Tuesday, March 19, 2024

2 Sides of Spring

 Spring — so eagerly awaited, so unpredictable!

My end of winter/beginning of spring project was a simple design from Wardrobe By Me (Boxy Raglan) chosen because I had made it before and knew it would work well with my fabric. The fabric is a luscious wool/alpaca blend from Emma One Stock - a little splurge, but so worth it.

It feels just like a warm hug when wearing it, and I love the color.  It was labeled as dead stock fabric from Italy. I love looking through the fabrics there — always little treasures to be found!

My second project was not sewing, but also a top, that was machine knit. This is definitely a warm weather style, and wouldn’t you know — as soon as it was finished we went from high 70’s (F.) temps to chilly mid 40’s. As I said — Spring - unpredictable!

The yarn is a cotton/linen blend in a lovely teal blue (Valley Yarns Leverett by Webs). Simple styles like this are such fun to whip out on the machine, they take almost no time at all. My very basic LK-150 mid-gauge has no ribber, so that was done by hand, as was the crochet joining of front & back halves.  Adapted from a hand knitting pattern Longboat Key, also available from Webs.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Serger Update

 Although I haven’t been sewing as much this season as I usually do, I have had plenty of time to put the BERNINA L890 through a fairly thorough test of what I want a serger to do. I’ll say up front my serger use is basic — I use it for garment construction —I don’t quilt, and my home dec projects are few and far between. Nonetheless, I want a machine that performs those basic tasks easily and well. 

I looked at this machine for a couple of reasons. I had a perfectly fine Baby Lock Enlighten purchased used from a dealer. Its stitching was fine and the air threading was a game changer for my eyesight issues. It was fine, but not fabulous, and I wanted to see what a newer machine had to offer. I also wanted to replace a fairly old cover stitch machine which had seen better days. The idea that I could have one machine to do both operations appealed, as my sewing room is crowded. So, has this machine lived up to its hype, or is it buyer’s remorse?

Ease of use — it’s a complex machine, and some folks are put off by that. I am still using the ‘idiot’ setting (no, BERNINA doesn’t call it that!) that prompts each step of every operation. Very helpful, especially for things you don’t do enough to have them become second nature. I think it also helps that I sew on Bernina machines so I have some familiarity with how they ‘think’. Air threading of the loopers is fine — not as ‘whoosh’ as the Baby Lock but works well. Two things I love — the presser foot swings away from the needles for extra maneuvering room when threading, and you can actually see that needles have been inserted fully due to slots. So, I rate ease of use as “learning curve, but Bernina gives you plenty of help to succeed “. There are plenty of You Tube videos for the machine also, and (obviously) the more you use the machine the easier it gets.

Stitch quality — one word — wow! Minor adjustments (stitch length/width) for different fabric weights, but beautiful stitching. Easy adjustments for cover stitching and I was blown away by stitch quality.

All in all, I am very pleased. This machine meets my expectations and then some. Is it the perfect serger? No, that doesn’t exist. It is a very good fit for me though, and I look forward to learning more as I use it more. Still cringe at the price, but I’m worth it?!

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Spring forward

 Still wintery weather here, but I’ve stitched up a lighter cardigan for Spring. Imagine that - sewing something at leisure, before it’s actually needed!

The pattern is Wardrobe by me Balloon Cardigan. This is my second make from their line, and I’ve been quite pleased with both. Clean lines, simple practical garments that suit my life.The sleeves are indeed balloon - the body not as much. I’ve made the v-neck version and the cropped length, but added 1 1/2” so that it hits at high hip rather than at waist. Buttons/buttonholes left out - I’ll add snaps later if I decide they’re needed, but I don’t usually fasten up cardigans, so…

The fabric is a rayon doubleknit. I was thinking I’d make a matching tank with my leftovers, but wouldn’t you know I made a classic rookie mistake and forgot to lengthen the front bands after lengthening the body - doh! Thankfully enough fabric to recut two pairs of front bands, but probably not enough left for a tank - twin set dreams denied! Who knows though - maybe some creative piecing? It’s always fun to play with stripes.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Pet Peeve of the Week…

 …using fabric stretch to fit knit garments. Don’t get me wrong, there are garments that absolutely need to be sewn with negative (or very minimal) ease — think swimwear and other athletic gear, shape wear, etc. And it is certainly gratifying to be able to still squeeze into our clothing when a few holiday pounds appear. 

But, for myself, I prefer knit clothing that actually fits the contours of my body without any distortion of the fabric when worn. That doesn’t mean loose and baggy — it simply means draping over the shaped bits & removing excess over the smaller places — in other words, darts. 

Why so peeved this week? Because I just finished a hand knit pullover that I added bust darts to.  I wanted to reassure myself on good technique, so consulted a few sources for tips. And I did find helpful information on how to achieve bust darts, but usually accompanied by comments about not needing darts if you simply add additional stitches to the front. Well no, a larger bust may require additional circumference, but what it really needs is additional depth. We’ve all seen (or experienced!) tops that hike up in front. There may be enough fabric to go around, but there isn’t enough to go over and still appear level — and this happens for any bumps. Large booty? Skirt hems will be higher in back. Large tummy? — pulls up in front. The beauty of a bust dart in knits is that it adds depth to get over the bump, keeps the appearance of level hems and doesn’t require the knit fabric to do any extra stretching to achieve that. 

OK, I feel a peeve is turning into a rant and that’s not helpful. Obviously I’ll continue to do what I think best for fitting knits I make, but I hope others might consider darts for better fit in their makes too. Whether in hand knitting or sewing, it seems bust darts have gotten a bad rap — but really, they’re a bump’s best friend for looking good! And (shhh, our little secret!) if you think sewn bust darts in knit fabric look bulky and awkward — they can be trimmed.

Any thoughts? Polite comments, pro or con are always welcome.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Too late…

 …for a holiday gift suggestion, but never too late to share a finishing hint for knitted (or crochet) projects  — a nifty needle felting kit. 

While I have tried an actual needle felted project in a fiber guild workshop - some small animal, can’t remember what as it didn’t resemble any living thing! - my real appreciation for needle felting is for helping to secure the inevitable loose ends in my projects. I’ve used it several times with great success (even on superwash wool) and it seems to have held up well.

I use this kit from Desert Breeze. There are less expensive kits available elsewhere, but this one suits my needs with a handy thick pad to place under your item, and a variety of felting needles. They don’t come with any handle for the needle during use, but I haven’t found that to be an issue - but again, I’m only securing ends, not shaping anything.

Sunday, October 22, 2023



Jennifer — a floral lace cowl in 4 sizes, plus formula for customizing your own size, by designer Vicky Chan.

Made in size long, with a minor adaptation of initial chain. Yarn is Handmaiden Casbah in Masala color way.

I ran across this single skein of yarn while looking for something else. Thought it was too attractive to spend another moment in a cedar chest, and Boom — a pretty little accessory cowl!  Note to self: you really should look through the yarn stash more often.

Monday, October 16, 2023



It’s always a little nerve racking when you bring a new machine into the fold. You get so used to the ‘old way’ you’ve been doing things that anything slightly different can really be a challenge. 

I really wanted to upgrade my cover stitch capabilities though, and decided to get a newer machine. And then I thought some more. I really want a better cover stitch experience, but do I really want to keep it a stand alone machine? My sewing room is at maximum capacity as far as machines go — could I get rid of one and still have what I need in one combo machine? Would stitch quality be good in both serging and cover stitch operations? Would converting between operations be easy, or would frustration ensue?

It’s early days yet, so I don’t feel qualified to give any sort of in-depth review, but so far I’m quite pleased with the decision I made to get a Bernina L890 machine. I’ve used it for seam finishing garments sewn with a regular sewing machine, constructing a garment entirely with the serger/combo, and converting from serging to cover stitching for neckbands. Not a lot, and nowhere near all it claims to do, but that is a large part of what I want it to do (and do well!)

The on-board instructions/videos are good, and in instances where I’ve needed clearer (I.e. bigger) visuals I’ve been able to find YouTube videos to be a great help. It’s been a real pleasure to use so far, and as I become more familiar with it I hope things will only get better.