Thursday, November 8, 2018

Cozy Double Knit Cardigan

A short and sweet project today that's allll about that fabric!

If you watch any of my Instagram stories, you've already seen this a few times because I couldn't shut up about it. I've been wearing it a lot and I'm tempted to order more! The fabric is a double sweater knit in navy/cream. There was another colorway that was predominately white, but it sold out. I saw a project in the white and couldn't resist ordering the navy from Style Maker Fabrics.

The pattern is what I call my "Athro Cardi Knock Off". I drafted it based on a RTW cardigan that was originally from Anthropologie, although I bought it second-hand. I made one version last summer from a lightweight sweater knit (blogged here). I still can't-stop-won't-stop with the original so I figured it was time to add another.

Like with my previous version, I struggled to fit the front pattern pieces onto the fabric since it is drafted VERY wide (no armscythe/sleeve seams at all, and the front is not straight down, see above). But I made it work with two yards. I regret not adding pockets since I find myself wearing my wool Sloomb leggings really often, and without pants pockets I'm stuck just holding my phone.

The texture of the fabric is fun and different from a plain knit cardigan. I did not use the reverse side for a contrast element but that would be easy to do. The color in these close-ups is washed out a bit, but you can see below the reverse side.

The fabric is a cotton/acrylic blend, and although I'm usually Team Death to Acrylic I will make an exception if a fabric doesn't FEEL like acrylic. This one fits the bill nicely. It's warm, but not HOT like 100% acrylic would be. It took well to pressing, didn't get stretched out too much while sewing, and behaved when I hand-sewed the hem.

Basically, get yourself some of this beautiful goodness before it's gone!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Easy Flannel Poncho

This fall, I've attempted to stretch my wardrobe a bit and try some new things. I'm deviating from my old standby colors (navy, grey, black, and pink) and doing a bit of a capsule with olive green and browns. I'm also trying new items like a vest and overalls, along with today's project, a poncho.

This look has been in the back of my mind for a while, since I saw a tutorial on Pinterest (by Merrick via Jo-Ann's). I loved her black and white version and kind of kept my eye out for a suitable flannel. I saw this one at Style Maker Fabrics and I had to have it!

The colors are brown, olive green, white, and gold. Both sides are super pretty and the flannel is thick and soft.

I followed the tutorial pretty much to the letter, so I'm not going to elaborate too much on construction. Basically, it's two yards folded cut end to cut end, with a vertical slit in front. I tried on the poncho as I was working to see how deep I wanted the cut.

I sewed a straight stitch horizontally just above the hems, and I have been carefully removing strands to create fringe. It's time-consuming, so after about an inch of it I took a break and just started wearing the poncho anyway.

I love throwing this on to go outside and play with the kids. It covers whatever I'm wearing and keeps the dirt off of me. It's also great in the car because it's basically like wearing a blanket! But you could easily dress it up with some skinny jeans and heels the way Merrick does in her tutorial. I'm wearing it here with my black merino Union St. Tee and French Terry Hudson Joggers.

This was such a quick, satisfying project that would make a good palate cleanser between more difficult makes!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Wool+Wax Wool Felt Tote

I received fabric in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.  No affiliate links have been used. Thank you OCP!

A few months back, a friend tipped me off to the most beautiful tote bag I'd ever seen...this knitting bag from twig&horn. I LOVED the dark grey wool outer, the mixed media with the leather straps, and the large size to accommodate knitting projects. What I did not love was the $180 price tag. So when Organic Cotton Plus contacted me about a review, I had a vague notion of trying to copy the twig&horn bag. That notion became a reality when I saw their 100% wool felt. Available in small sheets, by the yard, or even in ribbon, I couldn't wait to nab some yardage and make my own tote bag.

I selected Charcoal and the color is perfect. The lining is 100% cotton broadcloth in Pumice, which is a sort of pinky-lilac color. I don't believe I've ever worked with broadcloth before. It reminded me of a high quality muslin, although a bit sheer. Perfect for a contrast bag lining and very easy to sew. For straps, I went with black hemp webbing in a width of 1.5".

I spent a lot of time searching for a pattern that would get me close to my inspiration bag. Being primarily a garment sewist, the only bag designer I knew offhand was Noodlehead (Range Backpack, I'm coming for you someday!). I checked out her website and found the Wool+Wax Tote pattern, which looked pretty darn close. I happened to run across her booklet, Everyday Essentials, when I was ordering some fabric from another shop, and added that to my cart. The Everyday Essentials booklet contains the Wool+Wax Tote pattern, and two additional ones, although you can purchase all the patterns separately as PDFs.

The pattern was very easy to follow. I think I spent as much time cutting and interfacing as I did sewing! I used a universal 80/12 needle and a walking foot. The wool felt has no spandex or stretch but I did find the walking foot fed the layers much better than a regular foot. I used pink thread for a subtle contrast with the topstitching. The only change I made was to add a magnetic closure, and also to add some ultra firm stabilizer (left over from this project) to the bottom.

This project should have been super quick and easy, but I ran into one snag that definitely needs discussed. I chose not to prewash the felt. Here is the description from the website:

Dry clean only - if washed, the wool will have a boiled wool look. It can also shrink depending on how hot the temperature of water is - the hotter it is the more it will shrink.

Based on this info, I thought it would be better not to prewash. I knew I was making a bag and that I could spot-clean it as needed. I have a lot of experience with wool, and when washed they all behave differently. I thought it would be better not to risk it.

My thought process would have been fine EXCEPT that I forgot about interfacing. When I began fusing my outer bag pieces to my interfacing, it shrank (wool+heat+water=shrinkage). It wasn't a lot, but it was enough for me to notice the first piece looked different and to compare it to its identical counterpart.

At that point, I had already cut all my pieces, so I had a decision to make. Prewash my remaining yardage and recut (if possible!), or continue with what I had and trim the lining pieces to match my wool as it shrank. I went with option #2, because the thought of wasting all that fabric really bothered me.

As it turned out, it wasn't a big deal. I interfaced the pieces that required it, and trimmed down the ones that didn't shrink. Since this wasn't a complicated pattern it was easy to know how and when to trim. My finished bag is probably a little smaller than drafted but it works just fine for holding my knitting. 

In conclusion, if you want to work with this wool felt (which you should, because it is awesome!) consider whether or not it will ever be hot/wet/washed DURING the project AND after. 

One other item to note: the hemp webbing felt fairly stiff when it arrived, and the black color is VERY black. I was concerned about it bleeding dye when getting wet even incidentally, like in the rain. I prewashed it by hand in my sink with Synthrapol. Synthrapol is a detergent meant to pull out excess dye from fabric. I've used it with my own dye projects to help reduce bleeding color. I was glad I took this precaution because there was dye bleed, although less than I expected. A bonus side effect was that the webbing came out super soft afterward.

I am such a huge natural fibers junky, and working with the items at Organic Cotton Plus is always a treat. I've never been disappointed with the fabrics I've gotten, and their shipping is crazy fast. Check out all their beautiful fabrics here!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Pinterest-inspired Halifax

You know how sometimes you love something so much, you save it twice on Pinterest? Pretty sure that happened to me with this sweatshirt.

I’ve been wanting to recreate this for some time, but the moment was finally right when I ran across an amazing reverse French terry from LA Finch Fabrics (sold out, sorry!). The loops are on the side with the stripes, rather than the back, giving the front some texture.

I used the Hey June Halifax pattern, the plain view with the cowl neck. I added eyelets to the cowl and a drawstring. Normally, I’m not into drawstrings (they always seem to get lost in the wash) but I think the hardware and the drawstring elevate the look a bit. The eyelets were from my stash and are the Dritz brand. The drawstring cord was purchased on Etsy, it's the gift that keeps on giving as I had 80 gazillion yards.

This is a size small. The fabric doesn’t have much stretch so this is just a bit bigger than a shirt. I can fit a tank top underneath but I’m not sure I’ll try it with a loose T-shirt.

This was a super quick sew since I’ve already made the pattern before. It turned out so much like my inspiration, I love it!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Oakley Vest

Cooler weather has found its way to Indiana, much to my chagrin. Give me 85 degrees year round, please! The one good thing about the temperature cooling off is the mix up in clothes. It's fun to pull out last year's items and mix them in with this year's newest sewing projects. My first fall sew was the Oakley Vest, from Love Notions Patterns.

Shirt is blogged here and jeans here

I've always been one of those people who didn't understand the point of vests. Maybe it's my climate, but I never felt like we had the right weather for vests. My body is cold but my arms are not? I didn't get it. I'm not sure what changed, except that I got tired of seeing vests on Pinterest and not having one!

I intended to make a black vest, but while fabric shopping at Jo-Ann's I ran across this grey quilted knit. Obviously, I had to take it home. It only took one yard to make my size (XS). I was between sizes and went down, per the instructions. I'm happy with the fit.

I opted for View C, the version with princess seaming and in-seam pockets, but with the collar from View B. Halfway through, I decided the vest was too lightweight to be left unlined. I also didn't have enough bias binding (it needs five yards!) and thought better of the bias tape completely. I felt it would look more elevated if it were lined. The pattern provides directions for lining View A, which has no collar and no zipper. I was left to muddle my way through lining my version. I realize now it would have been easiest to sew the collar to the bodice, the collar facing to the lining, and then bag the lining that way. I already had the collar on, however, so at the neckline I pretty much just topstitched the lining down. If you have more questions about what I did, please ask in the comments, I didn't take any photos but I can try to explain it.

One other change I made was to make the pocket bags out of a lightweight woven (polka dot chambray left over from this Phoenix Blouse). The pattern has a somewhat unusual cut-on pocket that folds back into itself inside the princess seam. That would have left me with three layers of quilted knit where the pocket is, and I wasn't keen on that much bulk right over my belly. Since the pocket was cut-on, I just cut a pocket bag from the woven and sewed it directly to the quilted knit, then trimmed away the knit. You can also save a lot of fabric this way if you don't cut the pocket fully.

The lining is a mix of lightweight French terry fabrics that were languishing in my scraps. Not the prettiest, and I had to piece in places, but it works. Again, because the main pattern had cut-on pockets, there was some fudging of the pattern pieces to eliminate the pockets in the lining. Not particularly difficult, but an extra step.

This would've been a super fast sew if I hadn't made a bunch of changes, but even with those it was a quick one. I definitely recommend wash-a-way tape to baste your zipper if you make this in a knit.

My separating zipper was purchased at Jo-Ann's. The pattern called for 23" but this one was 24" and worked just fine. 

And I know I'm ignoring every "rule" with my photographs, and that I took pictures in broad daylight and you can see the shadows, and the color is blown out. Don't care. It had been raining for three or four straight days and the sunshine was all too welcome. Bet you didn't know that southern Indiana had such beautiful rolling hills, huh? 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Black Overalls

Wow, what an inspiring post title! I wanted to go with “World’s Most Amazing Handmade Item Ever” but that sounded a little pretentious, although accurate. May I present to you, black overalls!

I really hope these photos don’t just look like black blobs, but we all know how hard it is to photograph black. I tried! If these look familiar but not exactly, you’re right. I used Burda 6599, which I made earlier this year in the shorts version. I love that one, but did want to tweak it a bit. I sewed the same size as before, a 10, with the following modifications:

  • Shortened the front bib by removing 1" at the top, and 1 1/2" mid-bib (lengthened straps to accommodate this change)
  • Lowered the underarm portion front and back, eliminating one side button
  • Stitched the darts on the back before sewing on the back pockets
  • Less topstitching, specifically on the waistband and straps
  • Reinforced under the buttons on the top of the bib (used fabric scraps in addition to interfacing)
  • Changed the shape of the front bib pocket (it's a 5"x6" rectangle)
  • Drafted a new hip pocket to reduce bulk
  • Used a lining fabric for the waistband facing to reduce bulk
  • Shortened the legs by removing 1" at the first L/S line and 1" at the second L/S line
  • Narrowed the legs for a tighter fit

As I said, I liked my first version, but there are two things that bug me about them. First, the bib is super long, and when sitting it sort of folds down onto itself. Second, it's HOT! The way it's drafted, the pattern calls for a waistband facing from denim, as well as hip pockets from all denim. The side buttons are multiple layers as well as the straps. It's just a LOT of denim. For my black pair, I used a lining fabric for the waistband facing. I also redrafted the hip pockets so that the pocket bag could be made from lining fabric instead of all denim. These changes helped a ton and this version is way less bulky and hot.

I also dropped the underarm and removed one side seam button from each side. I can now wiggle these off without even unbuttoning them. Score!

Tee is a triblend Union St. Tee

Now let's talk about materials. This. Fabric. It might be my most favorite fabric of any fabric I've ever worked with...except maybe this wool French terry. But a close second! It's a stretch denim from The Fabric Store. Anyone who has worked with denim knows that the quality is all over the place, especially stretch denim. Black stretch denim is even more impossible. It's not dark enough, fades quickly, shows white upon stretching...all kinds of things can go wrong. But none of them have with this one! I love it so much, I went back to order more, and was absolutely crushed when I couldn't find it. I emailed The Fabric Store and they got back to me right away, saying they are trying to get more of it. Apparently it was very popular. You can bet, if they restock, I will have a pair of skinny jeans out of this stuff!!

The hardware I used is silver jean tacks from Wawak, as well as silver overall buckles from Dritz. I swapped out the engraved buttons in the kit for solid ones that matched the side seams. I decided not to add any rivets to keep the overall effect more modern and clean.

The lining fabric I used is LIBERTY OF LONDON Tana Lawn, also from The Fabric Store. I ordered a teeny tiny half yard (that crap is expensive!) specifically to use with this project. This was my first time working with Liberty fabric and yeah, it was pretty nice! I don't usually gel with their prints, but I liked the colors in this one.

The back pocket design was stitched at random. 

I adore these overalls. They are so incredibly comfortable, stylish, and one of a kind. I had a vision of all the changes I wanted, and they came out perfectly. You can bet that once the weather cools down (it was only about 68 degrees when I took these photos!) I'll be wearing them nonstop. And it's okay if you don't like the Birkenstocks, I think my Chucks will work just fine too ;)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Dyeing Wool Interlock

As I write this post (Wednesday) it's the first day back to school for my oldest. Life should finally calm down to a routine, which includes more regular blogging! I have such a pile up of projects!

While my oldest is off to first grade, my middle will be starting her first year of preschool. She will be attending an outdoor forest school two days a week. She is extremely excited, but this mama wants to make sure she is properly clothed for the elements. My kids wear wool pants almost exclusively (yes, even in the summer, they wear wool shorts) so naturally my mind turned to wool when I was thinking about my daughter being outside. I decided to make some her some leggings from wool interlock. I knew they would be hard-wearing, and warm. She will probably still need some sort of rain/snow-proof layer on top, but I want her base to be nice and toasty.

Just before we moved, I ordered some 97/3 feltable wool interlock from Nature's Fabrics. It is 3% spandex for amazing stretch and recovery. There are instructions on the NF website for how to felt this wool (yes, on purpose!). Once felted, the wool is super dense, but still stretchy. It comes in a natural color so that it can be dyed.

This was my first time dyeing anything. I tried to read as much as I possibly could about dyeing before starting, as well as asking for help in the Nature's Fabrics Facebook group. In the end, I learned more by doing, which is not super surprising. The one piece of information that seemed the most important was that just any old dye would not be the most efficient for wool. Silk and wool are animal fibers, not plant fibers, so they require an acid dye like this one from Jacquard. I ordered mine from Amazon.

The amount of dye you need (it comes in a powder) depends on two things. First, the color you wish to achieve; and second, the weight of the fabric. For example, light colors such as yellow, grey, and pink do not require as much powder as dark colors like navy. Additionally, if the weight of your fabric is high, you need more dye. As an example, 16 oz of fabric dyed pink only requires .25 to .5 oz of dye, but 16 oz of fabric dyed navy requires up to 3 oz of dye. These ratios weren't exactly clear to me until I dug deeply into the directions from Jacquard (see page 2). Furthermore, I learned that other variables can effect the color (more on that in a bit).

In total, I have done 4 different dye sessions. Here is a brief overview of the methods I used. I purchased a stainless steel pot (cheapest I found was online through Wal-Mart) and wooden utensils that are only used for dyeing, not cooking. Rubber gloves were also useful to have, as well as tongs (I didn't have any for dyeing but I will be getting some!). I used Synthrapol, a special soap, for washing the fabric after dyeing.

Session One
Item: Already sewn wool/spandex interlock soaker 3 oz
Dye: 1/2 oz of 626 Navy Blue
Method: stovetop

If my math was correct, this amount of Navy dye with this size of item should have resulted in a true color. However, the soaker turned out to be almost black. I was dyeing it to cover up some staining and dinginess, so I'm fine with it, but I do with it were navy. I forgot to measure the cover before I dyed it but I do not think there was any shrinkage. The thread and tags, presumably being polyester, look tinted but not completely dyed. If you look closely at the inside back waistband in the photo below, that is the only portion that looks navy.

Session Two
Item: 1/2 yard of felted wool interlock (forgot to weight it!)
Dye: 1/2 oz of 608 Pink
Method: stovetop

I was absolutely thrilled with the way the color turned out with this piece. What was not thrilling was the amount of shrinkage (in length only). The piece had already shrunk significantly during the felting process (we're talking 10"+) and it felted another 3" while dyeing. After dyeing this piece I realized I did not have enough material to cut two legs for the leggings I wanted. I ended up ordering another bottle of dye in the same color to use on the other half yard.

Session Three
Item: Pair of light blue machine knit wool pants from Sloomb plus interlock scraps, roughly 16 oz total
Dye: 1/2 oz 638 Silver Grey
Method: stovetop

Due to the amount of shrinkage the previous time, I was reluctant to turn the heat up to near boiling. If I shrank the pants in length they were not going to fit my daughter. I kept the heat at medium. While it was successful in preventing shrinkage, this was the only time I had uneven dye. Either I did not mix it into the water well enough, or it was due to the lower temperature.

Session Four
Item: 1/2 yard of felted wool interlock (forgot to weight it...again)
Dye: 1/2 oz of 608 Pink
Method: stovetop

In an attempt to color match from Session Two, I did everything the same. Except that I forgot to add vinegar. Face palm. I do not think it affected the color although it will probably effect how well the dye sets. I was incredibly disappointed to see that the color was nowhere near the same as before. The shrinkage was the same, but the color was not. My only theory as to why, is the amount of water in the pot was different from one session to the next. The instructions simply say to make sure there is enough water for the fabric to move around freely. Nothing exact. I'm fairly positive I used more water during Session Four, and the color seems more diluted. I'm very frustrated that a variable like this could so dramatically affect the outcome and yet NOT be noted anywhere in the instructions.

Left, Session Two
Middle, Session Four
Right, Session Four and a Half

Session Four and a Half
Item: interlock scraps
Dye: remains of dye bath from Session Four
Method: stovetop

After removing my yardage from the dye bath, I tossed in some scraps of natural interlock (dry). I didn't heat it. I stirred it a bit. I did wash with Synthrapol after but I forgot the vinegar here too. These scraps turned out great although a lighter color entirely.

After all that dyeing, I was left with some really random pieces of fabric that I wanted to turn into pants. I attempted to copy a pair of interlock pants I already had, but I should've just used a pattern because I was constantly futzing with my version. With some fancy cutting and slightly off-grain maneuvering I got three pairs of pants from one yard+scraps. The grey pair was actually fabric that was cut for another project (a sleep sack) and I pieced it back together to make pants. They're just about the most ugly thing I've ever sewn, but since they're just going to outdoor preschool I'm not that concerned! The last pink pair, I prepared some cuffs for extra length and I'll add them when needed. Right now the hem is raw and they're plenty long enough.

Now I want to hear from experienced dyers! Does the amount of water matter as much as it seems? Any tips on even color? This was a fun experiment but I'm probably not jumping back into it anytime soon unless it's NOT with wool!