Monday, August 22, 2011


Getting ready for autumn, with a pullover knit in Rowan Calmer. Papeline, from the winter/spring 2011 issue of Knitscene magazine. Sleeves and hip line have faced hems done in a contrast color. Waist shaping done through decreases/increases along the center of the front and back. For a change, I used the yarn called for in the pattern, and a very pleasant experience it was -- highly recommend Rowan Calmer. The only change I made was to add a pop of the contrast color to the neckline. Several reasons -- I thought it would look good, I wanted to cover up where I had picked up stitches around the neckline for the cowl, and, the neckline dips rather low, so a little extra coverage was called for.

To do this, I put the sweater on and marked the area of the neckline interior that shows when worn. Then, with right side of the garment facing out, I picked up stitches in this crescent shaped area. IIRC, it was about 44 stitches total. I then knit from one end to the other, but stopped short of the end of the row by 3 stitches -- I wrapped and turned and went the other way, each time leaving 3 more stitches unworked at the end of each row. When I felt it was high enough, I knit two final rows, picking up the wraps as I knit. After binding off, I was left with a little crescent shaped 'modesty panel' that fulfilled my requirements. Because I didn't want it to flop about, I worked the little panel in garter stitch -- I thought about using reverse stockinette (to mimic the reverse stockinette of the cowl), but in the end decided not to. Believe me, no one is going to be that close to me that they could tell the difference!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

DAY 4 - The end is near

The lining has been 'bagged' -- not without some hair pulling, muttered words and frantic Internet searches, but bagged it is. I had a devil of a time understanding just how to sew the lining to the outer garment shell in the area of the lower hem/front facing. My initial attempt resulted in a rather interesting bulge. Fortunately, the solution came to me as I was lightly dozing (hey, bagging is hard work!) -- had I but taken a look at my pattern pieces (where the seam line was clearly marked) it would have taken me a lot less time to understand, but I enjoyed the nap.

Also confusing to me was how to attach lining to sleeve hem. This was entirely due to my lack of spacial imaging -- in other words, I am absolutely rubbish at visualizing how something will fit together without physically putting it together. Makes for some interesting times in the sewing room, but we all have our weaknesses. I was helped in that regard by a tutorial at the Fashion Incubator site. Lots of good information there, even though it isn't geared towards the home sewist. Don't forget to leave a little something in the collection plate (i.e. the donation button) if you do make use of Kathleen's hard work!

And now, without further ado -- the styleARC Janet jacket:

I have yet to find a decorative closure for it, so technically 'not quite finished', although I think you could certainly wear it open, as is. It's a nice, basic jacket, which fits the way I'd like it to (after my pattern adjustments) -- still has a slim line, but not so close fitting that I couldn't wear a long-sleeved top underneath in cooler weather. Overall, I'm quite pleased, although I hope to improve on my lining skills. I also find final pressing to be difficult, but that may just be the nature of the beast. I'm thinking this might be nice in a no-wale corduroy -- or better yet, a faux suede -- but that's a project for another day!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

DAY 3 - the lining

I was hoping to find a cheeky little print to bring some pizzaz to the inner jacket, but it was not to be. So, Ambiance rayon it is -- in a somewhat similar color to the fashion fabric. Not even the zip of a vibrant orange solid to liven things up -- and yes, I did audition the orange and no, it was not a match made in heaven. Ah well, next time.

I decided to wash the lining fabric as a pre-treatment, although the jacket will be dry cleaned when done (if done?). I also spray starched the fabric prior to ironing it. I find that it's a lot easier to handle that way -- not so much shifting and squirming under the rotary cutter. The downside is that there are faint spray dots that are visible -- these should disappear with the first cleaning, and I don't anticipate anyone looking that closely at my lining. But do be aware of that possibility if you decide to try it yourself.

Onwards to making the same adjustments in the lining pieces (which are all separate pattern pieces in the styleARC line) as I did for the garment pieces. The sleeves weren't changed, so that stays the same. In comparing the lining pieces to the garment pattern pieces I see that the lining pieces are the same EXCEPT for the hem allowances. That simplifies things a lot -- I'll just use the previously adjusted pattern pieces, and fold up the appropriate amount at the hem. I love easy!

So, stitch up the lining, then comes the fun of melding everything together -- wish me luck -- I'm going to try bagging the lining instead of doing any hand sewing. But that's tomorrow's chore -- right now I hear some ice cream calling my name!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

DAY 2 - Muslin #2

Continuing on my jacket journey...

After adding some "wiggle room" to the pattern (about 2 inches in the hip, slightly less in the waist) I cut a new muslin. A more clever sewist would have made the first trial garment with larger seam allowances in order to tweak the fit, but... At any rate, still plenty of sheeting for a new version, and this time I also added a sleeve since I had gotten nervous about the fit in that area. Much better -- now I can exhale!

Satisfied with the fit of my muslin, I went digging in the fabric closet. I had in mind a lightweight wool purchased from Vogue Fabrics at a sewing expo -- maybe two years ago? I thought it would be a good weight for this jacket, but wasn't sure if I would have enough. If memory serves, this is a 100% wool (or very close!) It has a subtle woven-in design, and is an orange red shade -- I'd call it a tomato red, perhaps shading a bit to rust.

My luck held -- I have enough! Let's get this fabric pre-treated and do some cutting.

Since this is a woven wool, I want to do some pre-shrinking so there won't be any unpleasant surprises the first time I clean it. Some sewists take their fabric to the cleaners to be steamed, but I opted to treat it at home, using the instructions on Pam Erny's blog Off The Cuff Style. Check out her instructions there, plus her many other tutorials. I'll also be using the excellent interfacing she sells.

Comparing the fabric after treatment -- the hand and the appearance are the same as before, but there has been some shrinkage. I also spread the fabric out and gave it a hefty shot of steam from my steamer. That might have been overkill, but better safe than sorry.

So, at the end of Day 2 -- pattern alterations done, fabric prepared for sewing, then cut and interfacing fused. I still need to purchase my lining fabric, plus alter the lining pattern pieces to reflect changes I made to the pattern -- time enough for that on Day 3.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Heading Into Fall (and, hopefully not heading for a fall)

You wouldn't know it from the weather (hot, hot, HOT!), but autumn will be here before we know it -- and what better way to usher in the change of season than with a new wool jacket?

So, in (more or less) real time, here's how the journey to jacket goes. I hope to finish up with a photo of me wearing a finished jacket that fits and flatters -- but if not, you'll see that too.

I've chosen a pattern by the Australian company styleARC -- the "Janet" jacket.

It's a close-fitting, princess seamed, lined jacket. No buttonholes -- front edges are meant to be closed with a hook and eye or frog closure, and no complicated welts -- that should up my chances of seeing the project through to completion. The shoulder princess seam is generally flattering, plus the more seam lines the more opportunities for fine tuning the fit.

DAY 1 - Pattern Adjustment

My experience with the styleARC Sara blouse pattern revealed the need for me to make a full bust adjustment. It's a typical pattern adjustment for me, but I pull out the Palmer/Pletsch "Fit for Real People" book to refresh my memory of the steps needed. OK, that's done, now to test it out. I'm going to make a muslin (trial garment) to test the fit. I cut out the body of the jacket, minus facings and sleeves, from a discarded bed sheet. The weight of the sheeting (it's a heavier sateen) approximates the weight of the wool I am considering for the jacket, plus it's a non-stretch fabric. Queen sized, there's plenty of yardage even cutting around the worn areas. As it turns out, there's plenty to make a second muslin -- luckily for me, because the first version reveals 2 problem areas.

Problem #1 -- the adjustment I made for fullness was fine, but, how to say this delicately? The fullness needs to be lower down -- gravity has not been kind. Back to the drawing board -- re-trace the pattern pieces, lower bust fullness, then redo the FBA.

Problem #2 -- I mentioned before, this is a close fitting jacket. styleARC patterns (at least in my limited experience) seem to have less ease than the major US players (Vogue, Butterick, etc.). So, while the jacket technically may fit, i.e. it meets where it should with no gaps, strains or bulges, it's just too close for my personal comfort. I want to be able to wear a regular top (i.e., not a tank top) underneath and still have breathing room. I like the neck/shoulder fit, so I'll be leaving that area alone and just adding to the waist/hip area.

Whew, that's enough for DAY 1!