Well that’s a first

How close are your garters?

Something odd happened with the creation of my latest sweater.  My gauge is too small.  That never happens to me since I’m the loosest knitter west of the Mississippi.

I knit a swatch with the called for needle size (usually I go down one or two needle sizes) and it seemed fine, but as we know – SWATCHES LIE.  I cast on with the called for needles and begin knitting secure in my gauge swatch knowledge.  As I’m knitting a little puff of a doubt creeps into my head with its manta “it’s too small…it’s too small”.  So I look at the pictures of the finished garment and indeed my garter ridges are rather closer together than the pattern illustration.  I count my row gauge and it’s too tight.  SWATCHES LIE!

So I shall rip this little bit and begin with a needle TWO sizes bigger and see what happens.  Is Mercury in retrograde again, because that shit messed me up last time too?

And just because I like the picture, here are the blossom drifts I like to think of as snow in my neighborhood.

Pink blossom snow!

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What I didn’t buy

When you see the button sculpture you know you’re in the right place! Love that!

I was good.  Very good.  I was sent to NYC (for work) on Monday on my reserve days for an overnight.  Without boring you too much, 3 days a month I’m “on call” and the notice to go can be minimal (two hours).  So I was sent to NYC and had a long enough layover that we stay in town (rather than the airport hotels for short nights – which is much more usual!).

When faced with a bit of time in NY I like to go down to the garment district and buy fabric.  Who wouldn’t?  But this past week I’ve been reorganizing my fabric stash and ended up donating a great many bits and pieces I’d never realistically use.  In the face of that, buying more fabric that didn’t have a specific project in mind was a bad idea, not to mention a waste of money.

Going forward I’d like to keep the stash of fabric and yarn to a minimum because I find that when I buy fabric/yarn with no specific pattern or use, it ends up languishing in the big plastic bins in the garage.  If I buy a fabric with a pattern in mind, it gets used.  So it only makes sense to buy fabric when I’ve selected a pattern I’d like to make up.  Get me, how mature am I?!

Since my next project will probably be a Hollyburn skirt in some wool crepe that I’ve preshrunk using this method, I ended up buying 14 zippers.  That may seem like a bunch but they’re much cheaper and better quality than the C&C crap at Joann’s.  So 14 invisible zippers of various sizes was my haul!  Not too sexy or exciting, but I did paw the gorgeous Liberty cotton lawn prints at B&J Fabrics before deciding that I wasn’t ready to pull that particular trigger.  Plus I love all the prints and choosing would have been agonizing.  Plus-plus it’s $37/yard so it’s good to be sure.  I shall certainly buy some Liberty as my shirt skills have come along nicely, but in time.

So I shall sew from the stash for a few more projects and the warm, sunny weather is putting me in the mood for cotton dresses.  Luckily I’ve got fabric for that.  Quite a bit.  Now to find a pattern and time!

Springing forward one skirt at a time

Flowers in the garden.

In an effort to spring-ify my life out of the winter doldrums, I thought I’d begin at the sewing machine.  I’ve got to clean out the house to make room for a visitor who will be staying for months, and that motivated me to look to the stash when project pondering.

I’d bought rather too much fabric in New York a few months ago, all with no master plan.  Much of it turned out to be floral and two pieces are border prints and one is a borderline border print.  Confession time:  I’ve never worked with border prints before and kind of had to go with my best judgement regarding pattern placement.

Burda 7652:  It’s out of print, so here’s the line drawing.

Lack of knowledge aside, I wanted to use some very vintage looking cotton floral border print from B&J Fabrics (which is an amazing store btw).  My thought was some pleats and A-line.  A fully pleated cotton skirt on the cross grain wouldn’t be the most flattering so I found Burda 7652 (out of print so there’s the line drawing for your edification) marinating in my stash.  It’s an A-line skirt silhouette with sewn down front pleats, plain A-line back and a yoke.  That yoke and sewn pleat look should minimize the damage I’ve caused my tummy from the latest batch of Lemon Yogurt Cake with icing, which makes for a tasty breakfast (and lunch and linner).

Can you see the flowers peeking out at the waistband?

Fabric-wise I didn’t have enough fabric to make the front faux sewn placket (which is kind of weird anyway since it’s not functional if you sew it up their way) so I folded the pattern at the center front and just placed that on the fold and pretended like it was supposed to be that way.  That worked fine.  I also had to turn the back pattern pieces off grain to make the florals be at the same level at the side seams.  That made the side and center back seams off grain and more unstable (read wobbly).

The top of the yoke has a few flowers peeking out, but the print made it impossible to get the yoke plain black.  It looks kind of cute so I’ll pretend I meant for it to be that way.  A jaunty hint of flowers peeking out!

Other than remove the faux front placket, I made the skirt as written.  The pattern is excellent, as one would expect of a Burda pattern.  There is no excessive ease to account for so you can just measure yourself and make the right size with a minimum of fuss.   I stabilized the top of yoke and pocket openings with stay tape (via Sandra Betzina’s tips).  I used plain black voile for the pocket lining and yoke facings and HAND SEWED it to the yoke.  Turns out that Pam Howard’s “The Classic Tailored Shirt” has converted me to a bit of hand sewing.  That and getting “sewing glasses” from the eye doctor.  My insurance pays for glasses every other year but I didn’t need new ones (for driving) this year so I asked about close sewing work and the awesome doc said “no problem”.  So I’ve got sewing glasses that work just great for close work, but make me queasy when looking at anything else.  Well, there you go.

So spring is here in my skirt, a riot of flowers that I can only imagine in a garden since we have no water to grow such things.  Isn’t it ironic that most of you are buried under mounds of snow and we have water restrictions?  If only we could balance that a bit.  Next up I’ve planned another skirt, and to be different it’s black and A-line.  Hey, I know what I like and wear!  Plus I’ve got to use up some stash before April!

Pleat detail.

The peacocks have arrived

More peacocks are needed here.

After little 15 minute bursts of sewing, I’ve finally finished the peacock edition of Granville shirt by Sewaholic.  I’d rather stalled on any kind of crafty activity but managed to talk myself into little bursts of sewing to move Granville along.

My lack of crafty energy has nothing to do with the pattern or my liking of the shirt, but winter doldrums exist even when you don’t have winter.  I guess.  I do know that little bits of sewing every so often managed to get this shirt done and my crafty thoughts whirring.

What you see here is Granville constructed by the techniques from Craftsy’s “The Classic Tailored Shirt” class.  I made this shirt following Pam Howard’s instructions and success!  Pam can calmly talk you through anything and should probably be a UN negotiator based on teaching the collar and stand lesson.  Seriously not hard folks.

Best view of peacock mutations brought about by shoddy pattern placement.

The Granville pattern fit me well out of the box with the exception of the sleeve length.  I have long monkey arms, I know that from all I learned in pattern making classes using standard measurements.  I usually add at least 1″ to long sleeve patterns to compensate for the previously mentioned monkey-like tendencies.  Not so here.  These sleeves are seriously too long and it did not occur to me to check that.  So Granvillians beware, measure those arms and adjust.

Yes, those sleeves are rather too long. Will have to roll them up on this go round – must remember to alter the pattern.

Other than too long sleeves, this shirt was easy and fit well.  I only changed the cuff pattern because I think I messed up the tower sleeve placket insertion and the pattern cuffs were too big.  Those instructions were meager and Pam doesn’t cover that in her class.  Next time I’m doing it Pam’s way and skipping the tower placket.  The fit in body and across the shoulders is good and I shall use Granville as a jumping off shirt point for future makes.

All in all a good pattern, a great class and more peacocks would have been better.