Week 26: Harrison Shirt

Happy halfway through the year week!

I leave for Japan on Tuesday, so I’m frantically trying to wrap up everything before then.

I did decide to go ahead and cut out the fabric behind the lace, which may have been a mistake. It’s fine when I’m standing, but when I lean over it pulls away from my chest a bit. Also it feels very fragile – this has become a hand-wash only bra for sure. (I usually machine wash and lay flat or hang to dry.) It looks very nice, though.

Here’s the weird fisheye dart I added:
It really looks like it needs topstitching, and actually the fabric on the back would probably stay in place better if I did that, too. I’ll have to do that by hand, to, though, so we’ll see how I feel after a few wearings. I was worried the dart would leave extra visible bulk but actually it looks much smoother with the dart added because of just how much excess fabric there was. It’s not perfect, but it’s wearable. I’m hopeful that my next one will be even closer to a perfect fit.

I made fantastic progress on the shirt, too! The only thing I have left to do is the buttonholes and the buttons, which I really hope go smoothly. I’m going to have to make a test buttonhole or two before I start so I don’t wreck everything with the final step.

I’m so pleased with the collar – it went together really smoothly (probably due to all the hand basting I did), and the stopstitching is pretty even. 

I really enjoyed this pattern – I’ll need to make a few fit tweaks for the next one I make, but there definitely will be a next one. I am also DEEPLY in love with this fabric – the seersucker is super easy to work with, and kind of sticks to itself so it doesn’t slide around while you’re working on it. It’s a nice change from the rayon. (I love the feel of the rayon but dang!)

The only official goal I have for next week is actually a goal for tomorrow – I gotta get those buttonholes and buttons sewn on pronto. But I’m bringing knitting needles and yarn with me, since I have a long flight and a whole lot of train rides ahead of me, and I’m planning to post as usual next week. I just… gotta figure out when to post so that it will come up at the normal time, haha.


Week 17 – Akita, Manila, honeycomb socks


Guys, I found the best matching thread, the best.


I love this thread so much. I’ve seen the variegated thread around and I’ve always wanted to try it, but I couldn’t ever really justify it.

After two attempts to sew that hem in a straight line, and then looking at it and going “You know, even if I sew the perfect hem, that black thread is going to stand out more than I like,” I took a trip down to the fabric store for some thread. Even though it obviously doesn’t match the repeat, it stands out a lot less than the black did.

About the wavy hem: I am pretty sure that I was pulling the fabric a bit too hard while sewing. I’ve been trying to make sure I’m pinching the fabric up when I don’t use pins as Janet Pray recommends in her Craftsy class on garment industry tips, but in this case I think I was a little overzealous.

I decided not to take in the side seams after all, although if I make this pattern again I will probably go down a few sizes and grade out for the hips instead of going with the rectangle. In this case, the checkered fabric actually matched up reasonably well (not perfectly, because I still can’t sew a straight line), and I didn’t want to mess with the lines. I can always belt it if I want more waist definition.

There are still a few places where the raw edge didn’t get caught, so I’d like to hand-tack those down before I wash the shirt, but for now I am calling this one done!

While I was at Joann, I found some bias tape for the York that is still waiting for me to redo its neckline:


I was going to go with brown, but the brown in the pre-cut bias tape was very much not the right brown to match the leaves in this flower pattern. My hope is that the blue will bring out the blue-grey in the flowers, and still provide a nice contrast.

Lastly, I did indeed cut out the fabric for my Manila leggings:


I did zero pattern matching, and I’m hoping that it’s a busy enough pattern that it won’t matter. The other fabric I have is a larger repeat and is probably more important to match, so hopefully I have enough extra that I can actually do that.

I did almost no alterations to this pattern, besides shortening it a half inch on the lengthen/shorten line. Based on the body measurements in the chart, it looks like my waist/hip measurements match the size I picked pretty exactly, so I’m hopeful that this will “just work” without having to do a lot. Also, it’s super stretchy fabric. As long as it doesn’t horribly distort those little pendant motifs, I’ll call it a victory.


These socks, UGH.


You will notice they are still on the needles. However, all I have left to do is graft the tubular bind off. I just ran out of time. You know motivation is bad when it takes a full week to get through less than 15 rows. It isn’t even anything about these socks in particular! I think I’m just sick of socks, and need to do something else for awhile.

I’ve never worried about matching socks with my handmade socks, because for the most part my sock yarn is dyed in blobs and there’s not a good way to match anyway. I can’t decide if the very obvious inverted stripe directions bothers me or not. It definitely doesn’t bother me enough to take them out and redo one of them, haha.

Goals for next week:

Looking at the Manila pattern, it looks like it should be a pretty quick sew. I’m going to assume I’m going to have to pick out at least one seam, and I can already assume I’m going to want to hand-baste the waistband closed before I stitch it to the legs of the pants. So assuming Manila is probably a two-week project at current motivation levels:

  • Sew inseam, side seam, and crotch seams on Manila
  • Unpick the bias tape from York
  • Finish the damn honeycomb socks already
  • Gauge swatch the yarn for the bolero


Week 8 Report: Finished York and Socks 2


York is done, yaaaay!

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:

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.

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.


Two at a time socks, oh my gosh.


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


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.

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).


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?

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.


I did in fact finish the socks, though!

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)

Week 5 Report: Seam Finishing and a Sleeve


To redo the bust dart, I had to take out the basted side seams. I was going to have to do that anyway, of course, to sew them for real, but that reminded me that there was a finishing step left for the back that I hadn’t done yet because I was waiting for the fit test: seam finishing, and the keyhole at the neckline.

I always want to do tidy, edge-free seam finishes. I feel like they make handmade clothes look so nice. I have a narrow hem foot and I keep thinking that one day I will master its use.

It wasn’t today.

Lopsided and coming out at the seams, sort of like my life.

Did it catch the edge? Mostly… I guess… but I think it’s uglier with the wavy lopsided thing than it would have been if I’d just overlocked it. I’ll probably restitch the worst parts without the narrow hem foot so they don’t fray.

I thought about doing what my old Singer sewing book calls a “clean-stitched hem”, where you just fold it over an eighth of an inch and stitch it, but after my machine tried to eat the fabric and it took me 10 minutes to pick out the resulting mess, I decided overlocking was going to be good enough for today.

The next adventure was topstitching the keyhole.


This part was actually not so bad, once I found the right foot. I don’t even know what the foot I used was meant for (straight stitch foot maybe?), but it had more surface area than most of my feet and I needed something that would hold down the rayon so it would stop bouncing around. I love the drape of this fabric but oh boy is it a pain to work with. I am hopeful that a good press closed will cure some of the waviness in the edge here, but it’s also possible I got a little to enthusiastic with the steam when I was pressing it in the first place. Good thing I have long hair and nobody’s gonna see this when I’m wearing it.

So! After I got the back seams all finished up, it was time for the sleeves. I dutifully added my easing stitches to the sleeve caps and then tried my damnedest to pin the sleeve in place. Seriously, rayon is so slippery. I got it down and eased in as best I could and then took it to the machine.


It’s not terrible! I mean I read the instructions wrong and forgot to start all the way at the beginning of the seam instead of at the notches, so I have to take it out, but I would probably have taken it out anyway because of those little unintentional pin-tucks you can see in the picture. But honestly considering how uneven the fabric was while I was sewing, and how hard it was to get it lined up at all? It could be worse.

I just look forward to the day I don’t have to sew every seam twice before I get it right, haha.


I didn’t get all the way through to the heel turn like I’d wanted, but I made it to the heel flap, at least. I debated mucking up the pattern at the beginning like I had on the previous sock so they would match, and then decided that was more effort than it was worth and went with the final pattern for the ankle.



As for that positivity side goal, this week was way better than last week, probably because I took a break from the news due to work responsibilities. It’s going to be a challenge to figure out how to stay informed and actively participate in democracy without regularly tipping over into despair.

Goals for next week:

  • Finish attaching sleeves and finish seams
  • Sew and finish side seams
  • Get through ankle decreases on the sock

Week 4 Report: Bias Tape


This week was my first attempt at making my own bias tape! I bought a set of bias tape makers a few months back, but haven’t had reason to use them yet. York calls for 3 yards of bias tape, and I figured this was as good a time as any to learn to make my own.

My 1/2″ bias tape maker in action. Pay no attention to my terrible stitch tension…

I probably should have started with an easier material. I did the continuous bias tape method, and man is that rayon slippery as hell. And it kept stretching a little every time I touched it, so trying to get even lines was not in the cards. My 1-inch strips were pretty all over the place, which explains why they didn’t fold over all that well going through the bias maker.

I’m not entirely sure it’s going to work out for this project, and I’m thinking I might buy some pre-packaged bias tape and revisit making my own in the future.

Finished bias tape

To make things even more fun, I measured wrong and cut a 9-inch square instead of an 11-inch square, so I only have 2 yards instead of the 3 the pattern calls for. If I decide to stick with the homemade bias tape instead of going storebought, I’ll probably make the next round using the short piecing method instead of the continuous loop.

Was pretty depressed most of the week and didn’t wind up doing a whole lot sewing-wise (or anything else-wise…). The bias tape was actually done last minute today so I’d have something to post, haha.


I got more work done with knitting, mostly because it is portable and I can do it on the bus. I still didn’t reach my goal of starting the second sock, but I did just put on the first one and it’s at the length where I need to start the toe.

Now that I’m comparing it directly to last week’s… it doesn’t look all that different, does it?

I weighed the existing sock (by necessity including some of the cord, but I avoided the needles) and it came in at 22g. My remaining ball is 27g. I might be able to squeeze a toe out in 2.5g, but that’s cutting it pretty close. I’m gonna put this sock on scrap yarn and start the next one, and we’ll see how I’m feeling about how much yarn is left when the second one is at this point.


I didn’t set any mending goals last week, but I did wind up doing some darning today while waiting for my mom to come by for lunch. I fixed a hole in one pair of pants and got halfway through another (should probably finish that off tonight…). Not exciting stuff, but it feels pretty good to make a dent in my pile.

The last two items in it are alterations – a pair of pants that is too long that I want to hem up before I destroy the legs by walking on them, and a shirt that has been driving me nuts by rolling up on the sides because it’s too narrow in the hips. I’m going to rip the seams and finish them individually, essentially leaving them split up the sides like some of my other ladies’ t-shirts.

Goals for next week:

  • Redo the bust dart in the shirt
  • Attach the sleeves
  • Get to the heel turn on sock #2
  • Try to stay positive about anything lol

Week 3 Report: York basting


Pieces cut and ready to go!

I didn’t have as much time as I’d expected this week because a lot of my sewing time is on Saturdays, and I spent yesterday at the Women’s March instead (and visiting family I hadn’t seen in weeks because of the snow lol). But today I did manage to get my sewing goals done!

In hindsight, this pattern would have been the perfect opportunity to practice pattern-matching on the back seam, but alas, I didn’t think of this until I was sewing up the back.

All that measuring last week paid off, because the main bodice fit first time around. I’ll probably let out a little at the hips (of course) to make it lay a little better, but as far as adjustments go, I’m feeling pretty good all around.

Yeah, that’s my kitchen. My apartment has terrible lighting everywhere else.

I might re-stitch the bust darts, because one of them is a little off-kilter. Fortunately the pattern is busy enough that if I don’t, I’m the only one who will ever know. (Also you, since you are reading this. Shh, it’s our secret.) And obviously I haven’t put in the sleeves yet. I wanted to make sure the main body fit before dealing with whatever sleeve issues I’m going to fight with. The pattern also says to attach the sleeve in the flat, which will be interesting – hopefully easier than in the round, but I’ve only done sleeves in the round before, so it will be a new experience.



I was less successful with my knitting goals. I’m still plugging away at the sock but I haven’t been working on it as regularly as I should, and I’m definitely not going to be done with the pair by Feb 1st.


I finally figured out what I’m doing with the cable pattern, though! It’s basically a fixed version of the previous pattern with some size variations on the chains.


The three rows it takes to do the twists are exactly the same, and then the plain rows between the twists are going to go in a 1, 3, 5, 3, 1 row repeat cycle. My cables are kind of all over the place in this pic but I’m going to keep them in continuous twists from now on (all twisting the same direction on a column).

My yarn ball is feeling a little light, and I’m hoping the cables aren’t eating more yarn than I was expecting. I was already going to be pretty close on the remainder of this skein! I guess I can work down to the toe and then start the next one, and do the toes in another color if I need to.


Mending is way less exciting, and unless I do something super cool, I’m not going to even bother with pictures. I got two items done rather than the three I’d wanted, but since my mending pile has been sitting there for weeks, it’s still a win, hah.

I sewed up a split seam on a pair of long johns I’d been really missing in all this cold, and after I bought some hand sanitizer I tackled a sweater that had gotten tree gum on it while I was hiding in the woods in November, and had been in my mending pile ever since. The internet told me it would work great, and it did – no more tree gum, yay!

Goals for next week:

  • Make bias tape for the shirt
  • Redo one of those bust darts
  • Attach the sleeves
  • Get to the next sock, whether we’re skipping the toe or not