After a stressful few months, I decided that I would finally treat myself to a sewing machine. I’ve been getting more and more into sewing over the past couple of years, so it just makes sense. For anyone considering buying a machine, I really recommend getting advice from John Lewis. I found it much more helpful then trying to get my head around online reviews.
Anyway, here is my first make.
Overall, I’m somewhat happy with it. The fit is quite good, but there are armhole issues- you can see my bra. I had heard that double gauze is more drapey than ordinary cotton, which is true, but it’s probably still a bit too structured for this style of top.
I think the fit is okay. I prefer my clothing a little more fitted than this, but I think the fit is fine for this style of top. It might be the sort of top that is useful for travelling. I also think it would be cute tucked into something.
I shortened the front piece by over two inches after trying on. I have a short body. I also shortened the back over an inch- thought it would be nice to have an asymmetrical hemline. I botched the hem a bit by (I think) stretching the fabric while I was sewing. Curved hems are hard, and I don’t really know what I’m doing. I can’t be bothered to fix it now, but I might one day. I had hoped that ironing would sort it out, but it didn’t.
Going to test drive this a bit more, but I have a feeling it will be my last Silk Cami. I have a bit of a gap in my wardrobe for vests, but I think I will be looking for a different pattern to plug that gap.
Pattern: Silk Cami by Sew Over It
Fabric: 1.25m of double gauze
I bought this cool patterned shirt in a vintage shop in St Albans a while ago. I initially planned to wear it oversized, but that’s not really my style so it’s only been out of the wardrobe a few times.
Not ideal that the only pic I have of this shirt is Anna’s Instagram photo of my semi-ironic hipster posing, but that reveals how seldom I have worn this garment despite falling in love with the pattern.
I decided to try putting my new shirt-making skills into effect by transforming this oversized shirt into a fitted shirt.
Since the shirt is fastened by studs, I was a little limited on what I could do without way more effort than I was prepared to expend. This meant no attempts at pattern matching. The pattern is very odd and the diamonds seem to be in a fairly random pattern, so matching would have been difficult anyway (I tell myself).
I vaguely hoped I could just modify the shirt by running some new lines of stitching down the side seams and sleeves, but that would have resulted in something very amateur looking. This meant I had to cut out new back, fronts and sleeves from the existing fabric.
I was lucky in that the collar and cuffs are pretty close to the size in the Ultimate Shirt, which cut out a hell of a lot of labour. Weird to think that these little details are what makes creating a shirt such a challenge.
So far I am very happy with the result I have achieved. This modification took me around six hours, and helped to solidify my understanding of how to make a shirt. I feel confident that the Ultimate Shirt would work and look cute in a heavier fabric.
Once I finish the hem, I will see how often I wear this shirt. Though I like the fit, I think that the oddness of the diamond pattern is more obvious now that the shirt is smaller. Might not be as much of an issue if I wear this tucked into a high-waisted skirt. Dyeing could also be an option. I’m going to take this shirt to class tomorrow as I would consider making a smaller size in future.
I have a feeling I will still wear it as long-sleeved work shirts that don’t gape at the bust are a massive hole in my wardrobe. Now I need to tackle the SOI Pencil Skirt pattern…
Pattern: Ultimate Shirt by Sew Over It (size 14 grading down to 12 at the waist)
Fabric: Salvaged from an oversized vintage Wrangler shirt
Part of my bank holiday weekend was spent at Sew Over It Clapham at their silk camisole sewing class. I chose to make mine from some lovely blue ombré silk I bought on the Goldhawk Road. I wanted to learn how to work with silk, which has always seemed a daunting prospect.
I was between sizes so I decided to go a size down. My Betty dress, another SOI pattern, came out large all over, so I hoped I’d be safe. I was also very tight on fabric because using an ombré limited where I could cut out my pattern pieces. This is something I need to remember if working with an ombré fabric again.
This pattern introduced me to French seams, which were actually easier than I thought. I got super focused while sewing, as usual, so I only managed a picture of the one on my facing. Also it’s a dodgy iPhone pic even though I took my camera along especially.
Will our intrepid hero end up with a wearable top?
Will her nemesis, Professor Perfectionism, turn up to rain on her parade?
Will she poke herself with that unpicker?
Find out next time in the continuing adventures of the Crafty Crusader!
I finally managed to finish this mammoth project a couple of weeks ago. And I hate it. It’s my first UGH! on Ravelry and it feels like a cruel April fools joke played by the knitting gods.
I’ve got to say that blocking this sweater was an absolute nightmare. The second the fabric got wet, it just stretched like crazy. I think part of the problem is that the pattern directs you to make a moss stitch swatch that gives no indication of how the final fabric will behave. I say, ignore the pattern instructions and swatch the whole stitch pattern to avoid this problem.
I left the damp top to dry on a fan heater (I don’t have a tumble drier), which seemed to shrink it down a bit. However, as soon as I put it on, it stretched out again.
Here’s how it was fitting before blocking.
Hideous quality pic but it demonstrates my point. Pre-blocking, the fit was pretty spot on. I block almost religiously, but this experience is making me question that habit.
It’s so frustrating to spend hours making something, then end up with a product that is unwearable. I feel this project was a little doomed from the start when I hated the colour of the yarn, which was totally different to the pictures I saw on the website. I may try one more time to shrink it if I ever get a chance to use a tumble dryer. Otherwise I will just give it away so I can forget about it. In moments of drama, which have been more frequent than usual lately, I have nearly chucked it in the bin.
Again, this making experience is an example of art (craft) reflecting life.
Craft can be a cruel mistress.
Yarn: Kettle Yarn Co Westminster in Mermaid
I fell in love with the knitting pattern for this cute top in the summer and excitedly bought yarn. Here’s how it should turn out.
Photo from Ravelry.
Unfortunately, the colour of the yarn was a real let-down compared to the pictures on the website and the company does not offer returns. Boo.
After a few months of sulking, I decided to cast on with the caveat that I will overdye the top if I still don’t like the colour when I am finished. The top is knitted in pieces and this is my progress on the back.
I cast on the extra stitches for the sleeves on Monday so I think I’m getting there with the back of the top. I need to do some careful measuring once I finish. My gauge is off and I couldn’t be bothered to knit a second swatch so I’m knitting in between sizes. I think I want a bit less positive ease than stated in the pattern. But I also don’t want the top to be too tight. Knitting involves so much maths!
Yarn: Kettle Yarn Co Westminster in Mermaid
Having finished this Waterlily top is a bit of a surprise as I started knitting it almost a year ago. Normally I’m an extremely focused knitter, keen to get every garment off my needles and onto my body. But this top, though I loved all the pictures in the pattern, I found a real slog to make. It’s made on fairly small needles with fine yarn. There are miles of plain stocking in the round. The Latvian braid technique was new to me. The lace, which I started before I made Rock Island, required too much concentration.
But all of those niggles fade away when I look at this garment on the blocking board. It is beautiful.
Another challenge was the fact that this is a bottom-up blouse, which means you can’t really try it on. I used my old trick of slipping half of the stitches onto another circular needle and trying it on, but it’s hard to tell what the tube of fabric will really look like. In the end, it was about right. The top is meant to be worn with a lot of positive ease, but this style swamps me. I made it fitted across the bust, which means that it should hang nicely over my tummy, and I added some waist shaping.
I think the blocking boards and T-pins I bought for Rock Islamd were a sound investment. Both were very useful in allowing me to get this garment to my desired dimensions.
Here’s how it looks on. As you may be able to see, the fabric has a lot of drape, so even though it fits loosely it still highlights ones shape in a mostly flattering manner.
Pattern: Waterlily by Meghan Fernandez
Yarn: Kettle Yarn Co Islington in Vestige
Ravelry project page here
Here’s my progress on the beautiful Waterlily top. I got held up with working on this for a few weeks, partly because I was a bit worried about attempting the Latvian braid, and partly because I was coming to the end of my first skein of Islington and I hate winding skeins into balls.
For anyone knitting with Islington, I would suggest not using centre-pull balls. The wool is so soft and slippery that the ball can’t really hold its shape as you work from the middle.
Anyway, I managed the Latvian braid and I’m now a few rows into the lace section.
The blue and purple strands are life-lines. My magical new interchangeable double-pointed needles are designed to allow you to add a lifeline with no additional effort, which I think is pretty amazing. But then, I am a massive geek. Lifelines are particularly useful when knitting lace. If you make a mistake in lace, undoing rows and picking up the stitches and yarnovers is a complete knit-mare. With a lifeline, you know that you can drop down to your scrap yarn and all your precious stitches are securely held. Here’s a later progress picture. I’ve finished a full repeat of the lace pattern, so you get a better idea of what the final design will look like.