Posted in sewing

Beyonce Magic For New Years: Hot Patterns Cosmopolitan in Silk Jersey

Last year we went to dinner for New Year’s Eve at the Prime Rib. It’s a jacket required steak place where Jordan proposed. We had 9 pm dinner reservations and I was dozing at the table by 11. We left early and I was asleep on the sofa before the ball dropped. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

This year we got together with friends to go to a restaurant on top of a museum with a view of the fireworks at the Inner Harbor. I needed something to wear and was about to buy a dress. Then, remembered I have a ROOM FULL OF FABRIC and sewed instead. I binged on The Crown and decided to go all out vintage with a mink hat and cashmere opera coat (and lashes. I’m now ‘Team Lashes’ for going out). Barbara pointed out on IG I needed pearls and she’s right! I don’t know why I didn’t think to put some on.

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This  silk jersey version of the Hot Patterns Cosmopolitan is a bit of a dream project for me. But, sadly a semi fail. I first got this idea from Erica B’s blog like ten years ago. She showcased the Michael Kors dress the pattern is modeled after. And, in 2015 I found the right color jersey at Mood in New York.

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I made a few design changes to the original pattern (I’ve made it about eight times over the years). For the neckline, I did modify it a bit to be a U shape similar to the Michael Kor’s inspo dress. But, it’s too wide and D shape still (I keep altering it a little bit each time)  :-/ I also did an exposed neckline facing based on these directions from Gigi’s old blog, but it’s not done neatly and kind of wonky. Instead of the button cuffs as drafted, I made a simple in-the-round cuff to model the inspiration dress.

I also wish the facing was maybe 1.5 inches vs 1 inch wide. It was a really easy technique that I’d done before on a silk jersey blouse. I think I gave that top to Liz because I no longer have it :-/ I was a little too busty for it.

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I also meant to make a slip to wear with the dress. But, did some hand finishing on knitting and destroyed my wrist (a recurring theme) and couldn’t cut out a slip when it was time.

The seams are left raw inside and I used my blind hemmer to make the hem. And, i should mention… when I was deciding on the neckline dip, I held the patten up to me to make sure it was as low as possible without showing cleavage. So, yay me!

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You’ll see that it’s also tied at the back. I should have doubled the length of the waist ties so it  could wrap around and come to the front with some ‘hang’. I made note of this before and I might actually resew the straps.

So, overall it’s a totally fine dress. It’s a little bit of an expensive venture for me not to be 100% in love with it. But, I do like it a lot. And, can see myself trying again (I’ve already altered the neckline). And, I still had something fun to wear for New Year’s Eve!


 

My Bernina 830 was in the shop for a few weeks. I took it in because I could hear the belts slipping and it wouldn’t sew very sporadically. They tuned it up and replaced the foot pedal. I’ve always sewed on it on full speed. It never occurred to me it should sew slower if I didn’t push the pedal as hard. I’ve never really believed in machine servicing, only if it’s say ‘broken’. Otherwise, I figure you can oil and maintain yourself. But, I have to admit it’s sewing much better.

Posted in sewing

Bali, Cosmo Dress and A Little Knittin’

I’m heading to Bali, Indonesia with a friend in less than two weeks. She’s going to Nusa Dua for work. I’m along for the ride and paid-for hotel room. Jordan will be in trial so I think he’s relieved I’ll be out of his hair.  Among the activities I’ve planned for myself, I’m most excited about an all day textile tour. Bali is home to batik, ikat and what we know as Dutch Wax Prints.

Balinese Songket

It’ll probably rain most of the time I’m there. But, as long as I don’t get malaria or Hep A, I can’t say that I care.

I have a few things I’d like to sew before the trip (rash guard, swim skirt, rain bonnet). But, let’s face it. I’m not sewing much of anything these days. So, I won’t bore you with my whimsical ideas and will *maybe* have something to show from exotic locales when I’m home.

Any Bali tips for me? I’m going to take a cooking class, a surfing class and a spa day. We’ll also be doing some biking when she’s done working at the end of the trip. Any fabric store I won’t be able to resist? Tips on bargaining and what I should pay? Give me all the tips, please.

An Australian in my office told me to not act like a Bogan. That was his big tip <– If this is an offensive phrase, please tell me *now*.


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In other sewing news, my most made pattern, the OOP Hot Patterns Cosmopolitan dress is going to have a limited  100 pattern reprint.  You may recall that I have the silk jersey pre-treated and waiting for me to make this for the fourth? Fifth time? Reasons I love this pattern: minimal if any FBA needed, defined waist, great neckline for me… it’s the ultimate dress for an hourglass.


I’m pretty obsessed with knitting you guys. I’m working on a University of Michigan themed scarf for Jordan. And by working on it, I mean I’ve finally figured out the design, how to make fair isle and when to change colors on my machine  🙂  Here’s a photo of the swatch I worked up.  I won’t be able to look at this again until I get back from Indonesia. And, if that’s anything like my trip to Egypt or China, I’ll need a week or more to recover from aggressive food poisoning and jet lag 🙂

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Posted in sewing

Hot Patterns Blouse Back Tee: Woven / Knit Combo

20150615-DSC_0064 photo 20150615-DSC_0064_zps9yfrxjh8.jpgYo, I had like the best hair day today. I wasn’t even going to blog these shirts again. But, my hair looked so good I wanted to memorialize this day. I gave myself a little hair trim and have been doing some new things to it and it totally paid me back today #TeamNatural.

Now, to the sewing: I’ve managed to step away from my knitting machine for a few days. Mostly because I don’t have enough clothes for our trip to Canada in two weeks! And, my casual summer work wardrobe is lacking. So, I figured I could whip up some fast tops to take. And, this Hot Patterns Blouse Back Tee might be a near record for me. I’ve made it up four times now. And, I can’t promise this will be the last. For the two  (navy blue and teal) I’m posting today, I took some of your suggestions:

  1. Used a woven sheer for the back
  2. Went down a size for the front
  3. Made my FBA with darts
  4. Decided to keep the original length of the back hem from the pattern.

20150615-DSC_0100 photo 20150615-DSC_0100_zpsblswhr6t.jpg I really like these versions too. I mean, I like this top because it goes together fast, is visually interesting and because it hides a multitude of sins. 20150615-DSC_0105 photo 20150615-DSC_0105_zps8xi1ydzn.jpg Both the sheers are from Kashi at Metro Textile (purchased with MMS photos and texting I might add) were supposed to be beach coverups. And, this navy was supposed to be a University of Michigan shirt for Jordan. So much for that…

Construction Notes: To stabilize the gathers at the back yoke, I used clear elastic. I was concerned that the woven vs knit friction might make stitches pop out if stressed. The clear elastic nicely reinforces my stitching and allows the woven to ‘give’ more. 20150615-DSC_0059 photo 20150615-DSC_0059_zpstmdcv2lr.jpg The rolled hem on the teal went beautifully. Not a single problem. The rolled hem on the blue and white was a nightmare. The hem wouldn’t catch, but I was trimming away at the seam allowance with each pass. I had to shorten the knit side seams on the navy version by four inches to get it to match the woven hem when all was said and done. 20150615-DSC_0098 photo 20150615-DSC_0098_zpstcvag3gr.jpg On the teal, I didn’t have enough fabric to to bind the neckline. So, I just turned it over and coverstitched. I wish I had done it a bit narrower as I have non existent shoulders to begin with. 20150615-DSC_0034 photo 20150615-DSC_0034_zpsyvsi6s1q.jpg For the navy, I did have enough fabric and I finished the sleeve band and the neckline with a bit of trim and coverstitching. Both the fronts are also hemmed on my coverstitch. Looks like I could have pulled that neckband snugger too.

FBA or No?

After my last post on this top, a few suggested I do an FBA with darts. I thought, why not? I’m not a big ‘cheater FBA’ person. I like to do things ‘right’ even if it’s the slower old fashioned way. So, I made a 1 inch darted FBA in the teal version first and felt I could see it rising at center front (below). For the navy version I made a 1.5 inch FBA and think that’s the ticket for me. I added more length than width though. But, I was playing around with the navy version in the mirror and I think I need a larger dart to address some of the drag lines. 20150615-DSC_0083 photo 20150615-DSC_0083_zpstvgiiauv.jpg Anywho, People LOVED these tops on me. I have two knit versions and no one said anything about them. But, out and about the last few days I had people stopping to tell me how cute they were.

Both of these tops were posted on Instagram. But, I know not everyone is one it. And, I can’t babble on like this for a photo site now can I? 20150615-DSC_0089 photo 20150615-DSC_0089_zpsm7zm1ckr.jpg

Posted in sewing

Party In the Back: Hot Patterns 1170 Fast & Fabulous Blouse-Back T

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48 hours before we left town for a long weekend in Charlotte, NC I decided I needed a new shirt. Well, I’ve been needing summer tops and I decided to sew ALL THE SHIRTS before I left town. I picked the HP Blouse-Back T because it promised to be both Fast and Fabulous and available for a PDF download. Plus, I saw Lori’s version for her daughter and was all over it.

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Pattern: I usually hate PDF paper taping. I’m all about the copy shop pattern copy. But, this was not bad! I taped while talking to Trena on the phone on Tuesday night. Cut and sewed on Wednesday night. And made a second version in red and white (not photographed) on Thursday night. I timed it the second night and it was less than 90 minutes from cut to hem.

Fabric: Hoarded lightweight stripes from PR Weekend in Montreal five years ago (can’t wait to go back to Montreal in a month ) and solid navy cotton from FabricMart. It was destined to be something else, but when I saw them together I was like, ‘duh’.

Since Lori let me know her daughter was 5 ft 9, I knew I’d want to shorten the back a bit (I’m barely 5 ft 6). Now, seeing photos, I might add the length back for skinny jeans.

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Please note in the blue and white stripe version I did the shortening all wrong. I shortened the back at the waist line rather than at the hem. Which means it was too short at the sides so I had to improvise a bit and blend the hem lines on the front and back. And the center front has a curved rather than straight hem because of my changes.

Other Deets:

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I measure into a 14 but sew a 12 in HP knits going by my underbust measurement (34 inches). I contemplated using stripes at the front and totally copying the fashion drawing. But, I was worried about the stripes not being level if I didn’t make a good FBA. I don’t normally need an FBA in HP. But, this time I chose to do a dartless FBA (using the method in ‘The Perfect Fit’ from the Singer Sewing Reference Library) because of fears of it riding up in the front with stripes. I added one inch in length and 1/2 inch in width.

I went with a dartless FBA because the shirt has an easy vibe to it. If I sized down one more, I might make a FBA with darts. But, I’m honestly really pleased with how this came out.

I also narrowed the width of the neckband by two inches.

And chickened out and put the stripes in the back anyway. Partly because the solid navy is heavier than the stripe fabric and the flowiest fabric should be in the back so that it hangs correctly.

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I really really love this little top. Let me know if you think my FBA worked. Or if you think I need more anything before attempting some stripes at the front 🙂 I plan to make a few more this summer for sure.

Posted in Machine Knitting, sewing

I Totally Want a Knitting Machine

A few years ago there was a train wreck of a reality show about a knit bikini designer in LA. All her samples were made on a knitting machine. Until I got a glimpse on that show, I had no idea knitting machines existed. And lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about getting one for myself.

But, a few ‘issues’. Only two companies still make metal-bed knitting machines for the home market (which would allow me to do ribbing). One is a newish Chinese company that clones Brother knitting machines and the other is Silver Knitting (Silver Reed/Studio/Singer) which has a long history of machine making. But, after seeing a machine knitting demo today, I think I want a pre-owned Brother with ribber. A new machine is just way out of my budget. Used machines appear to be plentiful on eBay, easy and Craigslist. But, finding one in good working order can be harder. And, I’m not really clear on what they should cost. Especially considering I know *nothing* about how they work. And, they don’t seem as easy to repair as vintage sewing machines. I decided it might be best for me to get a demo from a knitting machine instructor, so I would at least know what I was looking for and what gauge knitting machine (standard or  bulky) I would want. I went to Woolstock north of Baltimore City where the owner, Leslye Solomon, is a machine knitting instructor and author.  photo IMG_20150411_114659352_HDR_zpsn8712bjn.jpg It was a GREAT demo. I mean, I have no idea which gauge machine I want because I liked them both for different reasons. But, the instructor is a big fan of Brother knitting machines (no longer made) and sells the Chinese clone. I feel totally iffy on spending that much money on a new hobby and really iffy on buying a clone.

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Standard gauge with fair isle motif

So, I’m on the hunt for a vintage Brother knitting machine and ribber that actually work (the nearest knitting machine repair shop is two hours from me in Pennsylavania). I’ve got a few online searches set up for one and hope to find a late model Brother and ribber by the end of the year. Gauge? TBD. But, After this demo, I know at least how the machine should work (which I didn’t be fore) and what it should be able to do.

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Bulky gauge with fair isle on the left and sample ‘lace’ and cables on the right

Unlike sewing blogs, machine knitting blogs don’t seem to be as abundant? I’m guessing because machine knitting’s hey dey was in the 80s and before and the women who machine knit aren’t really into blogging? Within my own feed though, I did find four machine knitters, Rachelle at Smoking Needles, Petit Main Sauvage, Kay The Sewing Lawyer and Kathryn from I Made This. Plus, this really interesting article by Karen at Did You Make That? The machines don’t seem to be as popular here on the east coast of the US. But, in the pacific northwest and midwest, business is booming! Plus, in the UK and Europe, there seem to be quite a few machine knitters. I’m assuming the climate has a lot to do with this. There’s also a super active Yahoo group and Facebook group. Great for inspiration photos. I also found a slew of people to follow on Instagram to see their knitting machine work.

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Ribbing along the bottom and stripe sample above

So, what are my machine knitting goals? Pretty modest I think. 1. I’d like to make a couple of scarves a year. I love scarves and manage to lose them more often than I care to admit. Jordan likes scarves too in bright colors but short of cashmere ($$$) good scarves seem hard to find 2. Two sweaters a year would be amazing to me. I LOVE sweaters. I’ve been buying vintage from the 80s sweaters from ebay and the thrift store and trimning them down to size. Why? Because they were actually made of wool instead of cotton or acrylic.

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20 rows in less than three minutes!!

3. A pair of socks every now and then. In winter, I live in wool socks from REI and such. I wear boots most of the winter and would love warm, cute socks. 4. Occasionally, my own knit fabric to do cut and sew projects from. I am able to get great sweater knits at Mood when I go to NY. But, the pilling factor is a gamble. I don’t know how often I would do this. But, it’s nice to know I might have the option of making my own fabric.

Don’t worry. Sewing is still my first love! And, as Amanda pointed out to me yesterday, yarn is expensive.I also muslined my Hot Patterns Cosmopolitan dress over the weekend. I need to raise the neckline another 1.5 inch and shorten the darts. And, I want a slightly less ‘scoop’ to the neck line. So, I’ll do one more version in a poly knit before cutting into my silk jersey.

20150411-DSC_0125 photo 20150411-DSC_0125_zpshp0jhky9.jpg Unfortunately, it’s too low cut to keep as wearable. But, I really ended up liking the scrap fabric combo! And, I could not love this pattern more. So, any other machine knitters out there? Any advice for me?