Friday, October 24, 2014

Navy Julia Cardigan

If someone asked me to sum up my everyday style in five words, those words would be “cardigan sweaters and sensible shoes.” After two years of sewing my own clothes, I have plenty of handmade shirts to go under cardigans, but have never sewn a single thing to go over them. Finally I stumbled across the Julia Cardigan on the Indie Sew site and knew I had to make it. I bought the pattern and the fabric (Robert Kaufman Laguna Cotton Jersey Knit Solid in Navy) and it sat in my “not yet started” pile for a bit. Then my mom pinned the very same pattern on Pinterest, and I convinced her to convert our next sewing day from a quilting day to a garment sewing day.

After our sewing date was set, I realized that I had misread the fabric requirements. Thus, I had purchased two and a quarter yards for the Cardigan Doubled-Over Version, and neglected to buy the additional three-quarters of a yard for the sleeves. However, I played around with the layout of the pattern pieces and managed to cut the whole thing out of the yardage I had. This was the first time sewing with a knit that I didn’t have any usable scraps left after cutting out all the pieces. Next time, I might buy two and a half yards, just to be on the safe side.

All around the blogosphere, this pattern is touted as a quick sew. While I was frustrated that this was not the case for me, I think I know why. It’s because I was using a normal sewing machine and not a serger. The instructions call for pressing the seams open and I chose to finish each of those pressed open seams with a mock overlock stitch. That means that I was sewing every seam thrice. In the same amount of time that it took me to sew this one cardigan on my usual machine, I could have sewn three on a serger. Well, let this be known as the garment that made me want to buy a serger, because I want to make several more, and I want to make them now!

While sewing this cardigan took longer than I liked, I did find this pattern to be easy enough to sew. The only major change I made was that I omitted the cuffs. Truth be told, I lost them somewhere between my mom’s house and my house, since I wasn’t able to finish the cardigan in one sitting. I thought about making replacement cuffs, but then I tried the cardigan on and realized that with my short arms, I didn’t need cuffs at all. I finished the sleeve hems with my trusty twin needle and Wonder Tape. The sleeves were the only things that needed hemmed, thanks to the awesome doubled up collar. Sure, it takes a lot of fabric, but I think it makes the cardigan.

The Belcarra Blouse was my favorite pattern this past spring and summer. The Julia Cardigan may very well be my favorite pattern this fall and winter. I want to make it again in black, like this one from Cut Cut Sew, and also in a patterned knit. In the Laguna Jersey Knit, it is super cozy, so much so that I have to force myself not to wear it every day. (Some people at work have already noticed my multiple Wiksten Tanks and Belcarra Blouses. They’d definitely notice if I wore the same navy cardigan every day.) Guess I’ll just have to make some more soon so that I can be cozy all winter long!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Basic Black Plantain Tee

After the success of my Dotted Boulevard Myrtle Dress, I was excited to sew more with knits. With cooler weather on the horizon, I decided to try my hand at the free Plantain tee pattern from Deer & Doe. After a few small setbacks, I ended up with a basic black shirt that will be worn frequently in the coming colder months.

For the fabric, I chose Robert Kaufman’s Laguna Cotton Jersey Knit Solid in Onyx. Since it’s a solid, the price was under $10/yard, and I thought sewing with a solid knit would be simpler than sewing with a print. I still don’t like how the selvages of knit fabric rolls. How I am supposed to know if I’m cutting exactly on the grain if the edges keep rolling up? Selvage rolling aside, I found this fabric workable and cozy to wear.

This shirt also gave me an opportunity to practice grading between sizes. I wish it came in larger sizes, as I would have graded the hips out more and lengthened it a bit. It’s wearable, but I might fiddle with the pattern pieces next time to make it a bit more flattering.

My machine ate my first neck binding piece, so I had to cut another one, but had plenty of yardage to do so. I really like how the neckline comes together, and finishing it with a twin needle made it look rather professional. After sewing the neckline, though, I had a bit of a downer moment. I was so pleased with my progress, that I tried the shirt on before the front was attached to the back and it looked like it was going to be too small! At that point, I almost gave up. However, I really wanted more practice sewing knits, so I resolved to finish it and give the shirt away if it didn’t fit. Luckily, the knit fabric worked its magic and it ended up fitting after all.

My next obstacle was hemming the shirt. I completely forgot about stabilizing it with Wonder Tape, and so it ended up wavy. Since it is intended as a layering piece, it's not that big of a deal, but I was still disappointed. I referred back to The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits, and remembered the Wonder Tape trick. I used it when I hemmed the sleeves and they came out much better. Of the three sleeve lengths, I chose the longest for maximum warmth.  Come Spring, I look forward to trying out the other sleeve lengths.

After I finished this shirt, my husband commented several times on how much he liked it and that it looked like I had bought it and not made it. That’s compliment enough for me to put the Plantain Tee in the “Make Again” pile. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on it!