Despite a hefty backlog of projects awaiting their time to shine on the blog, I think we should pause and look at some pretty pictures of flowers. How can we say good-bye to spring without doing that? Here are some photos of the outside in May and June.
Looking at these from the end of June makes me realize how much changes from the beginning of May until now. May is a flower explosion around here, which is very welcome after the long, grey winter.
June had some surprises in store. Look what I found in our fenced-in garden.
Oh, boy, this was a big one! Today’s project is the Arrowhead Cardigan by Anna Cohen for Imperial Stock Ranch, and it took me a long time and a lot of head scratching to figure it out, but I did it!
This cardigan was definitely above my skill level, but I’m happy to say that perseverance paid off, I learned a ton, I conquered some fears (steeking!), and made it to the finish line. And it fits, which I have struggled with in the past.
Now for the details!
Sweaters are a big undertaking when it comes to finding and choosing yarn, especially if you want to watch your costs. Plainly put, it’s expensive to knit a sweater. Yarn cost is always a factor for me, especially on larger projects. Thankfully, there is a wide range of yarn and price points, if you are willing to dig a bit. And I love the digging–it’s like a treasure hunt.
I found what I was after online at WEBS (yarn.com) in the closeout section. Univeral Yarn Deluxe Worsted offered some bright colors in a 100% wool yarn (non-superwash, worsted spun) at a great price. Reviews were a bit mixed, but I decided to take the risk. My skin isn’t super sensitive to wool and I planned to wear this over a shirt.
I ordered three skeins of “Blushing Bride” (pink) and seven skeins of “Strip Light Yellow”. With shipping, my cost was around $50. That’s more than I like to spend on fabric for a sewing project, but for a sweater, that’s really economical. When the yarn came, it looked and felt great. Before ordering, I had done my best to determine if the colors were far enough apart in value (gray scale) that they would stand out distinctly, and they were. In person, they were just as good.
The Pattern + Knitting
I was really struck by this pattern when I saw it. The design was beautiful and it looked oversized and cozy in all the best ways. I looked at others’ projects on Ravelry and really liked the sweater in different colors as well. Also, I have to admit the original styling for the pattern was right up my alley, and it didn’t hurt that I knit most of this while watching the first 13 seasons of Heartland (a Canadian show set on a horse and cattle ranch) with my daughter. Sometimes I think of this as my “Heartland Cardigan”. All I need is a horse and a farm to go with it! Oh, and a lifetime supply of farming knowledge. You know, the little things. 😉
My gauge came out pretty close to correct at about 17 stitches and 16/16.5 rounds over 4″ x 4″ (the pattern calls for 17.5 stitches and 21 rounds over 4″ x 4″ (10 cm x 10 cm)). I never worry too much about row gauge since I can change the length of the sweater as I knit. I had already gone down from the suggested needle size of US 8 to a US 6, and since I am typically a loose knitter and this sweater has plenty of positive ease, I went down one size as well from the large to the medium. For my body ribbing, I used US 4’s. Since knitting smaller circumferences can tighten your knitting, for my sleeves I went up to US 7’s with US 5’s for the sleeve ribbing. And then I just hoped and prayed it would all work out.
I decided I wanted the pink to be my dominant color (the one that would stand out the most), and after looking through some notes on Ravelry, I decided to catch my floats every 7 stitches. I recolored all my charts so I wouldn’t get confused and knit the wrong color (like I did in one of my Sparks socks), and I made full, colored charts of the sleeves so that I wouldn’t make mistakes there. Those charts took me a long time to color and create, but it was so worth it!
When I tell you this pattern was above my skill level, I’m not kidding. I’ll admit that I am used to using patterns that hold my hand, and I love that. It gives me the confidence to dive into things I have never tried, knowing the help is there for me to figure it all out in the course of the project. There was a lot more assumed knowledge with this pattern, and occasionally I would have to think about a direction or next step for a few days or dig into some knitting books or the internet to figure out how I was supposed to proceed. It meant I made pretty slow progress, but the breaks to puzzle things out ended up paying off each time. I’ll skip the blow by blow description of what I did on each step, but if you could see my copy of this pattern, you would see margins filled with notes.
I have a theory that really, really wanting to make something can carry you through a big project, even if it’s beyond what you have done before. This sweater further solidified that idea in my mind.
If you take on this sweater, which is a good one, despite the complexity, you should note that there is an error in the medium size instructions. When you begin the body and have to join in the round, the part that says to knit 105 stitches should say 106 stitches. If you don’t change that, you will be short of the 220 stitches you are supposed to have after joining in the round. This will also impact your stitch counts as you go through the pattern. Sometimes you will have to add a stitch, sometimes two, at various points, so keep an eye on that. The charts were fine, by the way, it was just the written directions that were off.
Eek! A Steek!
This sweater is knit from the bottom up as one big tube, with panels of stitches in the areas you will have to open up for the front opening and the armholes.
You open these areas by sewing within that panel (I used my sewing machine) and then cutting down the middle.
Seems scary, right? And it was, but also exciting. I practiced on my swatch after doing lots of steek research on the internet, and that worked out well.
It’s such a crazy idea to cut your knitting, but it really works!
After doing that, whether at the front or sleeves, you pick up stitches to knit the sleeves and the ribbing around the front opening, and then later you knit facings to cover the raw edges and the sewing machine stitches. I worried that sewing down my facings would show from the outside, but it didn’t.
Since my row gauge was off, I decided to steek the front opening after finishing the body a little before the directions told me to. That way I could try the sweater on and see if my sleeves were at a length I liked before adding the final patterning and ribbing at the wrists and finishing them. Once I had steeked the front, I also blocked what I had to get a better sense of that sleeve length. And I was nervous, because I was not knitting quite as loosely as I had expected, so I just needed to see how things were going.
Doing all of this gave me a lot of helpful information, and I’m so glad I did it.
This is the project where the idea of using lifelines really solidified in my brain as well. I found the shoulder area especially confusing to knit, so before starting, I added some blue pearl cotton to my live stitches in case I messed up and had to rip back. Luckily, I didn’t have to rip back, but it was nice having that security. You can see a bunch of these blue lifelines three pictures up where I had just cut my front steek.
I began knitting in August of 2021 and I finally finished my sweater in March of 2022. Seven months! I didn’t work on this non-stop, and usually only put in time while watching TV on a lot of evenings. I’m really happy with how it came out and that it actually fits.
It’s very interesting, now that I have knit several sweaters that actually fit, to see what I reach for and what fits best in my current wardrobe. I don’t wear this quite as much as I thought I would since it can be a little hard to find pants and shirts to go under it, and I tend to reach for pullover styles more (my purple Wool & Honey sweater is my most-worn sweater by far). It’s very comfortable, though, and I like wearing it. It has pilled somewhat, but the pills are very easy to remove. It is not scratchy unless I am wearing a bag on my shoulder that presses it down, and then it is a little scratchy in that area. I feel like my yarn choice has paid off, however. I love how bright the sweater is, and the amazing designs in it. If you don’t look too closely, it sometimes looks like the sleeves match up with the pattern of the body. They don’t, of course, but it’s easy to think they do initially.
This sweater really stretched me, and taught me a lot. It helped me conquer the fear of steeking, and helped me realize that if I think long enough, and search hard enough, I can find the answers to a lot of knitting questions. This project made me feel like I levelled up, specifically in stranded colorwork, which is my current favorite area of knitting.
We pick sewing projects for different reasons–something you need in your wardrobe, putting your own spin on a designer garment you could never afford, using a favorite fabric, the desire to try an intriguing pattern. The Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant was my intriguing pattern. I had heard of Elizabeth Suzann, a slow-fashion designer, because of Lauren Taylor (known as Lladybird in the sewing community), who had previously worked for her. Many in the sewing community and beyond loved this brand, and there was a lot of buzz when Elizabeth Suzann decided to close her business, but made some of her garments available as sewing patterns for free. Eventually, she wrote directions for the patterns and re-released them with a pay-what-you-can model on her website.
I kept seeing her Clyde Work Pant pattern and was curious about what it would be like to make and how I would like the huge, curving pockets on the sides. They were so different from anything else in my wardrobe, and I never would have been able to afford a pair or have a chance to try them on when they were only available as ready-to-wear. So, having no money for patterns at the time, I took her up on the pay-what-you-can offer, and grabbed a free copy of the pattern.
At the time I wanted to make these, it was August. (I made them before the gingham top I shared a few weeks back.) My husband had given me a gift of enough rust orange linen to make these pants, so I printed the pattern and cut them out. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make my size or go up a size to make absolutely sure the waist would pull over my hips. In the end, I made a size 16 in the “regular” height, which is where my measurements put me, although I could have gone either way on the height, since I’m about 5′ 8.5″. I also wondered if the ankles would fit over my heels, but I decided to just jump in and see what happened.
The instructions were nice and clear with good illustrations. There was no specific recommendation for how to finish your seams, although if you looked closely at a few of the illustrations, it seemed like the edges were serged. Since I love the look of beautifully finished insides, especially in linen, I chose to use a combination of French and flat-felled seams. While this really did create beautiful insides with not a raw edge in sight, it turned out to be a poor choice for the fabric I was using.
I wouldn’t call my linen a loose weave, really, but after wearing these for just a short time, the stitching holes started to open up a little bit and raw edges began to pop out at stress points. This wasn’t because I didn’t do a good job of finishing–it was just that in this fabric with this pattern, the better choice would have been to serge without trimming or zigzag my seam allowances together, press them to the sides in most cases, and topstitch. That would have left my seam allowances intact or at least not super narrow and provided less of a chance for ends and edges to pop out.
I thought that I would have to start patching my new pants almost immediately, but it seems that just a wide satin stitch has, so far, taken care of the problem, while blending in pretty well. I have the most issues at stress points like the bottom corners of the pockets on the front, the tops of the front seams on the legs, and the right back calf.
The pants were a pretty quick sewing project, and were not too hard to make, which was great. The only part that was a little tricky/fiddly was the waistband. I really like the idea of how the elastic is inserted, but it can be a little tough to do it well. My advice is to go slowly. I also added a few more pins than recommended, in order to keep everything where I wanted it.
Also, the pockets really are huge. I could fit a book in there! They’re so fun.
As for fit, these pants are really interesting. They are definitely comfortable, and I have no trouble getting my waistband over my hips. The rise is really high, which I am guessing might be a way of ensuring that these pants fit many body shapes well, and also makes it possible to wear them at your natural waist or below, as you prefer.
Thankfully, I had no trouble getting the foot holes over my heels, though it’s a close fit.
Standing, these are very comfortable.
Sitting and crouching, I notice that they get more snug around the stress points I mentioned. I suppose that next time I could either size up, or adjust the lower legs to be slightly larger, or try the tall length. I still find them very comfortable, and wonder how they would be in a bottomweight cotton twill or something a bit more durable than the linen I chose.
As for the fabric…I know it didn’t work out perfectly, but…I just love it. It’s a100% midweight linen originally from Fabric Mart. I love the color so much, and it’s not usually a color I go for. It has been great pairing it with a pink linen shirt in summer and now my purple Wool & Honey sweater (pattern by Drea Renee Knits) in fall. It’s so soft and comfortable too. Is it a doomed love? Maybe. I hope these pants last, and I’m not happy that I may have to keep repairing them, but I love this fabric. These pants are agreat transitional garment between seasons.
This was a really fun pattern with wonderful instructions, and even though I made some choices that gave me a few issues, those weren’t the fault of the pattern, which is excellent. In fact, I would love to make them again, despite my poor track record for repeating patterns.
Today’s project is my last one of the summer. There is one other I have to share from the warm season, but it’s a bit more transitional, so this one is up first! This is the Lola Top from the tenth issue of Fibre Mood magazine, a sewing magazine out of Belgium.
This issue came out in 2020 with so many good summer patterns, that I had to order it. It took what felt like ages to get here, but it was worth it! It’s only this year, at the end of summer 2021 that I have gotten around to making any of these patterns.
I approached the sewing of this top with a certain level of arrogance. I don’t like arrogance in others, and I try to stamp it out in myself, but something set me off, and I admit that I started sewing this project with a little bit of arrogance. Maybe it was having to add seam allowances, some of which were one size and some another, sometimes not even a size used in American sewing (1/6″??!!). That annoyed me, so I added 5/8″ to all my seams and 1.25″ to my hems and moved on. And the sizing between the magazine and the online directions was confusing, too–EU/US/UK–you had to figure out what size you were in inches (for me, at least), and find your US size, but make sure you traced your EU size from the magazine. At that point, I made the mistake of thinking I knew better than the pattern.
In general, I like to trust the pattern. I know the designer has worked hard on their directions, and I like to go on autopilot and sew through those directions after having done the work of tracing, adjusting the flat pattern, and cutting out my fabric. Follow the steps in the pattern, and you almost always get a great garment. But that request for a 1/6″ seam allowance really threw me.
Then there were a few confusing parts in step 3, which made me doubt the directions even more. Arrogance and frustration surged ahead, until I started to question all the directions!
But then…I started to figure things out…and then I saw that the directions were good…I just wasn’t used to them yet. I did need to trust the pattern. It was, in fact, trustworthy, but I hadn’t given it a real chance. Feels like there might be a life lesson or two buried in all of this. 😉
Luckily, I managed to get rid of my pride and arrogance once I settled into sewing this pattern, and in the end, it came out great.
That’s not to say there wasn’t an issue or two. Piece number 9, the bias strip for finishing the armhole, should be an inch or two longer for my size (US 16/UK 20/EU 48 bust and US 18/UK 22/EU 50 hip). Luckily I used some silk bias tape I had made for another project, and I had extra, since I originally cut my strips to the size of piece 9, and they were too short.
Piece number 5, the center back piece, should also be 1.5″ taller to cover your bra band. I added in some decorative ribbon to bridge the gap, but if I made this again, I would lengthen that piece.
Once I got going, though, I really enjoyed making this. I was able to make most of it on a day that I unexpectedly had several hours to sew. I can’t remember the last time that happened! I put on some music and got to it! I was also really excited about this fabric. I’m sorry to say that I have often thought of Joann Fabrics as “the place fabric goes to die”. In the past, they have sometimes had great prints on poor quality cloth, but in recent years, they have started bringing in some better options. This 100% cotton seersucker gingham was from their POP! line for kids. I have found a couple of exciting fabrics (for me) in this line. I love the color and quality of this seersucker, and looking at it while sewing just made me more excited to wear it.
The pattern is a really interesting, unique design. I managed to finish this project a few days before fall officially started, when the weather was beautiful and warm without being hot. I immediately threw it in the washer to get the sewing marker out, and then ironed it and wore it as soon as I could! I love it! It feels really unique and fun, which is generally how I want my clothes to feel.
So, at the end of this pattern, I can say I did learn a sewing lesson. Trust the pattern until you find out you can’t, and approach your sewing practice with humility. I guess there is a life lesson there, because I think you should also approach life with humility. So there you go–sewing really is more than just a pleasant way to pass the time–it’s also occasionally a font of wisdom. 😉
P.S. Here are a few outtakes for you. My Mom sent us this blonde wig for fun and we clipped on some rainbow hair–it’s a makeover! Haha.
I can’t believe it’s already the end of September! I’m both really sad to see summer go (warm weather! fun outdoor adventures!), but am also excited for the cooler weather of fall and all the beauty of the changing leaves. Summer is dreamy in this part of Massachusetts, but fall seems to have been tailor-made for New England. Here are some pictures of the last bits and pieces of summer. Enjoy!
Are you familiar with foxglove AKA spotted touch-me-not? It’s a really beautiful plant. The “touch-me-not” part of its common name comes from the seed pods. You can see one on the left–it’s green and skinny. If you squeeze one lightly, it springs open, shooting the seeds out! It doesn’t shoot them out hard enough to hurt, just to scatter them around. Check it out.
There are three little seeds, although I don’t know if that’s always the case. The seed pod goes from straight, to all curled up after springing open. Here’s one more picture with the different sides of the seed pod separated out.
See the little curly-q’s? Isn’t that interesting?
The shape of these goldenrod buds is so cool! I keep stopping to look at them!
I really hope you had a good summer. I’ll be back soon, hopefully, to share my last summer sewing projects with you–I managed to squeeze a few in. They were so much fun to make–and even more fun to wear!
Hi, everyone! Today I have a few non-clothing sewing items to share with you. I’ve been holding onto them until just the right time, and since I haven’t photographed my most recent garment sewing project, that time is now! Maybe you’ll see something fun you want to try out yourself. 🙂
Felt Deer Ornament from the Winter Animals Collection by Aimee Ray of little dear
I made this little guy back in January-February (which I only know because I wrote it down!).
He’s embroidered and made of felt. His antlers are stiffened with Mod Podge/glue, a great idea included in the pattern. This is the second animal I have made with a pattern from designer Aimee Ray of little dear, and it was so much fun! This one is from her Winter Animals collection.
Her designs are really cute, and it’s so cool to see them materialize as you follow the directions. I also like that this is a pretty quick project. Even though I made this right after Christmas, I attached a string to make it into an ornament and stashed it with my ornaments for future Christmases. We’ll just say I was planning wayyyy ahead. 😉
The last time I made one of Aimee Ray’s patterns (an opossum), I wanted to use the materials I had on hand–in that case, a felted wool shirt. This time, though, I ordered the felt she uses, which is really beautiful rayon/wool felt from Benzie Design, a store that was new to me. It really is different from the felt I used on school projects or other arts and crafts growing up. You certainly don’t need the higher quality felt, but it was nice to try it out, and one sheet will make a lot of these little guys, since you only use a small amount. Aimee Ray’s animals are a great bet if you want to make a fun and fast craft project. I would love to make more sometime–they would be great Christmas gifts!
Maple Leaf Blanket from the North American Leaf Blanket collection by Twig + Tale
I made another leaf blanket! Are you surprised? I love these things!
This one was a baby gift for a friend back in the spring because New England=Maple trees! After making it, I looked at it and thought that it seemed pretty impractical as a blanket, but I’m happy to report that my friend said those edges that stick out like peninsulas are actually great for wrapping around a little baby. Hooray! As with all the leaf blankets I have made, this one was a pleasure to make.
I love the greens I used–they are quilting cottons from Pintuck & Purl. I have been tempted to buy more of that bright green to use as a photo backdrop for the blog. I love it!
These blankets are graphic in the best sense and more useful than you might think a relatively small blanket would be. We keep our Monstera leaf on our bed and I often use it when just my feet or shoulders get cold.
Giant Sewing Props
This past summer my church asked me to talk to the kids at Vacation Bible School about sewing. That’s right up my alley, so I said yes! I was both really excited and pretty nervous. I’d love to get into teaching more, but since I haven’t done it enough in a sewing context to get into any sort of rhythm, I still get pretty nervous about it. Anyway…to help me demonstrate the basic skills I wanted to talk about, I made some giant sewing props! Since this was during COVID, it was outside and I had a table between me and the kids, so I wanted something large that would be easier to see than a tiny needle and thread.
I came up with the idea to make a giant spool and needle out of cardboard and duct tape and to use a rope as my thread. It worked out pretty well, and was really fun to use.
I also put my art skills to work and made some simple illustrations of the two basic stitches I wanted to talk to the kids about.
Looks like my college drawing classes are still working their magic! Haha.
It was a lot of fun, and even though I was sweating buckets in the sunshine, we talked sewing, and maybe one or two kids will think sewing is cool.
I’m working away over here on some garments that will transition well from summer to fall. I have already sewn some linen pants, and am working on a shirt. After that, I’ll make a dress I hope to wear to an upcoming wedding. Oh! And I’m knitting a sweater, too. These colorful projects have been really inspiring to work on and I look forward to sharing them with you–hopefully soon!
And last but not least, yesterday was my eight-year blog anniversary! It’s been a fun eight years. Thanks for following along!
I have finally achieved my dream from last summer. It may have taken me until nearly the end of this summer, but I did it nevertheless! That being said, I give myself an A+ for effort and concept, but only a C for execution.
So what did I make? Well, it’s really a “system” of clothes for summertime exploration. I made a bikini + rash guard that can be paired with my Supplex shorts for all manner of summer trips, whether they include water or not.
My daughter and I spent last summer exploring the area around where we live, and it was then I realized that the optimal clothes for this would include underwear that could get wet, shorts that could also get wet (or at least dry quickly), and a rash guard that could be worn as a t-shirt or be swapped for a t-shirt as needed. I made the Vero Beach Set shorts by Hey June Handmade in a quick-drying Supplex earlier this summer. Now I also have a basic sports bra and underwear style bikini from Butterick 4526 (View D) to be worn with a rash guard version of the Tilly and the Buttons Romy top.
The system works–it’s very comfortable and does what I want in terms of function. Where the rash guard and suit go a bit off the rails is in the fit/polish section of things. That being said, the fit is no worse than you would find in ready-to-wear (RTW) clothes, but those of us who sew know we can make better than RTW. (Sewing power!)
Let’s talk about each pattern.
Tilly and the Buttons Romy as rashguard
I bought a copy of the Romy top online from Chateau Sew & Sew, a new-to-me shop based in Louisiana, earlier this year with plans to make a unique t-shirt. I even have some great fabric set aside for it. As I was thinking about rash guards, though, I wondered if such a stylish shirt would also make a cute rash guard.
I didn’t want one that was too tight, but they are swimwear and typically tighter than a t-shirt, so I sized down one size to a 6 (Tilly has her own sizing system, so I’m using her size numbers here). I cut out my top from some poly/spandex swimwear fabric my husband got me last year from spandexbyyard.com. It feels substantial and didn’t seem see-through, so I didn’t line it. Also, I knew I would have a suit underneath if I was wrong about the opacity. Luckily, it was pretty darn opaque, as you can see from the photos of me wearing it further down. It stayed that way when wet, too.
I serged whenever possible, and used a dashed zigzag stitch on my regular machine when I couldn’t (I’m blanking on the name of that stitch right now…). It was a pretty easy, enjoyable sew. Tilly’s instructions and pictures are really top-notch (and fun with all the bright colors).
When I was done, I tried it on, and…something was just off. The shoulder fit was weird and the front draped in a way it wasn’t supposed to.
My husband helped me figure out a solution. I just folded the excess under in the front and zigzagged with that same dashed zigzag stitch. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better.
It’s very comfortable, but if I make this again, I really hope the larger size will fit my shoulders a bit better because I’m not sure how to fix it if it doesn’t! Also, I should note that the arms are comfortable, but if this were a regular t-shirt, I would want the sleeve hem circumference to be just a bit wider, so hopefully a larger size will fix that too.
It’s very comfortable to wear. It does float up a bit because it’s not super tight, but that doesn’t matter since I’m just wearing this for fun, not for any kind of sport competition. It stays wet for awhile after you swim in it, but it’s surprisingly comfortable despite that. I went swimming and then wore it afterward for a few hours while we did some exploring, and it worked great.
Butterick 4526, View D
Before making this, I went back and forth on whether to use this pattern or buy the Cottesloe Swimsuit from Megan Nielsen. Stylistically, they are very, very similar. Long ago, I made Butterick 4526, View C (one of the one-pieces), and had to count it as a fail due to poor pattern placement on my part, and excessive ease on the part of the pattern (not to mention, I forgot to sew in a shelf bra–haha, whoops!). Still, I already had this pattern, so I decided to give it one more try, but with the modification that I would make my finished size in this pattern match up with the finished measurements of the Cottesloe suit in my Megan Nielsen size.
I know there is always a lot of discussion in the sewing community about the ease in Big 4 patterns. I typically like the amount of ease included and nearly always make my size according to my measurements. The place I don’t trust the included ease is in situations like this–with a pattern that is a few years older (this is copyright 2005) and is for a garment that is supposed to have negative ease.
My decision to size down meant that even though my measurements put me in a 20/22 bust (C/D cup) and 22 waist and hip in the Butterick pattern, I needed to size down to a 14 bust (C/D cup) and 16 waist and hip. That’s pretty significant! To figure this out, I measured all the necessary pattern pieces minus seam allowance.
Except for showing you the photo of all the finished sizes above in case you are also sewing this, I won’t bore you with my notes, but trust me when I tell you there was a lot of measuring and math going on! The sizing down I did was possible because I had fabric with at least 50% stretch. Since my fabric was quite stretchy, I also didn’t add any extra length. This worked out well, thankfully.
Before sewing, I read through the instructions for this pattern. I think they would have been great at a time when we didn’t have the performance/swimwear fabrics we have now with their excellent stretch and recovery, when many people used sewing machines that may not have had a zigzag stitch, and almost no one had sergers. If you happen to be sewing with vintage fabric on a vintage machine, these instructions will probably work great for you. If you are using modern fabric and tools, there are better ways to sew a bathing suit.
Because I had modern fabric, a machine that could sew a zigzag, and a serger, I used the instructions in the Cottesloe sew-along. I also looked back at an older, but extremely helpful bit of information from a 2013 post on the Kaddiddlehopper blog all about swimwear. (If the link doesn’t work, you may be able to find it by Googling “Kadiddlehopper SwimAlong 2013 tips for a professional finish”.) This post gave me professional results on my first really successful bathing suit that I wore for years. Because of this post, I only used 1/4″ elastic at the neckline and used 3/8″ for the arm and leg holes. I really wish I had done that for the Mairin suit I made last year. (The leg holes on that suit do not feel secure. 1/4″ elastic there is just not enough!) I used 3/4″ elastic for the bottom of the bikini top and for the waist of the bottoms. I would have tried 1″, but didn’t have any. Luckily 3/4″ was great. I only used my serger for a few parts (basic construction). For inserting elastic, I used my regular machine with polyester thread in the needle and wooly/bulky nylon in my bobbin, another tip I picked up from the aforementioned blog post. I used a stretch needle, a walking foot, the lightest pressure on the presser foot (one on my machine) and a three-step zigzag (THAT’S what it’s called!) with a height of 6 and a length of 0.5, but you should test all that on scraps for yourself. I don’t think that particular height and width are typical. I like them because when I sew them on my test scraps and then stretch hard in both directions, the stitches don’t pop.
I used up some leftover shiny lining for the top and the more cottony-feeling lining I got from Spandex by Yard last year on the bottoms. (Spandex by Yard is where I got the pink swimwear fabric from too, also last year.) Both linings work great, and I never notice the difference when wearing this.
The suit looks a little tortured when you see it flat, but it fits pretty well when it’s on. It’s not a perfect fit, but it’s very secure and supportive, and really does the job.
I really like this sort of bathing suit system. It’s really comfortable and has the functional benefits of a bikini with the modesty of a tankini, and the comfort and versatility of regular activewear clothes. While sewing doesn’t always save money over RTW, I think swimwear (like bra making) is an exception. I know I saved money on the outfit as a whole.
I would make this style of bikini again to wear under a rash guard as a more versatile and comfortable tankini, although I don’t know if I would use the Romy as a rash guard pattern again. There are a lot of other great patterns out there that I would probably try instead.
If I do make this style of suit again, I would happily fork over the money for either the Megan Nielsen Cottesloe or the newly released Jalie Claudia Bikinis. The Cottesloe is basically the more modern, better-fitting version of Butterick 4526 with the one and two piece options, plus Megan Nielsen’s excellent instructions. Jalie’s Claudia is a little different and doesn’t have the one-piece option, but comes from a company that has vast amounts of experience drafting swimwear and other performance-wear with a truly amazing size range. Either way, you couldn’t go wrong. As for Butterick 4526, I’m glad I tried it, but I’m ready to move on.
Finally, I would definitely make more Vero Beach shorts. Those get an A+ for concept and an A+ for execution and fit. The system as a whole works and is really, really great for outdoor summertime adventures. I’m so happy I finally got around to making it, even with its imperfections.
Hi, everyone! I hope this finds you well. As you may have noticed, posting to the blog gets a bit patchy in the summer, so after taking July off, I’ll probably post a bit in August, although not as regularly as usual. It matches my sewing though. Even though I LOVE summer sewing, I also love being outside with my family and cooking and baking with summer produce, so the summer sewing never ends up being quite as plentiful as I imagine it will be.
Last summer, my youngest daughter and I spent a lot of time exploring the area around where we live. Sometimes we were in the woods, sometimes we were at the beach or by a river where we might want to swim. I hoped that by making us some shorts in woven Supplex, a texturized nylon fabric that feels a lot like cotton, but is wicking and breathable (etc., etc.), we would have bottoms we could wear on our adventures this summer that could get wet and then dry quickly. It was all about versatility! The shorts from the Vero Beach Set by Hey June Handmade seemed perfect for this.
During the winter, I ordered several cuts of woven Supplex from The Rainshed with the intention of making our adventure shorts, as well as a few other things I had in mind.
(You can see the “sweatshirt” I made with the yellow Taslan/Supplex as part of my Spring Outfit here.) Normally when I batch sew, it is groups of different patterns, but this time, I made three of these pairs of shorts at once–two for me, and one for my daughter.
For my shorts, I sized up one size from where my measurements put me. The instructions suggest doing this if you have a fabric with no give to it, and that definitely applies to this Supplex. I also like a good bit of ease, and sizing up made these fit just right. For my daughter, I chose a size based on her waist and hoped the shorts would fit, as she isn’t quite in adult sizes yet. We used the line drawing as a coloring page, since we had gotten two colors for her shorts, and she colored in everything the way she wanted it as a guide for me.
One thing to note, that I didn’t initially realize, is that the binding for the shorts is not visible on the outside if you follow the pattern directions. Of course you could reverse the directions around Step 19 if you want it to show.
After cutting out her shorts and mine, I realized that I still had enough fabric left from hers to cut out another pair, and since I liked her colors, and she didn’t mind, I cut out some shorts with her fabric, but with the colors in the opposite positions for me.
When it came time to sew, I started with a Microtex 90/14 needle, but that made my machine sound like it was punching through the fabric, so I switched to a Microtex 70/10 needle, and that was better. I also found that my thinner silk pins were easier to use than the pins I normally use (which are actually quilting pins). I threaded my serger for finishing seam allowances since this fabric doesn’t press well, and frays a fair amount, and was careful to choose thread colors for both my sewing machine and serger that would look good on all three pairs of shorts so I wouldn’t have to switch (plus I love a good contrast thread color). As far as elastic, I bought what Joann’s had in the appropriate width, which turned out to be Underwear and Pajama Elastic.
A slightly higher machine tension (five on my machine, rather than the normal four) gave me more balanced stitches. I rarely change my tension, but it did help on this project. I ran into a little bit of trouble part way through with skipped stitches. Everything had been going fine, and then I started to have problems. After trying a bunch of things, I didn’t know what else to do, so I called the sewing help hotline (i.e. my Mom) and she suggested cleaning my machine and then changing thread brands. So, I cleaned everything out and switched from Coats & Clark to Gütermann, and it worked! I hadn’t thought of that, but after she said it, I remembered that my machine has the same issue, but in the opposite direction with topstitching thread–Coats & Clark works, but Gütermann doesn’t. Funny, huh?
When it came to interfacing, I attached self fabric with a washable glue stick, since I didn’t want to try fusing interfacing to this fabric. Ironing nylon fabric like this sounds like a recipe for melted fabric!
I also serged the top edge of the back pockets since my serger is set at a 1/4″ wide stitch width (Have I ever actually changed that? No! Haha). At the time, I wondered if I should have serged other areas in the pockets to eliminate fraying, but after having worn the shorts a lot, it hasn’t been an issue, so I guess whatever I did was fine.
Here are a few tips for this pattern: make sure when you trim your seam allowances in step 20, that you use a washable marker or chalk to mark the notches on the curved sides/bottoms of your shorts in a way you can still see after trimming–you will need those marks to help you line up the sides.
I also recommend marking the drawstring holes even if you aren’t inserting a drawstring, just so you know where the front of the waistband is for when you are attaching it to the shorts. I had planned to insert drawstrings in mine, but changed my mind. I was still glad I had those markings, though.
So…how did they turn out? Well, I wish I had about five more pairs, so they are great! And my daughter’s fit well, too. I wasn’t sure how hers would fit since they are a women’s size, but she loves them and they fit great! We have worn them to the beach, wild blueberry picking, for exercise, and as every day wear. I usually wear them as soon as they are out of the wash. I love them. I was afraid the pink and orange ones would be a bit see-through (something I began to worry about after I had cut them out since they seemed fine before that), but unless you are wearing really dark or patterned bottoms underneath it’s not an issue, and if it’s a swimsuit, well, who cares? The magenta ones are completely opaque.
I didn’t take pictures of my daughter since I don’t share pictures of my kids on my blog, but here are some she took of me when we went wild blueberry picking. Try not to be jealous of my outfit–fashion + protection against ticks and mud! What more could you want?! Hahaha
These shorts are so versatile and comfortable, I would love to sew them up in a bunch of different fabrics–everything from linen to lightweight denim and maybe even athletic knit (worth a try!). They would also make great pajama shorts. The instructions were excellent and the pockets are so nice and large. I really, really recommend these. Knowing my love for nearly always trying new patterns, I can’t say for sure that I will circle back to these, but I hope I do, because they are great.
The pullover that’s included in this pattern looks nice, too, so we’ll see if I try that someday. Wouldn’t it be great in double gauze? The more I sew with patterns from Hey June Handmade, the more I love them. The instructions are so good, many of the styles are a great match for me, and I am coming to really trust Adrianna’s expertise and advice in each pattern. She knows what she is talking about!
I’m also really glad that I have tried out woven Supplex. Sometimes I want to sew a garment because the pattern is intriguing and new, and sometimes it’s the fabric I find tempting. I still have some uncut blue-gray yardage that I hope to make into the Itch to Stitch Sequoia Cargos so I will have some woven hiking pants, but we’ll see what happens. Technical fabrics are so interesting, and being able to make your own outdoor gear feels like such a win!
And what’s up next in the queue? I’m working on a rash guard and bathing suit now and am hoping to make the Fibre Mood Lola Top and Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Work Pant pattern in linen after that, but we’ll see! I’ll keep you posted although it may be a bit patchy through the end of summer. 🙂
It’s the first week of official summer and my Spring Outfit is finished! Hahaha. Let’s just pretend this outfit is still seasonally appropriate where I live, shall we? Let it be noted that I did actually finish the last of it a few days before the end of spring, but it was sadly too late to photograph and write up last week, plus I wasn’t feeling great, so I just didn’t get it to the blog. That means this week, instead of ‘outside in June’ photos, it’s time to wrap up this challenge and move on to some summer sewing! Woohoo!
If you have followed this challenge of mine to create a spring outfit (first laid out here), you may be surprised to see a different pants pattern in the title of this post. My initial plan was to make the Folkwear Sailor Pants. However, when the time came to work on the muslin, I read through the directions and realized that these were going to take more than a little time. They are different than normal jeans, and they would benefit from a really detailed muslin where I tried out all the techniques in my test fabric as well as looking at fit. At that point, the weather was warming up, summer sewing was galloping full-speed through my mind, and I just did not want to make these. So I put them on hold. My pattern is traced and my muslin cut out, but they can wait until fall. Maybe I will make them up then.
I have really wanted to make the Seaforth Pants by Hey June Handmade ever since they were released last year, so I bought that pattern and cut them out of some denim-y looking chambray that has been languishing in my stash for the last few years. My goal was to make them fast and hope they would fit. Not only would these complete my spring outfit, they would also be great pants to wear in the summer…more on that in a bit.
First, though, check out my spring outfit! I made it all but the shoes!
Maybe someday I’ll make shoes too, but for now, it was Keds to the rescue. In a perfect world, I would have sought out some oceanside wharf or something to take my pictures at since this outfit is nautical-ish in my mind, but instead you get some occasionally silly pictures closer to home.
Here are the patterns, yarn, and fabric I used from top to bottom. You can find more details on notions and small odds and ends in previous blog posts where I talk about each pattern in greater detail.
I really like how this outfit turned out, and I think I will get a lot of wear out of most pieces. If I had to guess, I would say that the Oslo Hat and Seaforth Pants will get the most wear, possibly followed by McCall’s 5303. I’m guessing the socks will get the least wear. They are comfortable, but I think I should make them in a slightly stretchier fabric next time or modify the top of the socks since they are somewhat tight on my lower legs. That being said, this is a cool sock pattern and is a thousand times faster than knitting socks.
As far as what I enjoyed making the most, that would have to be the McCall’s 5303 sweatshirt (windbreaker). It was really fun and interesting to make. I loved it. The thing I had the least fun making was The Oslo Hat. It wasn’t hard–just boring to knit. If you’re looking for a pattern with lots of stockinette, so you can just knit without too much thought, though, this might be the pattern for you.
I really enjoyed doing a big coordinated project, and it definitely got me inspired and excited to get sewing. I don’t plan on doing this every season, but it was really fun to do at least once.
The Seaforth Pants by Hey June Handmade
Let’s talk in a little more detail about these pants since this is the first time they are making it to the blog.
Like I said, I have been wanting to make these pants for awhile.
When I saw the post on the Hey June blog where Adrianna, the designer, modified the pattern and made a pair of straight leg pants, I was sold.
It was an easy modification, I already had fabric I could use, and I thought I could finish these much faster than the Sailor Pants I had first planned to make. Added benefits were that I could skip the muslin, I could use these pants in the summer, and they would help me get an idea about how the crotch curve from this company fits me, since I also plan to make the Vero Beach shorts in the near future.
I have challenged myself this month to sew at least thirty minutes a day, six days a week, so I used one day to prep my pattern, another to cut it out, and then it was on to sewing. All of these things took longer than the thirty minutes (and sewing took several days), but that goal really helped me get moving.
I followed Adrianna’s instructions for the modified pants and also swapped the front pockets out for some patch pockets from Simplicity 8841, which I have traced onto stiff cardboard with directions glued on the back.
My goal was speed. I’m not the fastest sewer, but I was ready to be done with this project, as fun as it’s been. I used my serger to construct and finish seams and my sewing machine for whatever I couldn’t serge.
I added grommets and a drawstring, and I love how they came out.
I did not add the cool bias binding Adrianna mentions in the blog post at the bottom of the pant legs. I might do that another time, though.
One thing worth noting is that when I compared my measurements to the size chart, the size 18 looked just right, and it is what I chose. When you look at the finished measurements, however, the finished hip measurement is an inch smaller than the hip measurement for the size. This made me really nervous and I almost sized up. Adrianna does talk about this and how to pick your size in the directions. After reading through that, I ended up making the 18, and it worked out great. I don’t have any problems pulling the pants over my hips–I never even think about it–but do read that part carefully (and don’t worry too much) if you make these for yourself.
I managed to finish hemming just in time to wear these to an outdoor ceremony we were attending as a family, and they were perfect. The one thing I will do when I make these again, though, is use the front pockets that are part of the pattern. I love the look of the patch pockets I chose, but if you are sitting on the ground, things do tend to fall out.
Something I have learned from the couple of patterns I have sewn from Hey June is that when Adrianna recommends something, whether it’s a certain type of fabric or a certain type of pocket, it’s there for a good reason. I’ve gone off-book here and there and it’s been fine, but I can tell it would have been better if I had followed the recommendations more closely.
Regardless of all that, though, the pants turned out great, the crotch curve works for me, and I am so happy this fabric didn’t become a shirt dress as I had originally intended. I think it will get so much more wear in the form of these pants.
And that’s it! Spring outfit complete! On to summer!
Looking back over the past two or three fall/winter seasons, I noticed something: I have knit a lot of sweaters! I went from someone who had sworn off knitting because I just could not size larger projects correctly back to someone who almost always has at least one project on my needles. I’m still not awesome at sizing. I’m a loose knitter and sometimes my gauge changes as I go along. And I definitely don’t love knitting as much as sewing, but I do like its portability and how easy it is to knit for just a few minutes here and there. Finding affordable yarn in a fiber I like is a struggle, but I’m getting better at that, too.
All of these things came into play with the Engle sweater by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks.
I love the colorwork designs incorporated in the different patterns from this designer–they stand out in a way that is really pleasing to me.
The Engle is knit from the top down in a thin but fluffy yarn on larger needles, and incorporates colorwork.
While looking for an affordable yarn for this project, I discovered the brand DROPS Design, which is based in Norway. They have a lot of different yarns in various fibers (plus lots of free patterns) for an affordable price. The US distributors that carry the full range of their yarns are actually based in the UK. One of DROPS’ offerings is Brushed Alpaca Silk, which has a very similar percentage of alpaca and silk to the yarn recommended by the pattern. I loved the colors, and the yarn was very affordable.
There was a great little line drawing included with this pattern that you could use as a coloring page to try out color combinations.
I was so happy to see this! On my Soldotna Sweater, I had made my own coloring page, but here was one made for me! After some coloring, I ordered cerise, black, off white, and curry from Purple Sheep Yarns. Shipping was reasonable, and the yarn arrived quickly.
After swatching, I ended up using size US 8 needles for my colorwork, US 7’s for the stockinette portion, and US 6’s for my ribbing (except on the sleeves, where I forgot). Optional techniques used: Twisted German Cast On (nice and stretchy for the neck edge), Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.
I began knitting my sweater in the summer, I think (maybe July?), but it was clearly coming out too large (my loose knitting was wreaking havoc). I unraveled it and cast on again on August 23, 2020 after taking a break and redoing my calculations. My measurements had put me in a size 4, but with the gauge I was knitting at, I could knit a size 2 and achieve a size 4 (in theory). Unfortunately, with my loose knitting and the lack of elasticity in alpaca and silk, which don’t have the bounce-back that wool does, my sweater was large and grew a bit. It was so beautiful, though, that I kept going, and hoped for the best.
Now that I knew I was knitting a bit loose and now that I remembered alpaca’s tendency to grow and relax, I got into my groove and decided that I wouldn’t knit the sleeves quite as long as the pattern directed, since I expected them to grow a bit with wear. For that reason, I opted not to do the sleeve color chart, even though I really liked it. It seemed like the colorwork would be a little too close to my yoke.
By the end of September/beginning of October, the sweater was finished. My loose knitting and the relaxed sweater meant that I didn’t actually have to knit quite as long as expected before it was long enough. The shape turned out a little boxier than I had expected, but I love it! It’s so soft and warmer than you would think. The drape is nice, too, and it hasn’t really grown or stretched beyond what you see here.
So, while I won’t say I sized this just right, I do love this sweater and have worn it a lot over the fall and winter. Knitting loosely with this yarn creates a very interesting, light, and soft fabric and a beautiful sweater.