Testing

muslin

 

Lately I’ve been making muslins, with mixed results.

 

 Jalie Vanessa 

I had high hopes for this one and was convinced that I could somehow replicate my beloved Eileen Fisher pants, which I wear at least twice per week year round. Not sure why I thought that a pattern with an elastic waistband, drawstring, and pockets would produce a super-clean silhouette. I blame it on Easter candy.  I won’t be sewing this one.

 

 

 

Deer & Doe Plantain

I love a good scoop neck so I was willing to go through the rigamarole of printing, piecing, and tracing a pattern. Totally worth it! I’ll definitely make at least one of these.

Plantain
Plantain Tee. Photo: Deer and Doe

 

Alabama Chanin A-Line Top

Another winner. I sewed one of these by hand last summer. The knit I used was a little too stiff (even after washing) and I was overzealous in shortening the hem. I still had the pattern, so I gave it another go on the machine.  I think this will be beautiful in a drapey knit (which I’ve already ordered from Emma One Sock).

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A-Line Top. Photo: Alabama Chanin

 

Vogue 1496

I really wanted this to work, to the point of entertaining visions of myself wearing it as I sipped craft cocktails, smug in my cerebral, covertly feminine aesthetic. Sooooo, that’s not going to happen, which is for the best on a lot of levels. Even in the smallest size, no amount of drape will prevent this from smothering my frame without major pattern grading….and even that’s pretty iffy. Alas.

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Vogue 1496

 

Coincidentally,  two weeks ago I also picked up a copy of Sandra Betzina’s  Power Sewing for $1 at a rummage sale. It’s full of dated clothes and timeless nuggets of sewing wisdom, including this:

“Never feel guilty about tossing a pattern. Only 50% or so are worth making. A pattern that doesn’t progress past a pretest doesn’t count as a failure.” 

Thanks, Sandra! And no hard feelings about your V1496. It really is stunning, just not on me.

 

Morris Blazer

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I’ve had very good luck finding jackets from local consignment and thrift stores:

I love how they elevate an outfit and have long been determined to make a blazer myself.

The blogosphere is full of stunning examples of Grainline Studio’s Morris Blazer, and Jen generously offers a very clear sewalong that covers everything from fabric and interfacing choices to final pressing. I chose this stretch cotton sateen from Britex; the eggplant color is a flattering alternative to black, per Victoire de Castellane. (Worth clicking to read her beauty philosophy and to learn the word faux-sombre.)

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I’ve never sewn a jacket before and found this pattern to be demanding but accessible. The toughest parts for me were setting in the sleeves, managing bulky bottom corners during edgestitching, and facing down my own perfectionism in the mirror:

  • Sleeves. I pin-basted the sleeves using Ann’s tutorial. I’ve since come across two additional tutorials from Craftsy and Blueprints for Sewing, both of which show examples of easing in sleeves while flat. The obedient Home Ec student in me gasped–is that allowed? I’ll have to try it on a muslin sometime.
  • Bulk. The fabric I used is described as “medium” weight on the site, but it feels heavy to me. Maybe that’s because I’m used to wearing and sewing with knits. I wound up ripping out stitches and redoing them using this method (scroll down for the helpful hint about using a fabric scrap to level the presser foot).
  • Perfectionism. Intellectually, I know that people are not spending their energy scrutinizing the craftswoman-ship of my blazer. Yet with every project, I struggle to focus on healthy goals for self-improvement vs. perfectionism. Progress is slow, but steady.
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Tank: Style Arc Evie. Pants: Old Navy.            Oxfords: Clarks.

Have you ever set flat sleeves into a woven garment?

How do you deal with perfectionism?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Break, Part 2

Update: Magical thinking does not in fact work, although our washer and dryer might have fantastical properties.

The hottest of hot water followed by a haboob-level turn in the dryer neither shrank nor felted (phew) my sweater. Instead, our appliances converted my wannabe tank into a tunic? Rave wear cover-up?

 

 

This makes five (I counted while trying to practice detachment) top-down projects that have mutated in spite of conscientious gauge-swatching.  This morning in the shower I realized that in all five cases, I chose the pattern size based on my full bust measurement instead of my high bust measurement. If I were sewing, I would do an FBA.

But there is no knitting equivalent as far as I know….is there?

Have you ever graded between sizes when knitting?

Spring Break, Part 1

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What takes the edge off of hosting a week-long family visit? Knitting cashmere in the round, that’s what.

I purchased Bonnie Marie Burn’s ChicKami pattern seven (!) years ago to make a gift for a friend and stashed it away once the project was finished….until 800 yards of Tanis Fiber Arts’  luscious amber label motivated me to dig it up. The color is Purple Purl, and reminds me of hydrangeas:

 

hydrangea-blue
Photo: Farmer’s Almanac

 

I made a size 40 chest, shaped waist version, with wide straps. My gauge swatch was spot-on stitch-wise, and a little tight row-wise. So….how did my FO wind up looking like this?

 

 

Apparently my week off was at least relaxing enough to loosen my knitting.

A quick google search yielded some shrinkage tips from Jerrod at Oxford Cloth Button Down, who advises that “you have to be okay with losing the sweater.” Well, I’m not okay with losing the sweater, but magical thinking has taken over and I’m inordinately hopeful that nothing bad will happen because, well, just because.

I’m going full bore and machine-washing the sweater in a pillow case in very hot water, hoping for sufficient shrinkage sans felting. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, any sweater shrinkage stories to tell?

 

Frankentank

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Unassuming white tank tops have been some of my most-worn garments, yet for some reason, the slowest to be replaced when the need arises.

Last spring and summer I’d curse as I commuted in the sweltering heat, wearing my cardigan to cover old salsa stains or hide dingy beige bra straps (that’s a topic for another post). No more.

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I can take this cardigan off without fear!

This year, I’m ready with a me-made layering piece that also works on its own. I used Style Arc’s Evie top in size 14 as a baseline. I tried it on after finishing the bands; my high hips and short waist fought with the high/low silhouette so I traced the shirttail hemline of a favorite tee.

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Shirttail hem. |  Pants: Eileen Fisher. Flats: Saks, second-hand. Necklace: gift. Cardigan (top photo): Pendleton, second-hand.

This kind of (minor) modification would have seemed impossible to me even a few months ago–I credit Alison Glass and Karen LePage’s Knit Essentials with demystifying the fitting process and helping me to accept that pattern modifications are inevitable. It’s really changed my thinking.

How much time do you typically spend tweaking a pattern? What are you sewing to get ready for spring or summer?