Thursday, March 27, 2014

Herringbone Cowl finished...

I finished the Herringbone Cowl that I started last month.  Here it is:

This is a free project on Craftsy.  The link above will take you to the youtube demo of how to do the stitch and there will be link there for the pattern.  This was a project that I started for the February knitting group.  The yarn is a wool blend.  Some chunky yarn I picked up at Michael's.  The required set of needles for this project was difficult to locate.  Michael's carried the correct size but not the correct length.  So, I made the trek to JoAnn's hoping that they would have needles in the correct size. I was not lucky.  Next, I tried a little yarn shop in the same area as JoAnn's.  I was very lucky.  They had one pair of the size 19 needles in the correct length.

The herringbone pattern was very easy to do once I got going. It was very easy to see when you made a mistake.  The chunky yarn was easy to work with but the circular needles were hard for me to hold. It took me much longer than an hour to make.  Maybe total 5 or 6 hours. Be aware that if you choice to make this that the directions just say bind off.  I asked at the March knitting meeting if I should just do a regular bind off or follow the pattern and bind off.  I was told to do a regular bind off. You can see the ruffled edge and I think the knitting each stitch was the reason it ruffled a little bit.  I will have to make another one to find out if that is the case or not but I think the proper way to bind off was to stay in the pattern.

In the end this was very good practice for the knit stitch.  So, if you're looking for a project to practice your knitting this one is good.

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Couture Sewing - The Couture Cardigan Jacket

I have finally finished up reading The Couture Cardigan Jacket and watching the DVD by Claire Shaeffer. 

I read the book first and then watched the DVD and walked through the book with it.  I took my time reading through the book because I really wanted to understand the techniques shown. The examples shown throughout the book are beautiful.  They really make you want to duplicate the look on your own. 

The book really does not discuss fit.  Before starting, you should already have made a muslin and made all necessary changes. 


1.  Getting Started  - information is provided on materials and trims, and cutting and marking.
2.  Constructing the Jacket - quilting, stabilizing and shaping, and order of construction.
3.  Buttonholes - information on hand worked buttonholes and how to finish the buttonholes.
4.  Assembling the Sleeves - information on how to put a three piece sleeve together.
5.  Finishing the Edges - information on how to finish the hems and applying the trim.
6.  Setting the Sleeves - information on how to hand set a sleeve.
7.  Patch Pocket Techniques
8.  Finishing Details - information on finishing the buttonholes on the inside, sewing on a button, adding shape to the jacket back, and adding the chain.
9. Characteristics of the Couture Cardigan Jacket - What makes it different? How the copies and knockoffs are different.

The DVD run time is about 1 1/2 hours.

After reading this book and watching the DVD, I'm convinced that I could (and may) duplicate this look, hand stitching and all.  The only thing that I find a little bit daunting is the hand worked buttonholes.  In watching the DVD, you can see how comfortable Claire Shaeffer is with the hand work.  It is second nature to her.  I wonder how long it takes to be that comfortable.  She even made the hand worked buttonholes look easy. 

Is this a must have book for the sewing library?  If you like books that contain a lot of how-to and give examples, I would say "Yes".  If you have any intentions of making this type of garment, I would say "Yes".  I'm glad that it is now part of my sewing library. 

I'm now looking forward to the skirt book which will also be part of my sewing library.

Happy Stitching!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Project Update…

The weekend started rough with us discovering that our water heater was blown.  So half the day on Saturday was spent with plumbers working on the replacement and the remainder of the day spent getting caught up on the laundry. 

Let’s start with the Shelia Jacket.  There was a minor problem  with the Shelia jacket pattern 
 (there were 2 “D” fronts in my size) but Peggy got back with me fairly quickly letting me know how to determine which pattern piece was the correct one.  I have now finished tracing the jacket, checked that the pattern pieces match to one another, and that the basic width will fit.  I did add a couple of inches at the hip using the pivot and slide method.  Here’s the fabric that I wanting to use for the jacket:

There will be a webcast tonight on this jacket pattern.  I’m looking forward to it.  Hope I do not forget about it. 

Next, I traced the Diane Kimono dress.  I pin fit the pattern pieces and was pleasantly surprised that it appeared to fit.  I need to look around for some fabric to make a muslin of the bodice to double-check the fit.  I really think the width is good but I may need to add a little bit of length. Here’s the fabric that I’m considering for the dress:

As for the shoe saga, of the three pair I ordered only one pair worked out.  I now have a new pair of low heeled black dress shoes.  The other two pair have been returned but I keep looking.  New shoes arrive on a daily basis at Zappos.  I’m sure I’ll find something else soon.

Happy Stitching!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Next projects...

Even though there is still snow about, I'm determined to start some spring/summer items.  It would be nice to have stuff ready for when the weather warms up or if I should head south.  So, here's the first two projects that I've picked:

First is the Shelia's Jacket pattern from Silhouette Patterns.  I had never looked closely at this pattern before until one of webcast at the beginning of the year.  I will definitely do a muslin of this pattern before cutting my fabric which is a denim type fabric with a floral design right out of the stash.  This will be a great casual jacket for spring or for the air conditioning.

Second is the Diane Kimono Dress pattern from Serendipity Studio.  I fell in love with this pattern the first time I saw it and got it immediately.  It should be a quick and easy dress to make.  I will do a muslin of this to check the fit of the bodice just in case an FBA is required.  Doesn't this look like a nice summer dress?  Unfortunately, I do not have stash fabric for this but I do have fabric picked out at work.  If you're interested in this pattern, please hop over to the Pattern Loft to purchase.

Have you made either of these patterns?  What were your results?

Happy Stitching!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Seams Unlikely... a good book to read.

It is a little bit rambling but it is interesting to see how she started and where she is now.  I loved watching her show when she first started with PBS in the 80s.  I still have some of those shows on tape.  It was encouraging to know that others enjoyed sewing.

I will say that I don't usually read this type of book and it took me about a month to finish it.   If you're interested in this sewing industry legend, this is a good book to read. As far as I can tell, she is still going strong.

Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Finding the perfect shoes...

Have you ever felt like the perfect shoe didn't exist?  That is how I'm feeling right now.  I returned this shoe:

Not because I didn't like the style but because I didn't care for the color variations. They were a little too different for my taste.  However, I did replace them with this shoe:

Yes, same style different color.  I think these will be a nice little shoe to wear with dresses or skirts. Just a simple little black slip on.   While I was in the process of returning/purchasing, I added another shoe to the cart:

This little shoe is by a company called "Wanted". I hope it turns out to be a nice little shoe.  I hope I like wearing flats this year.  Although, I do need to look for some sandals, too.  What is the use of a pedicure if you don't show it off?

Happy Stitching!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Last Winter Item Completed

I finished the very last winter item for this season. There is still snow outside so it's still needed in the wardrobe. There were a couple of firsts with this garment. It was the first time that I had sewn with a sweater knit. It will not be the last time. It was the first time that I have sewn with a Silhouette pattern. Again, it will not be the last time. The pattern I chose was Terri’s Shawl Collar V-Neck #313 plus the line drawing:

I made a 6w with the  D cup. I was actually guessing on the size. I didn't exactly follow the directions on how to choose a size. I will measure an existing knit top tomorrow and see what the difference is in the sizing. I think I’m happy with the outcome. The top feels a little bit big but it fits as well as anything that I could have purchased except there isn't a wad of fabric above my bust and the top isn't a couple of inches shorter in the front.

Here’s what I liked about the pattern:

    1. The pattern is well drafted. Every piece matched perfectly where it should have.
    2. It was fairly quick. I’m a very slow sewer and the actually sewing time took me about 3 hours.
    3. I like the V-neck.
    4. It looked pretty good straight out of the package with one small alteration.
    5. I liked the fit of the arms. Maybe I found the armhole I need.

Here’s what I didn't like about the pattern:

  1. The facing is too short. With a D cup, I don’t need anything going right across the bust line and that is exactly where the facing ended. I feel like it should fall below the bust curve. 
  2. It felt a little bit short. I know this pattern is drafted for 5’8” and I’m 5’5”. I will add a inch to the length next time. 
  3. The back collar didn't seem to stay close to my neck. This could be a posture issue but I will need to figure that out for the next top. 


Yes, I made one alteration. When I measured the hip area, I really didn't think that it would go around my hips. The hip measurement isn't mentioned on the package. I added 2” in the width using the pivot method. This could be part of the reason the top feels a bit big.

Sewing the sweater knit:

I am out of practice sewing with knits. This is the first knit top that I have completed in a very long time. I spent one evening just playing with machine settings on both my sewing machine and my serger. The serger was pretty much good to go with the default setting. Unfortunately this style of top isn't a good choice to do all the stitching on the serger, so the sewing machine had to be used but what stitch. I played with the straight stitch and slightly stretched the fabric as I stitched. This might have worked but I thought it looked funny. I played a little bit with a slight zigzag. I wasn't happy with the way it looked. I gave up at this point and decided to do an internet search to see if anyone actually talked about the machine setting they used. I didn't find anything. Then, I found the Nancy Zieman had done 2 shows on sewing with knits so I watched them. She did provide a little bit of information. Here is what I ended up doing for the seams that couldn't be serged and the hems. I discovered too late that I didn't have a stretch double-needle for the hems. I used a stitch that I had never considered using before. I was truly desperate because I wanted to finish this top. I used the lightning stitch on my machine. There was no way that I was going to use the default settings of 2.5mm stitch length with 1.0 mm width. I changed them to 4.0mm stitch length and a .5mm width. I was amazed. It stretched and looked good. Will I use this stitch again in the future? Absolutely! Yes, I used this for my hems. It looked fine.

Here’s the end result:

I would love to hear what stitches you use on sewing machine when sewing knits? Do you use a different stitch on the seams and the hems? Until today, I always used either a double-needle or ribbing to finish knits.

I'm ready for spring.  The next garment will be spring/summer related.

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Brown Wool Skirt finally finished....

It took a snowy day where I couldn't get out to finish my skirt. I know this took more than a month. I'm not sure why the hemming slowed me down but it did. Here's the pattern that I made:

This time I made View D with the double pleats in the front.  Here's the finished skirt:

I put an invisible zipper in this version of the skirt.  Here’s a link to the best tutorial that I have found on putting in an invisible zipper - . There are no puckers when you follow her directions.

I changed the waist from having a facing to having a waistband.  I don’t know if I did it correctly but it seems to work.  I removed the 5/8” seam allowance on both the skirt and the lining.  Then followed the tutorials over Katrina Kay Creations for both the lining and the waistband.  Here's the link:    .   The name of the tutorials are:   How to Sew Your Skirt Lining to your zipper by machine  and How to Sew a Waistband that will not round or wrinkle.

 Here's a peek at how the invisible zipper turned out:

I will definitely be using both the zipper technique and the waistband technique again.  The skirt actually turned out a little bit big.  There were other mistakes with this skirt along the way.  `I haven't decided yet if I will actually wear it.  I would not consider this a failure as the techniques that I learned long the way were definitely worth learning.  I love knowing how to sew the zipper opening in the lining by machine.  

I can tell looking at the picture that the skirt needs to spend a little more time being pressed.  I will also need to find a different top.  The sweater I have on in the picture definitely isn't the right one.  

I did mention that the hemming slowed me down on this skirt.  I ended up stitching both the skirt and the lining hems on the machine.  The skirt hem is done using the blind hem stitch which took a little bit of fiddling with the adjustable blind hem foot that I have.  For Viking owns, that is the clear "D" foot.   the lining was just a down hem stitched down.  Nothing fancy there.  Do you like sewing your skirt hems by hand or machine?  Any particular reason.

Overall, I would say that this is a very nice pattern. It seemed to have been well drafted and went together well.  I will definitely consisted revisiting this pattern for one or two summer skirts.  

Ok, I have one more wintery item left.  It will be another experience.  If it works out, I will have another top to wear over the next few weeks. If it doesn't, it is just one less piece of fabric in the stash.

Happy Stitching

Saturday, March 1, 2014

New Placemats

Today was the monthly sewing/crafting meeting with one of my friends.  She has been learning free motion quilting.  Although I have no desire to do free motion quilting, I certainly don't mind picking out projects that will allow practicing to occur.  It was my turn to pick out a project and I wanted/needed new placemats.  With that in mind,  I selected the Framed Seasons quilt as you go placemats.  Here's a picture of the pattern project:

With this project we were able to practice free motion quilting (I chose to outline quilt) the center section, quilt as you go, stitching evenly, and topstitching.  This was a fairly quick project.  We started getting everything together at 9 am and by 11:30 am we had both made two placemats.  At this point, I ran out of matching thread which required a trip to JoAnn's for another spool of thread.  I also realized that I needed a new blade for my rotary cutter but unfortunately the needed size wasn't available. Here's a picture of my finished project:

This project made me realized that I definitely need more practice with topstitching.  Why does topstitching seem so difficult?  I was using the foot on my machine to help with keeping the stitches straight.  My friend was using a specialty foot for topstitching.  I'm not sure that she had an easier time of doing the topstitching.   I would love to hear your favorite tips on the topstitching technique.

The next meeting we will be making lampshades.  I have decided not to make my own lampshades but I will be helping to create the lampshades for my friend.

Happy Sewing!