Posted in Machine Knitting

Vintage Varsity Letterman Sweater

I love the Tweed Rides and Seersucker Socials that take place in Washington DC. Participants dress in vintage inspired clothing and ride bicycles around Washington. It’s the ultimate hipster American thing and despite not having gone for a few years, I kind of love everything about it. When I first met Jordan I asked if he’d ever go with me and he gave a flat ‘no’. But, when I showed him a now discontinued Abercrombie University of Michigan varsity style sweater, he said if he had that, he’d go.

Well, grab your craft beer and vanity monocle, Jordan. Because we’re going on a hipster bike ride.
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I decided to knit this sweater for Jordan’s birthday. The cardigan is drafted to his measurements using Garment Designer (which drafts for both sewing and knitting). I have found GD to have more ease than I prefer so I used the minimum ease option and tapered sleeves in the design.  I think the fit through the torso is okay. And, I’m very happy with the length of the bodice. Where I failed, is that I’ve never made a sloper for Jordan from the program like I did for myself. I just assumed since mine fit so well off the bat his would be the same.

I can’t say that’s true. I found the sleeves on this to be about two inches too wide and three inches too long.** ETA: It looks like I added length to the ‘long’ sleeve. When I can pin him down, I’ll remeasure his bicep.

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The back neck also gaped pretty badly. So much so I that I machine sewed in two darts. This is a guess as I’ve never done this before: But, I think the neckbands are usually done in ribbing which has a lot of stretch and would pull the neckline in to the body. The plain stockinette bands should probably have been shortrowed  around the back to add curvature. And / or I should have wet blocked some shaping in to them prior to applying them to the cardigan.  If I were to make a stockinette neckband the same way, I would short row around the neck to snug up the fit. But, if you have other ideas, I’m all ears!

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Speaking of the neckband, I didn’t knit in buttonholes. I didn’t know what buttons I was going to use and wasn’t sure about placement since I was just knitting a doublewide band to length. So, I decided to machine sew the buttonholes after I bought buttons locally.

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I think the shoulders hit about the the right place too. Maybe move them in 1/4 inch. The back waist is a little large, but nothing some short rows (darts) couldn’t fix in the future. I also made a machine knit hem. Which I’ve actually never done before! But, when I looked up vintage style sweaters online, I saw they used hems rather than ribbing for the bottom.

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Now, the yarn… oy. The yarn. I first bought the Cascade 220 Superwash. I read reviews for it online after purchasing and the reviews weren’t great. I thought I can make this work! I couldn’t. The yarn haloed (got fuzzy) and had a weird feel. I had to frog the first piece of sweater I knit and the yarn got super ratty and wouldn’t easily unravel. I decided life was too short and I could make hats from the leftover blue. So, I ditched that yarn  for a lambswool from Colourmart and kept the daffodil color from Cascade fro the Michigan Maize.

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I ordered the Michigan M  and the ’13 (the year he graduated law school) from Sunshine Chenille on Etsy.  The M is perfect, I love the quality of the patches. But, unfortunately, the colors kind of clash. The M is more of a gold and the yellow I used is a pale butter color. But, I’ve decided to live with it and the other flaws.

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This was also the first time I knit pockets. It felt like magic! And, like sewing welt pockets. I knit these in 1×1 rib. I don’t LOVE them. But, I like that I was able to make them.

Overall Jordan likes his sweater! And, he’s asked for more cardigans. Because, he’s really an old man inside a 29 year old frame 😀

I think this is the fifth garment I’ve machine knit? I tried several new-to-me techniques (pockets, hems, cardigan, sewing buttonholes on a sweater knit). I also learned a bit more about fit and how to best use my design software. So, it’s a win for me despite some issues.  And, hopefully I’ll continue to improve!

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We took photos at the City Dock in Annapolis today where we met his parents for brunch. This naval officer coat was his Hanukkah gift in 2015. It’s heavy wool, resists rain and American made (and is apparently missing a button). I love it on him.

Posted in Machine Knitting

Machine Knit Vest (or sleeveless pullover)

Today I present my very fist machine knit garment: a men’s sleeveless pullover.  Now, I know this is like the least exciting thing in the world to knit. But, I wanted to make something for Jordan as a thank you for turning our dining room into a knitting room. It came out so well! I. Can’t. Even.

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The inspiration for this pattern is from a 1969 machine knitting magazine. It was a good first project as I got to work increases and decreases, binding off for shaping, ribbing bands and seaming the garment on the knitting machine. Yes, you read that right: I can even seam the garment on a knitting machine.

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I can’t take all the credit for this, blog reader Jeannie hooked a sister up. Turns out she’s an avid machine knitter and lives just three miles from my house. When operator error prevented me from getting anywhere near gauge, she told me to come on over. Do you know how incredible it is to find a machine knitter in biking distance????  She showed me how to measure more accurately and how to use Design A Knit software to tweak the pattern.

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I told Jordan to pose like a 1960s dad. He clearly went the authoritarian route.

DAK is MAGIC.  While I loved DAK, it was too rich for my blood and isn’t native to Apple (that said, I did use VMware to create a Windows environment and run a demo version on my iMac). But, I also don’t have a laptop which would make the in screen knitting much more user friendly.  So, for a birthday gift to myself, I bought Garment Designer which also drafts for sewing patterns. More on that in an upcoming post (although, I seem to be a liar about things I’m going to blog about so please don’t commit this to memory).

I used a wonderful cashmere/merino/silk blend 4 ply yarn from Colourmart.  It’s an inky navy blue with flecks of baby blue and white. The color name is Galaxy. And, the resulting fabric really does look like a night sky full of stars.

The shoulders (as drafted) are a little wide for modern times and the V came out three inches longer than drafted too. Jordan’s also much broader at the shoulder/ back area than through the torso so I’ll have to accommodate for that the next time.

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End result, a not terrible vest for Jordan. I need to get better about my finishing and weaving in ends (I have a sewing mentality of just knotting things off. Doesn’t work the same…) I think I’m going to knit the same pattern in a 40 chest for my dad with my leftover yarn. This time, I’ll try some new techniques like short rows for the shoulder seams.

Boring, long and droning Ravely notes here.

 

 

Posted in sewing

Men’s Silk Neckties: Vogue 7104

Here’s something I forgot: Making neckties is horseshit.

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If you can imagine, I  sewed three neckties as part of Jordan’s Hanukkah gifts this year. I suspect each holiday, he’s now going to get some boxers and some neckties. He’s been wearing these ties for almost two weeks now, but only let me snap a photo last night when he got home. I think his stint as a male model is coming to a close.

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I’ve gathered that most men don’t wear ties often anymore. Somehow, 85 percent of the guys I’ve dated wear ties daily.  As a lawyer Jordan wears them every day.  Even on casual Friday  he wears a tie (he’s just like that). He has a bunch from his father (retired attorney) and a few I took from my dad (church going black man).  He has more ties than I have shoes.  Despite rolling in ties, he asked if I could / knew how to make them. And, oh, do I. Long time readers will remember my irrational anger at sewing ties and breaking up with the gift recipient less than a month later. I figured it was time to break the Boyfriend Sweater/ Boyfriend Neckwear curse.

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Instead of the seven-fold ties I did last time, I used Vogue’s three-fold tie pattern with interlining. For interlining, I used drapery interlining from Haberman’s at $7 per yard (and 54 inches wide).   Their website said it was a good approximation for tie interfacing (like $25 a yard and 23 inches wide) and it was way way cheaper. Tie interfacing is usually made from wool. This is cotton but has that same light weft look to it. Tie interlining looks to be two layers of the weft.

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Ultimately, Jordan thought it felt not as hefty as the wool interlining in his RTW ties. I have since bought a few yards of wool tie interfacing from The Sewing Place to use on my next go round.  I also changed the interlining/ interfacing pattern. Vogue 7104 doesn’t have the interlining going all the way to the tip of the tie. All the ties I looked at do. So, I just traced the interlining pattern to mimic the finished tie.

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Ties are pretty simple in concept. It’s all bias cut, 1/4 inch seam allowances and nice fabric. Yet, the tie point is a real PITA. I don’t think my tie points (the tip) ever look as good as RTW. I sewed two muslins before I decided these were good enough. The next time I make these, I will follow my own advice for sewing the tips of the tie.  The lining and main fabric should be offset to create a good mitre. The Vogue instructions so not account / note that. Another good visual resource for sewing the tie tip is Sam Hober’s site.

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I did add a 1/4 inch in width to the pattern as drafted. And, I think I’m going to add another 1/4 for 1/2 inch more total for a 4 inch wide tie vs 3.25. Jordan’s favorite tie from his father is 3.75 inches wide.

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I think, like boxers, I should make these a couple times a year so I don’t forget how they go together. It really is a fast project with most of it hand sewing to close it up. That, I could easily do while watching a movie or TV.

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Last bit about fabric. I think I’m a total purist when it comes to neckties. I like them made out of a thick silk twill. That fabric can can be really pricey. I’ve been lucky to get bits and pieces here and there. I try to snatch them up whenever I can. Belraff Fabrics has a lot well-priced necktie fabric right now. But, fair warning, most of the prints are of the lighter silk variety (the cream and green print at the top is from them). I’d stick with the preppy striped ones, they are a heavier silk and luscious.

So, why do I say they are horseshit? Just loads of fiddly bits. You just have to be precise, work with small seam allowances, cut silk fabric on the bias, loads of handsewing and work with with fabric that frays easily.  Of course, he loves his ties. LOVES them.

If you’re interested in making ties, I would also recommend checking out David Paige Coffin’s download on making ties at home.

Jordan made out like a handsewn bandit this year, didn’t he? He gotten a jacket,  boxers, a sweater, workout gear, cummerbund,  suit alterations and ties. If this keeps up, I’m going to have to rename my blog “Mister’s Emporium”.

Posted in sewing

McCalls 5095: Men’s Baseball Sweater

Friends, don’t rush on a project. And, always make sure you cut your knits with the stretch going the correct direction. With that fair warning, allow me to begin my tale of woe.

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A few months ago I was browsing the men’s Valet Magazine’s fall shopping guide and stumbled upon their ‘sweatshirt’ section. I immediately fell in love with the neutral color blocking of the J.Crew version ($85 retail and $60 on sale. Poly/cotton obvs) and figured I could easily sew one up on my in in wool jersey as a Hanukkah gift for Jordan.

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**I’m calling this a baseball sweater because the ones with raglan sleeves and wool are called that on the J. Crew website. The ones in wool with set in sleeves are called baseball sweatshirts.

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All I needed was a pattern for a raglan sleeve sweatshirt. I found this McCall’s  dating back to 1992. Jordan measures a 43 in his chest so I purchased the Large for size 42 – 44. Naturally, it had 14 inches of ease at 58 inches. That, is a no go. I then bought a medium (5 inches of ease with 47 inches finished garment measurement) and sewed that up instead.

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I first muslined this in a really nice charcoal ponte I had in my stash. Gah. It was SO HARD to let that fabric go for him. Based on the muslin, I decided to take in the waist 1.5 inches on each side, shorten the sweater by two inches and widen the waistband 1/2 inch. I really liked the fit through the chest and the sleeve length was perfect.

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For the ‘real’ one, I used three wool jerseys for the color blocking. Jordan also thinks he has a short torso and asked to have another three inches taken offof the length.  Fearing an 80s style crop top, I ignored my client and only shortened it two inches.

Below are some of the ones J. Crew has in 100 percent cotton. I did not do all the same topstitching as them. I wasn’t going for a sporty look. More like, weekend movies.

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Folks. Here’s where it all goes awry: What’s that you see to the left of the triangle? I don’t even know. The neckband was cut (accidentally) without stretch. So, I was trying really hard to serge the neckband on. Yes. *serge* as in sewing off the seam allowance.  Because the neckband had zero stretch, I thought the neckline had stretched out and just needed to be taken in a little bit. I got the *brilliant* idea of taking in the shoulder seam seam between the grey and the cream on ONE SIDE.  One thing let to another and next thing I knew I had to add beige fabric *back* to the top and one side of the shirt is an inch wider than the other. FML.  And, I acknowledge the point in the triangle also got destroyed in this process.

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I contemplated scrapping the project and starting over. I thought about unpicking seams and recutting the front.  But, I didn’t. Why? I really really hate to fix. Also, it was all serged and I didn’t want to overwork the fabric. And,  wool jersey is real expensive. I figured at worst, he could wear it around the house. It’s still warm. And, it does fit. Plus, I actually have enough that I can just start over again for next time.

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Initially, I was thrilled when I made this (before the neckband). And, in truth, I do have a pattern that I can use for sweaters and sweatshirts. I can see making this up for a long time. And, best of all, IT’S SO FAST. Seriously. I can sew this in under two hours. Jordan, god love him, still wore the sweater out with friends and says it looks just fine to him. He also hates having his photos taken in public places….

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Next up… I have one more thing I’ve sewn for Jordan this holiday season. If I can talk him into modeling one last time.

Posted in sewing

FehrTrade Surf to Summit: Menssss

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Over Thanksgiving I pattern tested Melissa Fehr Trade’s Surf to Summit Top for men. Note, I didn’t make one for myself because I neither surf, nor summit. Jordan on the other hand snowboards, runs and bikes. One time we went running together and I *begged* him not to run with me. I get really self conscious about what a slow runner I am. And, I kind of hate being encouraged when I run. Just let me run in peace and self loathing. He wouldn’t do it and jogged along with me at my 12 minute mile pace. The next day, he had shin splints. Because, it was like he was jogging in place. ::sad trombone:: We haven’t gone running together since….

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Anywho, I tested this pattern because it was free and something I would have bought anyway. I’m probably a terrible tester, because I sewed this sucker up in less than two hours on a Friday night. And, I glanced through the directions, but it’s really simple construction. I will say her diagrams are really good and I think Big 4 patterns could take a lesson from her on how to illustrate instructions. Her pattern description below:

Both the men’s and ladies’ versions feature princess seams, side panels (so no side seams!), your choice of long or short raglan sleeves, optional sleeve mitts for keeping your hands warm without fiddling for gloves, a tall integral collar to keep your neck covered, and your choice of two hem lengths. An optional half zip and back cycling-style pocket are also included.

I made the pullover in long sleeves with sleeve mitts. I would have done the half zip, but didn’t have a zipper on hand and wasn’t trying to go out over Thanksgiving to look for one.

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Guys, I get the love of a PDF pattern — instant gratification and no shipping. But, I’ll only sew them if they are copy shop. Period. I know there are faster ways of taping, but I won’t do it. Some people won’t upgrade to smartphones and get on Facebook. I won’t tape PDFs. So, I was really happy I could get this one copy shop printed.

For Jordan, I first sewed a straight Large. His chest measured 42.5. Jordan’s clothing issues are short torso, broad chest, large biceps and somewhat narrow waist — but with a little extra weight around his middle.

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After taking photos so she could see how the straight Large fit (above and unhemed), I took three inches of width from the waist. Jordan wants it even tighter next time so it’s a more a true compression shirt. When I sew it again, I’ll also add one or two inches in length. At first he said it was fine. Then, he went for a run and admitted his stomach got cold.

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I really like these run mitts. When sewing them, I had zero idea what they were supposed to look like. And, feared I’d sewn them wrong. But, they are correct and Jordan said they worked brilliantly. But, he felt some stares when we was running, but said they worked so well his hands were sweating by the time he got home. Below on the left is the run mitt and on the right what it looks like when not engaged.

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Finally, I made this up in some of my hoarded Under Armour Cold Gear. I have two more pieces of it left in red and sage green. I’m saving the red for myself and donating the sage green to his exercising cause.
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This went together really quickly. All serger construction with my coverstitch for the hems.

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I think I need to make some fit tweaks. I’d like to try an XL on top and through the arms and taper to a medium in the waist. I’ll also add some length at the bottom. And, this summer I can sew him some bike versions from the Nike fabric I bought in Minnesota this summer. Plus, with the seaming details, there’s plenty of opportunity for me to use some reflective tape to make him a bit more visible in the wild.

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I’ve sewn some more holiday gifts for Jordan that I hope to blog after Hanukkah this week. In the meantime, Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate. And for those of us waiting for Christmas, it’s less than two weeks away!!

Allow me to leave you with my new Christmas tree. Because, I can.

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