Tag Archives: summer

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate: McCall’s 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

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Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall’s 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

Hey, everyone! Sorry I missed you last week. It was finally COVID time in our house after managing to avoid it for so long. Luckily, not everyone got it and it wasn’t too bad. I’m happy to be back to blogging this week, though.

McCall’s 6848 was my last summer project, finished in September. I really didn’t think it would still be weather-appropriate in November, but we have had some warm days here!

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

It’s been great to wear the shirt a bit and get a feel for what I do and don’t like about it. First, details!

This is McCall’s 6848, View C, which is technically a pajama top, but it’s just a good boxy top in general, so I like it for daily wear.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

It’s from 2013, so it’s out of print now, but is probably findable on Etsy or eBay.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

I have made this pattern several times before, making it a real TNT for me (a tried-‘n’-true pattern). I still have several of my previous versions of this around, and although I have changed sizes, they still fit since this pattern has a fair amount of positive ease. For this version, I made an XL bust, XL waist, and XL/XXL hip. I used a “neon highlighter pink” silk crepe de Chine (CDC) fabric from Fabric Mart that was one of their NY Designer fabrics. I don’t actually know which NY Designer this is from, but I picked it for the substrate and the color rather than the designer status. I really like silk CDC. It’s such a nice, drapey, wearable fabric. I don’t find it hard to sew, and I throw mine in the washer and dryer rather than dry cleaning. This was a great deal, too, at just over $10/yard.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

This pattern is pretty quick and easy to sew. I used French seams on the shoulder and side seams, which looks so nice.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine
Ah! The beauty of French seams!

I did notice, at this size, that the shoulders seemed to be different lengths for front and back. It’s possible that I traced something wrong, or maybe it was the pattern. I didn’t feel like going back and checking the original pattern, so I just made sure the shoulders lined up at the neck. I figured I could trim the armhole if necessary.

The neck binding is a really nice touch on this pattern.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine
This little seam in the back on the neck binding is also how I can tell which side of the shirt is the back.

I suggest trimming down the seam allowances a bit before applying it to make things easier on yourself.

For the finish at the armhole, I skipped the basting and did a one inch double turned hem, sort of diagonally folding under the areas at the bottom of the armhole.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine
armhole detail showing the bottom of the armhole

One additional thing I added that was not in the pattern, was some little lingerie straps on the shoulder seams near the neckline.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

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Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

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Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

This top would really make a great pajama top, but since I wanted to wear mine as an every day top, I didn’t want it to keep slipping from one side to the other and showing my bra straps. I found some lace seam binding in my stash that coordinated remarkably well. After estimating the length by comparing it to my bra strap and adding in some extra, I sewed one end to my seam allowance and then sewed snaps to the other end at the part of the seam allowance closest to the neck. When I tried using these by snapping them around my bra straps, I initially thought things looked pretty wonky, but once I moved everything into the correct spot, it was perfect! The shirt no longer slid around on my shoulders. It stayed perfectly in place.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

As for the shirt as a whole, I don’t really love it untucked, but I do like it tucked in or tucked in the front.

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

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Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine

It’s a wonderfully breezy, comfortable shirt. I’m really glad I made it. It can join the two others in my closet. 🙂

Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine
McCall’s 6848, View C, front

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Surprisingly Weather-Appropriate:  McCall's 6848 Top in Silk Crepe de Chine
McCall’s 6848, View C, back

To check out my other versions of this pattern, click the links below:

View C top in blue cotton sheeting

View C top in black silk CDC

View C top in black and white rayon challis

View A tank in activewear knit (x2)

View A tank in white knit

View D shorts in ankara/wax print

View D shorts in quilting cotton

View D shorts in lightweight denim

Wow! This just might be my most used pattern! There may even be more among my old blog posts that I missed!

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim…and Exciting Topsfield Fair News!

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim…and Exciting Topsfield Fair News!

Let’s start with the pants! These pants, made using Simplicity 8841, are a repeat pattern for me–not something I always do. Each sewist/craftsman/artist has a way they like to dive into projects, and for me, it usually involves trying something new, often a new pattern, so I rarely circle back to previous patterns unless I really liked them and want more versions in my closet or they are just right for the fabric I want to use. I really liked the style of these pants, and I wear my first version a lot. However, I kind of overfit that version, and I thought I could do better…plus I really did want more of these in my closet!

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
My husband took these pictures for me when it was still summer, but these pants will work in multiple seasons.

The other thing that drove this repeat performance was some great denim I found at Joann’s. It was 100% cotton, and pink from being vegetable-dyed. The vegetable dye made me curious about how the color would hold…and I really like this shade of pink. Simplicity 8841 seemed like a good match for the denim. I got what I needed when it was on sale. Yay!

According to my measurements, I was a size 24 in this pattern. It only went up to a 22, so I did some very inexpert, cheater-style grading. I looked at the distance between the last few pattern sizes, and sized up the largest size by that amount, by just tracing around it, and trying to make things look like they would have if there had been one more size. I wanted to make View D, but with the longer length of View C. This was pretty easy to do.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

Using the book, Sewing Pants that Fit from The Singer Sewing Reference Library, I added 1.5″ to the back crotch length by making a wedge adjustment for a protruding seat. This entailed cutting into my back pattern piece from the crotch seam to the hip, without cutting all the way through. I then tipped the top of the pattern up 1.5″ making the back crotch seam of the pattern longer. After doing that, you have to smooth out the hip/outseam because making that wedge creates a little divot at the side seam.

Then I lengthened the back crotch point by 1.5″ and lowered it 0.25″ to true the pattern. This can help with full thighs or a protruding seat. I have found that it works for me, whatever the reason may be. I tend to need more length in the back with Big 4 patterns. Somehow it always feels a little bit like trial and error, but I usually end up making the maximum crotch seam length adjustments on the back pattern piece and find those really comfortable.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
This may not be the most helpful picture, but here is the top of the back pattern piece. The crotch seam I have mentions is that curved left edge, and the hip/outseam is the right edge. You can kind of see the wedge shape running horizontally through the pattern piece.

These pants are pretty straightforward to put together with good directions.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, front

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, back

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim
Simplicity 8841, patch pocket detail; I have traced this patch pocket onto tag board and use it whenever I want to add patch pockets with this shape to clothes.

I changed up how I inserted the elastic into the waistband a little bit, but otherwise followed the directions as written. Since these pants have no fly, and only front patch pockets, I pushed myself to finish them before meeting up with a friend who was visiting. It’s always really fun to have something new to wear for something like that, and it’s good for me to occasionally give myself artificial deadlines to speed a project on.

Once I started wearing the pants, I had a few thoughts about them. They are definitely a style I like, and they’re very comfortable. The dye in the fabric seems to be holding well, too.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

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Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

I’m not sure I love how they look, even though I love how they feel. They look a little too big to me. I’m all about preserving design ease and not making the smallest size you can squeeze your body into, but maybe I could have made these a little smaller, especially since the size 22 pants that I made do still fit. The other iffy part is that the waistband doesn’t feel as strong as I want it to. The pants stay up just fine, but it feels like if I load up my pockets, things could get saggy. Yikes.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

I have toyed with the idea of taking off the waistband and cutting a new one that would allow for 2″ wide elastic, like the Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants pattern, but I cannot tell you how much I really don’t like going back into patterns once I have finished them. I know they would be more wearable if I altered them, but the joy of alterations is not the reason I sew. The fact that they do fit and are comfortable will probably be enough for me to wear them and not bother to alter them. The good news is that the paper pattern adjustments I made were good. I don’t feel like the back of the pants are too short or tight (i.e. no wedgies or “plumber’s butt”–yay!). They feel just right.

Simplicity 8841 Tapered Pants in Pink Denim

The real kicker, though, is that while writing this, I looked back at the blog post I wrote for the first pair of pants I made, and those had the same problems! Yes, if I had carefully read my own post before starting on these, I wouldn’t have graded up, and I probably would have tapered the legs of the pants. I still would have made the flat pattern adjustments I made this time–I did remember the need for those–but I could have made an even better pair of pants if I had listened to my past self and reminded myself of all the changes that would have been helpful. Oops.

So, I guess this project is a little bit of a mixed bag, but overall good. I do recommend the pattern if you are looking for a simple pair of elastic-waist pants. These could definitely work, construction-wise, for a beginner, and they are loose enough that you wouldn’t have to think about fitting to the level you would with a pair of skinny jeans or something like that. I would potentially make these again, with some slight tweaks (after actually reading this post and my last one; haha).

News from the Fair!

And now for something unrelated, but awesome! If you read this blog regularly, you may remember that I submitted some garments to the Topsfield (Massachusetts) Fair for the first time. Well, the cardigan I knitted got a first place ribbon, and the reversible vest I sewed got both a first place ribbon and Best in Show! I was so excited!!! I knew that I had worked up to my skill level at the time and pushed myself beyond on those projects, but it’s really, really nice to occasionally have some outside validation for your work, from people who also make things.

Topsfield Fair 2022
My Arrowhead Cardigan at the Topsfield Fair

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Topsfield Fair 2022
Me at the knitting exhibit. You can sort of see my cardigan by my left hand. There were so many great projects!

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Topsfield Fair 2022
My vest and both its ribbons at the Topsfield Fair!!!

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Topsfield Fair 2022
This exhibit had multiple types of crafts. You can see my vest by my right hand.

Making clothes is my art practice. My work will probably never be in a gallery, and I don’t want to turn it into a business, so I don’t get that kind of positive professional critique on a normal basis, so it means a lot. That being said, I do very much appreciate all the cheerleading and support I get from my family and friends. That is what has really kept me going all these years.

My parents and kids were with me when I went to see all the entries, and they can tell you that I had a pretty big smile on my face. What a great experience!!!

Outside in July, August, and September

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Outside in July, August, and September

It’s photography time! Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the last three months.

July

Outside in July, August, and September

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Outside in July, August, and September

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August

Outside in July, August, and September
White Mountains, New Hampshire

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Outside in July, August, and September

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Outside in July, August, and September
Beach Plums

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Outside in July, August, and September

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Outside in July, August, and September
Moon Snail

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Outside in July, August, and September

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September

Outside in July, August, and September

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Outside in July, August, and September
Tendercrop Farm, Newbury, Massachusetts

Have a great weekend!

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman’s Limerick Linen

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman’s Limerick Linen

I didn’t manage to get a lot of sewing done this summer, but I did make a few things! One was the Peplum Top from Peppermint Magazine/In the Folds.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen

I’ve made this one before, back in 2018 when I made two versions. It’s such a fun shirt and a nice pattern that I wanted to revisit it and see if I could squeeze it out of some Robert Kaufman Limerick Linen scraps I had saved from the time I made my friend a jacket using Simplicity 8172. Oh, this linen! It’s so beautiful and so floaty. I love it.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen

Before starting, I looked back at my old post to see what changes I had made to the pattern. I used those again: a minor forward shoulder adjustment, and lengthening the top by two inches, although this time I added one of the inches to the bodice and one inch to the peplum. I made size G, and found a surprising error on the pattern. Even though the key to the sizes shows different line styles for sizes G and F, on the printed and assembled PDF, they both look the same. I just had to count up or down to my size to make sure I was on track. It’s very possible this problem has been fixed since I downloaded it, but keep an eye out just in case if your are sewing either of those two sizes.

This fabric is a little shifty to cut, so you need to be careful and go a little bit slowly. This can be an issue while sewing, too, so make sure you stay stitch the front and back neckline before getting started. It’s not a hard fabric to sew–just be aware that it can shift. Handle it carefully, and you’ll be fine.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen

I tested out various trim options, but in the end, I decided to keep the outside of the top plain to let the linen shine through, although I did use some fun Rifle Paper Co. rayon bias binding I made instead of the facings. After doing the forward shoulder adjustment, I didn’t really want to alter the facings when I had this pretty option I could use instead. I used my serger to finish my other seams, so the inside looks nice and neat.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen
Peplum Top front–you can see peeks of the bias binding; the quilt in the background was made by my Mom!

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen
Peplum Top, back

When I finish a garment, unless I really hate it, I usually feel like it’s THE BEST THING EVER and MY NEW FAVORITE and so on and so forth. I loved this when I first made it–and I still do, but wearing it a few times has helped me to see not only its best qualities, but also some that I like less. The pros are that this is a great pattern in beautiful fabric, and it feels like an absolute dream to wear in the summer. It’s cool and breezy and SO GOOD. Another thing that I love is that because it is dartless, it’s also reversible. I love it both ways. Each one is a little different. The parts I like a little less are that at this size, the armholes are a little low, and show my bra. The beautiful volume that allows this to feel so light and breezy also can have a bit of a pregnancy look, especially from the side. That would be different in a drapier fabric like a silk crepe de chine or a rayon challis, but in a fabric with any amount of body, you need to be prepared for volume. In general, I like the volume, but not always.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top in Robert Kaufman's Limerick Linen

All that being said, I really do love this top. I think it will look great as the season turns, on those days when it’s cool enough for jeans and a jacket, but still warm enough for a sleeveless or short-sleeved shirt. I had to do a lot of piecing on the peplum to get it out of the small amount of fabric I had, but I made it with only two scraps left over. Man, I love linen!

Last, but not least, guess what? Today is the nine year anniversary of this blog! Wow! It’s great to be able to look back and see how much I have grown as a sewist and craftsman, how much my focus has both narrowed to sewing, and then expanded to making garments in general with the reintroduction of knitting to my crafting skillset. Will shoes be next? Will I ever make a straw hat? Who knows?! Thanks for reading along, though. I really appreciate it. 🙂

Megan Nielsen Protea Capsule Wardrobe Pattern: My Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Capsule Wardrobe Pattern:  My Top and Dress Tester Photos

Hello, friends! And welcome back to the blog. After taking the summer off, I’m ready to get back to writing about sewing, knitting, photography, and other fun creative endeavors. I hope you had a good last few months as well.

My “To Blog” list is pretty long, but I’m actually going to start with a more recent project. I was a tester for Megan Nielsen’s latest pattern, the Protea Capsule Wardrobe. I went through two rounds of testing as the pattern grew from a few views to the many views you see now. In order to be a tester, I signed up to her list and sent in my measurements. They cycle through their list and contact people with a good range of measurements, and then e-mail you when they have a pattern for testing to see if you are interested. You get to see the line drawings and description of the pattern as well as the deadline and what they need from you, and then you can say yes or no. This is a volunteer position, so it’s your responsibility to get your materials together for the project. You don’t have to blog the results or put it out on social media, but since I will really and truly forget the details of my projects if I don’t blog them, I wanted to share my tester versions, and hopefully give you a look at the pattern in its developmental stages.

As the pattern was released, the company offered testers the option of a free Protea Capsule Wardrobe pattern in print or PDF. I chose print, but still had to pay shipping, and I’m currently waiting for it to arrive. I don’t often test patterns since I have so many of my own projects that I want to make, and Megan Nielsen is the only company I have tested for (unless I’m forgetting…but I think that’s right). The process was a little different years ago, but I have always been impressed with the freedom and flexibility this company gives you in testing. So! Let’s get to the actual garments. Just remember…these are versions that came out before the new and shiny final pattern, so some things have changed a bit.

Test #1: Protea Blouse

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

Here is the first line drawing we were sent back in January. I chose to make the square-neck blouse out of a striped cotton seersucker I bought at Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI in summer 2021.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos
front

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos
back

I love the general style of this blouse and have worn it all summer long. I love that it is loose and boxy and I didn’t have to make a broad back adjustment.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

It is a little cropped and lifts up when I raise my arms, so if I made it again, I would consider lengthening it just a little and trying out adding a gusset to the underarm with directions I found in Bernadette Banner’s new book: Make, Sew and Mend: Traditional Techniques to Sustainably Maintain and Refashion Your Clothes. I made an 18 at the bust and a 20 at the waist and hip. I think I used the width of the 20 for the sleeve, too.

Test #2: Protea Capsule Wardrobe Tiered Dress

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

When the option to test the next version of the pattern came along in May, I wasn’t quite sure that I would have the time, but I really liked the look of the tiered dress with a square neck and flutter sleeves. I found some fabric in my stash and decided that I could make it if I applied myself!

I chose to make this dress in a cotton double gauze from Joann, also from the summer of 2021. I didn’t have quite enough fabric. What I did have was a little narrower than the recommended 60″ and I only had four yards instead of the 4 3/8 I should have had, but I decided to do my best to make it work. In the end, I mostly made it. I went back and bought a few fat quarters of quilting cotton in the same pastel purple to cut my pockets out of. That fabric requirement was pretty much spot on.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

I made the dress with a size 18 bust and 20 waist and hip without the drawstring. I didn’t veer too far from the directions except that I hemmed my sleeves with bias tape instead of turning the hem in twice, and gathered my skirt tiers using a zigzag over a string instead of sewing two parallel lines of stitching (a technique I picked up from another Megan Nielsen pattern). I haven’t seen the final version yet to know what choices they made for those parts of the pattern instructions.

I felt a little bit different about this dress when I finished it than I did the top. I love positive ease, and this dress has LOTS of it. It was a bit much even for me.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

Unless you are looking for a completely unrestrictive dress, I like it a lot better with something pulling the waist in just a little. I tried pinning the drawstring casing on, but I wasn’t a fan.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos
waist casing pinned on…nope

The drawstring casing for the dress in this version of the pattern used the same pattern piece as the waistband for the skirt. It’s a clever idea that reduces the number of pattern pieces, but I don’t actually like it on the dress. It’s really wide and I didn’t like how it looked. I also didn’t like the dress without something to pull in the waist a little, so I put the finished dress to the side for a bit to think it over. In the end, what I did was to make two ties out of some single fold bias tape I had that matched my fabric.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

I sewed them on to the outside, but if I were planning on adding ties from the start, I would have sewn them into the side seams at the waist.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

This allows you to gather the waist in as much or as little as you like. There is a bit of fabric that gathers under the ties, but it really isn’t bulky. I tie mine just tight enough to get a little waist definition, but still loose enough not to feel restricted.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

For me this takes the dress from something I didn’t like at all to something I love. It’s amazing what a little tweak can do.

Overall Thoughts

Seeing the final pattern, I like it a lot. You don’t often see an indie brand bring out a capsule wardrobe-type pattern. The Big 4 do it (I’ve seen a lot from Butterick), but not always indie brands. Since indie patterns can be so expensive, this is a good value for your money, and it’s simple enough to sew and has such clear instructions that even a beginner could tackle it. You get some good mix and match options with the sleeves and necklines so that you could easily sew a lot of different-looking garments from this one pattern. I like it stylistically, as well, except for the dress drawstring. Personally, I’m really into the square neck, flutter sleeves, and tiered skirts. I don’t often return to patterns I have already made since I love trying new ones, but before summer started to wane, I was contemplating more of the square-necked tops, so I could see revisiting this one and trying out any of the views. I like them all.

Currently making…

Since I finished pattern testing, I have made a few other garments, and I entered both a sewing and a knitting project in the Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, MA for the first time ever, so we’ll see how that goes! I submitted my Patagonia inspired vest and my Arrowhead Cardigan which were both a lot of work and took a lot of brainpower!

On my sewing table, I have a Fibre Mood Norma Blouse cut out of some beautiful linen and I have plans to cut out two cropped Closet Core Kalle Shirts in different colorways of a fun tiger print lawn.

I’m knitting a Weekender Light sweater from Drea Renee Knits in the best Shetland wool from Jamieson & Smith and I’m also knitting a Drea Renee Knits Moonwake Cowl in some soft washable yarn.

Also…I found some sandals with wooden bases at the thrift store that I have started stripping down to try making into sandals I like, but it’s slow going with the other projects, and…you know…actually taking care of my family, ha ha.

I’m pretty inspired and excited about making all the things at the moment. I didn’t sew a ton over the summer, so it feels good to get back to it. And I have a million projects to bring to the blog (some from last winter/spring–yikes!), so I look forward to meeting you back here soon. Happy weekend!

Outside in May and June

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Outside in May and June

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.

May

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.

Outside in May and June
Outside in May and June
Outside in May and June
Outside in May and June
Outside in May and June
Outside in May and June
Outside in May and June

June

June had some surprises in store. Look what I found in our fenced-in garden.

Outside in May and June
Outside in May and June
I must have walked by their little nest for a week or two before even realizing they were there!
Outside in May and June
They were probably only four inches long with little inch-tall ears. The cuteness was extreme, and I really wanted to hold one, but of course, I didn’t. I gave them their space. And one day, they all managed to find their way out of the garden and into the big, wide world.
Outside in May and June
I saw this little guy on a walk.
Outside in May and June

Happy weekend and hello, Summer!

Sweater Knitting: Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

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Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

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!

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

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.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Now for the details!

The Yarn

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.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lisapoblenz/52050721550/in/dateposted/

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. 😉

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

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!

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
You can see one of my sleeve charts in the background of this picture.

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.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

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.

An Error

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.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

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.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
You can see the steek panels here in the center front and on the tops of the sides.

You open these areas by sewing within that panel (I used my sewing machine) and then cutting down the middle.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
The burgundy lines are the zigzag stitches I sewed in the central steek panel. This stitching anchored my knit stitches so the sweater wouldn’t fray when I cut it.

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.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
My gauge swatch/practice swatch
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
I protected the back side of my sweater with a piece of cardboard between the layers.

It’s such a crazy idea to cut your knitting, but it really works!

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

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.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
The facings are the vertical pink lines at the opening

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.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

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.

Finishing

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.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
You can change the fit a little depending on how tightly you wrap the front
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

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.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

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.

Sweater Knitting:  Arrowhead Cardigan in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Update:

I entered this cardigan in the 2022 Topsfield Fair (in Topsfield, MA) and it won a first place ribbon!

Sew It Yourself: Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

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Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

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.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

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.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

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.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant
The pants, inside out

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.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant
Ugh. Edges popped out after only a few wears.
Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

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.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

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.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

Also, the pockets really are huge. I could fit a book in there! They’re so fun.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

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.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

Thankfully, I had no trouble getting the foot holes over my heels, though it’s a close fit.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

Standing, these are very comfortable.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

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.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

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.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

Fibre Mood Lola Top + Life Lessons from Sewing

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Fibre Mood Lola Top + Life Lessons from Sewing

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.

Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top

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.

Fibre Mood Lola Top

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.

Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top

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. 😉

Fibre Mood Lola Top

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.

Fibre Mood Lola Top

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.

Fibre Mood Lola Top

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.

Fibre Mood Lola Top
I found this ribbon in my stash, and it was a perfect match!
Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top

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.

Fibre Mood Lola Top

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.

Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top

Outside in September

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Outside in September

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!

Outside in September

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Outside in September

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Outside in September

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Outside in September

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.

Outside in September

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.

Outside in September

See the little curly-q’s? Isn’t that interesting?

Outside in September
Outside in September

The shape of these goldenrod buds is so cool! I keep stopping to look at them!

Outside in September
Outside in September
Sometimes I like pictures with a clear focal point, but sometimes I like pictures that present a sort of overall design, a lot like fabric does.
Outside in September
Here’s another “all over” design.
Outside in September

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Outside in September
Outside in September

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!