Thursday, January 29, 2015

Woolly Oslo Cardigan

What do you do with a fabric that you can't press, pin, wash, or mark? That frays, gobbles up stitches, stretches in ways you don't want, and creates glitter once cut? Oh, and it's striped. If you're me, I guess you make an Oslo cardigan!


You know how Mood has a Deal of the Day fabric, something at the crazy price of 50% off? (If you didn't know, I apologize now, as you're about to spend more $$ there than you've planned.) I previously bought one of those half-off fabrics (pink stretch silk charmeuse!) and loved it, so when I saw this wool blend knit I had to have it.

It's wool, acrylic, and lurex. It was listed as a knit that doesn't stretch. I didn't even bother trying to press it because of the acrylic and lurex. The weave is SO open that pins fell out. The cut edges frayed and the lurex disintegrated and left sparkles all over my sewing room (and me). I also didn't wash it, probably a first for me. It's hands-down the craziest fabric I've ever sewn.

All of that said, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I couldn't wait to sew this up in an Oslo cardigan, one of the December patterns from Seamwork magazine. After a mere 5 months, pregnancy sewing is boring me to tears, but I knew that a cardigan would be useful now and for years to come. Seamwork provided an excellent article about sewing with sweater knits, and that gave me the confidence to plow ahead with this beast (you can read the articles for free, it's $6/month to subscribe and receive the patterns).

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the completed garment. The fabric was a real challenge (in a good way, I learned a lot) and I don't know if it works well with the pattern. It's a bit stiff and I think it makes the cardigan look enormous on me (I made a small). Normally I'd give you my measurements for comparison, but they change every day, ha!

It looks particularly...fluffy...from the side. You can't even tell that I'm pregnant in the above photo. Ooo, but if you look closely, you can see my stripe-matching on the side seams!

I'm not crazy about this color ON ME. I love it, but I think silver and white kind of wash me out. I styled this with the brightest maternity shirt I could find (a modified Renfrew, blogged here) to help bring some color into the picture, but still all I can see is OLD MAN SWEATER.

I omitted the buttons (for now, I might sew some on next winter) but here is how it would look if the cardigan closed:

The pattern is very well drafted and the instructions are excellent. Good thing too, because every stitch completely disappeared into the weave. If I had made a mistake I would not have been able to rip it out. I was even able to sew the sleeves in flat without issue. The seam allowance is only 3/8" so choose your size wisely. I did a LOT of test sewing to figure out the best stitch for construction. I ended up following the guidelines in the Seamwork article, a zig-zag stitch with a length of 2.0 and a width of 1.5. Yes, you read that right, I assembled the whole thing on my sewing machine even though it's a "knit". All the seam allowances were finished on my serger.

I sewed the hem by hand after serging the raw edge. With white thread you can't see the stitches at all, so I didn't have to be particularly careful with it.

Next time, I'll add some length to the sleeves. It's probably a personal preference but I'd like them longer than the above. The shoulders are dropped and it made it hard to know exactly how long they'd end up. I'm also not sure my cuffs are done correctly.

Again, I think it's an issue with my fabric, but the cuffs are crazy big compared to the sleeve and looked stupid before I cuffed them. I turned them down and tacked them just over the seam. If I could unroll them maybe the length wouldn't be an issue, but like I said they looked bizarre since there wasn't the right stretch.

Above, on the left, the cardigan with the collar unrolled. On the right, folded down.

I don't know...your thoughts? Do I need a size x-small? Is the back too wide? The fabric not right? Too long on me? Some combination of those things? It's such a pretty garment, I hate to stick it into the closet, and I'm not going to fault the pattern if the fabric was the problem. With a standard knit this would be a quick sew and could keep you cozy all winter!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Two Year Blogiversary!

Woohoo! Happy Blogiversary to me! Two years ago I started blogging about my then-newish sewing life and projects. I've worked hard to grow a blog of which I'm proud, and it's such a fulfilling way to share my garments with the world.

My most popular post in the last year was this Plantain Tee Hack. That was a fun one! I like that top a LOT but it ended up a bit tight across the bust, and I don't wear it as much as I should. It's funny how hesitant I was initially about the Plantain, as I LOVE that pattern now.

In the last year I did a lot of fun things with my book, which I never would have published without this blog. I released the kid's version, appeared in Threads magazine (!!!) and partnered with the Coletterie/Wardrobe Architect project on a free download.

In May, I redesigned the blog with new artwork from my talented friend Janelle at re:find joy. After all these months I still love the work she did and my cleaner, pretty blog design.

I sewed a lot more indie patterns in the last year, which was a goal of mine. Click the tag "indie pattern project" in the sidebar to see the full list.

Looking ahead, I've got a TON of stuff planned with my book (check back tomorrow!) and I'm looking forward to sewing more wovens once I'm not pregnant. I have no idea how my blog and sewing will be impacted with a second little one, so I might sew up some summery items well before s/he arrives. I'd love to continue working on my photography so my photos are as pretty as my me-mades :)

A BIG thank you to everyone who reads regularly, and to those who comment. This blog means a lot to me and it wouldn't be possible without you!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Project Runway All Stars recap

I assume people watch QVC, right? So this week's episode was relevant? If you are one of the people who watch QVC please comment and tell me. Is it just a fancier version of AS SEEN ON TV?

Highlights: At first I was glad to see some RTW ideas, since those are more accessible to us lowly home viewers. And then nobody did true RTW and it sucked.

Lowlights: Am I the only one getting sick of Helen's excuses? "I'm not a _____ designer" seems to be her line every week. If you only want to design wedding dresses that cost 5K then you should have stayed home. Maybe the reason you're doing client meetings in your kitchen is because you haven't diversified enough.

Hey, ringing the closing bell is a big deal. In case you didn't get that. It's not like it happens every day. Oh wait...

I would have liked more information about the QVC client. I was pretty confused about what they were looking for, and it would have been nice to see a dossier on the other items in the line they mentioned. In the past, production cost has always come up in a "business" challenge, but they never talked about that. Hey Fabio, I doubt QVC is going to dye fabric for your RTW garment.

Best garment: To be honest, the only garment I liked this week was the top that Jay ended up ditching. I wanted to like Dmitry's, but once Helen mentioned Street Fighter that was all I could see!

Worst garment: I was really excited by Jay's sketches, but I feel like the garments themselves didn't pan out. Fabio was disappointing again, Sonjia's yellow dress hurt my eyes, her RTW garment was only interesting because of the fabric, and Michelle did use too much print, no matter what she thinks.

Of the five designers left, I'm not sure who I would choose to see a collection. I think Dmitry, Michelle, Nobody? What about you?

Next week: MARCHESA!!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The One with all the TMI

My husband and I have been watching a lot of Friends lately (thanks Netflix!) hence the title of this post. Why so much TMI you ask? Because I made my first bra!

Well, y'know, not my FIRST bra, as in, training bra. You know what I mean. And I'm sorry these photos are lame, but I don't have a dress form. You'll notice that I had to tape the crap out of these to get any recognizable shape. I did NOT have the best time with the elastic application (more on that later).

The WAVES on this...oh my eyes!

The pattern for the bra is the Anna Crossover Bralette from Ohhh Lulu. The undies were made using the free pattern from So, Zo and this has become a TNT for me. The ones I've made using this pattern are my favorites in my whole top drawer.

Wanna hear something crazy? I actually made a muslin of the bra! The pattern is designed for a C cup, but Sarah has provided an excellent tutorial on her blog for both a small bust adjustment and a full bust adjustment. Right before I got pregnant (because of course) I did some extensive bra shopping and ended up being most comfortable in a 32D. Specifically, this one from Calvin Klein (I bought a few in different colors). I went ahead and muslined the pattern as-is, but I realized I did need an FBA. Sarah's tutorial made it very easy.

The original pattern piece is on top, the adjusted piece on bottom.

If you know anything about being pregnant, you know that your boobs change size every day. I prefer my Calvin Klein bras for leave-the-house kind of support, but looking ahead I knew I'd need some new bras for nursing. I still have the ones I used for my first child, but I'm also sick and tired of them. Nursing is a beautiful thing, but being restricted to the same few bras for years is not.

The Anna Crossover will be perfect for nursing, since it...crosses over (duh). Until the little one is here, it's a great bra for wearing around the house. I know people hate on underwires, but I'm thinking that some bloggers have yet to experience the havoc that pregnancy can bring to your chesticles :) Underwires trump gravity, mmmkay?

Back sewn closed

I did make a few changes to the pattern besides the FBA. Rather than include a back clasp and regular bra straps with sliders, I sewed the back closed and used straps made from fold-over elastic (I folded it together and sewed it closed). I also did not have pretty elastic for the bottom band, so you can see above my sad regular 1/2" elastic from Wawak.

With these adjustments it only goes on by stretching it over my head, which is fine, and more comfortable.

Something about a matching set feel so grown up, am I right? I ran out of the brown FOE, hence the orange elastic in the waistline. It looks kind of dumb, kind of okay. Meh.

Now, about the elastic. I previously wrote a post about using fold-over elastic to finish edges. Knowing the right way to do it (stretch the elastic, not the fabric) and actually being able to do it are two different things. Even if I thought I wasn't stretching the fabric, my presser foot went ahead and did it for me. Boo. I should have followed my own advice and used glue to baste the FOE before sewing. I wised up by the time I got to the underwear and as you can see, it's nowhere near as stretched out.

In general, I hate sewing knits on my regular machine, but that's the only way to sew FOE. I think I need to experiment more with the size of my zig-zag stitch. A wide stitch seemed to work better. If I had the ability to lessen my presser foot pressure, I would have done that. Lastly, tissue paper between the feed dogs and the garment helped. After making this set, I made another pair of underwear with an extremely lightweight knit and ruffle elastic. I glue-basted the entire thing and it went MUCH better. And look how pretty!

There is one thing I want to mention about the Ohhh Lulu pattern. The back band pattern piece did not line up properly with the side of the cup piece. The pattern only has three seemed kind of odd that two did not go together correctly.

That said, the directions were sufficient, even for a novice bra sewist. If you don't follow Sarah on Instagram DO IT! She makes/sells the most beautiful lingerie. I have some stretch lace that I want to use for my next Anna Crossover, and one of these days I'll order proper notions. Sewing underthings can be scary, but seriously, what else are you going to do with those 1/4 yard leftovers you've got hanging out in your stash?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What I'm Reading: The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook

Once upon a time, I had a dream to sew jeans. I bought denim, rivets, and patterns. But one thing was missing: a sewing machine that could handle the task. These shorts that I made last summer showed me the limits of my primary machine (a Brother cs6000i), and I started drooling over vintage machines on ebay. Once I started looking, it didn't take long for one to find its way to my door.

This Singer 15-91 is from 1951 (easy to remember, right?). As it stands, it's simple to use. It only sews a straight stitch, after all. But this box of attachments that came with it?

They might as well be trinkets from a lost civilization on Mars. 

Singer 15-91

Shortly after receiving this box of mystery, I discovered the book I'm reviewing today, The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook. I reserved it at my library only to be told that it was missing. Whomp whomp. Miraculously, after a few months the book was found! And thank goodness, because there is a wealth of information about vintage presser feet, and about vintage machines in general.

vintage Singer

I highly recommend this book if you have a vintage machine and a box of unidentified doodads. I have the original manual for my machine, but full-color photos are far superior to the line drawings in the manual. The author, Charlene Phillips, does an excellent job explaining how to attach each foot, how to use it, and even a variety of practical ideas.

Using this book, I was able to identify all the feet that came with my machine (yes, they were named in the ebay listing, but that didn't help me know what they were when they arrived!).



foot hemmer
Hemming foot

Adjustable hemming foot

Edge stitcher (also for joining lace)

Gathering foot

Adjustable zipper foot


This story ends, sadly, without much use of my vintage machine. Just after receiving it, I got pregnant and jeans went out the window. I elected not to make a coat this winter and I've been sewing mostly knits with my serger. But armed with the knowledge of how all these feet work, I can't wait to sew more with this beauty. Y'know, whenever I find my waist again!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Project Runway All Stars recap

Wait a minute. Ariel was inspired by Alyssa Milano? That was so weird how awkwardly she mentioned it, but it made me love her forever. The Little Mermaid was and is my favorite Disney movie of all time. Of course, now I won't be able to watch it without thinking of Alyssa Milano...

Highlights: Everybody was being nice to Justin, which was sweet.

Zanna's hot pink lace button-up with white jeans? DIE! This summer when I'm a mother of two can I wear that? No? Sad face.

Lowlights: So, up to this point, did the two former winners (Dmitry and Michelle) not win a challenge? Odd.

I was disappointed by every sketch. Nobody's sketch looked like crazytown, which is what I expect from avant garde.

Best garment: Most of these were disappointing. The only one I could say I liked was Jay's. It was interesting and chiffon+vinyl is something I hadn't seen before. Dmitry, well, Fabio was right.

Worst garment: Helen. You bombed with ruffles before. Did you forget about that? She's a one-way monkey, as Dmitry would say. She took the most simple shape (a shift dress) and added ruffles. Blah. Judges, you're crazy, and you have short memories.

Michelle's was a hot mess, but her girl's makeup was cool. What is it with Justin, he either makes a short-short skirt, or some longish granny skirt.

Am I the only one who thinks that Justin's personality takes him further than his work? Which is fine, there's more than one way to "get ahead" in this world. But during his season, his nice-ness landed him at Fashion Week, which didn't feel particularly fair. I'm not that interested in seeing another collection from him, so I don't mind his elimination.

Next week: Um, business? IDK, that promo was confusing.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mood board of the Month: Baby It's Cold Outside!

Feeling a little ho hum about your sewing lately? Having trouble making outfits from your individual pieces? I'm here to help! Welcome to my new monthly series: Mood board of the Month! Each month I'll be rounding up a few silhouettes for you, selecting a color palette, and matching up sewing patterns and fabrics. Not feeling particularly inspired by your current queue? Don't worry, I've got a capsule collection just ready to go!

capsule sewing collection

To create these looks, check out the Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans. Pair them with the Perri Pullover from CaliFayeCollection and the Scarves and Cowl pattern from Make It Perfect. But of course you need fabric, right? How about this teal sweater knit for the pullover, and the cowl in this unique grey double knit, both from Hart's Fabrics? For the Ginger Jeans, try this Marc Jacobs stretch denim from Mood. The wintery jumpsuit (McCall's 7099) would be perfect in black wool jersey, also from Mood.

This post is not sponsored by any pattern designer or fabric seller. I wish. I just have too much time on my hands and love planning wardrobes! Check out my Mood Board of the Month Pinterest board for all the links to my inspiration.