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🙂


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

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.

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?

Review: Hot Patterns 2004: Mr. H.P. Hemmingway Windcheater

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Almost three months past his birthday, Jordan’s got a new jacket! I bought this HP pattern back in 2013 with the thought I would sew it up for a Hanukkah gift. Then, I promised it as a February birthday gift. Luckily, Jordan is patient.

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I love how the HP Windcheater is modeled after high end and very expensive jackets. I submit to you the Filson Fisherman Parka

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At $500 that was never going to be purchased by me.

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I think my version looks pretty similar to theirs in blue!

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So, fabric is a cotton from Mood that I purchased in store in 2013. It’s navy blue cotton with a waterproof layer sandwiched in between. I don’t think it’s super breathable, but, it has great hand. It generally sewed fine with a regular needle. But, when I got to the buttonholes on the front I tried three different needles before the stitching ‘took’. I used a leather needle as it is A designed to go through non-wovens and performed like a champ.

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The lining is a cotton flannel from Joanns that he picked out himself. The sleeves have a silky lining to make it easier to take on and off.


  • Add an inch in length to the jacket
  • Add a inch to the sleeves (he likes them long)
  • Broad back adjustment for movement ease while on his Vespa
  • Added a pleat to the lining for movement ease
  • Scoop out the center front neck at the hood to accommodate for his larger neck.

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Looking at the completed garment I think the shoulders are a little long/ wide for him and I’ll shorten them a bit next time. And, the neck is still tight for him and I’ll need to scoop that out some more.

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For the zipper, I used a two way zip so when he’s on his Vespa or bike, he can unzip from the bottom. I bought and had it cut at Stadham Sewing.

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I also skipped snaps and went with buttons.  He chose these buttons from my stash.

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I didn’t do the drawstring waist. He said he would never use it.

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I added a zipper to the chest pocket. Just big enough to hold his iPhone.

So, I don’t want to gush, but I think he looks so stinking good in this jacket! And, not because of my sewing. I think it just fits him really well, and I love him in navy (and dark green and browns).

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It took me a long time to make this pattern because I’m lazy and it’s the first ‘real’ thing I’ve sewn since last July! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve *really* sewn.  It felt incredibly good to sit down at a sewing machine and watch a project come together.

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I can see using this pattern over and over and over. And, I’d really like to make a two-tone version for myself like these Universal Works jackets that retails for $345 (it’s unlined).

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The next time I make this, I will use pre-installed drawstring and elastic. You’ll note that I have in the grommets. But, no drawstring yet.

And, I will add interior pockets like so

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and so

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Too bad it’s now too warm for him to wear the jacket…

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Sewing Meet Ups / New Fabric/ HOT PATTERNS!!

Except that time I got married, today was the best day I’ve ever had in Florida!  Tracey (no blog — yet) was kind enough to spend the day with me and we headed out to meet the Hot Patterns duo of Trudy and Jeremy for lunch. I couldn’t stop running my mouth! I was full of questions about them, the company, design philosophy — everything!

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Proof. See. Seriously. Laughing, laughing, laughing.  That’s Trudy in the middle and Tracey to the left.

I’ve long admired Hot Patterns as they were the first non Big 4 pattern makers I’d been exposed to. I’ve had some lovely results from their designs and wanted to thank them for being fashion forward. They are just as passionate about sewing and design as we are and love what they are doing. It was an absolute pleasure to meet them. Plus, I’m a sucker for a fabulous British accent!

After lunch, we went to the newish Pennie Textiles down in Sarasota. Ahmagah.

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It is a *real* fabric store. With linens, wools, silks, fine cottons, shirtings, knits. Like, real, garment sewing fabrics. Last year, my mom and I tried to find a fabric store to make her a skirt in Tampa. Joanns and Hancock were the Land of Fleece. This, now, this is fabric shopping.

Crap. Why didn’t I buy that red and white striped knit below??

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And, then I laid my eyes on this:
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I cannot resist a star themed fabric. Nevermind in three different silk weights.

I also got a STUNNING black eyelet, but I didn’t take a photo. Hopefully, I’ll sew it up so soon I won’t need a photo of it all folded.

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Tony at the cutting table was a doll and happy to talk to you about what they have in stock.

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After fabric shopping Tracy and I headed back up to Tampa where we had dinner with Myra and Andrea. I look tipsy in the photo below. I wasn’t. I swear.

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I had such a good time connecting with these fabulous sewing ladies today. And, I’m coming home with two beautiful pieces of fabric. The last three times I’ve been to Florida it’s been too busy.  This time, it was just me and my dad so my schedule was much more flexible.

I need to figure out a way to take a year off of work, travel the world and just meet other sewers and sewing bloggers.

Anywho, I’m heading back home to Baltimore today with a suitcase full of fabric, patterns and a new to me sewing machine. All in all, a good time in Sunshine State.

So Close, Yet So Far

I am *almost* done with Jordan’s HP Windcheater jacket. Truly. I just need to add buttonholes and buttons and I’ll be set. I SWORE I would get it done today (we’re off for Good Friday).


But, grrr, Nigel, my MINI Cooper,  got keyed overnight  by some dickhead and I spent a bunch of time talking to insurance and getting a police report.

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Anywho, I wanted to finish this for Jordan so he could wear it to my (20 year!!) high school reunion in Virginia this weekend, but it looks like it’s not going to get done. It’s more important I get my stray gray hair dyed🙂

Also, I somehow managed to lose the left sleeve lining. So, I have to cut and resew that when I get a moment. So, there’s like 2 hours of work left on this bad boy and I’ll be done. And, maybe ready to start one for myself…