Friday, January 31, 2014

Sewing FO: Vogue V8946

I'm posting more sewing projects lately because my current knitting project is a cardigan using yarn with a gauge of about 6.3 stitches/inch, which means that it takes a very long time to knit.

This dress is from Vogue Patterns V8946. I chose a vertically striped fabric because I figured the pleats would give it an interesting effect. I think it looks like some sort of cake frosting swirl pattern. You can't see it in the photo, but the fabric is a medium weight textured knit of a cotton/poly blend. The dress is close fitting so the texture is great -- it hides a multitude of sins. The stretchiness of the knit makes it very comfy to wear. I used a lawn cotton for the lining which doesn't stretch. To compensate for that, I cut it a bit wider for some ease. For the front, I split it into a top yoke piece and a lower body piece. I cut the body piece a little bit wider at the top and gathered it before attaching to the yoke. This gives ease at the bust line.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sewing FO: Vogue V1371

I just finished sewing Vogue Patterns V1371, a Tracy Reese designer pattern. It's the wrong season for this dress, but one must think ahead, and spring and summer will be here before we know it. I'm looking forward to wearing this when the weather warms up. I used a lightweight lawn cotton for the dress and I also lined the skirt with a lawn cotton. The skirt would be too flimsy without a lining, and I was surprised the pattern does not call for it.

I really liked this pattern when I first saw it, but I decided to omit the bow because I think it would just be too twee with my pale print. I also didn't want the shoulder pads because that would just be too 1980s. The pattern is written such that each shoulder pad sits sandwiched between a shoulder facing and a larger, gathered, outer shoulder piece. In order to omit the pads, I used the smaller shoulder facing for both the facing and the top shoulder piece.

I really like the finished dress. It's got some ease so it's very comfy to wear, and I love cotton dresses in warm weather. The pattern does put some emphasis at the bust line, which can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending upon your body type. If you're going to make this, here are my suggestions:

  • Use a lightweight soft fabric. Otherwise, the bodice pleats would be too bulky and/or stiff.
  • With a lightweight fabric, I think the skirt definitely needs a lining to give it body.
  • Either cut the neck binding 1/4" wider or sew it on with a 1/2" seam (instead of 5/8"). I did the latter, because otherwise I think the binding would be too narrow and difficult to handle.
  • Raise the position of the back zipper by about 2" or so. I did this because I think the back slit opening would be way too low otherwise.
  • If you don't make muslins first, consider cutting the bodice section a little longer and adjust after trying on. I made mine about 1/2" longer and was glad I did. As a note, because of the way the pieces are put together, this pattern is a little harder to adjust sizing as you go.

Sewing tip of the day

I use a very basic non-fancy-schmancy sewing machine. If I sew a heavier fabric piece to a much lighter weight piece, I have to put the lighter piece on top or else it tends to gather and pucker a bit, even if well basted. I cannot do this when sewing an invisible zipper onto my lightweight garment because the zipper must go on top. To solve the puckering, I place a piece of paper (printer paper is great) underneath everything and sew it all together. I then tear away the paper, and voila! - no puckering.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Crochet pattern for a large heart

Recently, I wanted to make some large hearts and I figured I would crochet them because think crochet goes faster than knitting for this sort of thing. I started off with a pattern from PlanetJune but it wasn't large enough so I changed it a bit to make a larger heart. Also, I wanted to just start with a simple ring of chain stitches. My yarn is the super bulky Lion Brand Hometown USA and I used a size N crochet hook. Here's the pattern I ended up with:

Begin with chain 5 and join to from a ring.

Round 1:

ch 2, 3 tr, 4 dc, 1 tr, 4 dc, 3 tr into the ring, ch 2, sl st into the ring.

Round 2: sc into the top of the ch 2 stitches, 2 dc in next st, 3 dc in next st, 2 dc in next st, dc in next 3 st, 2 dc in next st, (1 dc, 1 tr, 1 dc) in next st (which is the bottom tr of the first round), 2 dc in next st, dc in next 3 st, 2 dc in next st, 3 dc in next st, 2 dc in next st, sc into the top of the ch 2 stitches, sl st into the first sc.

Round 3: 2 dc in next st, (1 dc in next st, 2 dc in next stitch) 3 times, dc in next 6 st, (1 dc, 1 tr, 1 dc) in next st (which is the bottom tr of the 2nd round), dc in next 6 st, (2 dc in next st, 1 dc in next st) 3 times, 2 dc in next st, join with sl stitch into sc.

Weave in ends. NOTE -- because this heart is so big, it's not really suitable for hanging from the center of the top because it won't hold its shape. I think you can hang it from two points, one on each side of the top.


  • ch - chain
  • sl st - slip stitch
  • sc - single crochet
  • dc - double crochet
  • tr - treble crochet

Monday, January 6, 2014

FO: Big-collar cardigan

I've finished this cardigan knitted from an improvised pattern. I generally don't like to wear sweaters with narrow necklines but I wanted to make a winter cardigan with a cozy collar because even in the SF bay area, it does get sort of cold in the winter. The yarn is Shepherd's Wool from Stonehedge Fiber Mill, which is probably one of my favorite worsted weight merino wools.

The sweater is a basic cardigan with garter stitch at the hem, the sleeve cuffs, the yoke, and the collar. I wanted to use garter stitch for the collar because it creates a thick layer. I didn't want to use any fancy thick texture stitches because I'd have to deal with the increases. A surprisingly large amount of thought went into the yoke and collar construction. I wanted a collar that would rise up on the neck a bit and then lay flatter on the upper shoulder. If it didn't rise up on the neck, it would look like a peter pan collar, which I dislike. My ravelry project page has more details on the amount of increases done for the collar. The collar is picked up on the front from live stitches because I wanted a seamless transition. On the back, it is picked up from bound off stitches because the binding off keeps the neckline from stretching wide with wear. The vintage-y rhinestone buttons were purchased from my favorite button vendor at Stitches West.

I love this sweater. I'm also surprised how tailored and almost formal looking it turned out. When I wear it, I think I look like someone who should be working in an art gallery in Europe, or something like that.