Week 39: Selene fitting

Well, I hit the moment of truth – the side seams. Annnnnd… yeah I pretty much hosed the pattern in my alterations. Fortunately those one-inch side seams make up for a variety of sins.

The front that I didn’t alter really should have been trued up to the back that I did alter so the seams would match. I wound up pinning them like this and then stitching at one inch from the edge of the bottom piece (the back), and they went together all right from there. I just basted the side seams because I knew there were going to be problems to work out and boy are there.

The waist was a bit looser than I wanted it and there seemed to be a lot more fabric below the hips than there should have been. My first step was just to take some out near the bottom and grade it back out again at the hips, essentially just redrawing the seam line so it was about an inch in on either side. That helped a little bit, but I still had the rudder problem in the back. I know I have seen that specific problem and its fix somewhere on the internet before but I definitely couldn’t find it again. I finally just pinned a bunch of the excess out to each side until the back didn’t hang so loosely, and then I chalked in what is going to be a new seamline I guess…

I also am going to need to trim off some of the front since it seems to be a bit high:

I chalked that originally too and then thread traced it because it started to rub off while I was taking the skirt on and off.

I’m not thrilled with how my sloper worked out for pattern alterations, probably because it seems my sloper itself still isn’t quite right. I still have a few dart problems, and the center back looks fine when it’s flat but clearly needs to be dropped about a half inch or so once it’s on me. In a lot of ways the Selene I made last year that was two sizes smaller fits better – it’s possible that all I really needed to do this time was a minor full rear adjustment and to tighten up the waist. I’ll certainly try that if I make another one in the future!

I have been watching a bit more TV, so I actually got some knitting done this week! I’m just still working my way through those socks I started in Japan, so it’s not all that exciting, but here is a picture anyway:


Goals for next week:

Fix the fit. This could seriously take the whole week, since I’m not really sure what will happen when I try to sew that funky line, or if I’m going to need more adjustments after that. I might tackle the darts again as well to try to get then to lie nice and flat. If that all does go well then it’s time to get the lining installed!


Week 27: Japan part 1

I’m in Japan! (I hope I scheduled this right, since the mobile app apparently tries for local time, which is 16 hours ahead of when I want to post.) Here’s the capsule wardrobe I took with me:

I also brought my two handmade bras, an extra older bra, the handmade spanx, and a bunch of handmade socks. I thought maybe three bras was overkill but HOLY CRAP am I glad I brought them, since the humidity is so bad I want to rotate them every day. I hand-washed my underclothes today (since I didn’t want to machine wash the bras anyway, and also didn’t want to pay to do laundry), and am hoping they’ll dry by the time I leave tomorrow morning, otherwise things will be interesting.

As you might expect, I didn’t get a whole lot done this week as far as crafting goes. I thought there might be some time for knitting on the plane, but they turned off the main cabin lights for most of the flight and I couldn’t figure out how to turn my individual light on! Foiled by technology! I did manage to get started on a pair of socks, however, and made some additional progress on the Shinkansen to Nagano, when I wasn’t looking out the window. Someday I’ll master blind knitting, but I’m really not very good at it yet.

I also picked up a sewing book in the bookstore in Ueno Station, which is a Shinohara Tomoe sewing book. I didn’t know she had a particular clothing style, but I’m familiar with her musical style, which is quirky as hell. Her clothing style is apparently sort of 50’s vintage dresses, and I’m sure I’ll have to grade up almost every one of the patterns in here, but it’s a fun collection regardless.

In case you were wondering what Japanese sewing pattern instructions look like, they’re much less step-by-step than the Big 4 patterns and more with the pictures:

I’m planning to head to Nippori Fabric Town once I’m back on Tokyo (I didn’t want to go and then have to haul a ton of fabric with me for the rest of my trip), and I’m going to try to find the nani IRO atelier while I’m in Osaka.

Week 18: Manila


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


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.
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.




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.


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 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 15: York 2 and Honeycomb Socks

First off, I guess the big news I alluded to last week is that I’m going to Japan in July! It’s been a dream for years, and I’m finally making it happen. That said, I sort of panicked as soon as I booked my tickets. Over everything. One part of “everything” was clothes – I don’t really have anything spring/summer colored in my wardrobe, which hasn’t ever bothered me a whole lot here, but for some reason the idea of international travel without appropriate clothing freaked me out? I dunno man, blame my anxiety.

Anyway, since I’m not buying any clothes this year, that has to be remedied by making them, and given my recent timeline for making a single garment (one every, six weeks or so) I decided I had to step up my game if I want to have a few new things for July.

I sat down on Monday night with some whiskey and the Seamwork catalog (I’m a subscriber and had 12 credits built up, so I figured it was a good way to keep my costs for this crazy project to just fabric and notions) and plotted out my next few months:

  1. York, part 2. I had a spring-y material in some kind of polyester from Goodwill that I figured would be perfect for this. Minor broad upper back adjustment to help with fit.
  2. Manila, probably 2 versions. I know it’s going to be humid and I’m hoping leggings will keep my legs from sticking to bus/train seats (or each other). Alternatively it could be too ungodly hot for leggings and I’ll go bare-legged anyway. Who can say? If I have them there I can wear them or not.
  3. Akita. I have at least two types of fabric I can make this from in my stash, and who can resist something that says one hour? (It will take me more than an hour, guaranteed, but hopefully not weeks.) Not sure the cap sleeves are going to be flattering, but we’ll see.

I would love to make the Arden dress in time, but I’m sort of thinking that separates will give me more options in less packing space.

I also have ambitions toward the Margot PJ pants from Tilly and the Buttons‘ book, because my PJ situation is dire and I’m hosteling it through Japan so other people will actually see my PJs, and also toward a new bra because it’s time, but those are lower priority than the numbered bits above.


Since I had the pattern already cut out and tested for York, that was an easy place to start this week.

Step 1 was to make those broad back adjustments:


This seemed super easy. Add extra width, smooth the line down to the waist on the side and true up the shoulder seam. The back shoulder would need a little tuck to make it fit the front shoulder, but that is easy peasy. The whole pattern adjustment took maybe 30 minutes. I added some extra width at the hips, too, in the hopes I could avoid leaving the side seams open (I failed – still not quite wide enough lol).

After the pattern was all adjusted, I cut out the fabric (so much easier with this fabric than the last fabric) and started sewing. And because I hate myself, I decided to do Hong Kong seams on the whole damn shirt this time.

I didn’t wind up taking a whole lot of in-progress pics, but I did make a lot of progress.


I just have the hemming left to do. And topstitching the cuff seam down, because I missed that step.

Also I french seamed the armholes, which I am stupidly pleased with.


I even got the straps in the back to fold in on themselves and make a real cord! It was a terrible pain in the ass, as was the entirety of the bound neckline. This fabric doesn’t want to take a crease very well, so I gave up on folding and pressing my bias tape into a double fold and just tried to stitch very carefully on the 1/4″ line around the neckline and then fold it over from there.

Of course, that necessitated stitching from the back side to make sure I was catching the edge of the bias tape underneath, which means the front looks like this:


Yeah, it’s not ideal. I’m still going back and forth on whether I want to take it out and redo it. If I do it again I’ll probably do it by hand, because at the speed I was going I might as well have been stitching the thing by hand.

Meanwhile, that broad back pattern adjustment? Did not quite work out as intended. It does feel like it’s not binding quite as badly, but now there’s a weird fold from my back shoulder tuck down to the back of the arm that forms this little pocket that I don’t like. I’m almost wondering if I shouldn’t just have added extra width across the whole back instead of just the upper back? I’ll have to play around with it if I make the shirt again.

Cool Sewing Machine Stuff

Oh hey, I almost forgot! Meet Elsie:


Elsie was my other grandmother’s old (much older) sewing machine. This picture was supposed to be of the really interesting bobbin winding mechanism, but you can only barely see the thread. It’s more like what I’ve seen on some of the old Singers in YouTube vids.

(Elsie is named after my grandmother’s favorite sister, who died in a car crash in the 1940s, because again, naming things after my grandmothers themselves seems weird, but naming them after their favorite people is… somehow… not?)

I decided to tackle the tension problems on my machines before I got sewing this week. The Brother machine that I’d given up on during my last York because of tension problems was magically working fine again. I think she just didn’t want to touch that fabric anymore and called it quits. Last time I tested Elsie I couldn’t figure out what was up with her tension either, but this time I figured out that it was just the bobbin tension that was too tight, so I loosened the bobbin case screw a bit and suddenly she has the cleanest stitches out of any of my active machines. Yes!

The only remaining weirdness with Elsie is that the belt I got to replace her very old, very falling apart belt is just a touch too big – it’s the larger of two sizes that would fit her, and I should have gone with the smaller one. Most of the time it’s fine, but every so often the smaller gear won’t actually catch the belt and the needle won’t move.

I also figured out a zig-zag feature that is pretty neat – you can set the market on the right to a higher number and leave the lower marker where it is, and then you can use your thumb to adjust the width of the zig-zag between those two values while you’re sewing, which is pretty badass. You could do some really neat decorative stitches with it, if you could consistently sew a straight line (I’m still working on that, haha).


I sort of low-key freaked out about turning the heel on these socks for a good two days. And then I was like “Ok, Miranda, blog entry time is coming up, just figure out how to do the damn heel.”

The written instructions seriously looked like gibberish, like I had some mental block against processing them, so I went to YouTube. YouTube was not as helpful as I wanted, because I’d already finished the full gusset one way. I wasn’t going to take it out and do a different style of gusset and heel turn just because I’m hyperventilating over how to do this stupid heel turn. (Why, anxiety, why?)

Finally I found what is apparently known as a Fleegle heel, which has the same gusset setup as I’d already done, and which is… exactly the same heel turn I’m used to on top down socks, with the minor change of doing the last purl decrease row on the way back around the round. Exactly the same heel turn I’ve been doing for years. Seriously. My brain.

Anyway it looks totally different:

Left is the Fleegle heel on a toe-up sock, right is a top-down sock I made years ago. You can see the little heel turn triangle on both of them, just with different orientations. Now I’m onto the leg, and discovering that the mock honeycomb pattern is harder to pull off in the round. I am probably going to have a weird little jog at the start of the row, but it’s unlikely anyone will notice but me.

Goals for next week:

  • Finish hemming the 2nd york shirt. Figure out if I’m going to redo the neckline or not. (Probably yes, because the other seams are so tidy!)
  • The first Akita shirt, because I’ve already printed the pattern.
  • Finish the honeycomb socks?

This… could be too ambitious, but I guess we’ll find out!

Week 14: Finished cardigan and honeycomb sock progress


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.)


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.

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.

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.

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.


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 13: Cardigan and Honeycomb Socks


Hey. Check out this seam. (Upper edge.)

002 cc

That seam was hella annoying! That seam took about 30% of my sewing time this week! So basically that is the neckline on the back, and then the sides are the shoulders. But the way the instructions want you to sew it is to sew the shoulders and neck in one piece, pivoting at the notch in the neck. What they don’t tell you is that this thing is never gonna lay flat for you. Or at least it sure didn’t for me, and I actually did a reasonable job getting these pieces cut out without wobbly or uneven lines this time. After accidentally catching more of the back than I’d wanted in the seam, I decided to do it in three parts and then sort of patchwork stitch over where the notch is to connect the two. It’s a double-stitched seam, too, so it got that reinforcement.

Lots of seam ripping. So much fun.

The other major parts I got done were the bottom hem and the narrow hem along the front and neck. I didn’t realize that when the pattern says “baste” they really mean “hand baste” until I’d already machine-basted a few things and ran into instructions to “machine baste”. Oops. I meant to take a picture of the one seam I did hand-baste, but alas I did not.

You know what’s funny? Instructions to topstitch over the basting stitches. Like I have an even enough hand baste for that, hah!

Here’s the narrow hem for the front. I’m actually pretty happy with it. I stitched a 1/4″ guide seam to help with pressing the narrow hem, and it gathered a bit more than I wanted, but it eased out nicely while I was stitching.

Despite hand-basting and easing fullness in the lower hem, it’s still rumpling strangely. I should have finished the seam before doing the narrow hem on the front, but I’m really bad about thinking about seam finishing before I’m done with a project. :\ I’m thinking about doing a Hong Kong finish on the inside to make it look nice and tidy and also reinforce those seams yet again.

All that’s left is hemming and setting the sleeves, finishing all the seams, and then adding the button and figuring out how to make a loop to hook the button with out of this material.


Knitting went really well this week due to a surplus of waiting time ramping up for my new job. Step one was wrapping the yarn via nostepinne into a yarn cake:


I used Judy Becker’s magic cast on for my first experience with toe-up socks. It was amazingly easy, and I am totally going to use it going forward. Then I worked a wedge toe. The only really annoying thing I’ve found about the toe-up socks so far is that the toe wants to roll outward because it’s stockinette. I hadn’t ever really thought about how convenient the initial ribbing on the cuff of top-down socks is to keep the knitting from rolling.

Anyway, at the end of the toe, I went “oh crap, what pattern do I want for the sock body?” See, if I’d thought about this ahead of time, I could have adjusted my cast-on stitches accordingly, but no.

I saw the dandelion stitch and figured that would be perfect, and it looks super easy in the video, but after spending 20 minutes and a lot of cursing getting two of the flowers done, I decided that was not going to work. Of course, I’d already done some finagling to get the right stitches in the right places to make the pattern work for the top of the foot, and done the three setup rows, so I wanted to find something that would at least take the stitch count into consideration.

Enter the mock honeycomb. It’s a multiple of 4 + 1, which worked great with the dandelion’s multiple of 8 + 1, and it caused substantially less swearing.

Also, apparently this yarn is self-striping. I had no idea, haha.

I’m a little freaked out about doing the gusset, which is dumb because it’s knitting and I just need to do some increases. I don’t know why I’m freaked out about it. It’s new and scary, I guess. Just need to finish it for this first pair and then I’m sure there won’t be a problem.

Goals for next week:

  • Finish the cardigan!
  • Get sock foot done to start of gusset