Style lessons with knit tops

I haven’t posted anything in a while, primarily because I was knitting, but also because I was, I thought, “just” making up a few knit tops, totally easy stuff. But actually, while I was doing that, I was also experimenting and, more importantly, drawing some conclusions about what I like and what I don’t.

I started with a top I made last spring, which I tried really hard to like, but couldn’t. You can see it here. I  removed the skirt, and recut the top part from my old tried and true See and Sew B5203 pattern. Then I reattached the skirt, but along a horizontal line, after having aligned the side seams to the seams of the bodice. There was also a little flare to the skirt that I eliminated by resewing the side seam at a straight angle. Here’s the result — a top that fits me and suits me, rather than drowning me in its oversize folds. What have I learned? Go down a complete size in Vogue tops and don’t take “oversize” as written in stone.IMG_1433

I bothered with this redo because I love the colour and weave of the fabric. I still like the top best because of that. I would like it better if it had some sort of variegated hemline, which is not possible.

So I decided to make a new version of the B5203, with a “high low” hem from one side to the other. Here it is.

IMG_1430

Isn’t that a lovely yellow jersey? Anyway I was contemplating why I love “high low” or “variegated” hemlines so much (doesn’t matter whether the difference in length is front to back, front to sides, or side-front to side-front). And I’ve come up with an answer. Please don’t laugh, as I tell you I should be two inches taller than I am. My legs are about two inches too short for my body. Both my sister and mother have correctly proportioned legs, and they’re both about two inches taller than me. So — a variegated hem gives the appearance of extra length, because of the diagonal line that’s created. It makes me look taller. And it blurs the waist line and the crotch placement, so it disguises the leg length.

I then decided to try the free Lago pattern from Itch to Stitch. Click on the link to get it yourself.

IMG_1435IMG_1436

I like it a lot. The sides of the front pattern piece are wavey — they curve out at the bust, in at the waist, and out again at the bust. You pin and then sew that piece to the back, which has straight sides. This means the fabric skims the body, rather than squeezing it. There’s a slight razor-back, so you have to figure out bra straps, or wear a tanklet under it. I plan to make several more of these. The trousers are Vogue 9193.

And finally, I made up two versions of the Hudson top from The Sewing Workshop. IG followers will have seen that I finally put out the cash to buy two Sewing Workshop patterns, for a total of five garments. I started with what I figured would be a wearable toile in an athletic double-layer fabric. After some experimentation, I decided to cut the size XS (rather than the Medium) because that’s plenty over-size enough. Here it is, with memade fisher pants and Jon Fluevog boots. I love the neck, which is a tube cut on the diagonal for a nice drape.

IMG_1437

And then I went for the bright merino wool version. For this one I narrowed the sleeves at the wrists, and made the back a bit longer than the front (there are side vents separating front from back).

IMG_1438IMG_1441

Those are Vogue Marcy Tilton trousers (I can’t find the pattern envelop, sorry). And orange patent leather booties. And this leads me to two other things I’ve learned about my style preferences. First, I like to wear one colour from clavicle to ankle, and second, I like saturated colours (that might mean dark colours, or bright ones). This top to bottom orange is pretty bright, isn’t it? I spared you the matching orange down-filled sweater/jacket. I will wear this combination. I love it.

That about concludes my report on what I’ve learned over the last few months. Has anybody else learned something new about themselves recently, through sewing clothes?

 

Advertisements

Simple yoke sweater done

I’ve been knitting along with kate of fabrickated.com and a bunch of other women for a few weeks now. We’ve been knitting up from the bottom using an Elizabeth Zimmerman non-pattern. How I love the non-pattern! No more squinting at three dense pages of instructions for what to do on each bloody row of knitting! No more confinement to size 150/175/200!

I measured my bust, and then the approximate bust line of two old sweaters and settled on a number. I multiplied the number of stitches per inch with that number and cast on accordingly. All other measurements are percentages of this number. If you can figure out 20 per cent of something, you can knit this sweater. Well you can always have recourse to youtube, as I did for videos on grafting and picking up cast-on stitches. Oh, and for using a circular needle for only a few stitches in a technique called “magic loop”.

Here’s the finished product.

IMG_1418IMG_1419IMG_1420IMG_1422

We used Zimmerman’s book “Knitting without Tears”, which I took out of my local library so I could supplement Kate’s instructions and get the broader picture. The book was published in the 1970’s I believe, and the colour-worked yoke sweaters are a bit old-fashioned, I think. But I did a bit of research on Ravelry and saw people are updating it in a variety of ways — lowering the neckline and shaping the waist, for example.

My variations included shunning all ribbed knit cuffs, bottom and neckline. I have to confess that at the moment I loathe all ribbed knit “endings”. I substituted garter stitch, which I’m happy with. On the wrists I used needles a size smaller for the border, and I like that. I lowered the neck a bit, and kept it a bit wider by reducing a stitch every fifth stitch rather than every second. Zimmerman deals with the need to raise the back by knitting a few extra rows of the back neck border (back and forth) before finishing the border in the round. I chose instead to knit a few extra rows of stocking stitch at the back. Makes more sense to me.

I have no experience with colour work and wanted to knit this up quickly so didn’t bother. Also, I’m not sure I’m a fan of that Norwegian ski sweater look. I must say I have been admiring some of Kate’s sweaters. And, while knitting, I began watching a Netflix series that I’m going to tell you about because it’s pertinent. Have any of you watched “The Killing”? It’s American, but inspired by a Danish detective series. It’s filmed in Seattle, and only on rainy days, as far as I could tell, so it has an appropriately “noir” aesthetic. The lead detective is a woman who always wears her long hair tied back, and whose uniform consists of sneakers, jeans and wooly sweaters. For the first five episodes she wore the same colour-worked yoked sweater, just like the Zimmerman yoked sweaters. So I got a good, long chance to see these sweaters in action. It was great. And for anyone with a Netflix account, I highly recommend the series. It has great themes pertaining to what it is to be human. If you watch it, study the sweaters 🙂

I used about one and a half hanks of Lion Brand fisherman knit yarn, undyed. I bought 3 hanks a couple of years ago when I knit my first sweater after taking two basic knitting courses. So I guess I could make an identical second sweater? That might be a bit of over-kill. However, since the first sweater I knit was unwearable, I have been harvesting its yarn for a second Zimmerman yoked sweater.

20170813_203345

I’m currently swatching, but I think I’m going to have to wet the swatch to get the curl out so I can get an accurate gauge. I may be knitting a bit looser than I did a few years ago.

As I told people on IG, I ran into trouble with the underarm grafting on this sweater, and took myself off to Gina Brown’s Yarns and Wool store for help. While there I bought a hank of brilliant crimson yarn to go with this new sweater. Unfortunately it turned out I brought along a remnant of the wrong yarn. Not this sweater yarn but a brighter version that I had used to make a hat, which I subsequently gave away. I don’t think the crimson is the best match to this subdued aqua, so I’m going back to the store to return it and look for something better.

Does anyone have an opinion as to whether I need the same yarn for some colourwork? If so, I’ll get just one colour because this half-alpaca, half-wool Beroco yarn only comes in 100 gram hanks, and they’re not cheap. But if I could use something else of the same gauge, something that comes in 50 gram balls, I could maybe use two other colours.

While I was at the store, the lovely saleswoman, whose name was Sarah (I think) showed me a picture of a Kate Davies yoked sweater. Here’s a picture of it: the keith-moon

I’m going to take inspiration from it. I was thinking of a stripe, and this design shows me how beautiful one or two stripes can be.

Shift in Earth

Isn’t this just the plainest shift you’ve ever seen?

IMG_1384

I made it with fabric left over from a pair of fisherpants, to wear with the pants. The pattern is neue mode S22859. I have no idea how I came into possession of it.

IMG_1392

So that’s the pants and shift together. It’s a very earthy look, isn’t it? I wonder if the colour is not good so close to my face (better for bottoms than for tops?)

It is my intention to dress it up, like this:

IMG_1393

IMG_1394IMG_1395IMG_1396

I’ve been seeing long dresses paired with pants, but I’m not sure how I feel about this combo. Does anyone see cultural appropriation? I’m wondering if the shift should be either bigger/looser or tighter? I made no alterations to the pattern other than to lower the bust darts about half an inch, and shorten the sleeves because I ran out of fabric. I made the necklace out of glass beads.

Unexpected culottes and MMM17

So I have to tell you my first ever me made May crashed and burned on the rocks of illness. The first couple of weeks were interesting. My goal was to not wear exactly the same clothes two days in a row (all me-made). I found that  exposed me to more ways of combining clothes while still allowing me to feel the comfort of wearing the same few clothes over the course of a week.

Once I got a bronchial infection plus laryngitis, I began slathering medicated ointment on my chest and throat night and day. That ointment stained clothing, so I just wore a couple of ratty old RTW t-shirts night and day for the duration. End of me made May.

While sick, I did manage to make a pair of trousers that turned into culottes purely as a result of an accident. I had cut the front pattern piece down the centre and spread them 2 inches apart on the fabric, intending to use those two inches for an inverted box pleat. But when I started cutting out the enlarged pattern piece, I inadvertently treated it as two pieces and separated them at the ankles for about 4 inches before I caught myself.

So, culottes it was. I used a pattern from my stash, New Look 6132. I used some quilting fabric. I don’t like to make clothes from quilting fabric, but I had bought a piece because I liked the print and didn’t realize it was quilting fabric. Anyway, I thought this would be a useable toile.

20170606_18024820170606_175410

Wow, the depth of field of my phone camera is not great is it? In focus at the level of the camera, out of focus above. Strange.

The fit on these was surprisingly good. The only adjustment I had to make was to lower the front waist by an inch, and that’s pretty standard for me. In case you’re wondering, the print is paint-splash effect.  I’ve blogged about the shirt and the tunic in previous posts.

20170606_18025720170606_180306

I quite like them, although I am kind of self-conscious about my skinny lower shins. But they’ll do for summer casual wear, eh?20170606_175459

Okay that was an attempt to include a fully-focused picture. Which failed, obvs. Will try to do better next time ….

Tentative joiner joins

So, for the first time, I’m joining me-made May. I’ve watched others for the past two years, kind of envying them, but I don’t exactly have a lot of experience joining things … I I finally took the plunge this year, after waffling back and forth. My pledge is to wear me-made every day, but I could hardly avoid doing that as I own only a few sweaters and the odd jacket that I haven’t made myself. The real part of the pledge is to never wear the same combination of clothes two days running. This means  I’ll have to a) put clothes away and b)  make a deliberate choice about what to wear in the mornings. It’s easy when you don’t go out to work to throw things on a chair at night before bed and then throw them on the next morning again. This will be a tough challenge!

As to what I’ve been sewing lately, just futzing with a few t-shirts while I prepare to cut into some lovely plaid material for a blouse. I cut up a long-sleeved over-sized t-shirt I made last year, and wasn’t terribly happy with, and made a paper pattern for a sleeveless tank from a couple of different old RTW tanks.

20170501_131041

Sorry for the bad pic — I was taking a few shots for IG. Some of you may remember the fabric. I do like the stripes.

And I like the top so much that I immediately started another one in a small piece of green jersey.

20170501_132225

Um, pardon my toes.

I just made one pattern piece because the difference between front and back is minimal.

So, check out my outfits on IG if you’re interested. I’ll try not to cheat.

Keeping it Simple

I made a second version of Vogue 9193 trousers, using two small pieces of wool gaberdine that came together in one bundle. There was just enough fabric. I love the colour and drape.

IMG_20170330_110843_24420170330_11020020170330_105249

Look at that blue sky!

I like this pattern — it’s a bit funky and a bit sophisticated, I think. I wore these all day today and realized I have to tighten up the elastic in the waist. I had to keep hitching them up. The t-shirt is another of my TNT Butterick pattern that I’ve now made up about 8 times, I think.

It has occurred to me that when I’m choosing what to wear on any given day, the priority is colour. Often I choose grey and white in the mornings because those colours seem really calm. I think this combination of cream and green is also very calm.

I wonder how many people choose clothing for its colour? Is colour more important than the design (the pattern) and the fabric? Actually in this case, the fabrics for both top and bottom are pretty high quality, which is making me feel unusually upscale!

Imagination and Reality

I finally managed to finish a jacket with fabric that turned out to have lots of issues. I posted a pic on instagram of several holes, which I noticed just as I was laying out pattern pieces. I discovered I could lay out the pieces so as to avoid the holes if I turned the sleeve pieces sideways. After I’d cut them out, I realized there were yet other other problems. There were “not-quite-holes” that showed only when I held the fabric up to the light, and broken threads on the right side of the fabric.

I almost gave up and tossed the fabric. It’s a beautiful wool, probably with some silk in it, with a lovely sheen. I bought it for all of $6 at Our Social Fabric. But I’d been imagining a jacket made from it for six months and even made a wearable toile out of the pattern (see my previous post). And more than that, I’d been imaginingg a whole outfit, involving t-shirts and pants from a matching fabric. Aargh.

What the heck is this?

20170211_085319

That’s damage I couldn’t eliminate — thankfully it’s on the facing, rather than the outside. I used a tapestry needle to pull other broken threads to the wrong side, and then ironed on little bits of feather-weight fusible interfacing to hold them in place. I did the same with the “not-quite-holes”, hoping to prevent further damage.

Here’s the finished jacket. You’d have to look hard to find any remaining fabric problems.

img_1370

Like the scarf? It’s a little piece of silk chiffon I was going to serge a rolled hem on but haven’t yet done. If I’d finished this in January, it was meant to go to jungle january 🙂 I doubt I’ll ever have any other jungle prints in my wardrobe.

img_1371img_1374

I was confident cutting out a size 14 after I’d made the purple short version, but discovered, after I’d sewn in the pockets, that it was too tight in the hips, right at pocket level. More growls. Grrrrr. I had to take out the pockets, reduce my seam allowances on all the vertical seams starting just below the bust. Thankfully that was enough.

There was a lot of ease in the sleeve heads and I had to remove both sleeves once and redo them to eliminate puckers. I had two lines of gathering stitches in the purple version, and only one line in this one. I think I should have used two lines, as I managed more successfully with the purple. I may need to try steaming with a ham for these.

I lined it with some silk from my stash, and applied some copper snaps. I love snaps! Have I said that before? I wish manufacturers would make nicer ones. So far the only decent ones I’ve found have been these copper ones, in two sizes.

img_1372img_1373

Now, here’s a mock-up of what the whole outfit was supposed to be.

 

img_1375

The pink t-shirt is from fabric from Our Social Fabric again. Looking at the t-shirt/jacket combo, I’m pretty sure I’ll never wear them together. The striped fabric is a gorgeous lightweight wool, from the same source. As it turns out it’s fairly transparent, which means I’ll have to line it if I make the pants I’d been intending to make. I don’t really like to make lined clothes much. Lining adds formality as well as bulk, and as anyone who reads this blog probably knows, I like a pretty darned non-formal, if not bohemian, look. I’m kind of regretting having interfaced the fronts of this one for that same reason.

I think the fabric would make a great second folded tube skirt, like the grey one I made a little while ago. Or maybe even a dress, like the Keilo dress, which I like. Anyway, I’ve decided to put the fabric away for now and make some other things. Suggestions for what to do with the fabric are welcome.

20170211_110931

This is the pattern line drawing. I had originally also planned to make it two-tone, using either some cream or brown wool I have in my stash. But then I thought that would be a waste of fabric as then there would be leftovers from two pieces, neither big enough to do anything with.

I envisioned so many things with this fabric! And my imagination got untethered from reality I’m afraid. Does that ever happen to you?