Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sigma Tee

This is the Sigma Tee from summer Knitscene 2011. I used Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy, which is one of my favorite yarns for summer tops. It's very durable and comfortable in warmer weather. I wanted to add some interest to the body of the sweater so I did two rows of dropped double yarn-overs near the hem. The dropped stitch effect is not the same look as the opening from the dropped stitches at the raglan, but I liked the idea of a similar look that adds to the casual style of the sweater.

The neckline finishing is a double layer ribbed section that folds in on the inside and is sewed down at the neckline. That wasn't the original plan. I originally wanted some sort of ribbed collar that folds outward and flares out some, sort of like a narrow mini cowl neckline, but that just wasn't working so I turned the extra fabric to the inside and sewed it down.

This pattern had been in my queue for a while, and I liked it because of those raglan dropped stitches. However, after knitting it, those dropped stitches were a big problem because they caused the raglan area to stretch and grow. It was fine when I first tried on the sweater, but as time went on and the dropped stitches "settled", the underarm upper bust area got bigger and saggier and the sweater gave this look of ginormous bags hanging from my armpits. Not attractive at all. My theory is that the dropped stitches are loose and don't give any body to that area of the sweater. It might have been better with a woolen yarn, but it doesn't work with the plant fiber yarns that can stretch a garment even in the best of circumstances. I tried several fixes and the final solution was to use a crochet hook to add a series of slip stitches all along the purl bumps on the inside to all the stitches that are just outside of the dropped stitches. This tightened everything up and also prevents any further stretching. It's not perfect, but the underarm bags are much smaller andI think they look worse in the photos than in person.

The rest of the sweater has a slightly loose fit that drapes well. Let's hope the raglan area stays put so that I can get some wear out it!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Sewing: Vogue V9096

I recently found this interesting knit fabric at Fabrix in SF. It has minimal stretch and is composed of two layers. The top layer has these creases formed into it and the bonding to the second layer keeps the creases in place. The last photo shows a bit of the fabric detail. I figured it would work well for some sort of casual jacket with minimal or no tailoring, so I chose Vogue V9096.

My version is a hybrid of views A and B. It's about three inches shorter than the longer view B. I liked the concept of the front overlays, but I didn't want that many of them, and the one in view A was too small, so I combined the first two overlay pieces to make a medium size piece.

I used two different lining materials for my jacket. I used a thin cotton for the pocket and overlay linings and this nice fleece material for the body because I wanted something warm and I figured the pattern has plenty of ease to accommodate a heavy lining.

I do have one sewing tip for this garment. It's one of those patterns where the lining is cut from the same pieces so it reaches the edges of the garment. I always have trouble getting the hem area to drape well with that sort of construction, so I recommend cutting an extra 3/4" or so for the lining at the bottom. You can taper it to fit at the front edges and shorten it if it ends up too much. That extra ease in length will make everything hang better. The front curved section could also use a bit of lining ease. I thought about doing this but didn't and ended up fussing forever with the bottom of the jacket.

This jacket will probably be my favorite overseas trip airplane cover-up. I'm always looking for something comfy for long airplane rides. Woven jackets aren't comfy and sweaters are nice but I'm always afraid of snagging one of my handknits on the various things that poke at me on airplane seats. This jacket feels and wears like a bathrobe, so I think it's a good candidate.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Twigs and Willows Sweater

I recently finished knitting Twigs and Willows from Botanical Knits. This is a classic cardigan pattern with some nice yoke detailing. Mine is made with a small amount of negative ease for a fitted look. It is knit as flat pieces and sewn together, which is my favorite way to go. I changed the side shaping a bit to spread the bottom decreases out instead of doing them all in the ribbed section. I could have spread them out even further than I did. For the neckline finishing, I used an applied 4-stitch i-cord because I figured it would match the cabling in the yoke a bit better. For the front bands, I used needles 3 sizes smaller to create a denser fabric for the ribbing. Before the pieces were assembled, I was worried that the yoke cabling would be tight and pull in too much, but it turned out fine once the sleeves are sewn on. I did my own shaping for the sleeves, but I don't think it differed much from the pattern instructions. All in all, I'm happy with this cardigan.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Gifts for Knitters

This post is in the name of shameless advertising. My Etsy Shop has some fun stitch markers suitable as gifts for your knitting friends and family or for yourselves. There's still plenty of time to order them. My latest addition are these pullover yoke style sweater stitch markers. What could be more self-referential than knitting a sweater using sweater stitch markers?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sewing: Vogue V1515 Blouse

I had sewn the skirt from Vogue V1515 and blogged about it here. Now it was time to tackle the blouse. It's a summer blouse, but I wanted to make it anyway. There were a ton of little modifications and additions that I went through to achieve the final product. Here's how it all went down:

  • I had some very lightweight striped white cotton that I wanted to use, but it's too thin on its own so I would need another layer. Instead of using the same fabric for the second layer, I chose another lightweight semi-sheer cotton from my stash.
  • I didn't want my blouse to be as short as the pattern's version, but I didn't just want to add some more length. I decided I would add a slightly ruffled piece onto the bottom, sort of like a mild flounce. I added it only to the inner layer. The two layers are sewn separately and attached only at the neckline and armholes.
  • I used french seems for the sides of the layers, and I used narrow hems at the bottom of the outer layer and for the flounce. I used the armhole facing to finish the armholes, but it would have been easier to use bias tape.
  • For the collar, I didn't attach the elastic directly to the fabric on one side. Instead, I made a casing by sewing the inner and outer layers together.
  • After sewing the collar but before attaching it to the body, I tried it on and as I suspected, it was too tall and kept tickling my chin. I made a new collar that is about 1/2" shorter in height and the elastic is closer to the top.
  • The back quasi-flounce piece does not ruffle as much because the top has a longer curved back but I didn't increase the curvature of the flounce piece. I'm fine with that.
  • This is a very wide blouse -- I cut quite a bit from the side. It's easy to see that it's very wide from just looking at the pattern pieces.
I'm very pleased with the result, so now I just have to wait for warmer weather!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Knitting: Horizontal Vertical Kimono

Thanks for your kind comments about my last sewing project. For this post, I'm returning to the normally scheduled knitting program. I finished the Horizontal Vertical Kimono sweater, which is a free pattern from Cascade. I used Valley Yarns Brimfield, which is a nice merino/silk blend that's easy to knit with and seems to wear well so far. I love this sweater. It's knit side-to-side as one piece from one front to back to the other front. Because it's knit side to side, the sweater tends to conform to the body better because of the way it stretches. You can easily adjust the length of this sweater, but row gauge is important for getting the width correct.

I only made a couple of tiny changes from the pattern. I made my armhole bands about 2.5" inches instead of 3". I also wanted to scrunch in the armholes a bit, so I picked up 6 stitches for every 7 for most of the armhole and 3 stitches for every 4 around the shoulder area. This also helps prevent the armhole band from poking upward at the shoulders. For the front bands, I picked up 11 stitches for every 12 because the double seed stitches tends to be a higher gauge than stockinette and I didn't want the front bands to flare out either.

In the name of shameless advertising, if you like my shawl pin, it's 3D printed in plastic, and you can buy it here in my Etsy shop. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sewing: Vogue V1515 Skirt

I made a skirt for fall and winter from Vogue Patterns V1515. My fabric is a great bottom weight cotton/poly slightly textured knit that I bought at Joann last year. I love this knit and I wish I could find more cotton/poly knits like it out there -- the poly makes it hold its shape and the cotton makes it really comfy. There are tons of all-polyester knits but I just don't find them breathable to wear. This is a pattern that falls into the interesting-construction category, and I love the quirky and asymmetrical look of it.

The skirt pattern provides two versions - one for wovens and one for knits. The knitted one relies on just the stretchiness of the fabric to hold the skirt up and I knew that wouldn't work with my non-existent rear end, so I added a waistband which encloses some elastic. The trim on the pattern is done with piping but I just used some double-fold wide bias tape. I used the same tape to encase the bottom edge instead of hemming it. For the middle trim, I ironed out the two edge folds and sewed the bias tape into the seam and then edge-stitched the tape to the skirt.

The skirt is a bit on the long side and I'm a bit on the short side, so I cut off about 1.5 inches at the bottom. If I made it again, I might also trim an inch from the middle piece. I omitted the pocket because to me, it sort of looks too much like an appendage growing on my hip. The bottom section does bulge out on one side, and the bulge is accentuated on my version because I used a heavier knit. With a softer, lighter fabric, it would probably drape more, as seen in the drawing and on the model.

I'm very proud of myself for actually wearing some boots to take these photos. Usually, I'm lazy and just wear slippers and never show my feet!

This post is linked into Gray All Day's Sew It Chic October.