luckily, CraftJam was both very responsive and kind enough to dig up the pattern and send it to me. Their customer service was amazing and they really went above and beyond since they are a different website from Kollabora altogether.
As for Kollabora, while it’s still around, it isn’t really active at this point. That’s a long, drawn out story, but I wanted to share it in case anyone else has the same issue that I did. I don’t recommend flooding CraftJam with questions about Kollabora. I just wouldn’t try to buy any patterns from Kollabora at this point since it seems to be largely inactive at the moment. Maybe someday a new company will buy it and revitalize it, but as of this writing I don’t think that has happened.
All of that means that I’m now blogging a pattern that is more or less unavailable, which is an interesting choice. I know. I still want to discuss it, though, because some of you may have this pattern, but have never tried it, and I have a not-so-good memory, which means I might just forget I made these tights if I don’t blog them! Haha. Sad, but true!
So let’s get to it. This is the first time I have ever tried a Seamster Pattern, and this one is really cool. The Rose Hip Tights have options for thigh high stockings, low rise tights, and high rise tights. I decided to make the high rise tights. It’s clear that the designer put a lot of thought into these. There are only four pattern pieces–the main leg piece, the foot, the crotch gusset, and the waistband (or leg band for the thigh high stockings). The seams are strategically placed to look nice and not chafe, which is cool, and there are instructions for how to adapt the pattern to your fabric depending on your height, foot length, and the fabric’s stretch. The sewing is not too difficult. I think I did all or almost all of it on my serger. (I’m struggling to remember since I made these in fall 2021). Overall, it was a nice, quick project. And the thought that I could have tights in whatever color I wanted was pretty appealing.
I decided to try the pattern out first with double brushed polyester (DBP), which I bought from Cali Fabrics. I got some in mustard yellow and some in lavender. DBP is, as far as I can tell, what they make those super soft leggings everyone loves out of. And the nice thing is that the fabric is usually not very expensive. Seems like a win, right? Well, it could be…if you don’t mess it up like I did. Hahahaha. Here’s where the rookie mistake comes in.
When you cut out a pattern piece on folded fabric, you are actually cutting out two mirrored pattern pieces. When you cut a pattern out on a single layer of fabric and need two of a pattern piece, you need to cut one with the pattern right side up and one with the pattern upside down to get those mirrored images. Well…in my mustard fabric I cut two right side up. Yep. I’ve been sewing for a respectable number of years now, and I totally did that to myself. And the real kicker is that I didn’t even notice until I was sewing the crotch seam, almost at the end of the process! I was very confused for a moment there! Haha. Then I figured it out, but I was so close to the end, that I just decided to finish them so I could at least check the fit. Guess what? Perfect fit! Too bad one leg will always look inside out.
Sadly, the purple pair is also a bust.
These two fabrics had a slightly different amount of stretch to them, and using the calculations in the pattern, I decided to sew an XL and lengthen the yellow by 4″ and shorten the purple by 2″. I did not change the foot length. Figuring out exactly how much to shorten or lengthen was the one part of this pattern that I found confusing. I managed to cut the purple fabric out correctly and the sewing went great. When I put them on, however, the crotch of the tights was probably about 2″ too low. Looks like I didn’t need to shorten them after all. Ugh. I knew I would never wear these as tights if they fit like that. Another fail! (A pretty funny fail, just like the last one, but a fail nonetheless.)
On the plus side, I tried one pair of tights with optional elastic in the waistband, and the other without, and I liked both options. The feet fit great, and it was a cool pattern with a great fit overall.
After telling my mom about it, she suggested cutting off the feet and using them as footless tights, leggings, or pajamas. This seemed like a brilliant idea (Thanks, Mom!), so I did that and just used my regular sewing machine to make a little bar tack at the edge on the serged seam so it wouldn’t come undone. After testing these, I found they wouldn’t work as regular leggings for me, since they are a little see-through. On my daughter’s purple leggings (blogged here), there is a bit more ease, and they really aren’t see-through. With the tighter fit of these on me, though, they are. So, they could still be pajamas (the yellow) or footless tights (the purple). And maybe the feet could make some “interesting” socks? I don’t know. In all honesty, these may not stay in my wardrobe for long, but we’ll see.
And despite the total failure of this particular project, having this pattern in my pattern library really is a win. It’s a good pattern with real potential. I also appreciate a good laugh at my own expense once in awhile. 😀
That being said, if you have a great tights sewing pattern or fabric recommendations for sewing tights, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!