Tag Archives: knit fabric

A Little More Layering: Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

Standard
A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

Hi, friends!  I have one more layering post today.  I think this garment is going to come in handy this summer.

The garment I’m talking about is the Axis Tank by Sophie Hines.  This simple tank is fast to make and is interesting in that it doesn’t require any elastic–just a stretchy fabric like this cotton/spandex jersey.  My version has a center front seam because I didn’t have much of this fabric left, but this view of the pattern as drafted is actually one piece for the body and then your neck and arm edgings.  You sew a seam in the back, finish the neck and arms and all your seams, and you are done!

A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

l

A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

I have often wished for (but never bothered to make) a short tank top that would cover my undergarment straps, but wouldn’t make me overheat by covering my midsection, and I think this will do just that.  It is described as a tank top bralette, but it’s not exactly supportive, so I think it works better as just a tank.  It is short–it hits about one inch under my bust.  I’m not the midriff-baring type, so I would wear this with another shirt over top to get that fun, layered look without the overheating.  There are, of course, other views, with a scoop neck and some cool color-blocking that I have yet to try.

A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

I’m not much of a pattern hacker, but I think this little tank could have a lot of possibilities.  You could add elastic at the bottom to make a supportive-ish bralette or swimsuit top, extend the length into a full-length tank top, tankini top, or dress, or anything else you can think of.  It’s also a great way to use up scraps, and it works as a quick palette-cleanser after a more involved project.  I plan to try this out this summer and see how/if it integrates into my wardrobe.

More Details

  • Fabric:  “Starry” in the color Seashell from the Hello collection by Cotton + Steel, 95% cotton/5% spandex fabric, purchased at Pintuck & Purl
  • All sewn on a regular sewing machine–no serger required

A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

  • Extra detail:  I made a cute little tag for the back out of some of the selvedge!

A Little More Layering:  Axis Tank in Cotton/Spandex

And that’s it!

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Black Ponte

Standard
Vogue 8932 Jacket in Black Ponte

Another week, another sewing project.  🙂  This is the last garment I planned to make during the winter and, luckily, it makes a great transitional garment.  It’s Vogue 8932.  I have had this pattern for so long and was looking for just the right fabric for it.  The copyright on the back says 2013, which is around the time I got serious about sewing.  What brought it to my attention in the first place was Bianca’s very cool version from around the same date.  I’m pretty sure that it was her jacket that made me seek this pattern out at Joann’s.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to make my version, so this pattern sat in my growing pattern library over the years waiting for its turn.  Finally, I decided that a black ponte would be a great first fabric to give this a try.  The one I ordered was a rayon/nylon/spandex from Fabric Mart, and is very nice.  I rarely sew with black, although I do like it–I just prefer the brighter colors.  This time, though, I ordered enough black ponte for a few garments and got to work on this one, choosing to make View B.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

l

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

l

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

This particular pattern says “Easy” on the back.  I don’t think that’s very accurate.  They may have given it that designation because there’s no real tailoring or a lining or any of that, and the fabrics they call for have stretch, which helps a lot with fitting.  However, matching up the various corners and seams is not exactly “easy”, so I would put this at a more intermediate level.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Black Ponte

The style lines are very cool and the construction is interesting, although I found it hard to get the corners on the back right.  Mine have little holes that I just sort of sewed over and added Fray Check to.  I think they’ll be alright, but I wish it were better.

I had the (in my mind) brilliant idea of using Eloflex thread in my needle and woolly nylon in my bobbin because I wanted to use a straight stitch that still had some give.  Eloflex is a thread made by Coats & Clark that is slightly stretchy.  Woolly Nylon is a fluffy thread that also has some give and is often used for sewing bathing suits, etc.  I have been using woolly nylon in my bobbin a lot when sewing knits in general.  So, my grand plans were a pretty big failure.  I tried needle type after needle type and my thread just kept breaking.  It seemed the Eloflex and this ponte were a bad match.  Finally, I swapped out the Eloflex for Gütermann All-Purpose polyester thread, and it worked great with a Universal 80/12 needle.  I also found that fine silk pins worked better with this fabric than the pins I normally use, which are actually quilting pins.  So, with all that thread breakage, the sewing is a bit rough, but I wasn’t about to unpick black on black unless absolutely necessary.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Toward the end, I added these fun flower-shaped snaps, adjusting their position as necessary.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

l

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Hopefully they will work as closures.  So far, so good, anyway.  I also discovered something quite interesting:  my waist is about 1″ higher than the marked waistline on this pattern, but the bottom of the jacket seems to hit in just the right spot.  So what does that mean?  Should I be raising the waist of my patterns while keeping the overall length the same?  So far I haven’t noticed the waist area being too much of a problem, but I’m going to pay attention to this with other patterns and give it some thought.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Outside front (this view has exposed seams).

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

Outside back

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

l

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

The different bias tape colors on the inside were a result of working with what I had on hand.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

The little patches at the corners on the inside of the jacket are bits of knit interfacing, something the pattern instructs you to use in those areas.

Vogue 8932 Jacket in Ponte

I like the fit of this jacket overall.  It’s fitted, but not tight.  I would love to tell you that I have worn it a ton and it’s a wardrobe staple, but it has still been a little bit cold here and I’ve sort of been living my best loungewear life lately.  I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have worn jeans in recent weeks, so we’ll have to see if this ends up being as good as I hope it will.

And now I’m ready for spring sewing!

I Finally Made It: A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Standard
I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Do you have some of those patterns that you love, but they hang out in your pattern collection for one reason or another?  I have several of these that linger because I’m waiting for just the right fabric.  The Newcastle Cardigan by Thread Theory Designs is one of those for me.  I bought it at Pintuck & Purl several years ago, because despite the fact that this is a men’s pattern, I could envision a comfy, slouchy women’s version for me.  I like the cozy cardigan look with the rolled collar, and I’m always a fan of a shoulder/back yoke where I can use a contrast fabric or add in some nice topstitching.  I just needed the right fabric and some modifications…

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I finally found the fabric I was looking for on the Mill Yardage website:  a Polartec Classic 200 Sweater Look Strie fabric that was warm, moderately thick, and had more body than drape.  I could use leftover fabric from my Burda 6471 joggers for the yoke and any other accent areas.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Other Materials and Stitching

After a lot of deliberation, I decided to skip most of the interfacing and only include sew-in interfacing in the button placket areas.  Although I found some ideas on how you could adhere iron-on interfacing to fleece, I didn’t want to risk it, and the fabric was thick enough that it didn’t need much support anyway.  I decided to use some anorak snaps a friend had given me rather than buttons.  For more give in my seams, I used stretchy Eloflex thread as my top thread, and woolly nylon in my bobbin.

Because I modified this pattern to be loose rather than slim-fitting and because of the thread I had chosen, I was able to use a straight stitch (rather than a zigzag, which would have more stretch).  I used a slightly longer length (3.0), a 90/14 stretch needle, a walking foot, my normal tension, and my lightest presser foot pressure.

Pattern Modifications

There were a lot of pattern modifications that I made to get this just how I wanted it!  My measurements put me at a medium chest size.  This pattern says it is slim-fitting, but since I wanted a looser fit, I traced a large.  However, after measuring and tissue fitting, I realized I needed more arm and hip width, so I decided to trace an extra large.  I was really worried about the width, due to the positive ease I was after and the fact that this 100% polyester fabric only has a little bit of mechanical stretch, so I used the side seams of Simplicity 4109 (which I used to make my railroad denim jacket) as a guide.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

After this, I planned to add a little sleeve width.  In fact, after measuring my arm and the pattern and consulting The Perfect Fit, I decided I needed a full upper arm adjustment, and I added 1.5 inches to the arm pattern piece, giving me a wider circumference.

I had considered shortening the arms by as much as six inches (the pattern explains that they are drafted quite long), but after sewing the back to the front of the cardigan and holding up my shortened arm pattern piece, I didn’t like it, so I let it out to the original length.  Long and cozy sleeves seemed preferable to too-short sleeves in a garment that was supposed to be warm and snuggly.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I wanted elbow patches, too, so I added the ones from the Plaintain Tee, a free pattern from Deer & Doe.

I made version one of this pattern, and was originally going to use the larger collar from version two, but it almost completely covered the yoke, so I recut it and used the smaller collar that went with version one originally.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I wanted a bottom band on this cardigan, so I made one!  It’s a rectangle and, just before I finished installing it, I added a little gusset at the bottom of the side seams and some extra little rectangles to my bottom band for just a little more hip width.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I added in extra topstitching anywhere I wanted to flatten the fabric or add detail or definition.  This was usually a good idea, but where it did not work, was the edge of the collar.  It exacerbated the collar’s tendency to flip up.  I took that topstitching out but kept what I did in other areas. (You can see the collar after I tried topstitching it below.  See how obvious the flip-up is?)

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Like I mentioned before, I opted to install anorak snaps instead of making buttonholes and using buttons.  My friend had given me some that had been in her mom’s stash and I used every single one I had left.  Unfortunately, I didn’t hammer two of the top pieces in quite right and they don’t grip the bottom parts of the snap strongly.  It’s a not a big deal for one of them, but the other gapes, so I have to go on a little search to see if these are still available or if they are now considered vintage.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Most nerve-wracking of all, I decided near the end of making this to add self-welt or stand pockets using the instructions in my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.  Yes, this was a little bit crazy, because I really liked the cardigan without them.  I just knew I would like it much more with pockets.

I tested out my idea with scraps to see if it would be too bulky and if I liked using the green for my pocket, and it turned out pretty well.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

So, I went for it!  I just took it step by step, deciding at the outset that they didn’t have to be perfect to be good.  And it worked!  They aren’t perfect, but they are good, and I was even able to tack the pockets to the facings, which helped to keep the facings from flipping out.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

I even added a Thread Theory label, which came with the pattern, and one from Kylie and the Machine, that I purchased at Pintuck & Purl.

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

Final Thoughts

I love this cardigan.  While I can’t say this about every one of my projects, I really feel like I got the fit I wanted on this garment, and I love it in this fabric.  It’s so warm and nice.  If I did it over again in an equally thick fabric, I would consider skipping the facings.  Except for the benefit of tacking them to the pockets, they are kind of annoying.  It would be different in another fabric, I’m sure.  The length of time this took and the adjusting while sewing were frustrating for me, but I’m glad I persevered and finished before spring.  When I wore this to work, one of my coworkers said she thought the cardigan was from L.L. Bean, which was so nice of her!  I often look at their clothes for inspiration.  So, it was a struggle, but I’m happy, and I love the finished product.  And I’m also happy it’s done.  On to the next thing!

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

l

I Finally Made It:  A Newcastle Cardigan for Me

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

Standard
New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

When I was looking for inspiration for a Christmas party outfit a few months ago, I ran across a neon pink velvet camisole on the J.Crew website.  The fabric was so beautiful!  I really wanted some fabric with that level of color.  It was amazing!  I ended up making a top in chartreuse silk for the party, but I couldn’t get that fabric out of my mind.  I finally found some neon pink stretch velvet on Amazon and put it on my personal wish list, not knowing quite what I would make from it.  I was torn between two patterns, so I put a note with the yardage I would need for each pattern, saying that I would love either amount.  One of my friends got me some for my birthday, and that decided it–the amount she got me was perfect for another version of New Look 6560, View A, the same pattern I used to make my silk party shirt.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

l

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

This pattern is meant for wovens, but I wanted to try it in this knit because I thought it would make a really fun shirt.  There were a few ups and downs, but in the end, I arrived at a top that I’m happy with.  And I was right about the fabric–it really is fun.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

The fabric I used is 90% polyester, 10% spandex, and was surprisingly easy to sew.  Thankfully, I remembered to cut it with the nap running down.  Sometimes I just completely forget to pay attention to things like nap or pattern matching!  I used a regular zigzag stitch with a width of 2.5 and a length of 1.0, my lightest presser foot pressure, normal tension, and a 75/11 stretch needle.  I skipped interfacing the facings.  I used all-purpose Dual Duty Coats & Clark 100% polyester thread in the needle and woolly/bulky nylon in my bobbin.  I’ve been using woolly nylon a lot in my bobbin on knits, something I do when sewing bathing suits, and it has worked out really well, giving my seams a little extra stretch.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

l

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

I put everything together, but didn’t bother to finish many seams because they won’t fray.  I love that about knits.  It saves so much time!  I sewed for most (ok, pretty much all) of the afternoon one Saturday and got the shirt done before bed time!  Then I tried it on…and it looked like crap.  Granted, I was trying it on over another shirt I was wearing, but it didn’t seem like a win.

I spent some time thinking about what I could do.  I had completely forgotten to stabilize the shoulders, so I went back and did that by sewing clear elastic to the seam allowances and then stitching the seam allowances down with some topstitching.  The facings kept flipping out, so I tacked those down (and then went back and tacked down the facings on my chartreuse version as well).  Now what?

The back, the belt, and the sleeves seemed good.  The front was the problem.  I thought about putting in a center front seam and making it a nice-looking v-neck.  I realized after posting that idea to Instagram that people thought I was going to leave the excess fabric in front, which was an idea I actually hadn’t considered, although it did look interesting.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

l

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

I also posted a picture of it as the original wrap, and it looked better than I remembered (first picture after the pattern pictures).  Maybe I shouldn’t have evaluated it while wearing it over top of another shirt like I did right after finishing it.  😉  So, I decided I would keep it as the original wrap after all, and I wore it to church, but kept feeling like I had to arrange and rearrange the front (luckily I was wearing a camisole under it).  What if I just sewed the wrap shut?  It’s stretchy enough that I can pull it on over my head, so I don’t need it to actually wrap.  It seemed worth a try, so I sewed the top layer shut and tacked the bottom layer down.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

I tied it shut inside, leaving everything intact in case I wanted to undo the stitching.  I wore the shirt to work this week, and it was so much easier and more pleasant to wear when I didn’t have to constantly rearrange the front!  I think this is the way to go.  It’s definitely not my best or most beautiful sewing–there are still some wonky parts, but I’m happy with it, and I have found that the sleeves are nicer in this knit than the silk, since they stay at my wrist bones, due to the heavier weight of the knit.  On the silk, they work their way up above my wrist bones throughout the day, which I don’t love.

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

l

New Look 6560 in Neon Pink Stretch Velvet

I wanted this shirt to be one that I reached for because it felt good to wear, not one that was just fun because the fabric was interesting.  Now that I don’t have to constantly fix it while I’m wearing it, I think that my goal has been achieved.  Hooray!

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

Standard
Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

It’s still cold spring here, but I think this is my last spring sweatshirt…and it’s a good one.  This is the Brunswick Pullover from Hey June Handmade, my first pattern from this company, and probably not my last.  This is a great pattern.

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

I made View A with the cowl neck of View B in a size 16 bust and 18 hip. I used a green Polartec Curly Fleece from Fashion Fabrics Club (just like last week’s sweatshirt) and a Rifle Paper Co. quilting cotton from Pintuck and Purl.  The zipper on the pocket was from Wawak (I wanted the specific length called for rather than a zipper I would have to shorten, so I had to order it) and the anorak snaps, thread, and interfacing came from my stash.

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

l

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

Hey June Handmade is a company whose patterns I’ve had my eye on for awhile.  Last year, I planned to make the free Durango Tank, but never got around to it.  I saw this pattern release, though, and really liked the pattern as well as the various photos of people’s finished pullovers around the internet.  Katie’s Brunswick with the striped hood and other details was really inspiring as was Loni’s Brunswick with the white outside and Rifle Paper Co. button placket.  This last one was the inspiration that stuck with me as I looked for my own fabric.

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

Although I prefer paper patterns, this is only available in PDF currently, so I decided to put my preference aside and go for it.  Adrianna Appl, the designer, makes this PDF really easy to use with layered sizing (meaning you only have to print the sizes you need) and loads of information about printing and taping PDF’s, cutting your fabric, and sizing before you even start.  I was impressed from the very beginning by the detail and depth of information.  There is a lot of hand-holding in the pattern in the best way.  Adrianna does everything possible to ensure that you have a good and successful experience sewing her pattern.

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

I think the thing that really drew me to this pattern is all the fun little details you can add that take this from merely a cozy sweatshirt to cozy sweatshirt with a distinctive twist.  Here are some close-ups of my choices:  a contrast zipper pocket on the sleeve,

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

l

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

functional snap plackets on the sides lined with contrast fabric,

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

l

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

and a big, cozy cowl neck.

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

l

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

A few notes from sewing the pattern:

  • I used a walking foot and a jersey/ballpoint needle as well as a lighter presser foot pressure.
  • To mark the pocket on the arm, I used tailor’s tacks since fabric marker or chalk wouldn’t have shown up well on the fleece.
  • Because I was using fleece, I couldn’t press without melting the fabric, and therefore couldn’t use fusible interfacing.  I opted to hand baste some sew-in woven interfacing at the necessary points.  Where the pattern called for pressing, I finger pressed.
  • It can be a little bit hard to tell the front from the back when the pullover is finished if you used the cowl neck option (unless you memorize which arm the outer pocket goes on), so I made a little tag out of a pretty bit of selvage and sewed it inside the back near the neck seam.

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

This was a really enjoyable pattern to sew.  I love, love, love the finished product, and I’m so impressed with all the attention to detail in this pattern, that I would love to sew another from this company.  Plenty of patterns out there are good, but I think the quality of this one is a step above.  I’m glad I tried it.  It’s been fun to have a bright colored sweatshirt to fight off the spring rain and chill, too.

And with that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite outtakes/silly shots:

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

Many thanks to my long-suffering photographer.  😀

 

 

Want a Patagonia-Style Fleece Pullover? Try the Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover in Polartec

Standard
Want a Patagonia-Style Fleece Pullover?  Try the Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover in Polartec

If you sew, what drives you to make a particular project?  Maybe sometimes it’s wanting your own version of something you saw another person make.  Maybe you can create a designer-inspired piece for an affordable price.  Maybe you love construction and couture details.  For me, I often want to see what it would be like to make something.  I find this to be the case in both cooking and sewing.  I may only make the food or article of clothing once, but I want to know how it’s made and what it takes to make it.

That’s what happened when I was contemplating some patterns by The Green Pepper at Joann Fabrics one day.  I had never tried any of these patterns, but I noticed one that was for a fleece jacket like the ones at L.L. Bean.  The pattern in the store may have been a zip-up version, and I was interested in the classic pullover style, but it got me thinking.  This style has been around for decades and is probably more well-known from Patagonia, an early adopter of fleece fabric in garments.  (In fact, this pullover at Patagonia looks amazingly similar to what I ended up making.)  I found The Green Pepper F722, Polar Pullover and Vest on Etsy.  There is a similar style on The Green Pepper website, number 512.  It looks like an older pattern (copyright 1999) and is a slightly different version with a different finish for the sleeves and collar and only one pocket flap option.  My pattern has a copyright date of 2013 on the envelope.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

l

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

For fabric, I hit the jackpot at Fashion Fabrics Club.  This website can be a little overwhelming, because there is just so much, but looking at the fabric on a screen bigger than a phone helps.  I found Polartec Double Sided Curly Fleece in Sour Lemon

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

as well as woven Supplex in Dark Turquoise (which I thought was nylon, but the website says is cotton), and a stretchy nylon/spandex Creamy Pink Jersey Knit (no longer available) for my inner neck edging.  I chose colors I liked together on my computer, and ordered them, hoping they would work in real life.  Shipping took awhile, but when I finally got everything, I was thrilled.  The colors were great together!  Other odds and ends came either from my stash or Joann’s, with the exception of my snaps.  The pattern calls for heavy duty snaps, and I, being a snap novice, didn’t really know what that meant.  So, I went looking for snaps in the color I wanted, rather than worrying about what “heavy duty” meant.  I found Snap Source pastel pink size 16 snaps at Wawak, which I thought looked most like what I was seeing online at Patagonia and L.L. Bean.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

This is a unisex pattern with all available sizes in one envelope, and according to my measurements, I was a medium in the chest and waist and a large in the hip, so that’s what I traced.  I opted for the pullover with the collar and rounded chest pocket, but you can also choose a vest, hood, or pointed pocket.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

As soon as I took the pattern instructions out of the envelope and started reading them, I could see that a lot of time, thought, and care had gone into making these directions.  There is a lot of information to help you before you begin, which is great.  My favorite part, though, was all the detail that was put into the construction directions.  This pattern doesn’t assume you have a serger, and gives clear, thorough instruction, including which direction to sew your seams, when to use a straight stitch and when to zigzag (something not all knit patterns have), and lots of small details that will give you a professional finish.  I was only a few steps in before I felt like I could trust this pattern.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

I made sure to use a walking foot, a jersey/ballpoint needle, and a lighter presser foot pressure, except for the neck facing, where I changed to a stretch needle after some trial and error.  I was surprised that a lot of my seams were sewn with a straight stitch and finished with a zigzag, which also served to flatten out the seam allowances.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

One slight issue I had on the front placket was in section J, step 1, where it said the placket should extend half an inch above the top of the jacket.  That wasn’t the case on my jacket—it’s possible that I made an error, but after measuring the pattern pieces to be sure, I think the error is in the pattern.  I went back and recut the placket, making it 3/8″ longer.  This error seems to be on all sizes.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

One other issue I had, which was my fault occurred while installing the snaps.  I was trying to use prong snaps, when the pattern had called for heavy duty snaps, which are larger and have a post.  I got the top side of my snaps in, but couldn’t get the bottoms in.  I bought some heavy duty snaps and did some tests on scrap fabric to confirm that they would work (they did), but I really wanted pink snaps.  After going down a major rabbit hole where I started researching powder coating and other types of paint, and calling people who repair outdoor gear (Boulder Mountain Repair and Specialty Outdoors were kind enough to talk to me and point me in some helpful directions), I finally visited L.L. Bean to do a little sleuthing.  It looks like they are using colored plastic snaps, about the size of my original pink snaps, but they had trimmed all the bulk out of their facings, whereas mine had (in some places) two layers of fleece and four layers of Supplex.  My husband had suggested that I trim this area before I went on my snap saga, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make it work until I felt the facings on the L.L. Bean sweatshirts.  So, I went home and opened up the facing, trimming down the bulk in the bottom facing, after which I had no problem installing the bottom of my snaps.  Consider me older and wiser now—I will do this on both parts of the facing next time, which will give me a ton of color options for snaps, thanks to Snap Source.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

l

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

Snap saga aside, this pattern was a joy to sew and VERY interesting.  I got really professional results and a brightly colored sweatshirt I can wear during this cool and cloudy spring.  The pockets are a major bonus, including the chest pocket!

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

l

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

l

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

There’s even a little hanging tab.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

It’s warm and cozy, and it’s very encouraging that I can find professional materials.  It was hard to find heavy-duty snaps in all the colors of the rainbow (although some colors are available), but trimming down the fleece in the facing gives you more options.  I think final cost for this sweatshirt was under $35, which is great, considering that many of these sweatshirts in the store are in the $70–$120 range.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

l

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

If I were to make this again, some things that would be fun to try are swapping out the elastic in the casings at hip (pictured below) and wrist

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

for a stretchy binding on cuffs, hem, and top of collar, as well as trying the pointy pocket, possibly in a double layer of Supplex instead of fleece.  It would be fun to order some of my own labels and sew one to the front as well (if only I could decide what to put on them!).  And I’d love to try out some Polartec WindPro so the wind couldn’t blow through.  I’m not sure how many of these sweatshirts I need, but this was really nice to sew.  Since The Green Pepper also has a zip-front pattern (number 507), maybe that would be a good one to try too.  If this is a style you like, I highly recommend this pattern.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

 

 

Two V-Neck Grainline Lark Tees

Standard
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

l

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!

 

McCall’s 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

Standard
McCall’s 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

Do you wear dresses?  If so, do you like knit or woven dresses?  I was a tomboy growing up and after a few years in a school where I was required to wear skirts or dresses every day, I was pretty happy to mostly leave them behind for the rest of my growing-up years.  I feel different about dresses now, though.  I still don’t wear them often, and when I do wear them, it’s mostly in warmer weather, but I can’t resist great-looking dress patterns!  I have so many that I’ve never sewn.  I’m so glad I attempted McCall’s 7561, however.  It was a pattern that I had put in my own Christmas stocking 😉 because I really wanted to try it.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

l

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

When there was a sale at Pintuck & Purl before their big move, I bought some of this pink Cotton + Steel cotton/spandex jersey with octopi all over it.  It’s called “Mystery Food Orchid” and even has a fun selvage.  The selvage is easy to turn into a fun tag.  🙂

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

I had some of it in a quilting cotton in my stash, but I really wanted to try the knit, too.  Does it look a little juvenile?  Maybe.  But I like it, and I’m not here to sew all “normal” clothes.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

When my parents were here visiting, we had a trip planned to the New England Aquarium and, like any sewist who likes an unrealistic deadline, I put two and two together the day before we went, and thought, “Maybe I could make an octopus dress tonight!”  I’m not the world’s fastest sewer, but I had the pattern traced, it was a knit (which can make fitting easier), AND I wouldn’t have to finish any seams.  It was on!

And I did it!  Not only did I make it, but I made it with pockets, too!  And you know what?  It was really fun to wear my dress to the aquarium the next day.  It’s comfortable and very easy to wear with leggings when the weather is cold.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

Details

This pattern was (happily) so quick and easy.  It took me 45 minutes to cut out including pockets (which are a free pattern from Tilly & the Buttons, not a part of the McCall’s pattern).

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

I made Dress B and lengthened it about 5″ since I knew that would feel more comfortable when I wear it without leggings.  I made a large in the bust and graded out to an extra large for the waist and hip.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

l

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

I sewed clear elastic into the shoulder seams so they wouldn’t stretch out.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

The waist was kind of funny in that you sew the bodice to the skirt and then encase your elastic in the seam allowance so that you don’t do any stitching on the outside of the garment.  It was a little weird, but also creative, so I don’t quite know how I feel about it construction-wise.  As far as wearing, it’s very comfortable.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

The pockets are made following Tilly’s instructions, but I find that they gape sometimes, so I don’t know if I should understitch somewhere or if there is a better method.  Does anyone have any thoughts on that?  For this particular project, speed was the name of the game, so I didn’t think about it too much.

This was all done with a zigzag stitch, jersey needle, and walking foot on a regular home sewing machine.  And that’s about it!  I would definitely make this pattern again, hopefully in a summer version.  We’ll see.  I’d also like to try a t-shirt style knit dress, so if anyone has any favorite patterns, let me know in the comments!  Thanks!

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

l

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

Recommendations

  • The History of English podcast just had a great episode (#110) called “Dyed in the Wool” that is all about words and phrases in the English language that were originally related to the wool trade.  You’ll be surprised when you find out where some of the last names, terms, and phrases you’ve heard originated from.
  • Have you ever looked at the knitting patterns from Boyland Knitworks?  I’ve seen a few on Instagram and at Pintuck & Purl, and they’re so beautiful!  I’m in love with the Alyeska sweater.  I kind of thinking I could actually make the Glacier Park cowl.  I’ll have to keep it in mind if I need another knitting project.
  • I went on a little trip up to New Hampshire last weekend and stopped at the Tilt’n Diner in Laconia, NH.  It was great!  It was decorated in a fun 1950’s style with paintings of ’50’s scenes on the walls and quirky sayings all over.  I got breakfast, but I think they serve all meal types at all times of day.  Milkshake for breakfast?  That’s up to you!

Bathing Suit Finished!

Standard

It happened!  I finished my bathing suit and…I think it works!

Bathing Suit Finished!

When we last met here, I had finished the bottom, but not the top.  During this week, I worked on joining up all the pieces and adding elastic to the neckhole and armholes.  That last bit wasn’t a part of the pattern, but I really like the look it provides, and I was hoping to solve a few problems with it.

Bathing Suit Finished!

There was a small part on the front neckline where I didn’t catch my outer fabric very well when I was sewing all the layers together.  There was no invisible way (that I could think of) to fix that.  Even using clear thread, it would have been visible.

I also wanted to stabilize those openings and give them more support so that they would be stronger and hopefully not gape when wet.

Finally, I was hoping the edging would magically tighten and take in the little bit of excess under the arms.  So…that didn’t happen (which I expected, but you always hope for that happy accident!), but I’m more optimistic about the other things.

When I began to apply the elastic, I realized it was a make-or-break moment.  The suit would either be much better for the addition or it would be ruined.  I bet on the side of better and went for it.

It worked!

Bathing Suit Finished!

Bathing Suit Finished!

After letting go of my perfectionism, I ended up with a swimsuit that isn’t perfect, but is actually finished and is, I think, a wearable first draft.  I’ve tested it briefly.  Now to see how it does over a whole day at the beach.

If you happen to be working on your own bathing suit and want to try applying elastic like I did, check out this tutorial on the Kadiddlehopper blog.  I used the advice here on both the stitched and turned elastic for my leg holes as well as the bound edges in the top.  I actually have this blog post printed out and saved in a binder so I don’t lose it!

As for the few other details on this suit, here they are:  I fully lined both the front and back of the top and bottom.  I also used powermesh from the Imagine Gnats shop as the lining fabric in the built-in bra of the top.  I have nothing but good to say about buying from there–super fast shipping and great service.  All my elastic was 3/8″ swimwear elastic, and I used wooly nylon thread in my bobbin, with 100% polyester Güttermann thread in the top.  I used a walking foot, plus a stretch needle and Jalie’s method (found in the pattern) of sewing a long zigzag stitch first (width: 4.5, length: 0.5) and then going back and doing a straight stitch while stretching the fabric slightly (length: 2.5) at the actual seamline.  For pattern and fabric details, see my first post on this swimsuit.  If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Bathing Suit Finished!

Bathing Suit Finished!

Thanks to everyone who encouraged me!  It means so much, and it really helped me finish well.  My neighbor’s mom, who I just love and who is an amazing seamstress herself, is now convinced that I can sew anything.  Little by little, right?

Here’s some fun for your weekend.

Recommendations:

  • I have really been loving the Instagram feed of @suzyquilts.  There is something about her bright and beautiful pictures and her patterns…and I don’t even quilt!  (Well, I do have a quilt that’s been in-progress since 2008, but I’m talking quilting as a regular practice.)  I love the stripes she uses in her Kris Kross quilt.  Tempting…  You can also find her website here.
  • If you like the crop top look, but not the idea of baring your midriff, Allie J. will show you how to “make your own (fake) crop top” in this tutorial.
  • We like thinking games in our house, and one of the games we play on the iPad is Monument Valley.  They bill it as “an illusory adventure of impossible architecture and forgiveness”.  It feels a little bit like trying to figure out an M.C. Escher visual puzzle with calming, completely non-scary background music.  Good for any age.
  • Explore.org has links to lots of wildlife cameras.  It’s pretty cool that you can see African wildlife, ospreys in Maine, or pandas in China any time you want.

A Quartet of Briar Tops

Standard

And here’s the last of my unselfish sewing…EVER.  Ok, just kidding.  At least for now.  I made myself another Briar top (by Megan Nielsen patterns) as well as two Mini Briars and one mash-up of an adult Briar and a kids’ Briar.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

This is now my third Briar (number one in a double-layer knit is here and number two in Polartec is here), but it’s my first time making a Mini Briar.  I received all three of Megan’s children’s patterns as a thank you for being a pattern tester for the Mini Tania culottes (which are super-cute, by the way).  The children’s Briar is similar to the adult version, although not identical.  It came together very easily.  One thing I love about Megan Nielsen patterns is their visual clarity.  When I first started sewing garments, I was always intimidated by the busy and complicated look of the standard patterns you find in chain fabric stores.  Megan’s patterns are completely opposite to that.  They have a clean look to them that makes you feel confident you will be able to understand them.  Actually, I think that is the case with a lot of the independent pattern companies, which is a big plus.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

It is a great advantage to have the same pattern in a kids’ version and an adult version when you are sewing for someone who doesn’t quite fit in either range, but is somewhere in the middle.  This was the case with the aqua and pink shirt.  It was great to be able to pull both patterns out, compare sizes and make a custom pattern from the two of them.  It was a bit of a head-scratcher at times, trying to figure it all out and make the best-fitting pattern possible, but all the problem-solving is one of the things I really like about sewing, so I enjoyed the challenge.

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

Megan Nielsen Briar and Mini Briar Tees

I ordered all of the deer fabric from Girl Charlee.  It’s a poly/cotton blend, so we’ll see how it wears over the long run.  The fabric for the short-sleeved Mini Briar is left over from a long ago project and is from Jo-Ann’s.

Sewing all these up reminded me that while I really love sewing knits because they are so forgiving, I still have a lot to learn.  I’m getting better at choosing stitches that work well, but I still get wavy collars that don’t sit right.  Part of the problem is that, in most cases, I’m not quite sure what I’m doing wrong.  In the aqua and pink shirt, I raised the neckline, but still used the original pattern piece for the neckband, which I should have shortened.  Lesson learned.  As for the other ones, they are pretty close, but not quite right.  Ironing helped, but I think I still need more practice.  Oh, well!

Overall, these are great shirts and they have been getting lots of wear.  It’s nice to see my t-shirt collection slowly getting more interesting and colorful, and it was fun to try out a kids’ pattern.  I think the recipients of the kids’ shirts were happy, too.  🙂

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Megan Nielsen Briar Tee

Recommendations

Here’s some fun stuff to check out over the weekend.

  • You have to see this dirndl on the Draped in Cloudlets blog.  I’m so impressed by the fit, subtle details, and sheer amount of work that must have gone into this!  The results are so beautiful, and really inspiring.  I think I may need a reason to sew a dirndl…
  • I’ve been listening to a lot of the folk/bluegrass music of Sarah Jarosz lately.  I don’t have a broad knowledge of music, but when I find someone I like, I tend to play their music to death.
  • I always figured that the one everyday clothing item I couldn’t make was shoes.  Then I saw these ballet flats that Jodie of Scared Stitchless made.  I’m happy to be proven wrong.  These are amazing.
  • Here’s another cool music video for you this week:  Wintergatan–Marble Machine.  The music is made by marbles being run through a machine by the artist.  Fascinating and lovely.