Friday, April 19, 2019

New Knitting Project

A pocket lining for a cardigan that I have just started. The pictures are not great, but this yarn shows up the stitches beautifully. It is 24/7 cotton from Lion Brand.  It is the recommended yarn for the pattern.

Photo taken with flash, but there is too much glare.

Photo taken without flash, you can't win!  However, this photo does show the colour much better. It is called navy but it is brighter than navy, but not a royal blue. It is a very intense rich blue, I love it.

This is the pattern, it is the Textured Cardigan by Jennifer Owens. I came across it in the spring/summer issue of Knit Simple magazine.


It is a fairly simple pattern, with alternating rows of knit and purl with a waist inset of a lace pattern. 

I am also knitting an Aran cardigan but it is slow going, and I need something else that is quicker and easier to knit while watching a movie. I have been working on the Aran pattern for several months now and I still have 1/3 of one front plus both sleeves to knit. So it will be a while yet before I see the end of that pattern. Definitely a need for something that works up quicker.

The yarn is a lovely 100% cotton mercerized yarn. It is listed as worsted weight, but it is not quite as thick as worsted, but it is thicker than double knit weight. The yarn is highly twisted so it doesn't come apart as you knit, and the mercerizing process gives it a sheen that is quite appealing. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

McCalls 7889

This is a blouse for grand-daughter Hannah who is just about to turn 16. 
The pattern is McCalls 7889.
                             Image result for mccalls 7889
 I bought the pattern for the dress, but made it first in the blouse version to check the fit. This pattern is very loose-fitting everywhere but the waist. So you can size down considerably but you must check the waist fit as the tucks, 12 in all, bring that waist in about 12 inches in total.

The fabric is 100% cotton voile purchased at Fabricland in Pembroke. I love that mustard yellow colour that seems to be everywhere this spring. Hannah has a sweater in this colour and it looks great on her.

Her only request was to take in the sleeves which jutted out "like a Star Trek costume" she said.
So I folded under a tuck on the inside of the top of the sleeve, so the sleeve now has more of a cap shape. 

Now, looking for a lovely drapey striped fabric to make her the dress.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Morgan Jeans

Tada!  complete at last. Morgan Jeans from Closet Case Patterns.


I had made one pair a couple of months ago and found they just sat too low for my taste. I was constantly tugging at the waist to pull the pants up and they felt as if they were falling off. I think this is because I have never worn low-rise pants and they just feel wrong on my body.

Rather than buying the Ginger Jeans to get the higher waist, I thought why not just add 1" to the waist on front and back and see if that works?  well it did, although I found out that I didn't need 1", just 1/2" was enough to make the difference I wanted. I also fitted this pair more snugly to counter that falling-down feeling and made the waistband tighter as well.  Success!

I made a big goof on the zipper; I opted to use my usual method for applying a zipper rather than the jeans type method in the pattern. This resulted in the zipper being closer to the edge of the fabric that it should be, and I didn't take this into consideration when applying the waistband. If you trim off the waistband even with the edge of the pants as instructed, there is nothing where the buttonhole is to fasten a button to. So I had to fudge here and add a piece of fabric to one end of the waistband in order to have a piece of waistband to sew on a button.  Dumb mistake, but no one will ever see it so I don't really care. I will not do this on the next pair however, and I will use the method in the pattern.

Although the pattern calls for non-stretch denim, I didn't see why using a stretch denim would make that much difference. So my fabric is a black stretch denim that has a sand-washed feel. So nice to the touch. I did interface the waistband, but not the facing, in order to prevent waistband stretch throughout the day. I have noticed on most of my stretch pants, that they loosen up with wear and have to be washed to get back to their first fit. So interfacing on the straight of grain should prevent that from happening. I also used the method that Lladybird showed in her video on jean making, where she sews the waistband facing to the inside of the pants, flips the band over and top-stitches the waistband itself on the outside. This prevents any stretching that occurs and you don't get any ripples in the band on either side by doing it in this order.

These jeans are a lot of work, no doubt about that. The most time-consuming task is re-threading the machine and doing the top-stitching. Sometimes my machine just didn't like that heavy top-stitching thread and it would fray, which meant cutting it back and re-threading the machine. And it's hard to get that thick thread through the eye of the needle. My Bernina doesn't have a needle-threading capacity so I am left eye-balling and trying to grab that little thread coming through the back.  But I figured if I was going to all the trouble of making jeans, I should go the extra distance and do the top-stitching too. I'm glad that I did.

One thing I have found with these jeans is that you need to customize the back pockets. I think mine are too large and also sit too low. This could be because I added extra to the rise of the pants, but I will trim off 1/4" on the bottom and sides of the pocket for the next pair.  But that might be a while off, I am not really in the mood to make another pair too soon.

I'm glad they are done and I will certainly wear them. It is the wearing that will tell me whether it is worth making another pair or just buying jeans from the store. 

It was really nice to brush out the machines, oil them and put in new needles for the next project: a summer blouse for granddaughter Hannah in a cute mustard yellow print. That colour seems to be the rage this spring, I am seeing it everywhere. It kind of grows on you.  But I have to admit when threading the machine with regular thread, it just felt so skinny and flimsy after the denim top-stitching thread. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Kalle Shirt dresses/blouse

Last summer, I decided to try the Kalle Shirtdress from Closet Case patterns.  My daughter in Texas had made one and we both came to the same conclusion:  one great pattern!

The one above was made dress length using a printed cotton that was in my stash. I think I bought it at a quilting store in Nova Scotia, but I really can't remember. The cotton is a wee bit on the thick side for this dress, but it works. My only reservation is that the wrong side of the fabric looks too different from the right side and that shows when the collar is open and also on the hemline. Not a big deal, but something to keep in mind.  You want this dress to be flowy and light. 

The second version above was also made with a quilting cotton bought at Stedmans' here in town. It is slightly lighter in weight than the black version and the contrast between right and wrong sides is not quite so remarkable.

Heather takes a somewhat simple design but gives it some quality finishing touches that make it different from other shirt dresses. For one thing, all the seams are finished as flat felled seams, so there are no raw or serged edges inside the dress. She finishes the sleeve with a kind of cuff that mimics the angle of your upper arm so that it doesn't stick out when wearing it. A little thing but important.  The thing I like the most is the hemline, which is not serged and topstitched, but is bound with self bias. This takes more time to do, but gives the hem a weight that it wouldn't have otherwise and makes it hang very nicely.  Again, a nice finishing touch.

The third version I made is the blouse, which is a very cropped shirt. I lengthened it by 3" in both the front and back so that it comes below my waist which is non-existent at this point in my life. Again, Heather takes the pattern one step further and finishes the hem with a deep 2-3" facing; once again this is a fine finishing technique and gives the hem weight that makes the shirt hang very nicely. This version I made up in a shirting bought from Blackbird Fabrics last summer. It is the perfect weight and I highly recommend the shirtings that Blackbird carry; they are fine cottons, just perfect for shirts, blouses and shirtdresses. They also get some cute prints, the one I used has an all-over pattern of little bicycles.

I also have a rayon with pink flamingos that I bought last year from and I think I might just have enough for another Kalle dress. If not, it might become the tunic length version.

This pattern is written up all over the internet and it now has the honour of being copied by MimiG, Mimi G's shirt and wide-legged pants, - a high honour indeed. Mimi's version is just the cropped shirt length which she finishes with a deep facing as well, but her version has set-in sleeves which give a slightly different look to the shirt. I bought that pattern when I was in Texas last week and will give it a try and can then compare.

But the Kalle shirt is great, a few tweaks and you have a cropped shirt, a tunic, or a shirtdress. Heather also has a long sleeve add-on on her website, if you want to lengthen the sleeves. Personally, I think the pattern is great just the way it is.

I think my daughter has made 2 Kalle dresses now and 2 cropped shirts. Her tastes run to more dressy-type dresses, but the Kalle is a nice casual option for daily wear. It is fun to be sewing along with my daughter and comparing notes on different patterns. She has made the Ginger jeans four times, I think, and she has only been sewing a little over a year. I told her that I am going to make the Kelly Anorak next and she wants my opinion on it as she thinks it might be the perfect casual coat for their Texas winters.

Before leaving for Texas, I bought wine red cotton poplin and a red/navy/green plaid flannel from Mood Fabrics to underline the Kelly, but I am thinking I would prefer a bright crazy cotton as the underlining, something fun to see when you take the coat off.

And remarkably, I found some lovely fabrics at Joannes' in Tyler Texas. A gorgeous 4 ounce denim that is 100% cotton. Hmm, another Kalle?  And a beautiful deep red linen/rayon blend.  My most favourite fabric in the world is linen and, when it is combined with either cotton or rayon, it is even better. Don't know what that will be, but I have managed to increase the stash with some lovely fabrics.  I tend to buy printed fabrics and these two are solid colours, which are more versatile in a wardrobe. My problem is that I just love prints and love to sew something that is printed. I find solid colours boring to sew, but these two are lovely fabrics and will be a pleasure to handle.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Mail order arrived!

Woohoo!  my fabric order arrived from BlackBird Fabrics.  I have to tell you that this is a great little Canadian company with wonderful taste in fabrics and great service.  I am so thrilled that they are here in Canada, which means that any order over $100 qualifies for free shipping.

Pop over and see what they offer. Everything I have bought from this company has been absolutely first-rate.  And if you have a friend who sews, combine your orders and get the free shipping. I want to send people over to them, as they need to stay in business!

Ordering from the US is so pricey. I just ordered two samples, just samples, and they cost me $3 for the samples, plus over $16 US for shipping!  It is prohibitively expensive to order from the US, unless you really want something.  And I will order these fabrics, but I was a little shocked to be charged that much for an envelope containing two samples. That should go as letter mail and should only cost $2 in postage. 

From having my own mail order business, I know that the shipping is the thing that does you in. And I had to subsidize my customers' orders heavily because no one would order a thing if they had to pay what the shipping actually cost. I do want these companies to stay in business, because for people like me living in rural areas, we simply don't have access to good fabric.  Once in a while, I will get into Pembroke and then I pick up necessities at Fabricland but the choice of good dressmaker fabrics is limited.  Sometimes there are some gems to be had, but the last time I went there was really nothing that caught my eye.  A lot of junky knits in bins, no decent ribbing to be had in the entire store, and not too much up front in the way of eye candy. 

So getting fabrics like these today is simply putting me over the moon. Now I confess that I am suffering from cabin fever, which is very common in these parts in the months of January and February. And I justify my online purchases as therapy for the SAD aspect of my life here.

(SAD = seasonally affected disorder, in other words: you get depressed by the lack of sunlight)

The oatmeal linen is gorgeous, I bought 3.5 metres for a spring jacket. The print is a viscose twill, I bought enough to make a Kalle tunic shirt, and the knit is for a simple tee as my tees seem to have been depleted over the past year.  I am always on the lookout for decent knits to make t-shirts and this one has a lovely texture to it and is just the right weight for a tee.  Some cotton/lycras are a wee bit too heavy and they seem to get stiffer and stiffer the more they are washed. I hope this one will retain its nice hand.

In the knitting area, I have finished a sweater and have to block it and then sew it together.  Always something on the needles!  Can't sit and watch a movie with my hands inactive.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Back to Sewing

I really enjoy reading sewing blogs, but have noticed that many bloggers are quitting and just using Instagram or Pinterest only. I don't like those forums, as there are only pictures and not much written text so you can't really get to know much about the items.

I do hope that sewing bloggers continue to record their sewing efforts. If not, what will I have to read?

I have been sewing but have been remiss about blogging my finished items.

Since the summer, I have made a Kwik Sew classic shirt from some lovely quilting cotton I bought at Dolans' in Renfrew. It is a black background with tiny leaves in mustard and soft purple (what I would call mauve).  Years ago, I read an article in Threads about coordinating your sewing by using a piece from one finished item and incorporating it into the next garment, thus tying them all together. The result was a kind of artsy-type wardrobe, not to everyone's taste, but an interesting concept.  This cotton has me thinking that I should use the remains of the quilting cotton in another garment, and I can see a shirt-dress that is colour-blocked with this print being used as the border on a solid colour dress.
Hmm, we shall see if I actually get to it.

Then I sewed a Coatigan, at least that seems to be what this sweater-coat garment is being called. I found an independent pattern featured in a blog, but it was from Australia and the printed pattern cost $35 plus the price of shipping. Whoa - way too expensive. I found a very similar pattern in McCalls.

                                                 Image result for McCalls 7476
I ordered a sweater knit from and it is sitting in a box waiting to be cut and sewn. In the meantime, I wanted to make a muslin first and used some black French terry from the stash. The terry has much more body to it than the sweater knit and the result is more like a coat. In fact, because of the colour, I am calling it my "funeral coat". I will be ready for any funeral I have to attend in the near future. As a result of making the muslin, I am going to add 1" to the side seams for better closure and I will shorten the bodice 1" to bring the bottom of that V up higher on me. After all, I am short and the pattern would have been designed for someone 5" taller than me.

Next, I ordered 4 patterns from Grainline Patterns, which came in record time. They have really good service. I made up the Lark Tee in a knit from the stash and it is looking pretty good. I am going to cut down the shoulders and neckline and armscye to a smaller size as they are too big on me, but the body is just right. I can also lose some of the length in both sleeves and body, although I prefer to have the length there before hemming. I really dislike t-shirts that end up being too short, and I have found that I like a deeper hem than most patterns allow for. From the Loes Hinse line of patterns, I have found that a 2" hem on the bottom of a knit top gives it nice weight and it hangs better.

Then I sorted out my pile of fabrics that seem to accumulate in my sewing area. I found a Kalle shirt cut out in a cotton print that I love. I think I bought it from Blackbird Fabrics last spring.  Over the summer, I made 2 Kalle shirtdresses and cut out this blouse. I lengthened the cropped version about 3" in front and 5" in back. Cropped tops on a woman my age are definitely OUT.  This is a lovely pattern, it is so well drafted and the instructions are great. Everything goes together so well, it is a real pleasure to sew.

I do finish my pockets differently, I sew the top facing over to the right side, then flip it over, which brings the sides in, then press and topstitch in place. I also use the Islander burrito technique for the yoke rather than the one that Heather Lou uses. I don't like rolling all that fabric up into a little bundle; too many creases for my taste. Margaret Islander's technique does one side at a time, and there is no bunching up of the body of the shirt inside the yoke.

Now that I am making the Kalle again, I want another shirtdress in it.  I have a teal green cotton blend in the stash that I think would be good. I have to force myself to sew solid colour garments; I am simply drawn to prints time and again. But solids have much more wearability than prints.

Also in January I made a pair of Burda pants from some black rayon/poly/lycra from the stash. So it has been a rather productive time here in my sewing room. I will try and get some photos up here shortly.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Dress for Sarah

A dress for  Sarah, who turned six in June. She has been asking me for a dress since I made two  for her sister Hannah.

The pattern is Simplicity 2377, view E made in size 7.

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