Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pink Greenpoint Cardigan

Oftentimes when my daughter sees me sewing, she asks, “Is that for me?” After a while, I got the hint and made her this little cardigan from Hey June’s Greenpoint Cardigan pattern. Of course, it had to be pink. The fabric I used was Riley Black Designs Solid Knit in Hot Pink, which was easy enough to work with, as far as Jersey knits go.

While I’m happy with the finished garment, I didn’t particularly enjoy sewing this up. The instructions struck me as odd in places, particularly with regards to the cutting layout. It didn’t make any sense to me, so I did it my own way and ended up with tons of yardage left over. The neck lining/button placket was also puzzling, as it had a fold line marked on it. It took me way too long to figure out that I wasn’t supposed to cut it out on the fold, but fold it over once it was cut.

The only modification I made was to draft a new button placement guide and increase the number of buttons to five. It’s not perfect, but it allowed me to use the buttons I had on hand instead of going to the store to buy new ones. The button foot on my machine may look scary, but after lots of practice on scrap fabric, the buttonholes turned out just fine. In the end, the flower buttons are my daughter’s favorite part of the cardigan.

Whether or not I make more of these depends entirely on my daughter. If she asks for another one, I’ll try again, but otherwise I think I’ll move on. So many patterns, so little time!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Crazy Cat Lady Sewing Challenge: Catnap Bess Top

For Miss Crayola Creepy’s Crazy Cat Lady Sewing Challenge, I made a Bess Top by Imagine Gnats with two fabrics from Lizzy House’s Catnap line. (Yes, I previously made two garments out of cat themed fabric, but I wanted to make a new one for this challenge. So there.) Initially, I had planned to make a knit garment, but when I couldn’t find a fabric I liked, I pulled the Bess Top from my nascent pattern stash and went from there.

I have admired this pattern for a while, ever since I first saw the cover art. Without disrespecting other pattern garment models, I was impressed that the models used were very different from each other, and different from slimmer models that I don’t relate to. Generally, I do my best to be inclusive of all types of people, but when it comes to garment sewing, I want to see pictures of people that look like me. Knowing my interest in the pattern, my mom gifted me with a paper copy.

The deeper I get into pattern sewing, the more I think I might like PDF patterns better than traditional printed patterns. For this pattern, I had two issues, but both of them may have just been a tracing failure on my part. I trace all my printed patterns, because in my mind cutting them up would be ruining them. PDF patterns I can print again and again.

The first issue I had was with the Y-seam that turns the back piece into sleeves. Once I figured it out, it was a clever bit of sewing, but the first time I attempted it, I could not wrap my head around it at all. After folding and pinning the pleats, I had sewn to the marks as per the instructions, but my version didn’t look like the picture in the pattern at all. It was late, and no matter how long I squinted at the tiny black and white photo, I couldn’t work out where I was supposed to cut to. I left it be and came back to it again after a full night’s rest. The next day, I just marked where the ½” seams should be and found my new marks that way. Well rested, I could follow the instructions easily enough. The rest of the shirt came together quickly.

The only other issue I had was that the high-low hem didn’t line up initially. Again, it could have been a tracing error on my end. I trimmed it up so it matched and continued on my merry way. I didn’t have any light colored knit scraps on hand, so I finished the neckline, armholes and hem with self fabric.

I think one reason this pattern is flattering on a variety of body types is that it had a generous amount of ease. It has so much ease, that next time I make it, I might size down. I would definitely use a fabric with more drape next time. Even though it’s listed as a fabric option on the pattern, with this shirt, the quilting cotton stands out too much from my body for my liking.

The end result is a comfortable and fun shirt that I can wear on the weekend when I’m hanging out with my kid, but probably won’t make it into my workday wardrobe, more’s the pity. At least it coordinates with my Navy Julia Cardigan! Maybe I’ll try again in the spring. The sleeves sure are clever.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Patriotic X and Plus Quilt

Ages ago, the blogosphere exploded with quilts made out of “x and + blocks.” I think there was even a sewalong at one point. The small blocks are ideal for scrap busting. I always liked the pattern, but knew that controlled scrappy was more my style.

The lines of the block reminded me of the stars and stripes of the American flag, so I thought it would make a perfect Fourth of July quilt. It wasn’t until the May/June issue of Quilty that I was inspired to get started on it. Instead of the original 7.5” blocks, the Floral Breeze pattern features 20” blocks. You only need twelve of them for a 60” by 80” quilt!

The original patterns uses the same fabrics for each block, but I wanted my quilt to have more character. I raided my stash, but didn’t come up with very many red and white fabrics, so I stocked up on Hawthorne Threads. I was so enthusiastic about getting started that I neglected to make note of what fabrics I bought. I do know I bought a bunch of fabrics in multiple colors, so there’s lots of Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets, Dear Stella Zig Zags and Confetti Dots, and Riley Blake white on white basics.

In a perfect world, this quilt would be super quick to whip up. I found that I could easily knock out a block or two in an evening. However, I had several sewing distractions, so it took longer than anticipated. I started this quilt in May and finished in October. At least it will be ready for next Fourth of July!

It has been awhile since the timing has been right for me to share a quilt in the Blogger's Quilt Festival, so I’m happy to link up this time.

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!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fresh Sewing Day: September 2014

September in Seattle was spectacular this year, so I spent more free time outside frolicking and less time inside sewing. That’s okay though, because I’m really happy with what I did sew. In addition to finishing the Button Down Belcarra Blouse and Bubblegum Glam Clam Quilt, I made significant progress on several WIPs. Now that the days are shorter and cooler, I’ll most likely get more sewing time in. Watch this space!

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day at Lily’s Quilts.

Fresh Sewing Day