Archive | February, 2012

Completed: The Renfrew Top (and why I love knits!)

7 Feb

Omg you guysssss have you been lurking the Renfrew top as hard as I have? I was seriously excited when Tasia released this pattern – I love working with knits and I want everyone else to love them, too! Honestly, I already have a tshirt pattern block and I’ve got a pretty good handle on knits – not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’ve been pumping out knit tshirts/dresses for a few years now (mostly LLADYBIRD stuff. But I bought this pattern anyway – for SCIENCE. Despite making hundreds of tshirts, I’ve never actually sewn with a pattern for knits. So I was curious to see what it was like, and I wanted to report back to y’all. Also, SCIENCE.

Chevron Renfrew

I do love how versatile this pattern is – and not even with just what is offered on the envelope! You can seriously butcher this pattern up to make all kinds of other designs! I do like it better than my personal block, although it took some tweaking to get the fit correct. My biggest issue with Sewaholic patterns is the bust size – the measurements are so much smaller than mine, and since I already have to do a FBA with normal patterns, it’s not usually worth it to go the extra step with something that will take even more flat pattern adjusting. Knits, however, are very very forgiving. You don’t have to do a FBA so much as you just cut a bigger size 🙂

I was a little confused with the finished measurements – they include a few inches of ease, which is guess is necessary for a stable knit. Me, I use super stretchy knits – I have a whole cabinet full of them! I cut my pattern to accommodate for this – a 4 at the bust, reducing to a 0 at the waist/hip. I left the sleeves at a 4 (I have big upper arms for my size, I guess) and the shoulders/neckline are a 0. I also reduced the shoulder width just a hair past 0 as my first prototype was in danger of falling off my shoulder.

Speaking of my first shirt, I’m not going to show it to you. There’s nothing wrong with it – the fit is great – but it’s a boring red long sleeve shirt with a scoop neck. BORING. Who wants to look at that?

The whole pattern is great. I love the fit and the instructions are very clear and concise. I love the bands – this is not a new concept to me, personally, as I’ve been using this method for a few years, but it was reassuring to know my method was the right method 🙂

I do have one small change I made to the pattern that I think makes a huge difference with the finished neckline, though – if you are sewing this up with a stretchy/slinky knit (i.e, not something stable), cut the neckline band an inch or so shorter than the pattern piece indicates, and then stretch it to fit as you sew it on. The ending result is that the band shrinks down to fit the neckline and you get a perfect curve without needing to top stitch it down. As far as how much to cut off – well, I wish there was a formula to tell you, but it’s really dependent on how stretchy your knit is. Usually an inch is enough, but you might need to experiment! It is definitely worth it for the end result, though.

Chevron Renfrew

The fabric requirements on this pattern, btw, can easily be fudged. If you play around with the cutting layout, you can definitely save on fabric. Fabric can also be pieced at certain points if you don’t have enough length – this particular shirt is pieced right down the front. Partially to form the chevrons, but mostly because I barely had any of this stripey fabric.

Chevron Renfrew - back
And look – the back is solid black 🙂

Chevron Renfrew - side
I love the way it looks from the side (and no, I have no idea what is going on there with my hand)

Chevron Renfrew

Chevron Renfrew - top stitching
I tried to get a picture of my top stitching but you can’t really see it, even with my super obvious ‘shopping 😦 Instead of using the zig zag (which I think looks kind of amateur on knits), I used a double needle and stitched with the seam in the middle of the needles. This is something I see on lots of RTW and I think it looks pretty professional! The bobbin stitch in a double needle is kind of a zig zag, so you still get a little stretch even though the top stitching is straight 🙂 I also did this with my shoulder seams when I stitched down the twill tape.

So… as a lover of knits, my final verdict on this pattern is a definite WIN. I can’t wait to play around with this pattern some more; I’ve already pulled out a giant stack of knits from my cabinet to see what else I can cook up 😀

Chevron Renfrew


The Big Reveal – The Fabiani Coat!

6 Feb

Finally! I get to show off my new coat! 🙂

Coat front
Notice anything different (aka: good) about the pictures? Yeah, it’s because I didn’t take them! Ha! These were all shot by Sarah McDonald – aren’t they gorgeous!?

Quick details recap-
Pattern: Vogue 2925 (Thank you, Molly!)
Fabric: Coating – Sea Green Solid Coating (Thank you, Tracy!!); Lining – Bemberg Rayon Ambiance Lining in Kiwi
Notions Used: Horsehair interfacing, fusible interfacing, silk thread, self-covered buttons (made to order, yeehaw!), and the tiniest piece of silk organza.
I didn’t initially intend on this, but I guess this actually ties in quite nicely with Sew Grateful Week – showing my thanks for this pattern, fabric, and the pictures! Yay!

What else is there to say about this coat? It was definitely a task, although it went together much faster than my first coat – I guess I had enough practice to better understand what I was doing 🙂


Coat - side
I am REALLY pleased with how it turned out! The coat is so warm & snuggly – too bad it’s been 60* (that’s 15* for all you non-Americans :P), and thus too warm to wear a coat! Ah, well, maybe I’ll go on a short vacation somewhere cold. Ha!

Coat back
Pretty much the whole thing is interfaced – in addition to the interfacing already fused to the fabric (which definitely gave it a nice hand and made it really easy to handle), I used horsehair interfacing on the front pieces & on the collar/lapels. The hem & sleeves are interfaced with a lightweight fusible that was cut on the bias. This coat is nice and heavy!

lining peek
There are snaps under the fake buttons to keep everything in it’s proper place.

Oh, yeah, and the lining is pretty freakin’ bright!

Top stitching
I love how the top-stitching turned out and I’m really pleased with my buttons. I tacked the spare on the inside by the hem, but forgot to take a picture of it. Sorry 😦

Tag :3
Here’s my tag!

And some flat shots – sorry these pictures are awwwwful, lol you can definitely tell I took them.

Coat - button backs
The functioning buttons are backed with small buttons – partially to keep them on the coat, and partially to cover the ugly threads on the lining :B

Coat - feather stitched lining pleat
I tacked the lining pleat down with feather stitches, as originally suggested by Gertie.

Coat - buttonholes & top stitching
Bound button holes

Coat - label
Here’s another label shot. It’s hand-embroidered on bleached muslin & then catch-stitched down to the lining. I sewed everything in after the coat was finished, which was a bad idea… very difficult to get everything in there! Next time, I will sew the label in while the coat is still being assembled.

Coat front
So yep, that’s my coat! I hope these pictures were worth the wait 🙂 Hehe!
Thanks again for all your patience/input/contributions – and thank you Sarah for taking these amazing pictures!

Soooo, now that that’s over… have I inspired anyone else to make a coat yet? 🙂

Agatha Sweater – Finally, Progress!

2 Feb

For a couple hours a day (mostly on my lunch break and while unwinding before bed), I’ve been knitting up the back of my Agatha sweater. We had a very very rough start – for some reason, I kept mixing up the rows and having to rip my work. It always happened at row 10, too. I frogged the entire thing 6 times (maybe 7 – I stopped counting because I started getting mad!). It was very frustrating, especially since this particular section casts on 69 stitches. 69 stitches + 10 rows – that’s a LOT of re-knitting! UUGHHHGHHHHHH!!

Anyway, we made peace on Tuesday and I was able to jump over the hurdle of 10 and start exploring new knitting territory. And by “exploring new knitting territory,” I mean I repeated rows 10 & 11 seventeen times each. Ha! But you know – the back looks gorgeous and I’m really excited to be almost finished with it!

Agatha - back
Here is my progress as of, oh, about 10 minutes ago. This sweater is knit top-down, so you are looking at the back right-side up.

Agatha - lace pattern
Despite how much I wanted to destroy things every time I gave up & frogged, I actually think it was good that I worked the lace pattern over and over – my stitches are pretty even!

Agatha - lace pattern & ribbing
Once you get past the first 3 or 4 rows and the pattern actually starts to show in your knitting (lol I just started to type “shitting” right there GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF, LAUREN), it is much much much easier because you can follow the pattern based on what you already knitted, instead of getting to the end of the row and realizing you missed a bunch of stitches and have to unknit all 69 of the little buggers… not that I know anything about that.

Agatha - Back
Following the pattern can be a little difficult, since you are following lace panel rows in addition to the regular ol’ rows that make up the rest of the sweater. I found it very helpful to stick post-it notes under the row I was following, so I wouldn’t accidentally follow row 6 when I was supposed to be on row 7 (this is where the majority of those first mistakes happened. Ouch!). Once you start knitting short rows, the lace panel rows don’t match up with the rest of the rows, so the post-it notes were VERY helpful with keeping me on track with everything.

Anyway, I feel really good about my sweater & the progress I’ve made. It is REALLY fun to knit – just complicated enough to keep it interesting, but not so complicated that I feel like I can’t do it. Hopefully I will be starting the front panels within the next day or so – and once I get farther into those, I can actually try it on!

For those of you knitting along (Agatha or not!) – how are you coming along with your sweaters? 🙂

Oh! One more thing –
I got the buttons to my coat last night 🙂 I had to have them made since those kits you buy at the fabric store at totally shitty. These are really nice – the lady uses a machine, and I don’t think I could pull them apart if I tried! I had an extra made just in case 🙂

Coat pictures to come soon – Monday, perhaps? 🙂

Amy Butler Patterns, and Why They Make Me Rage

1 Feb

I’m taking a tiny break from garment-sewing to do a little craft-sewing – specifically, I want a new handbag that is roomy enough to hold my Kindle Fire and maybe a little ball of yarn to knit on when I am stuck waiting somewhere. I don’t like big hold-everything-you-own-in-here bags and the going price of handbags makes me recoil in horror – you want me to pay how much for that fake leather thing that thousands of people have the exact same copy of because it’s from ~Target? Ew. No.

Do any of y’all ever sew stuff like purses & totes? I am all kinds of in love with the Sweet Harmony handbag and tote pattern from Amy Butler. I’ve actually made this pattern before and it’s the absolute perfect size and amount of pockets for me. LOVE IT. Unfortunately, it’s a little worse for the wear these days (aka: dirty) and I’m bored with that fabric so I’m making a new one.

amy butler sweet harmony handbag
Here’s my old one! More info/pictures in this craftster post if you are just dying over it or whatever.

I figured I could push one out and keep (mostly) in line with my fabric-buying ban – I already have the pattern, I could use the leftover wool coating from my lady grey, and I have all the notions on hand (including purse snaps!) so all I’d need to buy was a little piece of quilting cotton and some fusible fleece. Which I did buy, but here comes the title of this post.

AMY. What the hell is up with your fabric requirements?

My beef is that she just makes you buy way too much fabric. According to the fabric requirements (which are difficult enough to read as it is. I’m not even going to get into that today), I needed 1 5/8 yard of lining/cording/contrast fabric. After cutting my pieces out… I used maybe 1/2 yard. Fusible fleece – she tells me to buy 1 yard, I use about 1/3 yard (if that!). We are talking about quilting cotton that runs $13/yard minimum and fusible fleece that is about $9/yard. It adds up, especially when it’s fabrics that I don’t normally use, like quilting cotton. I don’t make garments with that stuff and I’m not too crazy about home decor sewing projects. So the remainder just sits on my shelf until I realize I’m not going to use and it give it away. The first time I made this purse, I had enough fabric left over to make a second one. Crazy.

My theory is that she is conspiring to make us buy more fabric – it can’t be a coincidence that she also has a (really amazing, btw)fabric line. Way to nickel and dime us to death, Amy. !!!CONSPIRACY!!!111!!

Does this piss anyone off as much as it pisses me off? I understand buying a little extra fabric to match patterns or weasel your way out of a sewing mistake, but I consider “extra” to be like 1/4 yard… not a full yard, certainly not more than that. Actually, the wool I’m using for the exterior of the purse was part of the same issue – I bought over 4 yards of fabric for my Lady Grey, as instructed by the pattern, and ended up with over a yard extra. That coating cost close to $20/yard, too! I don’t even pay attention to Colette yardage requirements anymore, to be honest… I cut out my pieces and measure what I need and write it on the envelope. Looks like I should be doing the same thing with Amy Butler patterns, ehhh.

Also, as lovely as Amy’s patterns are, I’m not really thrilled with the fact that I have to draft half the pieces myself & measure to do my own markings – uhhhh, isn’t that your job? You just made me pay $13 for the pattern, can you please just include the markings for the pocket placement with that? Ok?

Now that I’ve probably pissed off a bunch of Amy fans and I guess Amy herself, I’m going to soften the blow by pointing out that she does have some really cute patterns. And her fabrics are just gorgeous – yes, they are expensive, but it is quality fabric.

Rainy Days raincoat? I die.

The Weekender Bag is a personal favorite – I made this a few years ago, with my mama! I still use it all the time and it’s awesomeeeee. I should take a picture of it, huh?

Anyway, sewing this thing has been a total bore. I spent a couple of hours cutting the pattern pieces out (and grumbling to myself), then I had to trim seam allowances and corners off all the interfacing (again – these should be separate pattern pieces included in the pattern, in my opinion), and even more hours fusing interfacing to every.single.piece (sometimes twice!). Needless to say, that part sucked. Now I’m just in the process of wrestling all the layers under my sewing machine and beating the shit out of the seams with my clapper.

Lest you should think this entire sewing experience has been one complaint, I have been enjoying the bonding with my new Featherweight…
bonding with the Featherweight :)
See? It’s not all bad 🙂