Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

It’s time for a knitting post!  I don’t know what happened this winter, but I went crazy for knitting, and then I discovered how much fun stranded colorwork was.  What this mostly means is that I waste a lot of time looking at pictures of colorwork sweaters I will never knit on Ravelry.  I swore off sweaters after the mammoth beast I made for my husband (filed under “Craft Fails“), and never looked back…except that now I’m looking back.  😉

Anyway, after knitting my first Glacier Park Cowl last year and loving it, I decided to make the pattern one more time.  I  thought I could improve on my first version, and I just found the pattern so enjoyable to knit.  Things that don’t need precise sizing (and that are small) are really my sweet spot.  I had a cowl that I wasn’t very happy with (the white speckled one below) in some hand-dyed sock yarn plus a good amount of leftover black sock yarn from my last Glacier Park Cowl, so I could unravel the unsuccessful cowl and use the leftover black sock yarn.  Perfect!

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

The two most helpful things I learned before starting this second Glacier Park Cowl were the importance of color value and yarn dominance.  For colorwork designs to be really clear and easy to visually understand, you want your colors to be different in value.  An easy way to check is to take a picture with your phone and turn the color picture to black and white.  If the colors you have chosen are very different in value (say one shows up a light gray and the other is nearly black), your colorwork design will really pop.  Brooklyn Tweed has an in-depth explanation of how this all works on their blog.

Yarn dominance has to do with which part of your design you want to stand out the most.  I wanted the black elements of my cowl to stand out more than the white speckled parts.  Since I was knitting Continental, holding both yarns in my left hand, I always held my background color (the white, speckled yarn) in the back (or to the left) of the color I wanted to be dominant (the black).  You can find a really clear explanation of all of this (including how to hold your yarn) in Andrea Rangel’s book Alterknit Stitch Dictionary (in fact, here are some of her quick tips for colorwork–number 4 talks about yarn dominance).  For a more in-depth explanation of color dominance in a blog post, see this one from Paper Tiger.

OK, so on to the project!

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

The Glacier Park Cowl is a pattern by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks.  I bought it on Ravelry through my local shop (Pintuck & Purl).  This time around, I used Hedgehog Fibres Sock in Cheeky (also from Pintuck & Purl) and Malabrigo Sock in black.  I knit fairly loosely once I get going, and so I used a US 1, 24″ circular needle for the ribbing and a US 2, 24″ circular needle for the colorwork.  On my first version of this cowl, the colorwork section is smaller than the ribbing (it pulls in), and I was trying to prevent that this time around by going up a needle size for that part.  I knit the full recommended length of the middle section of the project, making my second cowl much longer than my first.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

I was determined to get this project done before everyone in my house finished their Christmas Break.  It’s hard to resist doing one more row when you can see the project taking shape and each row of the chart feels like progress.  I also love knitting with a speckled hand-dyed yarn because you never know when another little bit of color will show up.  This particular yarn is mostly white with little black and pink speckles throughout.  It does split a bit from time to time if you aren’t careful, but you get used to that.  I loved knitting this pattern.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

The surprise was in finding that as I went along, my knitting got looser!  After doing more reading, I found that I’m not the only one this happens to, but it was funny when I finished and the end was wider than the beginning!  A lot of it has evened out with blocking, so it’s not a big deal, but it’s very useful to know.  You can see it a little more clearly in the picture below.  The bottom was where I began and the top was where I finished.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

Interestingly, because my white yarn was so wavy from its former life in the unsuccessful cowl, I ended up blocking this twice before it started to relax.  The above picture is after blocking once (or before blocking?  I can’t remember.).  The other pictures are after blocking twice.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

I’m really happy with this knit, and I have been wearing it and my first Glacier Park Cowl all the time.  Even though I was initially horrified at the thought of knitting such skinny yarn on such tiny needles, I loved this project, and would totally make it again in other fun colors.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

If you are a knitter, do you have any favorite colorwork patterns to share?  I have some slightly scratchy bulky yarn in several colors I would love to use at some point, but I just can’t find the right pattern.  It’s listed as a worsted, but it knits up like a bulky (plus I’m a loose knitter).  I would love recommendations.

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Simplicity 1887 Pants in Crushed Stretch Velvet

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Simplicity 1887 Pants in Crushed Stretch Velvet

Hm…Well, this was an experiment.  I thought about calling this post, “A Lot of Dorky Pictures and some Weird, Weird Pants”, but that got pushed out by a more practical title.  Picture-taking is hard and I had a lot of pretty crazy facial expressions that you’ll have to take my word on.  😀

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

I will tell you that the jury is still out on these pants…I just can’t decide how I feel about them.

Over the summer, I made View C of Simplicity 1887, a pair of sparkly linen shorts, which I love.  I have wanted to make the pants ever since I got this pattern.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

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Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

Despite the fact that I could have made these out of a drapey denim-like chambray living in my stash, I decided to take a chance on something much less practical–crushed stretch velvet.  Because, why not?  I saw the velvet at Joann Fabrics, it was close to Christmas, and I knew I could whip these up pretty quickly if I could find a bit of time.  And then I would have fancy pants for Christmas Eve!  I always want to make something fun for church on Christmas Eve, but I rarely do.

So I bought the velvet (well, technically it’s Stretch Panne Velour Knit Fabric).  It’s a polyester/spandex blend:  90%/10%.  I loved the color and in the winter I’m all about fun textures.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

I finally managed to find a bit of time and I whipped these up.  I’m not the fastest sewist, but when you don’t have to finish any seams (and since this is a knit, you don’t), sewing goes a lot more quickly.  It also helps when you’ve made the pattern in some form before.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

I made one mistake and one change.  My mistake was in not being careful when lining up the front and back waistband.  The side seam edges need to match up so that when you fold the waistband in half to baste the bottom edges together, they will match up easily.  I tried to fudge this, but then I paid for it going forward.  The one small change I made was to use 1 3/8″ wide elastic in the back waistband instead of two lengths of 3/4″ elastic and two casings.  I don’t remember why I did this–probably it was based on what I had on hand, but it turned out ok.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

When I finished these, I just wasn’t sure what to think.  They are so comfortable, although the smooth wrong side of the fabric is a little on the colder side.  Luckily, these pants are pretty roomy, so you can definitely fit some long underwear underneath if necessary.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

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Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

I finished them before Christmas Eve, so I threw them on with a sweater and blazer for church, but I definitely felt like the ’80’s called and wanted their clothes back.  I didn’t want to make a snap decision, though, so I wore them again with a different top and it was better, but still not quite there.  I really love the soft texture and the color, though, so I’m going to reserve judgement and keep trying these pants.  If I finally decide I don’t love them, they will make some pretty great lounge pants.  The pattern itself is definitely worth trying again in another fabric–a midweight Tencel twill would be great, actually!  The flat front waistband with elastic back, the big pockets, and the relaxed fit are real winners.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

No matter what I end up deciding, I’m really glad I tried making these fun, weird pants.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

A No-Sew Visible Mending Fix for Down Jackets

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A No-Sew Visible Mending Fix for Down Jackets

Hi, everyone!  After a nice, long break, I think it’s time to get back to it!  Having said that, this post isn’t actually about sewing, but it is about something that is alive and well in the making community:  visible mending.

No Sew Repair for Down Jackets

If you search “visible mending” on the internet, you’ll come up with a lot of different ways to take the idea of mending, which is often viewed as something boring or antiquated or a waste of time, and turn it on its head.  What I love about visible mending is that it takes the idea of mending being drudgery and elevates it to something interesting and beautiful.  Now, you don’t always want your mending to be visible–of course it depends on the garment and your vision for it, but if you decide to go the visible mending route, why not make it fun?

In that vein, I decided to think about a fun way to mend this little jacket that I found at the thrift store.

No Sew Repair for Down Jackets

It was in good shape aside from a few light stains and some small holes.

No Sew Repair for Down Jackets

My original idea was to zig zag stitch back and forth over the holes in bright, contrasting colors.  Then a half-forgotten thought surfaced in my mind.  Someone had mentioned some sort of tape you could use to fix jackets and backpacks.  I started looking around on the internet and found this:  Tenacious Tape.

No Sew Repair for Down Jackets

This isn’t a sponsored post or anything; I wanted to talk about it because it provides a quick and easy way to fix down jackets and more.  You can use it on your camping gear, your sleeping bag, neoprene, rubber, and vinyl, and you can machine wash garments that have this tape on them without it coming off.  It comes in lots of colors as well as clear and reflective options, and even precut shapes.

No Sew Repair for Down Jackets

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No Sew Repair for Down Jackets

It is pretty expensive relative to the amount you get. I think I paid around $10 for a 20″ x 3″ rectangle, so following my multi-color idea in tape rather than stitching didn’t seem very economical, especially when I was trying to save money by thrifting.  To be fair, this color was probably the most expensive option.

No Sew Repair for Down Jackets

Next, I chose a simple shape–a heart–and printed it off from my computer to make a little template.  I printed it in pink to get an idea of how it would look.

No Sew Repair for Down Jackets

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No Sew Repair for Down Jackets

On the back side of the tape,  I traced the number of hearts I needed to cover all the holes and carefully cut them out.  Before sticking them on, I had to clean each area I wanted to repair with isopropyl alcohol and trim any threads.  After that, all that was left was to peel off the backing and carefully stick the little hearts over each of the holes.

No Sew Repair for Down Jackets

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No Sew Repair for Down Jackets

Done!

Now it’s in perfect shape for a little person who needs a warm fall/winter jacket!

Quick and Easy Pajama Pants: McCall’s 3019

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Quick and Easy Pajama Pants: McCall’s 3019

It was time for a quick and easy project, I needed pajama pants, and I had some cozy flannel that had been in my stash long enough.  And when all those things aligned, I finally made myself some soft and cozy pajama pants.

Quick and Easy Pajama Pants:  McCall's 3019

The pattern is out of print (OOP) McCall’s 3019 circa 2000 (easily found on Etsy).  This is my go-to pajama pants pattern for my husband.  It’s a unisex pattern that we got from my mom, and it’s a favorite for its loose fit and POCKETS!  You can use it for pants, shorts, a raglan shirt or a long robe.  So far, all I have used it for is pants.

Quick and Easy Pajama Pants:  McCall's 3019

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Quick and Easy Pajama Pants:  McCall's 3019

The fabric I used is an organic cotton flannel from Cloud9 Fabrics, with a great cloud print on it by artist Eloise Renouf.  I got this fabric a few years ago from Pintuck & Purl, but wasn’t sure what to use it for.  I really wanted to make a shirt out of it, but all I could see when I looked at it was pajamas.  Finally, this year, my need for pajamas and an easy project was so great that I knew it was time to use this fabric for its true purpose:  the coziest flannel pajama pants I have ever owned.

Quick and Easy Pajama Pants:  McCall's 3019

I’m a pretty big bargain shopper, so I usually go for the best quality at the lowest price.  I used to always buy cheap flannel on sale whenever I needed flannel, so this was my first experience with organic cotton flannel (I think…I forget a lot of things…).  And there is a huge difference.  I already knew there was a pretty big quality difference between the flannel I had been buying on super sale at the big box stores and quilt shop flannel, but this organic cotton flannel is the best.  It’s really substantial and soft, and I will admit that for the first few weeks after making these pants, I kept wondering how early I could change into them each night (or afternoon…it gets dark really early in the fall here).

Quick and Easy Pajama Pants:  McCall's 3019

So the pants themselves–this was a quick and easy pattern to sew, as expected.  It only has three pattern pieces:  front leg, back leg, and pocket.  My measurements put me in an extra-large size.  The pattern only covers small, medium, and large, but I tried on the last pair I made my husband, which are a large, and found that they fit fine.  I figured I could cut the large and sew with a 3/8″ seam allowance instead of a 5/8″ seam allowance to give myself a little bit of extra ease, knowing I would actually be fine either way.  This worked out great.  The pants are nice and roomy.  I’m really happy with the fit.

Quick and Easy Pajama Pants:  McCall's 3019

I sewed them with a straight stitch and zigzagged the seam allowances, because I was after SPEED!  I added some elastic to the waist and a little ribbon tab at the back, and I was done!  And now I sleep in cozy bliss whenever these pants aren’t in the wash!  I really do need another pair, but I’ve got enough other projects I want to make that that probably won’t happen.

Quick and Easy Pajama Pants:  McCall's 3019

The fabric has begun to pill a little bit, but it still feels just as soft.  You can see it a bit in this picture of one of the pockets.  It doesn’t affect the feel of the fabric, though.

Quick and Easy Pajama Pants:  McCall's 3019

All in all, this was a great project.  It was a good, quick sew and yielded something that is worn even more than most of my other projects.

Quick and Easy Pajama Pants:  McCall's 3019

I plan to take some time off for Christmas (Merry Christmas!  Happy New Year!).  I don’t know if it will just be a week or two or perhaps a little bit longer, but I should be back in January or maybe early February if I decide to extend the break.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and enjoy this first official day of winter (Winter Solstice!), knowing that now the daylight will start coming back.  Yay!

Adventures in Colorwork: Glacier Park Cowl

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Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

This summer, I decided to knit the Glacier Park Cowl by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks. 

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

I was going on a road trip and I wanted something interesting (but not too hard) that I could take with me.  I had some black Malabrigo yarn left over from a hat I had made, and I knew I wanted to use it with a hand-dyed speckled yarn from Pintuck & Purl.  I found the perfect (irresistable!) yarn by Birch Dyeworks: a beautiful turquoise and white speckled yarn with surprising flecks of colors here and there.  This was going to be good.

I bought my pattern via Ravelry at Pintuck & Purl.  Then I freaked out.  The pattern had a chart.  I didn’t remember how to knit from a chart!  My colorwork experiences were too long ago!  What was I going to do?!  Before I could work myself up too much, Mary from Birch Dyeworks, who happened to be in the store, talked me down and explained how to use a color chart.  It was just a stitch for every square.  I could totally do this.  OK.  Deep breath.  Back to EXCITEMENT LEVEL 100.  😉

I cast on my project in July (I think) and worked on it a little bit here and there for about four months, finishing last month.  Sometimes I didn’t work on it for days.  Sometimes I only did one round.  I was practicing my Continental knitting skills and my color skills.  I learned to knit with two colors Continental style by watching this video from Voolenvine and this video from Garnstudio repeatedly until I got the idea.

Here are the details of this project:

Pattern:  Glacier Park Cowl by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks (purchased from the designer’s Ravelry page in-store at Pintuck & Purl, which benefits both the designer and the store–super cool!)

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

Yarn:  black Malabrigo fingering (or sock?) yarn (bought some time ago) and Birch Dyeworks Nymph on a Bender fingering/sock yarn (the latter purchased from Pintuck & Purl);  I didn’t use a full skein of either, but I also made my cowl smaller than it was meant to be according to the pattern.

Needles:  I used a US 1, 24″ circular needle from Pintuck & Purl.  I started off with a longer circular needle, since I that is what I had, but it was a pain to stretch my knitting around, so I finally broke down and bought a better size for the project.  No regrets.

My gauge after blocking:  31 stitches and 50 rows over 4″ in colorwork.  My ribbing sections are significantly looser.  The gauge for the pattern is supposed to be 28 stitches and 34 rows over 4″ in the colorwork pattern.  I bet you can guess if I made a test swatch or not.  Nope!  Part of why I like cowls is that they are easy-fitting and I can dive right in.  Looks like I need to go up in needle size for the colorwork section if I ever make this again.

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

Size after blocking: 8.5″ tall by 20″ in circumference.  The pattern was meant to have a height of 12″ with a circumference of 24″.  I noticed that my cowl was going to have a smaller circumference, so I decided to make it shorter as well to keep it proportional.

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

This project, though it took me awhile, was a joy to make.  I loved the simplicity of the easy ribbing and continual knit stitch with the complexity of following the color chart.  I REALLY loved seeing the pattern emerge and discovering what color would show up next in the hand-dyed yarn.  It was always an exciting surprise when a little fleck of pink or yellow made an appearance.  Looking for that next bit of color really helped me get excited to keep knitting.

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

I was disappointed that my ribbing was looser than the rest of my knitting (and it tends to flip to the outside when I wear it, which is annoying), but I blocked it and then brought it in to Pintuck & Purl to show Maggie and Mary, and it turns out that I’m not the only one who thinks it’s beautiful.  They looked at the inside and Mary turned to me and said, “You’re good at this!”  I was so surprised! And it was a huge compliment to see them admire it.  It isn’t perfect, but I’m good at this!

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

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Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

And you know, I have this crazy idea that I might want to make it again.  I have a simple white and pink cowl that I made a year or two ago that isn’t quite as great to wear as I want it to be, so I might just unravel it and try this pattern again with the leftover black yarn I have.  I could change the needle size for the colorwork section and see what happens.  I love this pattern and I now understand why people like to knit with fingering/sock yarn–it makes a drapey, comfortable fabric that is really nice to wear.  I wear this cowl all the time!

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

I think I’m getting drawn in by colorwork.  I love, love, love color and if I can just find that sweet spot of simple + interesting, then maybe I’ll keep knitting.  I still love sewing more, but it is nice to have a knitting project in the background for when you want a little change or want something to work on while watching a movie or going on a road trip.  I dove into another colorwork project after this one, but got so frustrated I quit, so coming back to this and trying to do better on my second attempt sounds kind of nice right now…even if it takes me until next summer.  😉

Adventures in Colorwork:  Glacier Park Cowl

Quick and Easy Baby Gift: Rae’s Basic Baby Pant

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Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae’s Basic Baby Pant

Today I have something a little different for you.  Baby pants!

Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae's Basic Baby Pant

One of my best friends is having a baby soon, and I wanted to make something special for her soon-to-arrive little boy.  I had just finished the coziest pajama pants for myself (yet to be blogged), and I had some leftover fabric.  It was perfect for some soft and cozy pants for a tiny baby.

Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae's Basic Baby Pant

A little search on the internet led me to this free pattern:  Rae’s Basic Baby Pant from Made by Rae.  It comes in a roomy newborn size, so I decided that I would make a few from any cute boy flannel I had, and would buy some little newborn onesies to go along with them.

I found two pieces of flannel in my stash:  the Cloud9 organic flannel I mentioned from Pintuck & Purl designed by Eloise Renouf and a faux bois flannel from Joann Fabrics.  Both are from several years ago, so the fabric isn’t around anymore (unless Joann’s has reprinted).  They are favorite prints of mine that I have been saving for just the right projects.

The pattern itself was really quick and easy to sew.  I changed a few things from the printed directions, but not many.  I used French seams, since I didn’t want any fraying on the inside that could wrap around little baby toes.

Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae's Basic Baby Pant

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Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae's Basic Baby Pant

Then I basted the side seam allowances down where the elastic casing would be at the waist to make it easier to thread the elastic through.  Finally, I hemmed the bottoms by pressing up 1/4″ to the wrong side, and then pressing up that much again to the wrong side, enclosing the raw edge.

Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae's Basic Baby Pant

If you follow the tutorial on Rae’s blog, she tells you to hem the bottom (it’s just missing from the PDF instructions) and includes lots of pictures for all the steps.  She talks about sizing, noting that these are roomy enough for babies wearing cloth diapers, and goes over ways you can adapt the pattern for slightly older babies.

This was a really quick, easy, and satisfying sew.  I haven’t been inspired to sew baby gifts much in recent years, but I think this might be my go-to sewing project for baby gifts for a little while.  The cuteness is real!  😉

Quick and Easy Baby Gift:  Rae's Basic Baby Pant

Before I go, I have a question for any other bloggers out there.  Where do you store your pictures?  This blog is a free WordPress blog, and I ran out of picture space long ago. I’ve been storing my photos on Flickr because you could have a free account with unlimited space.  However Flickr has been sold, and in order for me to keep using Flickr (and not have half my photos deleted), I need to pay a yearly fee.  With the exception of about four people, the only people who save my Flickr photos or follow or message me on Flickr are definitely not people in the sewing community.  Let’s just say I’ve had to block a lot of sketchy accounts.  If I could keep my photos private and still have them show up on the blog, I would.  Because I don’t make money with this blog, I’d prefer not to pay to keep it going.  Is there some other obvious way to store photos?  What do you do?  Do you pay or not?  I will if I have to, but if I can keep blog production free, that would be great.  Thanks for any help you can give!

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

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Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

As my husband helped me take the pictures for this post, he and I chuckled.  Another t-shirt post!  Everybody’s favorite!  Usually the plain t-shirt posts, woven and knit, don’t get much response on the blog, but I post them anyway because I think they help the community (the more information on individual patterns, the better) and they help me (I forget what I’ve done in a very short amount of time), so here we are.  Look how excited I am!  I bet you are excited now, too, right?

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

The good news is, while these t-shirts aren’t perfect, I’m really glad I made them.  They are good first drafts that give me the information I need to make even better versions in the future if I want to.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

Pictured above:  both t-shirts almost finished–they just need hems.

This is the Lark Tee from Grainline Studio.  I chose this pattern because it was a good basic with a lot of variations (four sleeves and four necklines, all interchangeable).  I don’t usually want to take the time to hack patterns, so I liked that this had a lot of options.  I’ve made a green scoop-neck, long-sleeved version and a striped short-sleeved, crew-neck version.  I didn’t love the long-sleeved one, but that was due to my fabric choice.  The crew-neck version was better.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

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Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

So here’s what I did for this project.

I chose a size 12 for the bust and a 14 for the waist and hips, as well as the standard short sleeves (rather than the cap sleeves) to go with the v-neck front.  This is a slim, but not tight fit with some positive ease, like a good, basic t-shirt.  I chose a 100% polyester fabric from JoAnn that was gray with neon flecks for one of my shirts (I got drawn in by the neon flecks, pictured below.  So good!) and a cotton/polyester blend from Fabric Mart in white for the other.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

What I should have done, but didn’t, was look at the cutting layout for the t-shirts.  I haven’t made a t-shirt in a little while, and I wasn’t thinking about how wide knits often are.  I should have folded my selvages in toward the middle like the cutting layout shows, but instead, I just folded my knits in half and layered one fabric over the other, lining up the folds so I could cut both out at the same time.  I was very proud of that move….until I realized that my gray shirt was going to be an inch shorter than I had planned because of how I had folded the fabric, and I didn’t have enough to recut it.  Oops!  As it was, I had already removed 4″ from the length of the pattern at the bottom, so the gray shirt is actually 5″ shorter than drafted, I think.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

I ended up using a 3/8″ seam allowance rather than the 1/4″ called for because otherwise my needle would go off of my fabric.  I had planned to use my serger, but it’s still new to me, and I adjusted too many things at once, so it wasn’t working.  I used a jersey 80/12 needle and a 3-step zigzag with a height of 4.5 and a stitch length of 0.5 as well as using a light presser foot pressure and 100% polyester thread in the top and in the bobbin.  I did not finish my seams as suggested in the “Sewing the Knits” section of the instructions.  I don’t think that is necessary unless your knit is prone to unraveling.  I do suggest trying out your stitches on scraps of your knit before sewing your shirt.  Once you sew the stitch you think you want on a doubled up scrap of your fabric, stretch it hard in both directions.  If the stitches pop, adjust your stitch length and/or width (or which stitch you are using) and try again until the stitches don’t pop when you stretch the fabric.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

I made sure to sew twill tape into my shoulder seams (you can also use clear elastic) so that they wouldn’t stretch out.  This wasn’t in the directions, but experience has taught me that this is a good idea.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

I wish the instructions for installing the V neckline had been explicit about what type of stitch to use when.  A lot of knit sewing on a sewing machine requires a zigzag.  I had to guess if that was necessary or if I could get away with a straight stitch.  I used a straight stitch (and 1/4″ seam allowance) when sewing the ends of the neck binding together, as well as for the staystitching at the point of the v-neck.  When attaching the neck binding to the shirt body, I sewed with a straight stitch near where I had staystitched, but then went around the rest of the neck with my 3-step zigzag, sewing over the part I had previously sewn with a straight stitch.  You can see all the wrinkles around my neck–this doesn’t make for the smoothest seam, but I was afraid that if I used a straight stitch I would pop the stitches when I pulled it over my head (speaking from experience).  I tried to mitigate the not-so-straight edge by using a double needle to topstitch around the neckline.  It didn’t work completely, but I haven’t popped any stitches!

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

I also used a twin needle to topstitch on top of the shoulders for a nice look and to keep the twill tape inside from flipping around in weird directions, and I used a twin needle on my hems, pulling the thread to the back and tying it off.  I often have trouble with my twin needle hems coming loose after a while.

My v-necks are a little bit rough, but I got them in, and I’m happy with them for my first tries.  I’m trying to be patient with myself as I learn new things, although it’s not always easy!  I definitely subscribe to the idea that done is better than perfect (aka unfinished forever).  Onward!

The last thing I realized AFTER I was finished was that both fabrics are…kind of see-through.  And no, I didn’t see that coming.  I have no idea how I missed it, but these shirts definitely need skin-colored undergarments and probably a camisole underneath.  So, maybe I just made myself a few undershirts instead of regular shirts.  Oh, well!  Learning experience!

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

My one little “trick” that I was pretty proud of was using Steam-A-Seam 2-1/4″ for my hems.  Steam-A-Seam 2 is a sticky, double-sided, fusible strip that you can use to temporarily hold fabric in place until you press it and then sew it.  It’s a little finicky, since it can stick to your fingers, but it’s very helpful.  My only tip as far as this goes, is to make sure that you fully cover the edges of the Steam-A-Seam with your fabric and stitching.  I found that on my sleeves, once I had hemmed them and then washed the shirt, the fabric rolled back slightly, and the edges of the Steam-A-Seam scratch my arms just a little.

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

Even with all their issues, I’m calling these t-shirts a win because I learned a lot:  I like this v-neck silhouette and I would make it again.  I can (hopefully) avoid the mistakes I made this time on future versions.  And every t-shirt I make helps me get that much better at sewing knits.  Looking back on other knit projects, I realize that I still have a lot to master in the way of professional techniques, but since the fit on knits is so forgiving, my many “learning experience” projects don’t bother me as much as my wonky projects in woven fabrics.  I don’t have a lot of my early woven garments, but I still wear a lot of my early knit projects.

I’m hoping to sew some more t-shirts soon, this time long-sleeved ones using the free Plantain Tee pattern.  Do you have a favorite t-shirt pattern?  If so, please share!

I’m going to take next week off since Thursday is Thanksgiving in the US, so I’ll be back after that!  Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers!

 

Queue Jumper: Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

Hi, friends!  I’m back with another sewing project.  Truth be told, I have a few others that have been finished for a little while, but since this one jumped in front of everything else on my sewing list, it seems appropriate for it to jump to the front of my blogging list, too.  😉

The Women’s Kimono Jacket from Wiksten, commonly called the Wiksten Kimono has been pretty popular in the sewing community.  The first version of this pattern, by Jenny Gordy of the sewing pattern company Wiksten, came out in Making Magazine No. 4/Lines.  Since then, Jenny has updated the pattern, adding different lengths and refining the fit, and you can now buy it as a standalone pattern if you don’t have access to that issue of Making.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

I wasn’t too sure about the pattern at first, so I followed the #wikstenkimono hashtag on Instagram and got a look at what people were making.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was my kind of jacket, and people reported that they loved the process of sewing it.  When Pintuck & Purl stocked the pattern, I made sure to snap one up.

When contemplating which version to make and what fabric to use, I initially planned to make the mid-length version.  As the weather cooled off, though, I thought maybe I would want the long one to wear over leggings and cozy up in during the cold months.  Most of the versions on Instagram during the time I was trying to make fabric choices were in linen, and I considered using some yellow linen for it, but then I had a thought.  Why not figure out what it was that made me reach for favorite garments in the fall?  Which things did I want to pull on over my t-shirt when I was hanging out at home or meeting with friends to catch up?  Once I asked myself that, I could see I needed to make this jacket cozy.

My first thought was cotton flannel lined with fleece, to get a feel like a fleece-lined flannel shirt.  It might end up looking like a bathrobe, but it seemed like it was a risk worth taking for my first version.  Even if it was only something to wear at home, it would still be a win.  I talked it over with some of the ladies at Pintuck & Purl, and realized that we had some very cozy flannel that no one had tried yet, AND I had already purchased some pink (“Heather”) Cloud9 Tinted Denim that would be GREAT with that flannel.  I was planning to make pants with the Tinted Denim, but this idea struck me as an even better idea.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

I was told very firmly that I needed to at least try to pattern match my plaid and that I was going to have to straighten out the grain on the flannel just a bit because it was a plaid that I needed to try to pattern match.  It’s not uncommon for fabric to become off-grain as it goes on the bolt, and while it’s usually not an issue, this was something I should try to put right.  I only offered weak resistance, because I knew they were right.

I took my flannel home and prewashed and dried it, and then my husband and I attempted to pull the fabric on the bias from opposite sides to try to get it back on grain.  I think it worked.  Believe it or not, that was the first time I had ever tried that.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

Both the flannel and denim are nice and soft.  The denim is fairly lightweight.  I’ve used it before for these shorts and this shirt (in yellow), and I really love it.  It’s such a nice fabric that ages beautifully, softening up over time.  The flannel is from a company that is new to me, Marcus Fabrics.  This buffalo check comes from their Primo Plaid Flannels:  Classic Tartans line.  So far, I really like it–it’s extra soft.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

Other than that, I used whatever thread I had lying around (which meant I used three subtly different shades of pink, switching to the next shade when the previous one ran out).  I also tried sew-in interfacing this time (pictured below).  Normally I just use basic fusible Pellon interfacing from Jo-Ann Fabrics, but I got a bunch of Si-Bonne interfacing from an estate sale I went to.  I hadn’t heard of this brand before, and I don’t think it’s around any more.  I put the interfacing in the washer and dryer to preshrink it, and then basted it to the collar pieces by hand (next time I’ll do it by machine).  A lot of people skip the interfacing in the collar, but I wanted to stick close to the pattern as written for my first attempt, with the exception of different pockets on the outside layer.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

The sewing itself wasn’t difficult.  I traced a large and cut the longest version.  I changed my outer pockets to larger ones that extended across each side of the front pieces with an angled top, and I had fun adding extra topstitching to the top and bottom.  My topstitching inspiration came from Helen’s version as well as a fashion image I have of a jacket collar with multiple parallel lines of topstitching.  I lined it with flannel so it would be soft and warm.  I also added the original patch pockets to the inside so the jacket would be reversible and so that no matter which way I wore it, I would have inside and outside pockets.  I am so happy about that decision every time I wear this jacket (and I have worn it most days since I finished it).  I cut the patch pockets on the bias for visual interest and made sure to line them with denim so that they wouldn’t stretch out of shape.  In a perfect world, I probably would have cut the flannel side of the collar on the bias as well, since it would have looked really cool, but I didn’t buy enough for that.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

I was nervous about the plaid matching, so I decided to try to match the horizontal lines of the plaid at the side seams, which turned out great.  The flannel on the collar was too much for my brain, so that doesn’t really match where it attaches to the body, but because of how the collar folds out to contrast whichever side is on the outside at the time, you don’t really see them together.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

I love how I managed to match things up at the center back collar seam, though!

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

When I put this on after I finished sewing it, I looked in the mirror, saw how huge it was…and loved it.  Sometimes I make something oversized and don’t like it, but this is huge, and I LOVE it.  It feels so good to wear, and is so cozy and, in its own genre, is pretty cool.  I’ve worn it with jeans and leggings, both with the sleeves cuffed and un-cuffed, and can definitely see myself making other versions.  I’d love to make the mid-length, and maybe even the short length in a fancier fabric.  The sew-in interfacing makes the collar soft and substantial, perfect for turning up to cover my neck when it’s cold.  I could definitely see making other versions in wool or maybe my original flannel + fleece idea.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

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Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

If you are new to sewing, and this is a style you like, this would be a great pattern to try.  It’s not too difficult and it’s a pleasure to sew, not to mention you get two garments in one since you can wear it as a reversible garment if you want to.  If you’re not new to sewing and you like this style, I think you’ll like it too.

Queue Jumper:  Wiksten Kimono in Denim and Flannel

Update:  After wearing this for three days and then washing it, I went back and edgestitched/topstitched along the bottom and the outer edge of the collar.  My flannel fabric wanted to roll to the outside, even after having understitched during assembly (I think it’s a looser weave than the denim).  I’m hoping this will help prevent that.  Even so, I love the jacket and have worn it most days since making it.

Why Do You Make Things? (Or: The Knitting Project That Didn’t Work Out)

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Why Do You Make Things? (Or:  The Knitting Project That Didn’t Work Out)

Today I have a knitting project that I finished earlier this year, but have waited to post until the weather turned cool.  This isn’t so much about my failed and salvaged hat project, though.  It’s about what that failed and salvaged hat made me consider.

Why do you make things?

Last winter, I decided I would knit the Traveling Cable Hat, a free pattern from Purl Soho in some beautiful yarn from Romney Ridge.  I’ve knit cables before, so I thought I could do it, even though it might be challenging.  I’m not a perfectionist, and I don’t like to go back and fix every single mistake.  I prefer to finish.  This project, however, was one I tried to be precise in.  There were parts I didn’t understand, so I looked things up and asked other knitters.  I ripped back when I made a mistake and read and reread the directions to try to get things right.  I got frustrated and persevered, and to say I wasn’t enjoying myself is putting it lightly.  My husband kept asking, “Why do you keep knitting?”  The question surprised me at first, because he’s always one of my biggest supporters.  He always encourages me to push through, knowing I can finish the project.  But he could see that this one was one long, downhill slide.

Why do you make things?

When I sew, I certainly don’t enjoy every moment of every project.  There are times I get frustrated and have to put my project aside for a while until I can figure out how to solve a problem or until I’m not so annoyed, but overall I enjoy it.  I enjoy knitting, too, although I’m not nearly as successful with knitting as I am with sewing.  In fact, my last few knitting projects have ended up…OK, but not amazing.

Why do you make things?

His question made me think, though.  Why do I sew?  Why do I knit?  What am I looking for in my photography?  What do I want to get out of each and is it the same for every one?

It’s important to think about what we do.  After all, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” (Socrates)  I don’t mean you have to give great weight to every activity in your life, but it’s worth it to figure out what you want to get out of your creative endeavors and why.

So, here’s what I came up with, for me, at this point in my life.

Knitting is for enjoyment.  I like knitting.  I like its tactile nature and I like the act of knitting.  I want to knit things that are simple enough that I can work on them while talking to a friend or watching a movie, but still interesting enough that I’m not completely bored.  However, this is not the craft I currently want to challenge myself in.  I don’t want to dive deep and learn every knitting technique and method out there.  I don’t want to do a ton of problem solving with my knitting.  I want a project that’s not too taxing, but is still enjoyable.

Photography is for seeking out and capturing beauty.  I’ve also been thinking about photography in this vein.  Even with this medium, which I’ve loved since I was quite young, I don’t want to get into the technical aspects.  I’m interested in composition and accurately recording what I see that I find beautiful, but I’m not interested in doing that deep dive right now.

Sewing is my creative practice.  Sewing, on the other hand, is exactly the place I want to dive deep.  I want to try new things, read all the blog posts, magazines, and books, and add skill to skill.  I want to see what it will be like to make certain kinds of things.  I love the planning and the finishing in sewing.  I love to wear what I’ve made, and I love discovering that I can learn new things and get good at something!  I don’t get into the process in the same way that I do with knitting–I’m heading for that end goal–but I do like the problem-solving involved with sewing.  It makes me smarter and it teaches me about how to handle other hurdles in life.  This is where I want to spend my mental energy and challenge myself.  This is where I want to work hard and grow.  This is my medium, my craft, and my art.  At this time in my life, sewing is my creative practice, and through it, I have learned so much, and I have gained so much.  I’m really thankful for it.

So after struggling with that pattern through the ribbing and the cable set-up, and after thinking all this over and coming to these conclusions, I gave up on it and stitched the rest in stockinette stitch, using another pattern to figure out the decreases for the top.  And I enjoyed it.  I can’t tell you if the Traveling Cable Hat pattern is good or not.  I gave up on it.  But I’m glad I started it because it (and my husband’s question) made me evaluate why I’m creating in the ways I’m creating and what I want to get out of each medium, where I want to spend my mental energy, and what I should call success in each area.

Why do you make things?

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Why do you make things?

What do you want to get out of your creative pursuits?  They don’t have to be sewing or knitting or photography.  They might be your hobby or they might be your job, but why do you love them?  What is the end goal for you?  Even if you can’t yet figure out the full and complete answer, taking the time to think through these questions will be worth the effort.