Sunday, August 25, 2019

Summer white

I recently completed this top:

Wore it to work so I too a selfie with Curiosity

The pattern is Vogue 1306 - a "Rebecca Taylor" design from around 2012 and now out of print. 

The fabric is a white cotton with some cross-grain stretch. The fabric had been aging in my stash - I recall purchasing it from around 2001. Yikes!

I made no changes to the pattern and cut a straight medium, based on reviews that the pattern ran large.

The finished top looks like the pattern envelope but not quite like the line drawing. The gathers are more horizontal and not at an angle like you see in the drawing.

Here are my construction notes:

For the placket, pay attention to the seam allowance of 1/4 inch because that will determine how large the visible binding will be. I sewed only one line of top-stitching instead of the two the instructions called for. I also top-stitched the shoulder seam. I don't think the instructions say to do this, but I usually do this on t-shirt-like tops because I see that top-stitching in RTW and it keeps the shoulder seam in place. 

I used the "tricot" stitch on my sewing machine, which is a narrow type of zigzag, to sew on the neck band but then I didn't like the way the seam allowance laid. So I went back and used the serger, sewing very close to the first seam, and then top-stitched with the sewing machine. I still didn't like the way the neckband and placket join, but I'm not sure how I'd construct it differently. 

For the sleeves, I usually sew them in flat on knit shirts and that's how the instructions have you do them, but they also say to gather the sleeves between the marked dots to manage the ease. I found I had to do the gathering - I tried without it but couldn't line things up. I used my serger to sew the sleeves in and also for the side seams. But fearing that the top might be a little snug at a size medium, I serged only a 1/4 inch seam allowance (and I'm glad I did!)

I used the coverstitch on my serger for the hems and left the sleeve un-cuffed.

Lessons learned:
  1. Mark the dots - there are a lot of them: for the gathering, the placket and to ease in the sleeves. Since this was white fabric I used tailor tacks.
  2. The pattern points out where to slash for the placket and the gathers, but don't do it until after you stay stitch on either side of where you will slash. I didn't pay attention so I made the cut for the gathers when I cut out the pattern and though it wasn't the end of the world, it made the front pieces floppier and a bit more difficult to stay stitch.
  3. Next time I would trim the 5/8 seam allowance to 1/4 and use the serger for everything except the gathers in the front and maybe the placket.
  4. If I make this again, I'll lengthen the front a bit - the gathers are hitting a little high and aren't quite under my bust.
Overall, it's a nice casual top and a change from a plain t-shirt. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

More spinning, but there was some sewing

I did some more home dec sewing to finish summer outdoor covers for new patio chairs (boring stuff, so no pictures). I did sew a new top to wear, but I'll show the results in my next post after I get a picture of me wearing it. 

So in the meantime, more spinning!

This is a fiber I bought in Tallin, Estonia in 2013. Here's a picture of me when I bought it. Look how happy I am to have a big blue plastic bag of yarn and fiber! The prices were pretty fantastic too.

And this is a close-up of the fiber - nice pink, cream and tan colors and already prepped into a "pencil roving." I guess you could knit with it as-is, but it might fall apart because it has no twist in it. I don't know what kind of fiber it is, I mean it's wool from a sheep, but I just don't know what breed.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

I made yarn

I finished spinning the fiber I was working on during Tour de Fleece. Someone told me that my spinning will improve if I participate in this event, which is where you spin during the Tour de France bicycle race (either while watching or requirements). Everyone is supposed to set goals and for many, including myself, my goal is just to spin every day, which would be hard except we sit down every evening to watch the recorded Tour de France so I just sit in front of my spinning wheel instead.

And here is the yarn I made:

I really like this! I wasn't sure about the color combination at first and the singles on the bobbins only give some indication of what the finished plied yarn will look like:

My spinning is getting more consistent, and I didn't have too many places where it got too thin or too thick. Too thin is more of a problem because if I draft a bit that's too thick, I can usually stop and redraft it a bit thinner if I haven't gone too far past it; however, too thin is forever too thin. My only option is to remove it and rejoin but often when I do that my join isn't very good and the result is worse than a too-thin section.

I ended up with almost 700 yards out of the 8 ounces of fiber. Quite a lot! I thought I'd be spinning it and plying it forever.

I also finished the yarn - I'm a chronic "non-finisher" in that I enjoy the process of making something but then for some reason I get close to the end and stop. I have to push myself to seam the sweater I knit, hem the garment I sewed, finish the tassels on something I wove, and to wash and snap the yarn I spun. Washing spun yarn is needed to "set the twist" - it relaxes the yarn and releases the tension that's been spun into it as well as removing any dirt or oils. Snapping is something you do to help distribute the plied twist more evenly. When you wind off the plied yarn, you usually do it onto a niddy noddy, from which you can make a skein.

niddy noddy

To snap the yarn you put the loop of yarn between your two hands (like you're doing "cats in the cradle") and jerk your hands outward to "snap" the yarn. 

Wet wool drying on a sunny and warm day

I'll leave you with a picture of the previous yarn I spun. I finally washed and snapped it too!

Friday, July 05, 2019

Current projects

Lots of projects in-work and finished - I like to keep busy!

I don't really enjoying sewing home dec, but it sure can save you money to be able to make custom items that you'd just be paying someone else to sew for you. We bought a new outdoor furniture set and I knew that come the rainy season we'd need covers but I also figured that it would be a good idea to protect the furniture from the sun, bugs and night-time critters. I found a YouTube video that showed how to make custom covers so I used their method to make a cover out of muslin, which both acts as a summer cover and a test before I buy material for the rain cover. Or maybe once I find out the cost of the fabric and factor in the time, I might find that a purchased one will suffice. We'll see.

I made some design changes on the summer cover that I wouldn't do for the rain cover: I serged the seams (they suggest mock flat-felled seams in the video), used the selvedge for the hem (in the video they make a casing for a drawstring) and the back is not full length. I decided out of cheapness that I didn't need to use up more muslin for a full-size back because the back isn't exposed to the sun and not susceptible to damage from bugs and stuff. So I used scraps or cut pieces to about 12-15 inches or so, enough to hold the cover in place. 

The other home dec sewing I did was to make pillow covers. The fabric has been in my stash for a long, long time and was always intended for outdoor cushions, so I'm finally using it for that. It took longer to hand sew the final seam than it did to cut out and machine sew the other seams. 

I have lots more of the fabric, so I'll either make more pillows or make some cushions for the chairs to our outdoor dining set. 

My spinning wheel has been active. I've joined the Greater Los Angeles Spinning Guild (GLASG) and also joined the guild's group for Tour de Fleece. Tour de Fleece is where spinners spin during the days of the Tour de France bicycle race - they spin and we spin. It's silly but a fun way to join a group and get a lot of spinning accomplished and maybe win some prizes. Some people set goals to spin for a certain amount of time, like 10-15 minutes a day (that'll be me), other set distance goals to spin a certain amount of yarn - maybe equal to the miles that they race (not me!), and some set other goals to try new techniques or spin new fibers. I'm probably just going to stick with what I've been spinning, though since I did buy special Tour de Fleece fiber I might switch to that.

What I'm currently spinning

Tour de Fleece colorway
I finished the red yarn I was spinning. I plied it and decided it was too loosely plied so I ran it back through the spinning wheel to add more twist. I like it much more now. 

First ply on left; with added twist on the right

My knitting project is coming along very slowly. It's lace-weight yarn and about 800 yards, so this project will take a while. But that's OK, the pattern is very easy and I can knit it while I'm watching TV. This is the Prevarication pattern from Curls 2, by Hunter Hammersen. I've made two other "curls" scarves from her first book. These are great little projects for the lovely yarns I have in my stash.  

I also tried out a new project - candle making. I have quite a few nice glass yogurt pots that I brought back from Europe and candles seem like a great use for them. Though I don't burn candles inside, we do need citronella candles outside to keep the mosquitoes away. So I ordered soy wax, wicks, an aluminum melting pot, and both citronella and lemon eucalyptus oil from on-line and found some instructions on-line as well (yay, internet!). Here's my first batch of citronella candles:

When heated, the wax is clear and yellowish

After cooling it turns a milky white
The kitchen smells like citronella, so be aware if you want to try this! We actually don't mind the aroma. Lemon eucalyptus is also supposed to repel mosquitoes, so I'll try this fragrance next. 

And finally, I leave you with some beautiful views from the San Diego area, where we spent a couple days.
La Jolla

La Jolla

Alcazar Park in Balboa Park

Balboa Park

Balboa Park

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Fiber arts

Last month the Huntington Library and Gardens had a Fiber Arts Day and members from the weaving and spinning guilds from the Los Angeles area gathered in the rose garden to demonstrate. 

It was a beautiful day and the roses smelled so good too!

The spinners and weavers were eager to chat.

When I got home, I was inspired to get out my spinning wheel.

At the Fiber Arts Day I learned there's a weaving guild that meets on the second Saturday of the month and a spinning guild that meets on the fourth Saturday (and the American Sewing Guild meets on the third Saturday of the month - convenient that they all meet on different Saturdays but I don't know that I can devote nearly every Saturday to fiber arts!). I did attend the spinning guild meeting last month and made a few new friends. Tomorrow I'm going to the weaving guild meeting - my first time attending.  I haven't done any weaving since I've moved here but I think I'll start a project soon. I have an idea for a band I want to weave on my inkle loom.

I also found out about the Weaving and Fiber Festival, held every year in May, and was just in time to go to it this year. I may have made a few purchases at the festival...

Fiber to spin, yarn and yarn kits to weave, and new tools for weaving and spinning.

 Add this to the haul from the LA Country Yarn Crawl in April:

The yarn stores in the area offer free patterns and 10% off the yarn for it.
Of course they choose the luxurious yarns that are too tempting to pass up!

I have to juggle my interests, doing one for a little bit of time and then moving to another, but I still manage to do work on a little bit of everything.

The little quilt has turned from pieces...

into an almost completed project.

I'm learning to crochet granny squares using some cotton yarn I purchased in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Not sure what I'll make with it - maybe a bag or something.

I finished knitting some scarves, from the pattern book Curls by Hunter Hammersen. I'm working on a third one using some of the yarn I bought from the LA Yarn Crawl. 

Full shape while being blocked

A lot of orange!

I also have a sock knitting project, but I keep it at work for my Tuesday lunch time knitting meetups with co-workers.

And today I did some more sewing. A coworker wanted to make a costume for an upcoming Cosplay convention and I offered to help her. So she came over today and we found a pattern in one of my sewing magazines, traced it, made a muslin, made some changes to the pattern to match the character, and sewed up this vest:

She wants to be this character from a video game (it's Barbarian Armor from Zelda - I had to look it up!)

I think that brings my project tally up to date!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Another sewing project completed

Not very complicated but a new top to wear. And I did wear it, on a work trip just 2 days after I finished it. I think it will get a lot of wear.

The fabric is a brushed polyester knit, which is very soft. I think it might have been a remnant purchase from Britex, many (many!) years ago. I'd always envisioned it as a top and now it finally is one! I used the same pattern that I've used for two other t-shirts, so this made it a very quick and easy project.

Pattern used: Model #38 from Sabrina Woman (German) issue 3/13. This is the same issue as Modellina (Italian) 152, Elena Couture (France) 62, Fashion Trends (Netherlands) 11, and Tendencias de Moda (Spain) 11. 

Sizes: European 36-46. I made my usual alteration of a 42 in the bust/shoulders to a 46 in the waist/hips.

Alterations: I lowered the neckline by 4 cm

Construction: I didn't use the instructions in the magazine because this was very simple to construct.  I used fusible stay tape in the shoulder seam, and then serged the shoulders. Next I serged the sleeves - I find it much easier to put sleeves in flat on knit tops. Then I serged the side and sleeve seams and used the coverstitch for the sleeve hem and bottom hem. Finally, 
I turned the neck edge under and used a coverstitch.  

I'm switching gears for my next sewing project. While unpacking and organizing my sewing stuff I came across two appliqued mini-quilts I made at least 15 years ago.

They're about 12x12 inches. I had bought 12 patterns, each one representing a different month, with the plan to make a calendar. Not sure I'm going to do that anymore, but I do like having a little themed item to display. As you can see, the ones I completed are for March and April. Being the orderly sort of person I am, I decided to work on May, which has a flower and garden theme:

I have picked out the cotton prints I will use, but alas, I don't have (or couldn't find) the fusible webbing to use for the applique pieces. I might have thrown it out or given it away when my craft stuff went into storage. Amazon Prime to the rescue! A package of Steam-A-Seam 2 should arrive tomorrow.

My next garment project will be a blouse, which will also use a Sabrina Woman magazine pattern.

The fabric I plan to use was purchased in Germany at the Karstadt department store. I miss that store - I'd buy my sewing magazines in their news stand, have lunch in their restaurant, check out the housewares section (excellent German knives and cookware!) and then browse the fabrics. They had such a great remnant section and fantastic sales. If you bought the last of the bolt they discounted it - Joanns certainly doesn't do that! Anyway, the fabric is rayon (viscose in Europe).

Auf Wiedersehen!

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Finished projects

Yes, it's me. I'm back. Well, sort of. Working full time kinda makes it tough to do all my projects. I finished sewing a robe, which is what led me to decide to post today. 

Messy sewing space (aren't they all?). I need to find a better place for photos.

The fabric is a sweatshirt knit with a super-soft brushed side. I bought it in Germany.

I top-stitched nearly every seam and edge

I used the soft side for the cuffs and tie. 

The pattern is from Burda 12/2016:

I think my fabric is much heavier than what was intended for this pattern. I'd like to make it again in a thinner fabric but the robe I made five years ago is still holding up well, and I have a cotton fabric in mind for a kimono-type robe. I don't think I need that many robes. 

Sewing this robe was a bit challenging because I used a German issue of Burda. As you can see from the pictures, it has a shawl collar and dropped shoulders. I could have "winged" it, but decided to use the instructions from the previous robe I made (A Stretch and Sew pattern) to help with the shawl collar attachment. But I was perplexed about how to insert the back neck facing since I've never done one for a shawl collar before and the Stretch and Sew pattern didn't use one. Internet to the rescue - I found some instructions on line. The other problem was that the German instructions called for flat-felled seams. I tried but this fabric was just too thick. So I ended up serging the seams and then top stitching to hold the serged seam flat. The knit fabric wasn't going to ravel but the edges would get ratty after a lot of wear so I wanted some sort of neater finish inside. 

I do like the robe. If I get sick, I can see that this will be a nice robe to snuggle in on the couch. But it's too heavy and thick for wearing in the morning when I get ready for work. I bought the fabric in Germany with the intention of making this robe, and it would have been lovely to wear there on cold winter mornings had I not procrastinated so long to make it. Instead I may take it with me when we go to our place in France and leave it there to wear on cold winter mornings. Seems a shame to have spent so much time on sewing it to have it sit there for a once a year winter trip but eventually we intend for those once a year trips to be months long.  

Glad to mark this project done and move on to the backlog of things I want to sew - mostly tops for work. It's good to have my sewing mojo back, even if I can only sew a little on the weekend.

Since I'm trying to get a good night's sleep and not stay up late sewing (which I would do), I usually spend my weekday evenings knitting while my husband and I watch some TV. In the last year or so, I've knitted three pairs of socks, a hat, two pairs of wrist warmers (gifts I still haven't mailed!) and a stuffed monkey doll with clothes (dress, skirt, sweater, and top). Pictures? Well, I have some of the socks:

I'm currently working on a scarf/shawl in a lace pattern - it's almost done but I ran out of yarn so I have to figure out how I'm going to end the pattern early and whether I need to un-knit some of it to have enough yarn for the bind-off. Typical of me, I set it aside and started working on a new project - a hat for my husband.

I did finish one other sewing project: a snowman decoration for Christmas.

It was from a printed panel and I'd already cut out the pieces at some point so it was "easy" to sew up. It was a bit fiddly to sew all the little pieces. He's about a foot tall.