Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Knit for Victory: My Victorious Cardigan

Alright dudes, BRACE yourselves, this is a full-on post!! While writing this post I realised I had a lot to say, and maybe it's only interesting to me, but I left the waffle in!

This is my completed Knit for Victory Cardigan! Knit for Victory is the 40's themed knitalong hosted by Tasha of By Gum by Golly.

This skirt, one of the first things I ever made... I need more skirts like this as I paired this with my Miette cardigan too. So unoriginal!!

When I first wrote about my plans, I had found a version of my pattern from both the 60s AND the 50s, and reasoned it looked very 40s, so I was sure there was a 40s version floating around. And I found it- completely by chance! I got this book out from the library over Christmas, and happened to find not only a version of the pattern from the 40s, but a picture of another modern knitter wearing her version. What an amazing coincidence!!

This vintage pattern was pretty sparse on the details (and I think most vintage patterns are). So I had to spend a while reading it and figuring out how it was constructed. I even drew my own half-baked schematics to figure out what was going on. So from the start I knew it would be a challenge.

I did a LOT of maths for this project:
-Figuring out decrease rates for arm and waist shaping

-Calculating the original pattern's ease

-Altering ALL my stitch counts to fit my different gauge and custom ease (I estimated how much ease I wanted by looking at previous knits I'd made, and also by pulling numbers out of thin air. lol).

-Spacing the buttonholes along the button band 

-and the biggest doozy of ALL- Creating my own custom sleeve cap shaping using lots of calcuations and even trigonometry! Yup, busting out the Pythagorean theorum is now what I do for a hobby apparently! That's nuts.
For this bit, I used Tasha's post on sleeve cap shaping, and this resource she linked to ended up being the main information I used. And, it took me forever. And, it was kind of fun actually.

Cackling "Victory is miiiine!"
I also changed the construction in many ways for this project:
-I changed the front from being knit in one piece with a faux buttonband, to being knit with an opening for a REAL buttonband. This meant picking up stitches and knitting the band once the body was done. I decided to go with a moss stitch button band to echo the texture of the seed stitch body.

-I knit the front and back as one piece, unlike the original pattern which had side seams.

-The original pattern has a seam under the bust connecting the ribbing and the bodice, meaning they are knit as two different pieces. I knit it all as one. This was a little tricky as I slowly transitioned the stitch pattern from ribbing to seed stitch, to mimic the diagonal shaping of the original pattern. As the ribbing was knit on smaller needles, I had two sets of circular needles in my work at once!

-I noted that the bodice piece was slightly gathered into the ribbing. As I wasn't sewing together two pieces, I decided to mimic that by placing increases under the bust in my transition zone. I did this very scientifically by holding it up to my body and eyeballing where I thought I should make those increases.

Boobie gathers!

-I lengthened the sleeves to full length.

-I added decreases to the ribbing from the high hip to the waist. The reason for this was that I have relatively large hips, and I didn't want it to be either too tight on the hips, or too loose at the waist. I realise ribbing is such that it expands and contracts to fit your shape, but that ability has limits.

I tested this up by holding the knitting (placed on scrap yarn) up to my waist after I'd cast on and knitted a bit of the bottom. It still looked a little loose at the waist so I feel like adding shaping was justified. In any case, it doesn't seem to have hurt the garment.

-I changed the shoulder shaping (originally done with bind-offs), to short rows, which meant I could seam the shoulders with a 3-needle bind-off (I know that sounds like gibberish to anyone who doesn't knit, but it's a good technique!). There are lots of tutorials floating around, like Tasha's or the free Craftsy class on short rows.

I know what you're thinking... that seems like a LOT of work, just for a knitting project! And yeah! It is! But I actually really enjoy stuffing around changing EVERYTHING. It's a challenge, and I love customising things for my tastes.
Here are my notes on Ravelry.

This was the first project I've done that involved lots of seaming! Even though I eliminated the side seams, I decided to do the sleeves vintage-style, and seam them. I can see why knitting sleeves in the round is so popular these days, but I definitely found pros and cons to seaming!

+stable: It adds sturdiness to the knitting, and could see how it might stop it stretching out with wear or in washing. I have heard that negative ease garments don't need seams so much, but I can see this being useful on the side seams of a drapey, positive-ease project.

+enjoyable: seaming is kinda zen like hand-stitching. I found it quite fun and satisfying, but I can see how the novelty could wear off, especially with multiple seams on a large garment!

+avoids knitting in the round: I'm not the greatest fan of knitting in the round in a small circumference, as I'm still pretty slow and clumsy, and I can get tension issues too… knitting sleeves in the flat was a nice change.

-time: yeah, it does take a while! I would love to compare which method was faster overall though, as I think the knitting portion of the sleeves went faster.

-fiddly factor: I found the sleeves pretty nice and neat, but seaming in the sleeve cap wasn't as smooth. Still, overall, I don't think you can go too wrong if you have a nice clear tutorial.

Wow, I sound like I'm almost a convert to seamed sleeves huh? It was nice to try out anyhow.

So, I think I see why they designed this as a fake cardigan- it looks much nicer buttoned up I reckon. Otherwise the gathers poof to the sides. Plus, my button band is a skosh wavy, but I was too lazy to sew ribbon behind it (it doesn't look that bad, right? Right??). I had an idea to try stabilising it on the back with crochet, but… it didn't work.

I quite like it half open though!
Funnily enough, after the gargantuan amount of effort I put into this, I don't think this is a super versatile piece, but I guess that wasn't the point. It was a good challenge, and I enjoyed knitting it. I think it'll go best with vintage-style skirts and dresses, so OBVIOUSLY I need to sew more of those!

If only I was as inspired about my sewing as I am about my knitting right now!!

In fact, I have the perfect fabric to pair with it, but it has stubbornly remained in fabric form rather than becoming a dress at this point.

By the way, the girdle action on the original models is quite stunning. My waist is gargantuan in comparison, haha!
This is me sucking in to get that vintage sihouette, lol!

"Ahhhh, as long as I don't breathe or move, this is working out great!'
In any case, I consider my Knit for Victory cardigan to be a victory! Thanks Tasha for hosting it, and I can't wait to see everyone else's vintage-style knitting projects! :)

Friday, 24 January 2014

Fitting the Vogue 8766 Bodice: Part 3

Phew, here we go again... Muslin #3. Well technically, #2.5, as I just cut a new front and used the old back!
Here's a link to post #1, and post #2.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Completed: Another McCalls 5974!

Okay, we're probably all a little sick of the muslin madness happening on my blog lately, so let's take a breath. Phew!

Remember the lilac fabric I used in my Cool Cowl Tank? This dress is the reason I bought it- the Cool Cowl was just a bonus make. I love being sneaky and getting more out of remnants, though usually I don't like the idea of having the same fabric twice in my wardrobe.

I really love the colour, and knits are my sewing happy place (so much easier, lol! Actually, I feel like I'm cheating when I sew knits, they're so low-fuss!). Plus, I'd already used the pattern once before in grey merino, so I knew I had a high chance of success.
I did worry that the thin, drapey qualities of the knit would make it sag down and also cling unflatteringly, but it's actually not too bad. I'll definitely wear a half-slip though, just like with my previous version.

I'm interested to see the longevity of the garment. This is just from experience with RTW clothing, but I think knits tend to get saggy and sad quicker, especially the thin ones- anyone else find that? It does have a small percentage of spandex in it, so that could help.

Ooh, let's get to the fun part- the sleeves! I'm proud because I frankenpatterned it! I think this is my first frankenpattern actually! Ooh, I should add that as a post label. Frankenpattern, what a great word.
I used the flutter sleeves from New Look 6808, which I haven't actually used before in any of my versions of the pattern.
To get them to fit, I measured along the seamline of the dress armhole, and compared it to the seamline of the sleeve pattern.
I'd also checked out the original dress sleeve- it has about an inch of ease in the sleeve cap. I have read that you don't really need any ease in sleeve caps for knits, due to their stretch properties. However, it certainly wasn't hurting anyone, and knit are SUPER easy to ease in, as you can just stretch the two layers as you sew.

So I decided to go for an inch of ease in the sleeve cap. Here's how I altered the flutter sleeve, I just overlapped the excess at the seamline, while leaving the hem undisturbed. I suppose that proportionately gives it a little more flutter, as the pattern piece is now more curved, but no big deal. Works for me!

I marked in the notches and marks to make lining up the pattern pieces easy when sewing. I did it by walking the sleeve pattern on top of the armhole and marking my notches on my sleeve as I got to them on the armhole. Walking the pattern is where you put one seamline on top the other and "walk" it to see how their lengths match up. Terrible explanation, I know. I couldn't even find a decent tutorial for people who don't know what I'm blathering about. Google, you've failed me!

You know what, I could probably have fudged the sleeve in there without all that fussing, as knits are so forgiving. But that's not my style. I like to make it the way I feel to be right.

But yes, I'm really proud of my first frankenpattern, lol! This is such a cute sleeve shape, and it suits the lightweight fabric nicely. Don't look too closely at my sleeve hems though, the machine decided to do some wobbly stitches... lol. I couldn't be bothered fixing it either, it's fine. Imperfections are still very much part of my sewing, even when it's with knits :)

In my first version of this dress, I pointed out the MANY things I changed about this pattern in terms of fit and construction, so please take heed if you want to make this pattern!
This version I didn't change much, but I did create a much curvier centre back seam, taking it in at the waist a chunk, going to nothing at the butt and mid-back. This is sort of a full butt adjustment in my eyes. It was also an inch shorter in the back when leveling the hem, which again is my butt taking up the extra fabric. I wonder if I should slash the pattern and add length at the hip level on the back pattern piece for next time? That seems like it'd be the "proper" way to do it, rather than leveling the hem. Something to try perhaps, though maybe if it ain't broke I shouldn't try to fix it!

I'm not convinced in the all-in-one back piece. I think it would look better with a midriff going across both front and back, and pleats on the backside too. Is it mod time? :)

Back view- I think the slip is making the butt wrinkles here. That's why I was unsure about such a lightweight knit.
Also, another reason I had to make this dress, was because I felt it would go really well with my Georgina Cardigan, which is a little bit of a wardrobe orphan currently. And I'm pretty pleased with them together! Pastels and greys are so nice together.

I can see myself making more versions of this pattern. I think it could really go to the next level in a high-quality double knit, not that I have any. And it occurred to me that it's similar to my Cake Patterns Tiramisu dress, but I like it more because of the pretty pleated details. It is more complicated to make though, I'll admit. Pleats in knits can be bit annoying to be honest, lol!

I really love sewing knits, but there's something about wovens that feels more lasting, so I guess they're worth the extra hassle overall. I really enjoy the structure they give a garment. There's definitely a place for both in my wardrobe though! How do you guys feel about knits vs wovens?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Fitting the Vogue 8766 Bodice: Part 2

Okay, so in my first post I showed my first muslin.

Muslin #1
I'm onto muslin two and I've got a lot to say about it! So if you don't like fitting and pattern alteration talk, leave now :)

Sunday, 12 January 2014

New Year, New Fitting

One of my goals this year was to use more tried and true patterns, to circumvent the fitting issues I have with every pattern I make. 
So naturally, here I am, attempting to fit a new pattern!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Completed: Cool Cowl Tank

I've made the Cool Cowl Tank by In-House Patterns before- you can see my post here. It was a nice easy make, though that one did turn out quite loose-fitting (I have plans to whip down the side seams with my new overlocker to snug it up a bit!).
I think it's a pretty, versatile pattern though, oh, and did I mention easy? :) So I had another go. AND, pats on the back for me, cos I very unselfishly made one for my Mum for her birthday too!
We traveled up north from Wellington to Tauranga for Christmas, so I took the opportunity to get photos at my parents' house. I'm so envious of the lovely weather they get up there...

For this version I used this lightweight, drapey viscose knit (viscose is just another name for rayon I believe.). I think it's a perfect fit for the pattern. It's a little more drapey and droopy than my last version, so even though I raised the cowl neckline using Alexandra's easy-to-follow tutorial, it is still quite a low neckline. No worries though! I don't have any cleavage to flash anyway, haha!
I made this one a slimmer fit (I think I went down two sizes), but with the ultra drapey fabric, it's definitely not too tight. I'm quite happy with it.
The other difference was that I eliminated the centre back seam I'd created on my last version. I guess I have a bit of pooling in the lower back (probably a sway back thing, right?) that could use fixing, but for a top like this, I don't really care. It's casual and drapey, so whatever! If I make another I could try it for an experiment.

Does this mean we are swayback twins too??
And this top is easy to squeeze out of leftover knit yardage, so there could be more in my future. In fact, this one IS made from leftover yardage, but I finished this top before the original dress I cut out from the fabric! So you'll see more lilac knit popping up on this blog soon in the form of a dress.

My Mum's version is also made in a viscose knit, a bit less thin than my lilac fabric. I love the colour, and I think it really suits her- it's not a harsh red, just pleasantly soft.

No idea what we were cracking up about here:

Here we posed with an unusual feature that lurks on my parents' property- a rusted out old car which my Dad acquired. Heh. It made for interesting photos I suppose!

I find the fact that I now own a twin of my Mum's wardrobe quite amusing, but clearly it just shows how cool she is. Haha.

There's not really much to say about these makes because they are such a simple project. There are a few more details in my original post. I recommend you check out In-House patterns because I don't see them get a lot of press in the indie-pattern-loving blogosphere! :)

Ooh, speaking of indie patterns, heard of Thread Theory, the cool new menswear company? Sophie of Two Random Words is giving away one of their patterns to celebrate her first 50 followers! So go enter to win and check out her awesome sewing skills while you're there! :)

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

More Top 5!

It's been great seeing everyone's top 5 posts pop up.
This time I'm talking reflections and goals. And since I'm too lazy to make separate lists, I think I'll tie these two together!

Number 1
Reflection: This year I've been REALLY hard on myself. I wrote about this in my post "Some thoughts on creativity and self-criticism". The response in the comments was quite amazing! It seems I'm not alone in struggling with my own nasty inner voice. I'm working on it, but that voice is so ingrained, it still gets away with a lot. So my goal is to conquer that voice in 2014. Hey, even if every garment I made was a failure, would that make it okay to beat myself up? No!
Seeing all these round-up posts at this time of year, it's so easy to compare yourself to others and conclude you're not as good as them. I know comparison is a thief of joy, so that is a big part of my goal too.

So my goal is:
To be kind and lovely to myself and not compare myself to others.

Number 2
Reflection: I've had many many fitting nightmares since I started sewing. I believe this boils down to two reasons 
- I am a perfectionist and can't stand to make a garment without a proper fit.
- I have a non-standard body. Sorry, I'm just not the girl in the pattern envelope! I get so jealous of bloggers who say "it fit perfectly right out of the envelope!". Those lucky devils!! Whoops, let's not compare ourselves to others...
My fitting features seem to be: sloping shoulders, forward shoulders, rounded back, small bust, very short waist, sway back, big butt. There are probably more too. Eep!
I have to accept that this is me for now, (though hey, bodies change. You never know, I might become a yoga master...hmmm, yeah right!) which is part of goal one. I gotta be kind to my non-standard body.

May I remind you THIS is what happens when I make "straight from the envelope". Sorry for the nightmares...
However, that alone won't fix my fit issues. And I don't want to compromise my fit standards. So to reduce the time spent in the muslin-zone for the next year, my goal is:

To work with plenty of"tried-and-true" patterns where I've already done the fitting, while still learning more about fit.

Number 3
Reflection: I've enjoyed dabbling in some light drafting/modding this year, most notably with the famous Renfrew pattern from Sewaholic (my roundup of mine and others' mods is here!), and with my New Look 6808 mod (which I don't really like, but it was a good experiment I guess, heh.)

Puff-sleeve Renfrew, yesss!
I like playing with patterns for several reasons- the fitting is already done, you don't have to buy another pattern (saving money, woo!), and you get to put a bit more of you into a pattern!
I hope to continue this, and maybe even get fancier.

My goal is: To play more with base patterns to make some fun modifications.

Number 4
Reflection: This year I've had quite a lot of time on my hands to indulge my hobbies, which has led to me making a reasonable amount despite my snail's pace! 
To let you in a bit on my personal life, ever since I got well 2 years ago, I've been putting my life together, and it's been a slow, confused process. I've been working a dead-end, mind-numbing job, BUT I've proven to myself I can now function like a real person, which is amazing!! This coming year I'll be studying full-time, which will be new and freaky, but I can't wait to start using my brain. It'll be a huge adjustment, and I surely won't have the same time and mind-space for craft that I have had this year.

So my goal is: To be okay with sacrificing my blog and hobby a bit while I *finally* have a go at making something of myself!

Number 5
Reflection: My sewing space has been a total mess this year. We have a tiny house and I use the spare bedroom. It's badly organised (which slows down my sewing), and it's messy too. I need to find some ways to make this space work better for me. I really don't enjoy organising and cleaning so I may have to bribe myself heavily to do it. Eep!
And, no, there shall be no "before" pic. It's simply too horrific.

It'll look like this! HAHA, just kidding, I'll settle for not having crap all over the floor. Image from pinterest

So the last, most practical goal is: To keep a tidier, better organised creative space.

I made 5 goals last year as well, and I would rate my success with them as well...not that good. Lol! Damnit! I still bought new patterns, made excessive plans, and fell into the perfectionism trap. I did make some progress on fitting, but I wasn't very good at project monogamy. I won't view all these as a failure though. I made progress in some areas, and changed my priorities in others. It's a process. It's a journey!

I'm sorry to say I'll probably be around here a little less in the new year (noooo! I'll miss you guyssss), but I feel like I'm finally moving forward with life after being stuck for so long. I think goal number one is going to be the most important thing for both my hobby and the other areas of my life. Let's revisit:

To be kind and lovely to myself and not compare myself to others.

I know there will be plenty of young people studying that won't have had 10 years of their life taken away by illness, and I aim to skip the comparison, and just do my best. I can do it. I can!!
Well, wishing all of you a fantastic New Year, and loads of positivity. Do you believe in making goals? Have you made some? Any tips for me on how to achieve mine?? :D