Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kwik Sew 2856 - Spring Sweater

Yesterday I mentioned that I had made a sweater while waiting for an opportunity to pick up some ribbing. Here it is:

I love white in the spring and summer, but I don't wear it so much lately because something about me in white says "human napkin" to my kids. We'll see how long the sweater lasts.

I used Kwik Sew 2856, View C. This was a really easy project. Start to finish: 2 hours. The fabric is a cotton sweater knit that has been in my stash for around two years. The pattern has been in my stash longer than that. I read an article in Threads #123 about sewing with sweater knits. The author recommended using 1" seam allowances. I played with the fabric a little before cutting anything out and went with 1/2" allowances - double the usual KS allowance. It worked just fine.

I cut a size small and didn't change a single thing. For the seams, I used a zigzag stitch and it sunk into and blended in with the fabric really well. So well that there was no way I was ripping anything out. I did the hems with the same zigzag stitch. All the raw edges were finished on the serger. This was a really messy fabric to work with. Lots of white snippets on the floor.

We'll see how this sweater wears. I liked it best the first time I tried it on. That likely stretched it out and I wasn't as excited about it after that.

I did work on the T-shirts for the Preacher last night. I'm doing them assembly-line style so they are all (3) at the same stage. I probably won't get back to them today. But, soon....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


So, I'm as far on the jacket as I can go until I get some further help. I've never drafted a lining for something like a jacket (a simple skirt maybe) and I've never lined anything with pleats. This jacket has three: two in the front and one in the back. Just forging ahead and figuring it out as I go was tempting, but I don't want to mess this up. A little hand-holding in the process sounded good so I requested two books from the library and now I'm waiting for them to arrive. Someone is searching all of Ontario to find them for me. Isn't the library wonderful?

I rarely have more than one project in the works at a time, but it could be awhile before I come back to the jacket, so I moved on. I cut out three T-shirts for the Preacher and then noticed that I didn't have any white ribbing. Bah. I couldn't get the fabric store to get some for a couple of days, so I needed another project. I cut out and sewed up a sweater that I'll save for another post.

This morning I made it to the fabric store. My local fabric store is Fabricland. Usually, I think it is a pretty good store. Certainly, it beats Jo-Ann Fabrics. But, sometimes I find the store really puzzling. Their method for pricing fabrics is absurd. Sometimes there is really great fabric for $3 or $4 (CD) a meter - a fantastic deal. And then the basic white ribbing that I needed today was $17 a meter. $17?!? For ribbing?!?! As a friend of mine likes to say "Are you freakin' kidding me?" I was tempted to not buy it, tell them it was ridiculously overpriced and order something online. But, I figured that then I would be spending the same in shipping (shipping to Canada is expensive) and wouldn't be able to order a tiny amount from an online vendor. And I would spend another two weeks waiting for it to arrive. So, at Fabricland I bought 20 cm and did tell them that I thought it was overpriced. Since I was still buying it, I suspect my comment didn't carry a lot of weight.

The ribbing is washed and dried. Hopefully I'll get to the T-shirts tonight.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Good Mail Day

Look what the mailman brought me yesterday!

More Jalie patterns (2561, 2911, 2568, 2908). I'm hoping to try making some things I've never sewn before - jeans and underwear. Should be an adventure!

I got a good start on the spring jacket last night. My uncertainty about the sleeves was solved when I realized I wouldn't have enough fabric to make them full-length. Sometimes it's good to be forced to try something different. I'm hoping to get more work done on it this afternoon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Wallaby Revisited

A couple of weeks ago my older daughter told me that she needed a new sweater and that I should knit her one. Well, okay - I can do that! She was pretty certain that it should have a hood and just to make sure I caught that, this is a picture of her playing outside pretending her too-small sweater has a hood. Crazy girl...

After giving her a few choices about what she wanted the sweater to look like (cardigan vs. pull-over, pocket styles, cables/patterning, etc) it was clear that she wanted a sweater just like the Wallaby that I just finished. I was kind of pushing for some cables or some interesting pockets or something, but she's hard to convince. It's good that I like the Wonderful Wallaby pattern because I'm doing it again now.
I'm combining two yarns to get the proper guage. The Cascade Quatro is from stash (thanks again to my MIL!) and the other is an acrylic yarn that I found at Zeller's. I have to admit that I am a yarn snob and I rarely knit with acrylic yarn. Natural fibers are much nicer to handle and the finished product looks better. And I would much rather support my LYS (local yarn shop) than Zeller's. But, my LYS here isn't all that great. Anyway, the acrylic yarn is a sport-weight and together I'm getting the right guage.
This will turn out to be a pretty warm sweater. When I showed my daughter my progress so far she said she liked it, but she didn't really like it. She's a tough critic. I wasn't surprised - it isn't pink.
Do you know about this trick? If you have a self-wound ball of yarn (not a center-pull) put it in a recloseable bag, cut one of the bottom corners off and pull the yarn out through the hole. This will keep the ball from rolling all over while you are knitting. And when knitting with two yarns, it keeps them from getting twisted up with each other. Maybe this is one of those things that every knitter knows, but it was a really big deal when I first learned about it. :)
No more progress on the jacket. Maybe tonight...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jacket muslin

So I did get the muslin cut out and put together last night. I cut a size 12 (based on the body measurements given on the envelope) with no changes before cutting it out. I think I'll go down to a 10 and add some length for the real thing. I don't like struggling to get my jacket on over my clothes, but the fabric I'm going to use is a stretch twill, so it will have some give.

The front:

The back:

Side view:

From the side you can see that there is a bit of a wrinkle/caving at the shoulder on the sleeve. I think making it smaller will help that. I'm wondering about the sleeves. They are supposed to be cropped and I like the shape, but I don't know if I will like that for outerwear. I'm going to let that simmer for the rest of the day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

In the Beginning...

This jacket might take me awhile. I’m going to use Vogue 8480. I started playing around with making bound buttonholes. I found a good method in Threads #95.

You make a faced window with organza (or a lining fabric). They recommend stitching over graph paper – this works really well for getting all the buttonholes the same size. I printed some with very small squares – 4/cm from here. Clip, turn the facing and then fuse the buttonhole lips in place with a bit of fusible web on the back side to hold them in place while you sew them down.

So easy and looks good. I’m excited. The method allows for different looking buttonholes (like the one in the middle) but I think I’ll just stick with the traditional one on the right.

This is how the article recommends finishing the back. Pretty simple – cut a slit, fold back the edges and stitch it down by hand. I did this one after removing the basting threads holding the buttonhole lips together. It would be much easier if they were still basted together.

The pattern does not include a lining, but I’m going to add one. Cutting out a muslin for the jacket is next. I think that the rest of my life might get in the way of sewing this week. It’s looking busy….

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Burda 9611 – Khaki pants

I’m pretty tired of making T-shirts. I made two more for DD that I haven’t posted yet. So, it was time to move on. Most of my daughter’s pants are too short, but I’m not really interested in making a lot of long pants at this point in the year. I thought a pair of basic (versatile) khaki pants that could be rolled up into capris would be a welcome – and ideally multi-season – addition to her wardrobe. Enter Burda 9611

I love Burda patterns for kids. Burda and Kwik Sew. I made a pair of jeans for her in the fall using this pattern. I think these turned out cuter. The details of the pattern that I really like are the coin pocket, the “real” fly, and the belt loops. I’m not so sure about the horizontal pleat across the lower leg.

For this pair I copied a detail I saw in a children’s clothing boutique. I sewed a strip of bias-cut self fabric along the pocket edge, leaving the bottom edge raw. I fastened on these eyelets that I picked up awhile back at a Field’s tent sale. I left off the coin pocket even though I really like it. I thought the front of the pants had enough going on and I wasn’t sure what sort of closure to use on the pocket flap to match/compliment the eyelets. And, I’m trying to stay away from the fabric store, remember? I’m sure I’ll make these again and I’ll include it then.

On the jeans that I made, the back pockets are not lined up. I had put them on before assembling the pants. It’s a little irritating every time I see it. So, this time I attached the back pockets after the pants were put together and before the waistband went on. This way I could see that they would match up. Sewing them onto a flat piece certainly was easier, though.

I didn’t do the pleats in the leg. That would have complicated the roll-up capri situation. I put on a heavy-duty snap along the side seam, sewed an 8 ½” tab to the inside of the leg and put the other half of the snap at the end of the tab. I think I like how they look rolled up more than full-length.

And just for good measure, I did include some pink – the zipper.

I like how the pants turned out, but they kind of made me crazy while I was sewing them. It isn’t a difficult pattern, but I made a lot of foolish mistakes. Nothing permanent, but things like sewing seams in the wrong order, bad topstitching, sewing the wrong side to the right side, etc. Lots of ripping out stitches. Not my favorite thing to do. Do it right the first time! I’m not sure what the deal was. I think I was trying to rush through the project and wasn’t really thinking about what I was doing. I’m glad the pants are done and I’m glad they turned out well.

Next up: A spring jacket for me. Yippee!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Wonderful Wallaby

It's finished!

The details:

The buttons aren't a great match, but I'm using them anyway. I like them, I had them, and they were expensive. This is as good of a use as any. I bought them in NY and I didn't have the yarn with me to match, so this was as good as I could get.
The pattern calls for garter stitch at the edges of the pocket and ribbing at the hem. I changed both of those to seed stitch.

I altered the placket, also. As written in the pattern, the placket doesn't overlap - it's just a slit with a garter stitch border. To make the placket this way, I cast on five stitches on the underside, knit them in seed stitch throughout and then sewed it to the upper layer at the base of the placket. Knit buttonholes are always ugly, aren't they? These are just yarn-overs that I stretched out a bit during blocking so they would work with the buttons.

The pattern suggests grafting the top of the hood together. Hello? Grafting 27 stitches? No thank you. I did a three-needle bind off and am quite satisfied with that.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the sweater...other than the color. I call my older daughter "Peanut." Perhaps the younger will now be "Pistachio." Hmmm....not quite the same.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Baskets!

How cute are these?

The tutorial is over at Pink Penguin. Try it - see if you can make just one!

Thinking Pink

More fru-fru dancing clothes for my daughter…

The shirt is made from Kwik Sew 2918, yet again. To add the gathers at center front (CF), I slashed the neckline down into the bodice in three places close to the CF. I spread these apart while keeping the CF on the straight grain. I slashed in the side seam under the armhole and overlapped the pattern to release the bubble made from spreading at the neckline. This is essentially moving a dart, but this pattern doesn’t have any darts (or need any) to start with. Overlapping at the side seam shortened the seam, so I added that back in at the bottom. The neckline is finished with a binding.
I also slashed and spread the sleeve pattern in three places from top to bottom to change the basic sleeve into a gathered, puffed sleeve. If I do this again, I think I would add more into the sleeve. It really doesn’t “puff” all that much. But, this fabric is pretty lightweight and for something with more body the amount I added would probably be sufficient. The sleeves are also finished with a binding.
The original plan was just to hem the shirt, but when she tried it on with the skirt, I didn’t think a plain hem would really look very good. It probably would if she kept her tops tucked in, but that doesn’t usually last more than a few minutes. So, I “borrowed” this look from one of her other shirts. I turned up two inches, made a casing and inserted ¼” elastic in it. She likes it – by her way of thinking, there’s always room for one more ruffle.
The skirt is just two rectangles. The top one is two inches bigger in circumference than my daughter’s waist. The lower one is 1.5 times that measurement. Surprisingly (for me), I didn’t write the actual numbers down, I just calculated and cut. I pictured the trim between the yoke and the skirt being turned up toward the yoke, but with the bulky gathers, the seam allowance turns up and the trim turns down.

This time I did have enough fabric to make shorts. I thought it would be best to attach the shorts to the skirt before making the casing so that essentially they are one piece, but for some reason my daughter really didn’t like that idea. She’s not so worried about bulk around the waist yet, I guess. I used Burda 9615 for these shorts – a great, simple pattern with no side seams. I’ve only made the shorts, but the leggings look great too.

For all the pink sewing that I do, I don’t have any pink cone thread for my serger. I should probably fix that. But, I’m trying to stay away from the fabric store. I spent my allowance for the next couple of years in NY. All of this fabric and trim I bought in NY. (The shirt and skirt are actually a better match than the picture represents).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

She Likes It!

So the dress met with the four-year-old’s approval yesterday. She likes the color and the “ruffles.” And it’s good for dancing…
…and twirling!
A few months ago she told me that the difference between a pretty dress and a really pretty dress is that a really pretty dress is one that is good for twirling (read: has a full skirt). I guess this one works for her.

I used Kwik Sew 2918 again. I made the short sleeves a little longer and decreased the width of the back at the side seams. The neck opening is a little larger than I would like, but that’s because I had to cut off my first attempt at finishing it. I tried sewing down the center of a strip of fabric onto the wrong side of the neck edge and then turning it to the right side, so that there would be three raw edges turned to the front. I saw it in Threads #121, but could not get it to work for me. I trimmed, clipped, understitched, and pressed but it would not stay turned to the right side. So off it went, and I bound the edge instead.

The skirt tiers are just gathered rectangles. I found a good formula for determining the difference in circumference from one tier to the next in Threads #125. The top tier of the skirt is a little shorter in length than the other two by mistake. I used a clear ruler and chalk marker to make the lapped seams even. When I was marking the top tier I accidently grabbed the rotary cutter instead of the chalk marker and cut off ¾” rather than making a line. Ahhh! I almost did it again another time after than and then learned to put the rotary cutter away in the drawer when I wasn’t using it.

I would have liked to make matching shorts for her to wear under the dress to reduce the underwear flashing factor (a hazard of twirling), but I really only had tiny scraps left. It’s nice to use up all of the yardage, but that makes it a little stressful during construction when you know there is no chance you can cut another piece if you mess up.

I’m working on more pink things for her…she just can’t get enough.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Project Runway Canada

On Saturday night I debated about whether to spend the evening sewing or watch Project Runway Canada and knit. I'm not a big TV watcher and rarely sit to watch TV in the evening. But, I really like Project Runway, so I opted for that. I'm glad I did. What a great show. I haven't caught every episode, but I wish I have. This last challenge was to dress a female business executive. As the deadline was approaching, they were thrown an additional challenge: design some (coordinating) lingerie. Wow! Some of the designers had not done either of these things ever before. And the models were sent to shop for the materials to make the lingerie! Sewing lingerie with fabric and lace someone else with no sewing knowledge picked out? Eeek!

Each episode I find myself amazed at both the things the designers can do and the things they cannot do. Always, I'm amazed at what they can do in a short amount of time. Granted, sometimes their final product is finished really poorly - as in glued together, sewn on the model, etc. And I am amazed at their ability to design original garments. That is fascinating to me. But some of the things they struggle with are really surprising to me. Setting in a sleeve, cutting a pencil skirt on the straight grain, and basic construction skills are all things I've seen them struggle with. I find myself thinking, "Hey, even I can do that!"

But, I am one who sews. Allow me to digress a moment....I'm still not sure what to call myself - a sewer? That is easily misread as a place for wastewater and other unpleasantries. A seamstress? Seems like an outdated term to me. A sewing enthusiast? I have a hard time using that seriously, particularly in speech. So for now, I am one who sews and that is different than one who designs. I don't have a very good eye for design. I shamelessly copy things that I see and like. I'm not creative and rarely come up with anything original.

I did some minor designing today. I changed a T-shirt pattern into a dress for my daughter. I think I really like the construction process but not so much the creative process. I'm not sure how I feel about the end result of the dress. About halfway through the project I was pretty sure it was going to be a wadder. Now I think it might be okay, but I need to see it on first. We'll see what the lucky little girl thinks when she sees it tomorrow. She tends to have strong opinions and I'll know exactly what she thinks of it.
Sewing spring clothing seemed much less urgent today. Some snow accumulated overnight and just kept coming all day. It felt more like January than April. More of the same tomorrow. Ugh.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Church Shirt - Kwik Sew 3146

The “church shirt” is done! I made a shirt exactly like this for my son last spring. I think the fabric was about $1/yd at JoAnn’s a couple of years ago, so I have more than I really needed. So, one shirt last year, one this year, and there’s probably enough for one for next year yet. I probably won’t do that – I put the rest of the fabric on the “muslin” pile.

I certainly could have done better with the buttons, but I had these in my stash. Finishing the shirt today sounded good to me and I really didn’t want to bring all three kids to the fabric store with me to pick out some other ones. It’s incredible how many button cards they can pull off the hooks in a very short amount of time.

I cut the yoke on the bias. I don’t think I really like it that way, but I’m still on the fence. Hmmm…

This is another great Kwik Sew pattern (3146). I haven’t used it quite as many times as the T-shirt, but it’s not too far behind. Again, this one is very well drafted and all the design features are properly proportioned. The result is a collared, button-down shirt that is just like an adult’s, but in miniature. The long sleeve version has a real placket and cuff and there is even separate upper and under collar pattern pieces. Woohoo for Kwik Sew!

Next up, some girly clothes for my daughter. Pink, pink, pink….

Friday, April 3, 2009

While You Were Sleeping – Kwik Sew 2918

I’ve been sewing T-shirts for the little guy this week. Most of this has happened while he is napping or having some “quiet time.” Today when he came upstairs after quiet time he said, “What did you make for me today, mom?” Gotta love that.

A couple of months ago the Preacher and I went to a minor league hockey game. Turns out it was a T-shirt give-away night. Everyone got a T-shirt! Lucky me! The team's mascot is a Muskie and is featured nicely on the shirt. The little man thought a fish playing hockey was really pretty funny. So, I cut it up and turned it into a shirt for him. You can imagine how hard it was for me to part with a large black men's T-shirt with a hockey playing Muskie on it, but hey, that's just the kind of mom I am.

This shirt is made out of the leftovers from this shirt. The navy stripe is sewn on top, not pieced.

The brown and blue stripes are from Metro Textile in NY. A very soft jersey - not sure of the fiber content.

Orange and white stripes also from Metro Textile. This is a cotton/lycra jersey. It is good and stretchy, but it was hard to cut out on grain as all the edges curled terribly.

I use Kwik Sew 2918 to make T-shirts for my kids. I’ve used this pattern at least 20 times already and my youngest is just in the smallest size now, so I’m not done with it yet.

It’s a great pattern. Very basic, but drafted well. The shoulders and neck are appropriate sizes – not like a lot of the toddler patterns from the Big 4. Sometimes I wonder if those pattern drafters have ever seen a baby or toddler, much less tried their patterns on one. And the Kwik Sew sizes correspond very closely to RTW sizes. That is really helpful if you are sewing for someone else (or someone else’s child).
Now I'm working on another Kwik Sew pattern for this cute fella. A "church shirt!"