Week 22: Bra #2 and Shorts

I didn’t make it quite through all the small things on my list from last time, but on the other hand, I got way more done on the big projects, so I think it comes out pretty even.

First off, the small things that weren’t really worth photographing. I did bar tack the Akita shirt, although when I was going through the binding, I couldn’t find any of the raw edges I remember. I’m sure they’ll turn up again when I wash it and they start to fray. I also split the side seams on the black knit shirt and stitched them up separately, but I have not yet figured out how I want to handle the weird neckline facing issue. Topstitching it down would be the most effective, I think, but I’m not sure if visually it will be weird. (On the other hand, having to adjust the facing constantly throughout the day to tuck it back in is pretty visually weird, so…)

For some reason I thought that hand-stitching even the first part of the bias tape to the York neckline was a good idea, so that has gone more slowly than I’d anticipated.

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I’m very nearly finished, though, and then I’ll just have to rip out that stay stitching. I haven’t touched the shoulder dart yet, so that’s still on the docket.

Undergarments below the cut. (Why am I suddenly all weird about this when my very first post was about underwear? Who even knows. Thanks, anxiety!)

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Week 19: Manila #2 and Bra #1

Hey there! I made a bra this week! I’m going to cover everything non-bra-related before the cut, so you can easily stop reading at that point if you don’t want to read in depth information about (my) boobies.

Sewing

So the first order of business for the week was my second pair of the Manila leggings.

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I really love this pattern. I should definitely have done some pattern matching, because one of those roses gets cut off right at center front, but fortunately these are leggings, and I subscribe to the “leggings aren’t pants” school of thought (at least on me). That cut-off rose will always be under a skirt, haha.

One of the freeing things about being a mediocre seamstress is that you can’t do much worse than ready to wear when it comes to pattern matching. If it sucks, people will assume you bought cheap pants – not the greatest thing for them to think when you put a bunch of work into something, but at least they won’t secretly judge your sewing failure.

Hand basting the waistband didn’t quite save me this time – I still wound up with one side of the waistband not tacked down in the seam, and had to unpick it and stitch it back down. I realized when I was doing the petal cuffs this time though that pressing this material actually does work, and keeps it from rolling – so next time I use something similar I’ll try pressing the waistband before I stitch it. I’m also tempted to wear gloves next time I use this fabric – it kept catching on nicks I couldn’t even feel on my fingers and fingernails.

As a side project, I’ve been unpicking a pair of black corduroys that met a tragic end by splitting right down the butt while I was out and about. Now that I’m sewing regularly, I was like “ooh, fabric!” and started thinking about things I could do with the remaining good fabric. I figured a knee-length skirt would be a good candidate, and I made Selene awhile back, and although I need to fix some fitting issues with it, it has that center front panel that would allow me to use a smaller piece from the pants. Unfortunately, when I laid the pattern out on the fabric, it became pretty clear I wasn’t going to have enough:

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Of course Kaylee sat right on the clean fabric as soon as it came out of the dryer.

I might be able to tweak the back pattern to separate it into two pieces, but I think even doing that, there’s not enough good fabric left to cover the whole thing. The seat area has marks from where the pockets were, and the front pockets cut into my usable area on the front. I didn’t even bother to lay out the waistband pieces, because if needed I could have done the waistband in a separate fabric.

So, sadly, Selene is not going to work out for me here. I’m also questioning whether I can manage a skirt just from this one pair of pants at all. I might have to stash it and use it for a much smaller project, or as an accent fabric on something.

Complete tangent here: unpicking these pants was a really interesting experience. When I was a kid, probably even into my teen years, I assumed that ready to wear clothes were made entirely by machine. I don’t think it really occurred to me that real people could be making so many clothes, or that it would be so inexpensive if they were. Unpicking my inexpensive ready to wear pants reminded me that there are people behind the clothes we buy, sewing the same seams I’d be sewing if I made them myself. They do it day in and day out, on the same style of garment over and over again, and they’re paid substantially less than I am so that I can afford to buy a pair of pants that sort of fit me for less than $30.

Unpicking just felt like a weird sort of communion with the people overseas who did the sewing on them in the first place. This whole year of making all my clothes is at least partially to make me mindful of the process that goes into my ready to wear clothes, but this is the first time it’s really hit home.

OK, enough with the serious stuff, on to boobies!

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Week 18: Manila

Sewing

My plan for last week was to just sew the first three seams on the Manila pants, right?

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Well, I sort of finished them. You can’t really tell because the pattern is so busy, but those babies are done. 

So I actually love this pattern. In particular, the first part works up super quickly and suddenly you have a pants-shaped item!

However. I feel like the instructions sort of can’t decide if they are aimed at an absolute beginner or at a more experienced sewer.

  • There are sidebars that tell me about the right vs. wrong side of the fabric and about the notches, but don’t tell me if I need to clip or finish my seams?
  • Similarly, the waistband was smaller than the waist, which did require easing the waist into the waistband. I assume this was intentional, and it turned out fine, but if I were really a new enough sewer that I needed to know right vs. wrong side of the fabric, I would have been very concerned that I’d messed something up.
  • Trying to keep the elastic in the waistband and catch all three edges with fabric that wanted to roll back on itself was not easy. (My gut told me to hand baste the waistband closed before trying to attach it, and I ignored my gut, and had to spend 6 episodes of Yuri on Ice picking that damn seam out.)
  • The instructions don’t tell you to change the overlap on the cuff on the second leg, and I didn’t notice that the cuff overlap was reversed in the line drawing, so my cuffs aren’t mirrored nicely. On this fabric it really doesn’t matter, but I’d probably be taking it out and redoing it if I’d used a solid fabric.
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Both my overlaps are facing the same direction, when they apparently should be mirrored. 😦

Like I said, I actually really like this pattern, and I’m looking forward to making my second one. But I feel like the instructions could use some additional notes for the brand new sewer they appear to be targeting.

My first attempt also made it clear that I need to raise the center back seam about two inches, so I adjusted the pattern to do that.

 

Knitting

OH BOY.

Do you ever find that when you just want something to be done, everything goes horribly wrong, and it takes way longer than it should? That is what happened with these socks.

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I mean, I made it. Finally. But first off, because I’m doing two socks at a time, I did 3/4s of the grafting I needed to before I could check if the sock cuff was big enough to make it around my heel. It was not. I left the “finished” sock alone for awhile and took out the grafting and double-knit section on the half grafted sock, and decided I had enough yarn left (because of course I had cut the yarn at this point) to knit one more row of ribbing before doing a new bind off. Halfway through the bind off, I realized I did not in fact have enough yarn, so I went back and took out the extra row I’d just added, and started the bind-off again. I was 3/4ths of the way through that when I realized I still didn’t have enough yarn, so I had to take out the bind-off row and then another ribbing row.

Basically, I attempted to bind that sock off three times before I finally succeeded. At least on the other sock I knew how far back I needed to rip.

Now that they are done, I like them – the toe-up construction was interesting, they fit really well, and I enjoyed the two-at-a-time sock thing. I just think I need some time away from knitting for a few weeks to get my groove back.

Goals for next week:

  • Manila version 2 – just the whole thing. The first one didn’t take that long.
  • Start into the next project, depending on how quickly that goes.
  • Two bullets feels like too few, so… um… watch more Craftsy videos?

 

Week 14: Finished cardigan and honeycomb sock progress

Sewing

Well I started out this week’s progress by setting a sleeve. And then taking it out again. I have the worst time setting sleeves; they always get a pinch or two of fabric creased that isn’t supposed to be. I gave up, if you’ll recall, with the last shirt, since it was for me and the pattern was busy enough that I didn’t particularly care. On the cardigan, the caught fabric was very noticeable, and also it’s a gift, so I want it to be as perfect as possible. (I mean it’s very obviously not perfect, but I want it to look like I at least tried to get it perfect.)

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So while I was painstakingly picking out that stupid armhole seam I thought “hey, maybe if we hand-baste this thing in it will be easier to sew?”

And lo and behold, it really was. It takes some extra time, but not as long as picking the seam out. Worth it. Maybe as I get better at sewing I can skip that step, but for now….

I decided to go ahead and move forward with the Hong Kong seam finish I’d been considering. And if I decide to do those in the future, I should decide that before the whole garment is assembled and the seams are half covered by other seams. Not my smartest move. I wound up having to do a bunch of hand-finishing work to hide the edges of the bias tape at seam intersections, where if I’d just finished it when I finished the seam, it would have done it automatically. Never again.

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These were the big pieces. I pieced together a bunch of small ones, too.

I cut a ton of bias tape for the project from scraps. After battling with stitching my tiny scrap bias tape together, it was a relief to cut some longer pieces that could be used without assembly.

(You might notice this isn’t actually cut on the bias. Since the purpose of cutting it on the bias in woven material is to make it stretchy and to keep it from fraying, I decided that knit material already has the two of those covered, and I’d probably make the situation worse if I tried to bias cut it.)

If the project were for me, I would have added some brightly colored, mismatched fabric for the seam bindings, but my mom would at least have needed the colors to coordinate, which was going to mean finding new fabric and cutting it up, and I just didn’t really have it in me. On the other hand, self-binding with this fabric did mean adding a lot of bulk to the seams, which I wasn’t counting on. I skipped binding the hem to avoid adding weight there, and I didn’t bind the sleeve seams or cuffs because I thought the extra bulk would be annoying.

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Bound shoulder and armhole

Lastly, I still wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to close the cardigan – the pattern doesn’t actually feature a closure at all, but my mom wanted to be able to button it closed or something, and we’d picked out a button she liked while we were buying fabric. I figured I could do some sort of loop out of this fabric, though I wasn’t really sure where to attach it, and I worried about the button thread ripping through the fabric and creating a hole with time.

Then while I was making a ridiculous amount of bias tape, I realized I could make a double-fold bias tape and stitch it together and it would essentially be cording, at least with the 1″ strips I was using. And I remembered that you can use a second button on the back to keep your button from tearing through fabric. All in all, I’m pretty dang pleased with the way the closure came out, considering I only had the vaguest sense of what I was going to do before yesterday.

I stitched the loop down by machine right at the existing seam line. I hand-finished the raw edges and stitched it down again just to the back of the hem to avoid a second row of visible stitching on the front.

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The finished cardigan!

The only thing I might still do before I give it to my mom is find some dark hem tape and stitch it to the bottom hem to clean up the ragged edges from where I trimmed the excess off.

Knitting

Well since this post is already picture-spammy, and the socks look a lot like they did last week, I’m going to skip sock pictures. I did in fact make it to the gusset start – a few increases into it, even. I’m still not sure I started it at the right place, but you gotta take the plunge sometime, right?

Goals for next week:

  • figure out the next sewing project and get to the point where we have fabric cut out – we’re on a time schedule now, for reasons that will be explained next week
  • get through the heel turn and to the cuff of the honeycomb socks

 

Week 12: Cardigan and socks

Sewing

Turns out having a harder deadline earlier in the week is super motivating. Also, like I said last week my schedule freed up. I got way more than just the first step done on the cardigan. Once I cut out the pieces, I sort of went to town.

Step 1 was to gather what will be the back of the neck, but is on the front pieces. They sort of wrap around to the back.

I’d picked up this ribbon at Joann months ago for some reason; probably it was pretty and inexpensive and I decided I needed it. Anyway, when the pattern called for seam tape and I couldn’t find any in the store, I opened the pattern to figure out what it was going to be used for and decided this would work fine.

001 cc Next was assembling everything, and I sort of got caught up in what I was doing and neglected to take pictures. I’ve only basted everything together at this point, and only one arm (which needs to be re-set anyway, it’s twisting strangely).

I even had my mom over yesterday to try it on. I’m going to let out the side seams a bit, down to 1/4″, but otherwise the fit is pretty good! My armscythe lengthening didn’t come back to bite me at all, and really the only thing I wish I’d done was increase the width another inch.

This is a very stable knit fabric (double-knit, I’m pretty sure), and it’s been awesome to work with after the rayon shirt.

Knitting

Knitting felt like it went slow this week, but I did in fact finish off those socks. And of course as soon as I finished them I wanted to start another pair. (I haven’t yet, but the desire was there!)

I’m immensely pleased with how they turned out. They’re still blocking in the right picture there, but they’re very consistent with each other and it’s so nice to start and finish just once. Unfortunately, I forgot to weigh the finished socks before I soaked them down, so I’ll have to wait for them to dry before I can figure out if I have enough yarn left for another pair. I have a feeling I’m going to be a bit short, but we’ll see.

My next pair is going to be toe-up so I can use a full skein. It’s a big skein, and I’m hoping I’ll have enough for a pair of knee socks.

Goals for next week:

  • Rip all the basted seams in the cardigan
  • Stitch at least the back and side seams together.
  • Wind the next sock yarn into a paddy
  • Cast on for the toe-up socks

Week 8 Report: Finished York and Socks 2

Sewing

York is done, yaaaay!

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Someday I’ll learn to take non-crappy pictures!

So I finished it on Tuesday after work and of course had to wear it first thing on Wednesday. It fits pretty well, but now that the sleeves are in I notice that the back pulls a bit when I reach forward, so next time I make this pattern I’ll do a broad upper back adjustment to account for that. I picked up some of what feels like a cotton crepe maybe? at Goodwill, and I think it would be pretty great for this. It might be the next thing I do after my mom’s cardigan, we’ll see.

I was going to have my friend take a pic of me wearing it on Saturday when she was in town, but I failed to remember while she was here, so it’s another mediocre indoor shot.

Meet Ethel:

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Ethel. (The machine, not the cat. The cat is Kaylee, and she’s clearly been pressing her nose to the window.)

Ethel saved my bacon. As expected, I was too lazy to try to figure out what was wrong with my other machine (seen in the background of that pic), so I pulled out Ethel. Ethel didn’t have a name until this week, but after blowing through the last few seams I had here with zero problems – zero, no bunching, no eating my fabric, I barely even noticed this wasn’t quilting cotton – Ethel got a name.

At some point when I expressed an interest in sewing when I was probably 10 years old, my great grandmother and I went into the cabinet at her church and she pulled this one out for me. I assume it was one she’d loaned them and was taking back?  I actually don’t remember ever asking about it, but she was very devout and I highly doubt she’d steal from the Church, so….

Anyway, my great grandmother’s name was not Ethel (it was Anne), because I thought it was a little weird to name my sewing machine after my great grandmother, but I am pretty sure her best friend’s name was Ethel (or was it Edith…), and I like the Alice Cooper reference, and so Ethel it is. I’m sure my other machines will get names as they come to me.

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The tension on that cuff topstitching looks wonky now that I see it up close like that, but it is way less wonky than it would have been if I’d done it on the other machine

Thanks, Ethel.

As far as my mom’s cardigan goes, I pulled out the pattern and did all my measuring and some math to figure out what adjustments I need to do. I didn’t take pictures because it was me and a pencil and a ruler and measuring tape, and that is just not super exciting.

My mom and I have basically the opposite body shapes – I’m on the shorter side, tend to put on weight in my hips and thighs, and am a pretty average cup size so I’ve never really had to make bust adjustments. My mom is tall and busty and puts on her weight in the stomach area, so all the adjustments I’m just starting to get used to making for myself are the opposite of what I’m going to have to do for her. Based on the measurements I’ve done, it looks like I’ll definitely be doing a full bust adjustment (FBA), as expected, and also adding a little width at the waist. I’m going to trace off the pattern and do a tissue fitting for her probably next weekend, which will be a little weird because it’s a knit garment so the tissue isn’t a true representation. I think it will still be useful, though, to make any length adjustments she wants and to make sure the widths are at least ballpark.

Knitting

Two at a time socks, oh my gosh.

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The setup for these was very awkward, since I’m doing two on one circular instead of two circulars, and also I had to re-wind the yarn so I had access to both ends. But once I got it all set up? This is awesome! There’s something kind of addicting about watching two pairs of socks be constructed at the same time. It is slower, obviously, but it doesn’t really feel that much slower.

I was going to do just a really basic rib, but as soon as I got going I realized I didn’t need the extra brain power just to handle the two-at-a-time thing, so I poked around in my newest knitting book, Lara Neel’s Sock Architecture, to see if there was any sort of basic, repetitive pattern that I could borrow for the top and leg of the sock, and found the single garter knit in her Strie pattern that is pretty much exactly the level of complexity I wanted in a quick knit – just enough to give it some variety so I’m not doing a 1×1 rib all the way down the sock. I think the color variations in the sock aren’t going to show off the pattern very well, but we’ll see.

(Side note: this book is awesome. I sort of hate following full patterns, but you can pick and choose heel and toe techniques from here and use them however you want. She has instructions for both top down and toe up socks, and if you are a pattern person, she spells out the pattern row by row and also has diagrams.)

Goals for next week:

  • trace off the pattern pieces for the cardigan
  • research FBA adjustment for knit fabrics and do it
  • finish the legs on the socks and maybe start down the heel flap?

Week 7 Report: Finished Socks and York Polish

Sewing

As you might have intuited from the title, I did not quite finish York this week. I did get very close, though!

I went ahead and did the Hong Kong finish on the cuffs, since I had to cut extra bias tape anyway (or did I?) It does look very nice compared to my overlocked seams, and after the bias tape was cut it really wasn’t difficult.

I cut the bias tape the old-fashioned way this time, since I just needed a few separate strips, and the rayon played much, much more nicely than it did trying to do the continuous bias tape method. I’ll keep that in mind for future bias tape adventures.

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Inner cuff, Hong Kong finished

After that went so well, I moved onto the neckline. I’m not gonna lie, the instructions for the neck binding confused the heck out of me. It looked like it was done like a waistband, but it was so narrow that I couldn’t figure out how to turn the edges underneath? And bias tape isn’t supposed to fray, so I thought “ok, maybe the edges of the tie are just left unfinished”. That plus the fact that my bias tape was so inconsistently sized meant that I wound up doing a more of a Hong Kong finish on the neckline, as well (although I didn’t topstitch, which in hindsight I really should have).

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Yeah check out that uneven bias tape!

Basically, I’m pretty sure I did it all wrong, haha. Well, it’s a learning experience! I am not planning to take it out unless something terrible happens in the wash – which is entirely possible, since some of the edges of my bias tape were not on the true bias, and as such are in fact fraying a little already. Good thing I have long hair and nobody will see it?

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I’m pretty sure that color bleeding is because I over-steamed, too 😦

I’m not too worried about it for now. The neckline still looks decent in the front, and the likelihood that anyone but another sewer will notice is pretty slim. And if I need to, this is a pretty easy detail to go back and fix at a later date.

Somehow my measurements were off and I had way too much bias tape for the neckline, even including the foot tails on both ends! I didn’t technically need to make new bias tape at all! I’m glad the cuffs were such a positive experience, otherwise I would be pretty annoyed.

I was going to finish off the hem, but the tension on my machine went pretty wonky. I tend to double-stitch if I need to double-fold a hem (once for the first turn, once for the second) because otherwise my hems slide all over, but on my first stitching pass the back wasn’t getting locked into the material at all, despite the fact it was the same tension I’ve been using for the whole project without any problems. I replaced the needle just in case, and played around with the tension on a scrap piece of material, but without any luck. I had a chunk of fuzz come out while I was stitching the neckline, so I should probably open it up and clean it out before I do anything else with it. Or maybe give up and use one of my other machines.

Similarly, I keep forgetting about the cuff topstitching step, but that will have to wait until the machine is back in order.

Since I should be able to start the next project this week (fingers crossed), a little more detail on that: it’s a cardigan for my mom, which is her Christmas present for 2016. I basically gave her an IOU for a single garment, because I didn’t want to try to make her something without her measurements, and I wanted her to get exactly what she wanted. She went with a medium-weight knit cardigan from McCall’s 6996 pattern, but with a hook and loop closure instead of the belt.

Knitting

I did in fact finish the socks, though!

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Not actually blocked yet, as you can see. Just put on the blockers for picture-taking purposes.

The yarn did in fact make it to the toes of both socks, which means I got two pairs of socks out of this one ball of Saucon Sock yarn. They are a little big, which is unfortunate but not the end of the world, since they are ankle socks, but with 44% cotton I am hoping they shrink up in the wash just a little bit. You can’t tell super well in the picture, but I messed up the decreases on the bottom sock – I knew the sock was running a little big, so I decreased down to 28 stitches on the bottoms vs. the 34 stitches on the top of the socks. On the top sock, I remembered to transfer those stitches to the other side before starting the decreases. On the bottom sock, I didn’t, so the decreases are placed a little lower.

That’s also the first sock, where I was still figuring out the cable pattern, so I’m kinda glad the mistakes are confined to the one sock, haha.

For my next socks, I want to try doing two at a time. I’ll probably stick with either a simple rib or stockinette for my first attempt at two-at-a-time socks to avoid confusion, and I’m not sure what yarn I’m going to grab from my stash yet but I’ve no shortage of sock yarn to choose from.

Goals for next week:

  • Hem the shirt
  • Topstitch shirt cuffs
  • Measure the pattern pieces for the cardigan
  • Measure mom again (I took basic measurements when we went pattern hunting to pick a close pattern size, but need some more to get a real fitting)
  • Start the next socks (not sure if they will be toe-up or top-down, but I’d like to get an inch or more in either way)