Monday, August 31, 2009

Q & A

I'm not sure of the best way to answer questions or reply to comments left on my blog, so I'll borrow this format that I've seen on other blogs.

Ruth has left a new comment on your post "New Look 6638 - Girl's Nightgown":

So very sweet! Does this pattern run big? How old is your daughter that you made the size 4? I need to make another nightgown for my daughter and I like this pattern a lot.

Thanks Ruth!  My daughter is 5 years old.  She's a little taller than average and pretty thin.  Right now I'm using the same size patterns for her and my 3.5 year old.  They're the same size across the chest and shoulders.  I just add a lot of length for the older one. 

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Simplicity 3775 - Brown knit dress":

I am about to make this same dress this weekend. It looks great! I wear a 4 in RTW clothing and am trying to decide whether to make the 8 or the 10. I am leaning towards the 10 because I have kind of broad shoulders and I can always take in the sides if I construct it as you did. Any opinion from you? Love your blog.

Perhaps this is too late (just noticed the "this weekend" part of the comment), but if you wear a 4 in RTW, I would start with the 8.  According to the pattern envelope, I should have cut a 12 but actually cut an 8.  I thought the style would look better with less ease rather than more.  I haven't bought RTW clothes in a long time, but I know I'm bigger than a 4.  I wish you success with the pattern!

Amanda S. has left a new comment on your post "Kwik Sew 3453 - Green Fleece Vest":

Cute vest! So, are you a science teacher? Just wondering with all your experiments and hypothesis. :)

Thanks, Amanda!  Actually, I was a high school science teacher before having kids.  I miss the students and the science part, but not the endless preparation and paperwork.

Wayne has left a new comment on your post "Kwik Sew 3422 - Blue Sport Shirt":

Wonderful looking shirt! I am very impressed by the collar. What type of interfacing did you use?

Thanks, Wayne!  I used Pro-Weft Fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply.  This was the first project I used it on and I loved it.  I highly recommend it.  It is more expensive per yard than most other interfacings, but it is 60" wide, the quality is superb and it's really worth it!  For the collar on the sport shirt, I interfaced both sides of the collar band and the upper collar.  I'm using it again on the shirt that I'm working on for my daughter.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kwik Sew 3453 - Green Fleece Vest

The fabric for this most recent project is a little strange.  It's poly fleece and I've had it for a long time - too long to remember what I was thinking when I bought it.  I was probably pregnant.  I had a really difficult time determining which was the right or wrong side.  One side is green and black and looks almost like tweed. The other side is grass green.

It is usually pretty easy to determine the right and wrong side of printed fleece. The right side has a more crisp appearance. On the fleece below, the left side is the wrong side and the right side is the, well, right side.

That was no help with this green fleece, so I consulted Adventures with Polar Fleece by Nancy Cornwell. She suggests some “tests” you can use to determine the right/wrong side of fleece if it isn’t obvious.

1. When you pull along the selvage edge (lengthwise grain), the fleece will curl to the right side. Mine curled to the solid green side.

2. When you pull on the crosswise grain, the fleece will curl to the wrong side. It curled to the green/black side.

3. Examine the cut edge. If there is a definite thicker and thinner side, use the thinner side as the right side. The green/black side is thinner than the green side.

4. Put water on both sides of the fleece. If the water beads up more on one side, that is the right side. There was no difference from one side to the other when I did this.

5. Use the more attractive side. I suppose this is rather subjective, but I liked the green/black side better.  I thought it might look like I made something out of that "grass" that they use on miniature golf courses if I used the solid green side.

6. Rough up the fabric and determine which side looks better after. Call me lazy, but I just didn’t do this. I knew this wasn’t going to be a classic, timeless, wear-it-forever sort of garment, so I just wanted to get on with it already.

So, I had two tests indicate that the green/black side was the right side, two tests indicate that the solid green was the right side and one "tie."  I went with the green/black side as the right side.

After some washing and wearing, it is usually obvious which is the right side of fleece, so I guess I'll just wait and see if I did it right.

I've used this pattern before - for this vest.  The armholes are bound with black swimwear fabric.  I didn't notice until I was finished that the instructions actually say to finish the armholes like a neckband.  I would have still done it the way I did even if I had bothered to look at the instructions in the beginning.  I have a piece of black knit that I'll use to make a top to wear under the vest.

Regarding my hypothesis in the previous post, I did not find myself craving broccoli or anything else green anymore than usual.  However, this was a pretty quick project and maybe there wasn't enough time for the color to really do it's work.  More data is certainly necessary...

I'll be entering this in the fair in the "Ladies Vest - fleece" category.

Next up: a blouse for my daughter.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Simplicity 3775 - Brown knit dress

Daughter (5 years old): What is that for, mom?
Me: It's a new dress for me.  Do you like it?
Daughter:  Well, I guess.  But, it would be better if it wasn't brown.
Me:  Hmmm.  I kind of like brown.
Daughter: Okay.  Why does it have all those wrinkles on your belly?
Me: That's called ruching.  That's how the dress is supposed to look.
Daughter: Oh.  I think that is a little silly.

This fabric has been in my stash for at least three years.  I had enough of it to make a dress out of it and liked this pattern, but thought that it might turn out too boring.  Then I saw a picture of a celebrity in a magazine in a dress that was remarkably similar - chocolate brown, wrap style, A-line skirt.  And I liked it.  So, I gave the fabric and pattern marriage my blessing.

In this picture I saw, the celebrity was wearing some killer shoes.  I think that helped the dress not be boring on her.  As you can see, I have no such shoes:

 I guess I'll have to work on that before I can wear it this fall.

This is a good pattern.  It has been reviewed at PR 65 times.  It did come together pretty quickly.  I sewed all the front pieces together and all the back pieces together and then joined them at the side seams to make fitting easier.  I cut a size 8.  The fabric I used isn't very stretchy, so a 10 probably would have been a better choice. 
I found myself craving brownies while I was working on this dress.  Somehow I managed to not give in to the craving (mostly because I would have had to give up sewing time to bake them), but I'm wondering if it was the chocolate color of the fabric.  I really enjoy chocolate, but this was more intense than usual.  Perhaps this is a hypothesis worth testing... 
I'll be entering this in the fair in the "Dress - winter" category.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kwik Sew 3422 - Blue Sport Shirt

The Preacher's shirt is finished. I don't sew a lot for him, but this pattern could change that.

I really liked working on this shirt. I did most of the sewing while he wasn't around, so I used an inexpensive fabric with the intention that this one would mostly be a test of the pattern. I really didn't do any fitting work.
I made a size large with a 16 1/2" neck. If it were to be a dress shirt, I think I would go down a size. The sleeve pattern piece looked really short, and after measuring some shirt sleeves in the closet, I added 2" in length. This was too much, as you can see in the pictures.

The sleeve plackets turned out well. I cut the placket piece on the bias for interest.
I stitch the inside of the collar band down by hand before topstitching it. I find that I don't have enough control by machine and really don't like it when the front edge looks sloppy. It's right by the face and seems really noticable to me.

I'll be entering this in the fair in the Man's Sport Shirt category.

Next up: a dress for me!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

At the End of My Rope

I'm really liking this sock. I like the yarn, I like the pattern, I like how it feels on. Too bad that those few loops of yarn on the right is all that is left. Boo.
As you can see, the sock is not nearly long enough.

I do have another skein, but that should be for the other sock. I could start on that skein to finish this sock, but then the second sock would just barely cover my heel with this yarn. I think I'll probably finish this sock with some other yarn (ideally from stash) and then do the same for the second one. At least they will match then, even though they won't really look great. The different part will be covered up by my shoe most of the time, anyway. This experience makes me want to try knitting socks starting at the toe.

This is some interesting yarn. My MIL gave it to me. I love the color and it is wonderfully soft. It is a bit fuzzy, so stitch definition is pretty poor, but I'm still liking how it is turning out.

If you can read the ball band, you can see that it is 80% merino wool and 20% possum fur. That's right. Possum. I have never seen possum fur in yarn before. When I was learning to drive I remember my dad telling me not to swerve to avoid hitting animals, except for possum. And those I was supposed to swerve for in an attempt to hit them, not avoid them. But, he didn't tell me that I should nab their pelts and spin some yarn from it.

The stitch pattern is a double eyelet rib from Nicky Epstein's Knitted Embellishments. This is the first time I've tried a stitch pattern on a sock. Usually I like to have a pair of socks on the needles for mindless knitting and don't want to follow a chart, but this pattern is pretty simple and only requires something other than knitting and purling every fourth row. Pretty easy to remember.

I'm going to hold off with these purple possum socks for awhile and start work on a pair of socks for my daughter with this pink and green yarn. It's Plymouth Yarns Happy Feet. It looks and feels like it will be fun knitting.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sleeve Placket Sample

I mentioned that my next project is a shirt for the Preacher. I'm going to use Kwik Sew 3422. This pattern has a sleeve placket that looks more like RTW than the continuous lap placket I am used to doing on button cuff sleeves. I was excited about learning this new technique, but wasn't so sure about the method they use. I remembered a Threads article about a sleeve placket, so I looked it up. It was in issue #139.

The process was pretty easy. Good instructions from Threads, as always. It requires precision to look good, but isn't complicated. One trial run was enough for me to be confident I can do it on the shirt.

I considered making up a tutorial about this, but I guess I have doubts about the ethics of making a tutorial from published and copyrighted material. But, not everyone does. A quick search turned up this tutorial - generally the same method I used.

Right side, placket closed:

The placket looks like it is curving out to the left in the pic, but IRL it isn't.

Placket open:

Wrong side (sorry for the blurry picture):

This isn't the fabric I'll be using for the shirt. But wouldn't that be fun if it was...

Monday, August 17, 2009

McCall's 2233 - NASCAR Apron

I have a friend that likes NASCAR. A lot. I don't like NASCAR. I would say I am principally opposed to NASCAR. I think it is a horrible misuse of natural resources. But, we can still be friends. I had lunch with this friend while we were on vacation and just a couple of hours after lunch, I saw this NASCAR fabric on the clearance table at Field's Fabrics. I nearly laughed out loud. There were two bolts of it. Two full bolts. Perhaps not many other sewists like NASCAR? Since it was dirt cheap, I bought some of it.

I've mentioned here before that I like to make apple pie. This friend likes to make apple crisp and awhile back I may have told him that apple crisp is just apple pie for slackers. It's the same idea as apple pie, but with less work. He was a bit indignant about this and brings it up every chance he has. I thought the NASCAR fabric would work well as an apron - and might encourage him to step up to apple pie. ;)

This is a very basic apron pattern. There are two pockets: a small one on the upper front and a larger one that is divided into two by a line of stitching. I added a band of black fabric to the top of the pocket so that they could be seen in the print. I have no idea what the top pocket is intended for. It was very narrow, but deep. A wooden spoon? Spatula? I don't know, so I changed it to fit an iPod. Anything that would fit in the original size pocket before will still fit in this one.

The NASCAR fabric was pretty flimsy so I backed it with bleached muslin. Now it has a better weight and feel.

Something went very wrong with the printing of this pattern envelope. Look at the back view diagrams at the bottom. I think it's actually this pattern (McCall's 2213). Too bad those pieces weren't also in the pattern envelope. Who doesn't want ruffled bloomers to match their apron?! Also, where the yardage requirements are listed, it doesn't say what garment each is for. And the spacing and centering seems to be off in all the sections. I didn't use too many of the pattern pieces, but what I did use seemed just fine. So, I think the problems are only on the outside and not the inside.

I'll be entering this in the fair in the "Kitchen Apron - with bib" category. And yes, this project did violate my "no new yardage" rule, but sometimes rules need an exception or two.

Next up: a shirt for the Preacher.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chipman's Block Mittens

My mom was knitting a mitten from this pattern when she came for a visit and I liked it so much I borrowed the pattern from her and made a pair myself. I thought they would be for my oldest daughter, but they are way too big for this coming winter. The odds of me knowing where they are when they finially fit are not good.

This picture was taken just a short walk from our campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was so beautiful!

This is the second project I have tried in fair isle. My tension still needs a bit of work, but these are an improvement over the first project (a hat). I attended a workshop at a yarn shop about fair isle knitting and the instructor told us to wrap every stitch so that you don't get long "floats" of yarn on the wrong side that can get snagged and so the fabric doesn't get puckered on the right side. Knitting this way makes for a very dense and warm fabric - ideal for mittens.

The pattern comes from Knit Mittens! by Robin Hansen. It's called "Chipman's Block." My mom's mittens are green and yellow and I think I like the higher contrast of her's better than the dark pink and purple of mine. The pink is Lamb's Pride Worsted and the purple is Cascade 220. Using two different colors of the same type of yarn probably would have helped with my tension issues.

This was a good pattern for a fair isle beginner as the pattern is not complicated. There is a chart, but it has a short repeat and it is quickly internalized. The pattern is sized for worsted yarn knit on size 1 and 3 needles. The cuffs and thumbs are knit on size 1 and the hand is knit on the 3's. Knitting with worsted yarn on size 1 needles sounded pretty painful to me, so I did all of the first mitten with the 3's. When I was finished, I did think that the thumb looked pretty big (the mitten on the left below), so on the second one, I did the thumb on the size 1. And I did find it painful. But, the thumb looks better.

Now I've got another pair of socks on the needles. But I'm clearly going to run out of yarn before they are finished. Buying more of the same yarn is not an option. What to do, what to do....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Look 6638 - Girl's Nightgown

"A dress? To wear to bed?! For ME?!?!" Okay, so the concept of a nightgown is a bit new to my daughter. I don't wear one and she's never had one, but she's getting used to the idea.

The Preacher's grandma gave me this flannel and I just barely squeaked this out of it, but it is perfect for a nightgown. I made a size 4 and lengthened the skirt and sleeves by 1.5".

The pattern suggests sewing flat lace to the top of the collar, but I didn't find any lace that I liked, so I put white ric-rac around the collar edge instead. It's inserted like piping.

I seem to be on a bit of a New Look streak lately. I think this was a good pattern. There isn't really a lot of fitting work to fuss with on a nightgown like this, but it did seem to be drafted well.

I'll be entering this for judging in the fair in the "girl's nightgown" category. My daughter doesn't quite understand why she can't wear it until after the fair, but she knows she's going to go look for it while she's there.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Warm Socks

We're back from our two week vacation. It was good to be away, but it is good to be home again too. We put a lot of miles on the van and that translated into a lot of knitting time.

I finished these socks somewhere in western Illinois.

It was good timing as I needed them during the night while we were camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. They did a great job of keeping my feet warm.

The pattern for these socks comes from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. It is full of patterns for basic designs in multiple sizes and gauges: gloves, hats, mittens, socks, etc. So, you can use almost any yarn you want with the needles you want. You just knit a swatch to determine your gauge, choose your size and then follow the chart with those two numbers in mind.

I took this book out from the library a couple of years ago and copied the sock pattern pages. This pair of socks was the first time I used it, but while I was knitting these socks I was wishing that I written down the title of the book so that I could find it again. Then, while yarn shopping with my mom, I found it on the shelf. So, I bought it and am happy to have it as part of my personal library.

I also knit a pair of mittens while we were away, but thankfully it wasn't cold enough to need those.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Look 6687 - Babies' Dress

I have a new niece, too. Of course, she needed me to sew something for her. I've had this pattern in my stash for awhile now. I really liked all the views and despite my annoyances with Big 4 patterns for kids, I thought I could make this work since it was so cute. I haven't gotten around to sewing it for my own daughter yet, but I will...

It does seem to be a good pattern. I made size large and it seems to be similar to RTW size 24 months. I compared it to a couple of my younger daughter's RTW dresses. We'll have to wait awhile for a fit eval, since the beautiful little girl is just over a month old.

A couple of years ago my aunt gave me this lovely cotton poplin. It is a border print and I used some of it to make a shirt for my older daughter. The collar, cuffs, and button band used the border.

There was still a good amount of it left and initially I had envisioned View C with all the ruffles out of the border print. But, when I laid it out, there wasn't enough of the border left for the ruffles. So, I used it for the ruffles around the arm and put the rest of the border print at the waist. Still pretty cute...

All baby dress patterns should include bloomers to cover up the diaper, but this one doesn't. So, I used the bloomers from Butterick 3782. Nothing special about this pattern - it was the first bloomer pattern that I came across in my baby pattern box.

Isn't it nice that there are so many different types of fabrics to work with? I had fun with the fleece and enjoyed not having to stop and get up to press things. But, then this poplin was great and pressed so beautifully that I really enjoyed that. Variety is a good thing.

Kwik Sew 2911 - Children's Fleece Jacket

Yet another Kwik Sew pattern that I have used time and time again. This time I used it to make a gift for my nephew.

I made the smallest size - the equivalent of 12-18 months. The top I made isn't actually one of the views in the pattern - I combined Views A & C.

There are a lot of things to like about this pattern, but my favorite is the pockets. The pockets are cut-on extensions of the back piece that you sew down through the front for minimal bulk. The instructions for finishing the front extension and all of the markings are very good.

I'm really liking the orange and gray combo. Hopefully the little guy does, too...

I think the lycra binding makes it look so much more professional than elastic in casings or plain hems, but - wow - is it ever difficult to get it to look good on the inside and the outside. This binding actually is from a fleece jacket of mine that has a broken zipper. I was going to just toss it, but when I looked at it twice I remembered this orange fleece leftover from my son's pajamas. It seemed like the gray would complement the orange well. So, being reused, the binding was a bit stretched out so I think that made it harder, but it was also creased pretty well on both edges, so I think that made it easier. After a few tries I found this to work the best: baste the front of the binding on by machine, baste the back on by hand, and then sew (by machine) along the basting on the front.

I think sewing for little kids is so fun. Too bad mine are getting bigger so fast...