mercredi 25 mars 2015

Knitting: A Sweater for My Man

Back in the fall, I decided I would make a cardigan for Brice. I had actually never made anything for him (the two camera straps made out of remnant cotton tape don't count). Brice's daily uniform is a fitted black t-shirt and jeans. He 's always warm, even in winter. I would't even try knitting him a scarf because he wouldn't wear it, and he prefers hats with a brim, which I don't really know how to make. But when I saw this pattern, I knew it would be perfect for him.

The pattern is Slade by Michelle Wang, It's included in the BT Men pattern book by Brooklyn Tweed, but I purchased it on its own on Ravelry.
For yarn I used Berroco Ultra Alapaca, in Charcoal Mix (Brice picked the color himself). It's a really soft and warm yarn and a pretty affordable.

The sweater is knit in pieces and seamed together at the end. Based on Brice's chest measurements, I made the second smallest size. My only adjustment was to make the sleeves narrower and longer. I probably could have made it one size bigger, although B doesn't like garments that are too loose...

This is probably the most complex sweater I've knitted in terms of construction. My previous sweaters and some intricate stitches, but construction wise were pretty simple. This one had a tubular cast on on each pieces, stitches to pick up all along the front, a collar band and button holes. I got quite confused by the buttonhole process actually, and couldn't quite make sense of the instructions so I did a bit of googling and eventually figured it out. The whole thing took me about 2 1/2 months, which isn't that bad considering!

When Brice first tried on the sweater, I was actually a bit disappointed. The sleeves were a bit too long and tight (so much for my adjustements), the armholess were also too small, the overall length was too short in my opinion, and the band for the shawl collar was bound off too tight, with the front corners being pulled up. The only thing I could correct at that point was the collar, so I undid the bind off of the entire collar band, and used this technique for a stretchier bind-off. It worked really well.


Brice was thrilled with his sweater though and didn't seem to mind any of the flaws I was seeing. He's been wearing it  non-stop since I finished it. The sleeves have actually loosened up a bit so they're not as tight as they used to be. I think the sweater might have lenghtenned a tiny bit too, from hanging on the body, The only thing that won't change of course is the size of the armhole. You can tell that it makes the shoulders too short as well, and the collar doesn't really fold into the "shawl" style, but it lays flat on his shoulders, which I'm ok with.

Overall after my initial disappointment, I'm actually happy with the result. I think I started off with a certain idea of what I wanted the sweater to be, and when it didn't turn out prefectly like I imagined, I had a moment of doubt. I've definitely come around (even if some things still bother me a bit).

On Saturday Brice went for brunch with his running group. He wore the sweater and they all complimented him on it. Later on that night, we saw his friends again at a party (I was meeting most of them for the first time) and all of them individually said "You made Brice's sweater!"right after we got introduced. Goes to show how criticizing we can be with our own work, but in the end, it's nice to take a step away from the flaws and appreciate the finished product as a whole.

For the photos we went to one of our favorite spots for easy week-end strolls, and for once I was the photographer and he was the model...That was a lot of fun.

dimanche 15 mars 2015

Fitting: Adjusting the Watson Bra Pattern

As I mentionned in my previous post, I made 2 muslins of the Watson Bra last week. The first one, the suggested size based on my measurements, was way too small. For the second one I cut the size matching my RTW size. The band was good, but the cups were still not fitting right.

Today I took muslin #2 and tried it on again, this time with makeshift straps. It confirmed what I had noticed before: If I shifted the bra slightly to one side, the cup fit actually ok.

While wearing it, I had traced on the bra where the base of the cup should hit. So I took the cups out, and repositionned them slightly more apart (about 1cm -3/8" more towards the sides). It created a gap in the middle, but it actually worked!

To close the gap, all I had to do was add 1cm (3/8") to the inner side of the cup, tapering to nothing at the top.
As I was fitting my adjusted muslin, I also pinned out about 1cm of fabric at the cup seam, so I removed .6 cm (1/4") from the seam on both pieces. Since I removed the extra along the entire seam, I added it back to the outer sides so that the cup would still be the same width at the base and at the top.

Picture above: added .6 cm on outer side seam of piece A, and added a total of 1.5 cm (5/8") at the base of piece B, reduced to .6cm at the top.

On the cradle piece, I extended the curve width by about 1cm on the side, tapering to nothing at the notch. Since I'd moved the cup to the side, I adjusted the notch to match the cup seam.

My final adjustment was to add .6cm (1/4") to the band depth. I did this because the hook and eye piece that came as part of the kit are about 1cm (3/8") wider than the band (once allowances are folded). I figure with the elastic trim, it will fill the remaining .4cm difference.

After I made the changes to the pattern, I adjusted the cradle on muslin #2 to match my new pattern piece, and recut new cups.
So this is muslin 2 1/2, which fits pretty darn good!

That's it for my adjustements! I was quite please that the alterations turned out to be pretty simple. In hindsight, I probably could have just added the extra width on the outer side of the cups, rather than the middle, but it seems like the seam is hitting in the right place, so in the end it probably doesn't matter. Can't wait to get the final version done!

jeudi 12 mars 2015

WIP: (Recently and currently) on my sewing table

I opened an instagram account back in November when Sewvember was happening. Since then I've been posting photos of my work in progress projects. Until I get around to taking proper photos of the finished items, I thought I'd do a quick round up of the recent photos and elaborate a bit more on what's been recently & is currently on my sewing table...(please excuse the instagram-cellphone-lowlight qulity photos)

I've always wanted a nice pair of comfy pajama pants. I found the flanel-like fabric in the sale corner at Dressew and couldn't resist. I figured I should do a top as well and actually found some jersey knit I had in my stash. I actually remember purchasing the jersey a few years ago because it reminded me of favorite pair of pajamas growing up.

The pattern for the pants is 127 from BWOF December 2007. Since I had enough fabric, I decided to knock out a pair of pajama shorts, also from the same pattern.


For the top, I would have used the Renfrew pattern, but I couldn't find my copy. I've either stashed it away in my storage space downstairs, or it has unfortunately been thrown away with a bag of scraps, along with most of my sewing machine accessories...:(
So instead, I downloaded the free "Tonic 2" pattern, by Skinny Bitch Curvy Chic.

A little while ago, my friend gave me this loose jersey dress, made of a really soft, nude coloured knit fabric. The shape of the dress wasn't quite right for me, but I figured I could transform it into something else. I wanted to make a camisole. I have a couple of RTW one, and they are really great for wearing under tunics and blouses, for that added layer of warmth in the winter/fall. I used pattern 128 from the same issue of Burda as the pajama pants.

For this project, I tried for the first time the stretch stitches on my sewing machine. The one I used for the hem is a decorative stitch that can be used instead of twin needles (the extra spool holder that came with my machine, to hold the second spool when using twin needles...also gone with the bag of scraps...)

Random refashioning
I'd purchased this home-made skirt at Value Village a couple of years ago. I love finding home-made items as I feel they are so much more special than RTW. The skirt was midi-length, and I wore it that way for a while, but I didn't love it. Finally last Sunday night, I decided to chop 20cm off the bottom and re-hem it knee-length. Thankfully by then I had received replacement for my overlocking and blind hem feet (which also happened to be part of the scrap bag tragedy) I used both to finish the edge and re-hem the skirt to its new length...

I have a couple more "RTW" projects on my queue, a shirt to take in, a lining to shorten, that sort of thing...Althought those projects may not feel very exciting, I have come to appreciate the "instant gratification" that comes with them and I see them as a good way to get some sort of sewing done when time is limited.

Watson Bra
I have been lurking at this pattern for a while now. I'm not one to jump on every new indie pattern that comes out of the blogosphere (how many boxy/loose knit tops patterns do I really need?), but I was immediately attracted to this soft, casual bra, perfect for week-end wear. When Caroline at Black Bird Fabrics (Yeah, Vancouver sewing scene!) came out with her most recent bra kits, it was the perfect excuse for some impulse online shopping.

Since then, I've made two muslins (one from the suggested size based on my measurements, and the other from the size that I usually buy for RTW bras). None of them have turned out satisfactory, and I sense a bit of fitting challenges in the future of this bra....

At least I'm having fun with muslin color-blocking...

Speaking of boxy/loose jersey tops ...
A while back I cut the pieces for pattern 128, from BWOF December 2013. After putting the body together, it sat unfinished for weeks as I was waiting for that second-spool holder (to use with my twin needles) to arrive...until tonight when I realized didn't need the twin needle to attach the sleeve bottoms, and since I didn't have enough brain power or motivation to knock out a third Watson bra muslin(let alone figure out fitting), I put this one back on the sewing table...

So that's it for my round up. I haven't blogged much but I sure have been sewing! I don't know yet what will be next, another knit top, a pair of pants, or should I start looking into summer projects?

mardi 17 février 2015

Finished Project: Snöflinga Hat

Another knit project! 
I knitted this hat no less than 3 times. And y that I don't mean I made three versions, but I undid it twice and remade it twice.

The pattern is the Snöflinga Hat by Jenny Gordy. I don't remember what caught my eye in this pattern,  I think it was the simplicity of it, and yet it had some interesting detail, simply created by contrast between knit rows and purl rows, and one row of bobbles. I made it with the suggested yarn: one skein of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in colorway Woodsmoke. It's a great pattern to make with this yarn. It was a super fast knit, just a few hours really. I had never made bobbles before, but they are surprisingly easy. 

So the first time I made it, I felt it was too big. Although a few friends said they though it was fine, I decided to unravel it and make it with a smaller needle size, and less row. I liked the result even less than the first time, so I unravelled a second time and made it again, back in the original size. Somehow it turned out better and I actually really like it now. I have to say, that's the beauty of knitting vs. sewing: if you don't like the result, you can start over, nothing is wasted.

I like to wear this hat indoor actually, perfect for bad hair day, and it looks great with a more casual outfit.

Man, that's a lot of my face in this post :P

mardi 10 février 2015

Finished Project: Faux fur vest

This is one of my rare UFO. I started this project quite a long time ago. I had made a muslin and put it all together, only to realize it was a bit too boxy for my taste.

Faux fur is a bit tedious to work with, as it invovles trimming the hair from all the seam allowances. So after working on if for a while, I kind of ran out of steam. Plus spring was coming, so I put it away. Actually it sat on my dressform for over a year...

Then finally, just before christmas, I found myself without a sewing project. I didn't want to start something from scratch as we were going away for the holidays. So I pulled the vest out of the closet (it had migrated from the dressform to the closet before summer) I took another look at it and started pinning in every seam. I also decided to give it a lower V-shaped neckline, as opposed to the higher round shape that contrinubted to make it look overwhelming on my figure.

Eventually I managed to turn it into something that I'm happy with. With the fur it's not so obvious, but the V-shape actually makes a big difference, and thanks to the princess seams I added in the back, I was able to take it in in four different places thus balancing things a bit better.

The pattern is Simplicity 2285 - my early post about the muslin has a bit more detail about the changes I made. Also, Sonja just posted a great article on her blog about how to sew with fur, full of great tips.

I'm really glad that I finished it, I was so excited about the faux fur when I firts bought it. It was one of those purchases where I went to the store a few times, petting it for a minute, but then walking away, before I finally made the leap of buying a meter of it.

I've already worn this a few times, it's quite comfortable and warm and goes with pretty much anything. So glad I finally got the motivation to finishing this!

lundi 2 février 2015

Finished Project: Wool and Leather skirt

I first saw the inspiration for this project on Bee Made's blog here
Actually, this wasn't so much an inspiration as me flat-out copying this garment (which was also a knock-off from a RTW pattern). But I felt it was ok to be a copy-cat as she actually provides a tutorial to put this skirt together :)

I'd never sewn with leather, so I was quite excited to get started, I had already visited Lonsdale Leather, a gold mine for leather, and I was itching to have an excuse to come out of there with something. So this was a great opportunity.
I purchased a full lamb hide of light weight black leather, about 9 square feet. 

For the pattern, I used skirt 115 from BWOF 09-2012. The base is the same as this skirt, (without the pleat) for which I'd already figured out the fit, so it seemed like a good option.

I didn't actually follow the tutorial - by the time I got around to making the skirt, I actually forgot it was even there, so I just made up my own pattern piece for the wrap portion. I didn't want a real wrap skirt, so I added the asymetrical panel on top of the rest of the normal skirt. In hindsight that might not have been the best thing, because it adds quite a bit of bulk to the side seam and I couldn't get a nice smooth side seam.

Anyways, I made a muslin to figure out the dimensions and orientation of the asymetrical panel, then I cut my leather and fabric.  Working with leather wasn't so bad. I used paper clips to keep the leather pieces together (instead of pins). I also used leather tape, after seeing this tutorial, to finish the hem, and it worked perfectly!

I'm a little on the fence about the result. I love the idea of this skirt, and I've been wearing it a lot, but I only wish the side seams laid a little flatter and smoother. No matter how much pressing I did, it doesn't look quite right. Oh well, I'm still happy with it and the opportunity to work with leather, and now I'm dreaming of a little pouch to use my left-over leather.

mardi 27 janvier 2015

Finished Project: Poolside sweater

A few years ago I purchased a few skeins of Estelle South Pacific cotton yarn from a store that was closing down near my work.
It took me forever to decide what to do with the yarn. I considered the sweater below from Phildar,


 But after doing a test swatch I decided I didn't like the result of the cable pattern with the yarn so the search for the right pattern continued on. Eventually I chose the Poolside sweater by Isabel Kraemer.

This sweater is knitted in the round, from top to bottom. The body is worked first, then you go back to each sleeve where the stitches have been put on hold and you knit them. The previous sweater I made was knitted in pieces and seamed up, so it was nice to try this other method.


What was nice about  knitting in the round was being able to try on the sweater early on in the making, and making sure the fit was correct. I did not enjoy however how long the rows ended up being, since it's knitted in the round. Generally speaking, I find that knitting in pieces is easier from a motivation persperctive, as each piece you finish is an extra step completed, whereas when knitting in the round, you have to knit the entire body before achieving the first step.

I really like how the stitch pattern on the body turned out but let me tell you IT.TOOK.FOREVER.
The thing is, it's one of those repeat patterns where you have to really pay attention. Forget about social knitting and having conversations while working on your project. This one (for me anyway) was a full-focus project. I could barely watch TV while knitting it. Hence the time it took to finish.

I made a size S. The pattern is designed with negative ease in the upper body, which makes the fitting a bit easier I think. As far as adjusments, I added a few rows at the top to make the armholes bigger. I didn't want the sleeves to be bigger though, so I balanced that by not adding additional increases on my additional rows, and making more decreases at the start of the sleeves. It was a bit of a shot in the dark, but it worked out in the end.

To make the sleeves, I used double pointed needles. I didn't love that process as, again, it's a bit more focus-intensive as knitting flat and you have to pa extra attention to all needles and not dropping any stitches from any of them. In the end though it was nice to bind of the last sleeve and be able to put the sweater on right away (well, after weaving in the ends) without the hand-seaming step...

I'm really happy with how it turned out. Even though it's cotton, it's pretty warm. I haven't had issues with the cotton stretching, which was one of my biggest worries, but no major stretching so far, hopefully it lasts...

I just finished another sweater, for B this time, and the next one on my list will be a Phildar pattern with some black Cascade 220 yarn I purchased in Washington State on our Christmas road trop..